Content Consumption: Successfully Engage Customers With the Rule of 15
Science tells us that 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual and that human beings process images 60,000 times faster than text. Online, photos garner twice as many "likes" as text updates, and videos are shared 12 times more often than links and text posts combined. Infographics are attracting huge audiences, particularly in the B2B sphere: In 2013, 38 percent of B2B marketers used infographics, and in 2014, that number jumped to 51 percent.
So for marketers who want to engage customers, is the answer to forsake text and focus exclusively on visual content? No — because, just as students have different learning styles, the content consumption preferences of consumers vary based on how they want to learn.
The five most common ways to consume content are reading, watching, listening, looking and interacting. Customers can read an article or a whitepaper. They can watch a video or webinar. They can listen to a podcast or other recording. They can look at an infographic or social media stream. And they can interact with "choose your own adventure" content.
Consumers want content that delivers real value. To resonate, the content has to teach them something new and meaningful — something that can help them do their job better or solve a problem. It also has to entertain and inspire to hold their attention and achieve engagement. This is important because the primary goal of content marketing is to connect with consumers while they're in the process of researching a purchase.
Your content is out there — searchable and findable — at the moment a consumer has a need and is starting to look for information. They are open to being "contacted" versus other traditional and invasive marketing methods. Having good, timely, and available content, puts an organization at a great advantage over the competition. Which is why understanding how consumers want to consume content is critical.
Widen recently polled customers on their content consumption preferences, and the results were enlightening. Here are some excerpts from their customer responses:
"I like reading, watching videos and listening to podcasts. For something more how-to, I prefer a video, but for something subject-based or knowledge-based, I prefer reading. Sometimes my preference has to do with whether I would disrupt others."
"I read a lot of blogs. But if something is explained to me for the first time, I watch a video, then dig deeper by reading. I can absorb video faster, but I follow up with reading because I can go back and reread as much as I'd like."
"I prefer something more visual. Quick bullets and photos and imagery. That helps us sell. I would rather look through something quickly. Like a YouTube clip or a social media feed."
The key takeaway from these comments is that everyone experiences content differently. Once marketers know the content preferences of various audience segments, they can deliver a more targeted and memorable experience — and achieve engagement.
But tailoring content to individual customer preferences isn't a simple matter. With limited resources and budgets, marketers often don't have the time or money to create unique, standalone pieces for every customer type. The good news is that's not necessary.
To meet the two overarching objectives of delivering value and serving content according to customer preference, marketers should remember the "Content Repurposing Rule of 15." Marketers can follow this path to success by creating a single piece of high-value content — a whitepaper, slide deck or research report, for example — and then look for 15 different ways to repurpose or reuse that content in different forms.
A detailed, informative whitepaper outlining the benefits of Widget A can appeal to readers by providing all the information they need to make a decision. But whitepapers typically lack the interactivity of a video, infographic or quiz disseminated on social media.
The answer is to repurpose the whitepaper content in as many other meaningful forms as possible: a video case study on how Widget A helped Customer B succeed, or an interactive quiz entitled "Does Your Company Need Widget A? Find Out Now!" or an infographic that visually illustrates a trend in the Widget A sector, or a webinar showing how Widget A has helped great organizations do great things.
By using the Rule of 15 as a guide, marketers can not only maximize the value of work they produce and efficiently target audience segments, they can deliver content that is relevant for each phase of the buyer journey and customer lifecycle — and successfully achieve engagement.
Nina Brakel-Schutt is brand strategist for Madison, Wisc.-based Widen, a marketing technology company. She can be reached at NBrakel-Schutt@widen.com.