I found some interesting stats today from a study of 100,000 people done by Content Science. According to their results, content must be relevant and useful to be successful. It’s not enough to create one or the other; it must be both.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If content doesn’t help them accomplish their goal, why would it accomplish ours? It won’t convert.
Also, broad articles or thought leadership content just doesn’t cut it.
People want content that resonates with their specific questions, needs, decisions or tasks, and we’re providing too much content that is basic, generic or vague. It doesn’t have enough detail, failing to be relevant or provide answers.
A whopping 78% said content seemed like it was intended for someone with different needs.
Lack of Detail & Sophistication Drives Low Content Usefulness & Relevance
- Not useful
- Not relevant
- Too detailed/advanced
- Not useful
- Not relevant
- Too detailed/advanced
But what is the difference, and how do you know if you’ve accomplished it?
Here’s the difference between relevant content and useful content. Relevant content is directly connected to the person reading or watching that content. It applies to them at that moment. But content must be useful, too – meaning it has information or advice that can be immediately applied to what they’re doing.
Creating content that fits these two requirements of relevancy and usefulness can be a delicate dance of understanding the the prospective customer, and coming up with topics that help define the intent of what they are looking for.
Here’s an example.
Say that I’m a consumer thinking about replacing the windows in my home. I don’t want to install them myself, I want someone to finance and install them, and offer a nice selection of higher end brands to consider.
I open a tab on my internet browser for Google, and typed in search terms to learn more about how to buy windows for my home, and which types of windows are best for my budget.
- Content on Microsoft Windows 10 wouldn’t be useful or relevant. Sure, it’s windows, but not the kind of windows I want.
- Content from Home Depot on DIY installation might be useful to someone, but it isn’t relevant to me because I don’t want to install them myself. I want to hire someone.
- Content from a window installer in Michigan might be useful, but it also isn’t relevant because my home is located in Arizona.
- Content about how to buy home windows from an Arizona installer might be relevant to me, but it isn’t useful if they don’t sell Andersen product.
What would be both useful and relevant? Content from an Arizona windows and doors installation company that sells the Andersen brand. Content that compares the different Andersen product lines, and that compares which products they sell can handle the heat of Arizona summers would be both relevant and useful. I could learn about the best product for my needs, and connect with them to obtain a quote on the cost of new windows.
When we are searching for answers online ourselves, it’s easy to become frustrated when we can’t find content that is useful and relevant. We end up scanning more content, and clicking more to find what we want. But on the flip side, as marketers, it can be easy to overlook applying the same type of thinking processes to the content we’re creating.
Who is our audience? What are they looking for online that our content will answer? Can their search lead to revenue for us? Is the piece of content both relevant and useful as part of that search? How will it convert to something useful for the brand? What can I create that is both relevant and useful to them AND to the brand?
As content marketing budgets creep up and brands are investing in ad dollars to promote their content, it’s never been a better time to make sure your content is effective. You don’t want to spend time and budget creating Facebook ads for bad content, or publishing content on a website that bring in the wrong audience, making it substantially harder to convert.
It’s important to have someone with the right experience guiding your content creation strategy and keeping a close eye on the editorial calendar to get the maximum bang for your buck.
You must be able to recognize a lack of relevance or usefulness
We’re creating more content than ever before, and investing a continually growing chunk of our budget in it, but it seems pretty clear that we must do a better job of aligning that content with our audience.
We must be able to recognize content that’s too generic, and content that isn’t relevant or useful to the individual person reading (or watching) it.
In my experience, the only way that happens is through a deep understanding of a brand’s customers and prospective customers. It helps the person creating that content to connect with the real person consuming that content. The individual we want to convert.
There are no shortcuts.
We notice these gaps when we’re looking for answers ourselves, but we often overlook applying this thinking process to the content we’re creating for a brand.
- Who is our audience?
- What are they looking for online that our content will answer?
- Can their search lead to revenue for us?
- Is the piece of content both relevant and useful as part of that search?
- How will it convert to something useful for the brand?
If your content is difficult to create, you’re probably on the right path
The truth is the good content is difficult to write and expensive. It’s a big investment, and we are doing our audiences a disservice when we’re satisfied with publishing easy, generic content. It’s an insult to what we expect them to give us in exchange for that content: an email address, a purchase, a meaningful connection.
Giving them something valuable enough to earn their conversion requires OUR attention. If we want those statistics to change, we must push ourselves harder to earn it.
Great content requires learning about a brand’s products or services on a deep level, and finding creative ways to understand the audience targeted by that content. It requires a strong editorial calendar that is connected to the needs of prospective customers and their hot buttons, and clearly shows an understanding of what those potential customers are looking for online.
Only then can you create content that resonates and converts.
If you’re not doing these things, you might be creating content that is generic, lacking both relevancy and usefulness.
If your content is difficult to create because it requires thinking, asking questions, interviews… you’re probably on the right path!
It can be difficult to identify if your content is effective. A very simple way to begin is putting yourself in the shoes of your audience, and looking at your content from their perspective.
A quick yes/no popup survey can help, following up to an email blast of the content with a quick request for feedback, taking a close look at conversion to see if a growth in traffic from your content is converting in a meaningful way, and using Google Tags to track clicks on important conversion elements on a page are all great ways to see if it’s working.
Do you have feedback on this blog post, a tactic related to this topic you’d like to share, or thoughts on how you can tell if your content is both relevant and useful? Click here to chat with me on Facebook.