Jun 29, 2017

Tired of Blogging? 10 New Ways to Engage Your Audience

Tired of Blogging? 10 New Ways to Engage Your Audience

If you’re a small business owner, you’ve no doubt been told the importance of blogging. It adds new content to your site, helps attract leads, and can even convert a lead to a customer.

But it can also be very difficult. Brainstorming genuinely useful topics, writing posts that offer something unique from all the other posts out there, and sticking to a consistent schedule can all be very time-consuming.

Then you hear statistics like “small companies need to publish 11 monthly blogs to see 3x traffic,” and suddenly you’re completely overwhelmed. Blogging is a highly competitive activity, where companies with dedicated content teams have a strong advantage over those who can’t justify it.

If you want to use content marketing to attract, convert, and delight customers — but you’re curious about methods other than blogging — you’re in luck. Here are 10 interesting and effective methods for engaging your audience with content.

1: Videos

If given the choice to read 300 words of text or to watch a 1-minute video, which would you rather do? If you’re like most people, you will almost always choose the video. In fact, 59% of senior executives say that if both text and video are available, they prefer to watch the video.

There are several topics you can highlight in your videos. You can provide an introduction to your business, how-to guides, customer testimonials, a peek into your company culture, and overviews of your products and services.

One of the great things about videos is that you can embed them just about anywhere, and they almost always increase engagement. For example, including a video on your homepage can increase conversions by 80%, and using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65%, and reduces unsubscribes by 26%.

You can embed videos anywhere on your website, include them in emails, share them on social media, and even embed them within blog posts. They’re versatile, powerful, and one of the best ways to pique a user’s interest.

2: Podcasts

Podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to connect with their target audience. After all, people can tune in to podcasts while doing almost anything else, like driving, jogging, or working.

One of the exciting things about podcasts is, though they’re relatively simple compared to other forms of content marketing, their popularity is rapidly climbing. 21% of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast in the last month. That’s equal to the number of active users on Twitter. And the popularity is only continuing to grow, with monthly podcast listenership increasing 75% since 2013.

Podcasts are becoming more and more popular for businesses

Those may be some surprising statistics given the fact that podcasts are, in some ways, similar to good old fashioned radio. But the fact that users can open up a podcast on their phone and tune in while they go about their daily life, combined with the fact that they can often develop a more personal/casual bond with the speaker, makes podcasts a powerful force in the content marketing world.

3: Webinars

Webinars give you the benefit of interacting with your audience as the content is being created. What a lot of businesses will do is schedule a webinar for a particular date and time and have users sign up to attend.

When the webinar starts, users can log on and provide comments as you present the content. You can address these comments and questions in real-time or you can save them for a Q&A session at the end. Either way, webinars give you an unparalleled opportunity for getting real-time feedback and interaction.

A webinar provides opportunities for tons of reusable content

Another great thing about webinars is that they give you the opportunity to provide other forms of content in tandem, like a guide that covers your topics or an ebook that you send out to attendees. You can also post the webinar as a video once it’s complete, giving you the added advantages that come with video marketing.

Want to take it a step further? Type up a transcript of your webinar and include it with the video on your website. You’ll provide an engaging video that users will want to tune in to as well as SEO-friendly content that can help the page rank better in search engines.

4: Infographics

When you want to go visual, infographics are the way to go. They’re commonly used to present data, graphs, and complex data in an easy-to-digest way.

Infographics are highly shareable content. You can add your company branding and information at the bottom, add the infographic to your website, and include an embed link that lets other websites share the infographic on their site.

Doing so can help your content reach a much wider audience while giving your company credit for the infographic. You can also include in the embed link an actual link to your website, which can help with your link building efforts to your site.

Infographics are highly visual and highly shareable

Does creating an infographic from scratch sound daunting? Thankfully, there are tons of free infographic templates around the web that make it surprisingly easy for someone with any level of design experience to create a great-looking infographic.

Though there are easy options for creating infographics, that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. An infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a textual article, and companies like KISSmetrics received more than 41,000 retweets referencing their infographic material from 2010 to 2012.

5: Ebooks

The term “ebook” may sound daunting to create, but you can think of an ebook as a PDF version of content. Any topic that you could write a blog topic about could easily be created as an ebook as well.

So, you may wonder what advantages ebooks have over blog posts. First, they allow you to go much more in-depth on a topic. Their length is typically 20-30 pages, which gives you tons of room to show your full expertise on a given topic. Second, they can combine the best elements of blog posts and infographics. They’re the perfect place for engaging images and graphs, and users who download them typically expect a long-form, thorough explanation of the topic.

Creating downloadable guides can generate leads for your business

And if you’re wondering if your audience would rather read an ebook than a blog, check this out: 90% of the respondents in a HubSpot survey said they preferred downloading a PDF to reading content on their website. Some of the things they like about ebooks are their more visual appeal and the fact that they can download and read them later.

There are tons of ways that you can offer ebooks, too. A common way is to create a landing page on your website where users have to provide their email to download the PDF (giving you a way to build up your email list). But it’s also quite common to provide them for free and with no email signup, which will likely lead to more downloads. Evaluate which route you think would be best for your target market — or, better yet, try both!

6: Case Studies

Case studies provide the opportunity for you to show how your business has made a real impact on your customers. Whether your target market is other businesses or consumers, it’s very likely that they’re interested in seeing case studies about your product or service.

There are so many different ways to write case studies, and they can range from pure text to highly visual stories. However, one thing that the best case studies have in common is their transparent look into how your product or service affected your customers.

The best case studies show how your business solved a problem

In case studies, it’s common to focus on a few key points throughout: the challenges your customer faced before working with you, how you helped solve their problem, and the results they experienced after working with you. It provides a clear story that’s easy for your audience to keep up with.

It’s also best to try to include as much objective data as possible in case studies. While you may have benefitted your customer in less tangible or more subjective ways, it’s much easier for your audience to relate to clear facts and data. It also establishes a better sense of trust and gives more reason for your audience to feel confident in your product.

7: Templates & Guides

Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C business, offering free templates and guides is a great way to establish authority and empower your audience. Another great thing about this form of content is that there are infinite ways to present it.

You could create a full ebook guide on a topic you know a lot about, or you could create simple PDFs that you house on a Resources or Templates page on your website. You could also use the content from the guide and break it up into an email series, which would let you measure engagement on each piece of your guide.

Templates and guides allow you to help your customers

Another great aspect of guides and templates is that it can be incredibly easy for you to generate a ton of them once you determine a topic for your first one. By breaking down each step of a process into a unique template/guide with clear, actionable steps, you have the potential to create a full series comprised of visual, highly-engaging content for your audience.

8: SlideShare

LinkedIn’s SlideShare is a presentation tool with more than 159 million page views per month. And what exactly is a SlideShare presentation? In some ways, it’s like a PowerPoint presentation. Users can click through each slide, download the entire presentation, and discuss it via a comment section below.

It’s one of the simpler methods on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. It offers great sharing capabilities, and the best presentations even get featured on the SlideShare homepage. HubSpot, who has created more than 30 presentations on the platform, found that SlideShare provided high conversion opportunities.

SlideShare presentations are a powerful way to market your business

HubSpot believes that the users who visit your SlideShare are likely very invested in the topic at hand. By the time they read through your 20-100 slides, they’re often ready to take the next step in the conversion process. Even without interrupting your presentation with calls to action and saving them for the end of the presentation, you have the potential to generate a good chunk of leads from SlideShare

SlideShare gives you the opportunity to dive deep into a topic for a very engaged audience. What’s more, that audience is quite likely to share the content, giving you tons of referral traffic with very little extra effort.

9: Resources

This method allows you to get super creative. While some of the methods listed above could count as online resources, other common tools include generators, calculators, simulators, and more. They give your audience the opportunity to interact with your content.

Online resources are also extremely shareable. Once you’ve created a tool that helps your audience visualize something for themselves, they are often eager to share that tool with other people, too.

Creating resources allows your customers to interact with your content

The downside of creating online resources is that the process is a lot less straightforward than some of these other content marketing methods. You’ll have to do some creative brainstorming to determine what kind of tool you can offer that would be genuinely useful to your customers.

But the payoff can definitely be worth it. Once the tool and its content are created, they can work for you for months or years to come — with very little continued effort on your part.

10: Get someone else to blog for you!

One of the biggest struggles of blogging, especially as a small business owner, is finding the time to put into it. When funds are limited, it can also be difficult to justify hiring a copywriter to blog for you.

But it’s completely possible to get posts on your blog without anyone in your organization writing the posts. How? Guest blogging. There are a variety of reasons that another writer may want to share one of their posts on your blog. And the clear benefit for your business is that you can have regular content added to your website without putting in all the time and effort.

There are a few ways that you can incentivize someone to want to write for your blog. One of the key ones is to have a website with a high volume of traffic. Or, if you have a solid email list or a high Domain Authority, writers may want to contribute to your site simply to get a link back to their website or to get their content in front of an engaged audience.

Though resources may be limited, another way you could encourage guest posting is to pay the writers for accepted articles. Some websites offer anywhere from $25-$100 per accepted article, which is, for some writers, enough incentive to submit a post. Plus, you can outline exactly what kind of posts you’re looking for on a guest post submission page on your website, meaning you won’t have to do a ton of coordinating to receive submissions.

Guest blogging can be a win-win-win. Your business gets regular content, your audience gets helpful/informational articles, and the writers get a link, publicity, or compensation.

Repurpose content for better impact

When you find that one of your pieces of content performs well, you have a great opportunity to keep the momentum going. Even better — it takes a lot less work to repurpose the content in a new medium.

For example, if you have guest blogs that receive a much higher volume of traffic and earn high read rates, that’s a good signal that your target audience enjoys that content. From there, you could repurpose that exact same content as a video, infographic, podcast, SlideShare, etc. And there’s no limit to how many times you can repurpose that content. This repurposed content could both attract new users as well as engage the users who have already engaged with the original version.

With all these possibilities for marketing your business through content, there are tons of ways to get involved in content marketing without sticking to blogging. Some of these ideas can be quickly outsourced or DIY’d, while others may take more upfront investment. If you’re intrigued by a few of these ideas, try them out for yourself and see how they compare against one another. You may just find that one (or more!) of them is the perfect fit for your business.

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