7 Universal Content Strategies to Increase Audience Engagement

Content is a contest. Whether you’re writing blog posts or cutting videos, there’s always someone else out there who wants to win over your audience as bad as you do. These content strategies can help increase audience engagement across a variety of mediums to help get your message out there.

Content Strategy

1. Gauge the Competition

Who’s winning the race for your important keywords?

Finding ways to outrank those competitors will help bolster your share of the audience.

One important step in increasing engagement is finding (and fixing) gaps in your current keyword strategy.

You could be falling behind in areas where your competitors already have plenty of content. There could also be high-volume keywords the competition hasn’t covered yet, leaving an opportunity for your site to fill in the gap.

Conducting a keyword gap analysis requires a strong grasp of your site’s current standing and where you want to improve: how people are finding your site now, which keywords are most valuable to you now, and what your competitors are doing better.

Tools like SEMRush’s Keyword Gap Analysis can help, but it’s only useful if you understand what keywords are and which keywords matter to your business.

2. Optimize Metadata

To most people, metadata is an afterthought.

For anyone with a website, it shouldn’t be.

Metadata refers to two types of information: basic descriptions of digital files (file author, date crated, file size, etc.) and descriptions of webpage content. Both types of metadata play a role in your content’s search engine visibility.

Search algorithms use metadata to help determine what a webpage is about. When metadata contains relevant keywords, it gives the page a better shot of ranking for those search queries.

Optimized metadata may not increase audience engagement alone, but it can help give well-crafted content the boost it needs.

3. Increase Page Speed

Slow loading speed is one of the biggest barriers to audience engagement.

Nearly half of all internet users will not wait longer than three seconds for a page to load. It doesn’t matter how great a blog or video is if it’s dragged down by a slow-loading site.

If you’re not sure of your site’s speed (or can’t figure out why it’s slow), Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can give answers. Beyond that, there are lots of big and small fixes to increase page speed.

4. Boost Presentation

Looks matter, at least when it comes to boosting audience engagement.

The nicer the page presentation, the more likely people are to view the content, share it with others, and link back to it — all important ingredients of attracting and engaging an audience

Overall site design plays a big part in this (which is one reason to redesign your site periodically). But there are also many smaller steps you can take to make your content easier and more enjoyable to consume.

  • Break blog posts into short paragraphs with a logical flow, adding bullet points and lists where applicable.
  • Add relevant images. Blog posts with images get an average of 94% more views than those without.
  • Embed a video. Video increases the average time people spend on a site by 105%.

If you do add supplementary videos and images, be sure to optimize them with keyword-rich metadata.

Speaking of different mediums…

5. Use a Variety of Content Mediums

Radio didn’t bring an end to libraries. Film wasn’t the death knell for radio.  And the Internet hasn’t dampened the popularity of video (only changed how we see it).

Why? Because different people like to consume information in different ways.

Some of your audience will always prefer a long-form blog post or whitepaper to a video; others won’t give text the time of day when there’s a visual alternative.

Using a variety of content broadens the appeal of your site to a wider audience. Blogs, eBooks, videos, case studies, infographics, and podcasts can all help to build different segment of an engaged following.

6. Be an Authority

Authority is one of the biggest factors in how search engine algorithms choose which sites make the front page. To increase audience engagement, you’ll have to show that you’re an authority in your industry.

Being an authority doesn’t mean you’re the be-all and end-all for your industry. Rather, it means you have a take on the topic that is more in-depth, more authentic, and more current than the competition.

For future content, focus on quality and relevance over quantity. As for older content that still performs well? Keep it current!

7. Send the Right Content to the Right Audience

Instead of blasting all your content to everyone at once, take a precision approach. Aim for where you know it’ll connect.

There are lots of ways to make sure your content reaches the right people and get them to engage with it:

  • Starting an email list is a great initiative for anyone looking to build an army of loyal followers.
  • A/B testing provides guidance when it comes to making the best possible first impression on visitors.
  • Retargeting visitors with content you know matches their interests brings wayward audiences back into your sights.

The point is, different content will resonate best at different points in the marketing funnel. Once you’ve figured out your funnel, you can begin to weave it into your content strategy.

 Getting Audiences to Engage with Your Content

No content creator can produce a viral masterpiece every time, but these steps will help put it on the screens of audiences that matter.

It all starts with strategy. We’d love to help you find yours.

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Marketing funnel strategies: How to Fix 5 common mistakes

Understanding your business’s marketing funnel is key to a successful marketing campaign. Thanks to tools like Google Analytics, it’s easier than ever to see how your customers go from being curious prospects to loyal patrons. Still, there are common beginner mistakes people make when they’re new to the world of marketing funnel strategies.

marketing funnel strategies

These mistakes aren’t always fatal. However, fixing them is necessary to unlock your funnel’s full potential.

What Exactly is the Marketing Funnel?

The marketing funnel is a helpful way of visualizing how people make the decision to purchase (or not) a product or service.

The idea is to imagine how customers approach the business at three different stages in the purchase process: the awareness, the consideration, and conversion stages.

  1. The top of the marketing funnel is the awareness stage. This is the point with the biggest pool of potential customers — that’s why it’s the widest part of the funnel. Here, people are discovering a product or service for the first time. They may not have prior knowledge of the business or its solution. Sometimes, they aren’t even aware they have a problem that needs solving.
  2. The middle of the marketing funnel is the consideration stage. People in this stage know the business and what it offers, but they aren’t ready to buy. There aren’t as many potential customers here as there is in the top of the funnel, but they’re closer to purchasing.
  3. The bottom of the marketing funnel is the conversion stage. The bottom represents the potential customers who have already decided to buy — now, they just need to decide who to buy from.

Why visualize customers using the marketing funnel? Because each different stage calls for a different marketing strategy. Customers at the top of the funnel are easier to reach, but they need convincing before they’ll buy. There are fewer customers in the conversion stage, but they’re the ones who are most receptive.

Your marketing efforts will generate better returns when you understand where to find people at each stage in the funnel and what resonates with each of them.

Fixing Common Marketing Funnel Mistakes

A marketing funnel strategy involves tactics to target potential customers at different points of the marketing funnel and move them closer to making a purchase. Data on user activity from platforms like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights can help you understand what’s working (and what’s not) at each step along the way.

However, even a robust strategy backed by good data is susceptible to a few common mistakes.

Keep these points in mind when you’re working on your winning marketing funnel strategy.

1. The Funnel Doesn’t End with Conversion

What happens at the end of the funnel?

Ideally, the person converts, whether that means buying a product, hiring a service, or taking some other action that benefits the business. The prospect becomes a customer.

What next? That customer doesn’t just vanish — they become one of the business’s biggest assets.

Assuming the product or service met their expectations, those customers more receptive than anyone to the business’s other offerings. They can become loyal fans and advocates for the business. Finally, they’re going to spread the word about their experience, so it’s in the businesses interest to keep them happy.

It’s a mistake to forget about customers after the conversion stage. Instead, use what you know about their needs and preferences for effective customer retention.

2. Market at All Points of the Funnel

When potential customers are close to converting, don’t be afraid to give them an extra ‘nudge’.

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing only on acquiring leads at the top of the marketing funnel, since people at the bottom are already close to converting. But conversion is not a guarantee.

It pays to invest in appealing to customers at all points in the funnel, especially the ones who are already eager to buy.

3. Don’t Let Prospects Go

Just because a prospect left without buying doesn’t mean they weren’t interested. There are dozens of reasons why someone might bounce. It could be they forgot what they were doing, wanted to check out competitors, or needed more time to think before making a decision.

With tools like AdWords and Facebook’s Pixel, you can retarget these potential customers and bring them back.

Retargeting is a fundamental marketing funnel strategy. Use what you already know about the customer to deliver a message that reminds them of your business.

4. Integrate the Funnel into Your Content Strategy

Content plays a big role in moving prospects through the marketing funnel. People don’t like ads, but they’re willing to consume content that delivers something of value: humour, entertainment, authenticity, information, empathy.

Blogs are a great example. Blog posts can raise customer awareness at the top of the funnel and provide ongoing value to those who have already converted. For example, an orchard could publish seasonal recipes that get people craving Ambrosia apples; an agency could share insider tips on their areas of expertise.

Don’t think of content strategy and marketing funnel strategy as two worlds. The marketing funnel gives content direction. Content is the current that ferries customers along.

5. Continuously Update Your Marketing Funnel Strategy

Marketing funnel strategy is not a one-time effort.

As technology evolves and customer habits change, your approach should pivot along with them. Ten years ago, mobile e-commerce was an emerging trend. Now, it accounts for $1.4 trillion in annual sales and 58% of e-commerce worldwide. Businesses who caught on to the change and optimized their strategies for mobile devices reeled in the benefits (see: How to Make Sure Your Site is Ready for Mobile).

Keep track of the changing ways customers are discovering and interacting with your business. Otherwise, your funnel won’t be in the right position to catch the stream of potential customers.

Marketing Funnel Strategy

In sum, remember these tips to avoid the common beginner marketing funnel mistakes:

  1. People who make it through the funnel once already are some of your best prospects. Keep customers coming back after they convert.
  2. Don’t focus exclusively on the top of the funnel. Prospects in the conversion stage still need that extra push.
  3. Use retargeting methods to bring prospects back into the funnel if they bounce.
  4. Treat your content marketing strategy and marketing funnel strategy as one.
  5. Your marketing funnel strategy is never complete. Keep adapting to consumer habits and buying trends.

Need a hand? Send us a note and we’ll be happy to help you out.

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5 Reasons Why Voice Search is Relevant to Local SEO in 2018

Voice search is set to become one of the top ways people find local products and services online. ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be made using voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. With the majority of voice searches being local queries, there are tons of reasons why voice search is relevant to local SEO.

Voice Search

These are some of the voice search trends in 2018 we’re eager to explore:

  1. Use of voice search is increasing in all age groups, including seniors.
  2. The hospitality industry is experimenting with voice-enabled devices in hotel rooms, which is a boon to retailers and restaurants who invest in local SEO.
  3. Voice-enabled devices are becoming more common in college dorms, giving local businesses another route to the lucrative student market.
  4. All signs point to pay-by-voice as a major e-commerce force in coming years.
  5. New schema markup can tell Google that your website’s text is perfect for voice search queries.

Let’s look at why these rising voice search trends are relevant to local SEO and discuss how to prepare for them

1. Voice Search is Not Only for Millennials

Millennials were the first generation to adopt voice assistant tech, and they’re still the biggest age group of voice search users. But voice search is increasingly used by people across age demographics.

In 2017, 10.9% of Americans used a voice-assisted device at least once, a 128.9% increase over the number in 2016.

One of the most surprising aspects of this increase is the number of adults over 65 who are eagerly purchasing and using voice assistant technology. Seniors aren’t usually early adopters of new tech, but voice search is different: it comes onboard familiar devices like thermostats and takes barriers like small text and complicated user interfaces out of the equation.

This trend presents a novel opportunity for businesses to speak to a demographic that has historically been tough to reach online.

2. Amazon Wants Alexa in Hotel Rooms

Until recently, the hospitality industry has struggled to integrate voice assistant devices into the guest experience. Many hotels have existing automation systems that don’t interface with new crop of smart home devices, while others lacked the information infrastructure to support them.

But as voice assistants have become ubiquitous, more brands are testing out voice-enabled tech in hotel rooms. The latest experiment comes from a collaboration between Amazon and Marriot. The companies plan to place Echo devices with specialized Alexa for Hospitality software in hotels, vacation rental spaces, and other hospitality locations.

Why is this exciting for Local SEO? Because tourists spend more than natives in local categories like restaurants and retail, and 33% of local search business comes from tourists.

When visitors land in an unfamiliar place, they turn to the internet for recommendations on where to eat and where to shop. In a future where voice-enabled devices are a hotel room standard, more and more of those valuable local queries are going to arrive via voice search.

3. Voice Assistants Are Becoming a Part of College Life

Today, smart speakers are still primarily used for entertainment purposes: playing music, reading audiobooks, and so on. But there’s a huge marketing push underway to frame voice-enabled smart speakers as a tool for college and university success.

Last year, Amazon partnered with four major universities to provide free Amazon Echo Dots to students, along with funding for schools to develop Alexa-related curriculums. Other schools are experimenting with smart speakers in dorm rooms to help students transition to college life.

Regardless of whether students will actually use their devices to keep track of class schedules and due dates, voice-enabled devices on campus are good news for local businesses.

Off-campus student spending accounts for as much as $17.5 billion in local economic activity. If voice assistants become a part of college life, businesses who invest in local SEO for voice search can reap even more of those benefits.

4. You Will Soon Be Able to Pay By Voice

In 2018, just about every major payment platform is working on enabling transactions through voice commands with voice-enabled devices.

Mastercard is looking to bring its Masterpass online payment platform into Amazon and Google’s voice systems. Google recently enabled peer-to-peer transactions through voice commands to Google Assistant, and Amazon has announced plans to let users make purchases with Amazon Pay directly through Alexa.

Once people can easily pay-by-voice, businesses who claim top local listings for voice search queries could see their conversions soar. It would also make calculating the return on investment for Local SEO easier and more accurate than ever.

5. Google Has Started Looking for ‘Speakable’ Text on Websites

Google recently announced a new form of markup called Speakable, which web publishers can use to indicate bits of text that are ideal for text-to-speech conversion.

To briefly summarize, schema markup is code on a website that speaks directly to search algorithms. It’s designed to provide information that helps search engines deliver better results to searchers. Speakable is a new kind of schema code that is meant to tell the algorithm which parts of a web page (if any) might be good answers to voice searches.

Essentially, Google wants to know which parts of your site are perfect for voice queries. That’s a huge opportunity for local businesses.

Speakable is still brand-new, and Google is currently only using it for news-related searches in the US. But its relevance is likely to expand over time, and it could become an important piece of the local SEO puzzle for businesses who want to rank in voice searches.

Preparing for Voice Search in Local SEO

The rise of voice search presents a world of opportunity for businesses who invest in local SEO.

Voice search optimization is still in its infancy. As voice search trends evolve, so will the tactics for optimizing a site for voice queries. However, there are steps you can take now to prepare for rising voice search trends in 2018 and beyond:

  • Optimize your site for mobile. 20% of voice search queries come from mobile devices. Many users will follow up a voice search with a trip to the site that comes up in the answer. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s time to change that.
  • Start paying attention to While Google is the leading search engine overall, Bing owns a huge share of the voice search market thanks to Amazon’s Alexa. Make sure your site has a complete and accurate Bing Places page and a strong presence in its rankings.
  • Focus on long-tail keywords. The biggest difference between voice and text search is the tone, phrasing and words used in searches. Voice queries use natural language and a more conversational tone. They’re also usually phrased as questions. Keep this in mind when targeting long-tail keywords.

For more on voice search optimization, read our post on the key differences between voice search and text search.

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