Get this: 93 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing, and 75 percent are increasing investment in this strategy.
These are some pretty staggering numbers if you really think about it. It shows just how far content marketing has come in a relatively short period of time.
The interesting thing is that one of the top challenges across the board is producing truly engaging content. In fact, 42 percent of marketers list this as one of their top challenges.
Whether you chalk it up to a lack of time, the incessant need to "feed the content monster" or any other reason, this an issue that needs to be addressed.
We need to ask and answer the critical question: How do we create more engaging content?
What is Engaging Content?
First things first.
It's helpful to identify exactly what engaging content is.
I think this definition from Newt Barrett sums it up brilliantly.
"Genuinely engaging content is so attractive and appealing that it disarms you from your very first encounter...and makes you want to linger to learn more. When it really connects with you, it will take your breath away. It's a little bit like love at first sight."
Here are some techniques I've learned over the years.
These techniques will help you create consistently engaging content, ensuring that it delivers genuine value to your audience.
1. Develop a Unique Voice
Everyone has a distinctive style and unique voice. It's just that some people have yet to uncover it.
One of the main reasons why readers instantly connect with content and want to explore more of it is because the creator's voice resonates with them.
When you're able to differentiate yourself from others in your industry and have your own fresh opinions and perspective, you're almost guaranteed to get results.
While I would love to say that anyone can flip a switch and develop their own unique voice, it's seldom that easy.
But the more content you create, the easier it becomes.
Not to get overly philosophical, but you can think of it as a sculptor chipping away at a marble slab. The more they chip away at it, the more the statue comes into focus.
The bottom line is that the more you create, the more developed your voice will become.
Basically, here's what I'm saying: Embrace your unique writing voice, and keep practicing it.
2. Make it "Pretty"
Considering that us humans are inherently visual creatures, aesthetics play a big role in creating engaging content.
After all, you can could create a masterpiece manifesto, but hardly anyone will want to read it if it's ugly and indigestible.
So what do I mean by pretty? The term is "visual content," and refers to the need for content to engage users visually, not just textually.
Here are some examples:
- Include visuals throughout your content. Research has found that colored visuals increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80 percent.
- Use headers and sub-headers to break down different ideas.
- Use bullet points (like these).
- Avoid using massive blocks of text.
3. Use Short Paragraphs
One practice that I'm a complete proponent of (as you've probably noticed) is using short paragraphs.
In fact, I like to keep them very short -- one to four sentences is about right.
I've found that this makes it easier for readers to scan through content, which is especially important for longer posts that are 750 words or longer.
I also know that chunks of make it easier on the eyes and mind. Rapidly moving one's eyes over chunks of text helps the brain more easily take the information.
4. Back Up Your Points
Another thread that ties all forms of engaging content together is research.
The vast majority of high caliber content is well researched and is backed up by stats, quotes, and input from trusted authorities.
Whether you're making an argument, stating an opinion or simply trying to entertain your audience, you'll want to validate your points.
I personally am a sucker for stats and feel that they really enhance my content. That's why I always try to include at least a handful in every piece I create.
5. Use Different Mediums
Generally speaking, humans like variety.
We like variety in our food, our schedules, and our TV watching, right?
The same principle applies to content marketing, and I'm an advocate of switching it up and keeping it fresh by experimenting with different mediums.
For instance, rather than always using the classic article format, you might try out infographics, podcasts, slideshows, webinars, videos and so on.
This also serves two other purposes.
First, you give your audience different options of how they choose to absorb your content.
Second, you can repurpose existing content (e.g. taking the core idea of a blog post and turning it into a slideshow) to stretch it further without diminishing value.
6. Use Stories as Example
Some of my favorite people to hang out with are those who can use storytelling to help explain much larger and difficult concepts.
This made things more relatable, and I could wrap my head around complex issues with greater ease.
Turns out, storytelling is a great marketing technique, too.
I've found that implementing stories is an excellent way to make content more memorable.
An added plus is that it can help you come across as more personable, which is essential for building trust and rapport.
7. Get Your Audience in on the Action
The last thing you want to do is leave your audience feeling isolated or detached.
Instead, you want to bring them into the fold and demonstrate how your content applies directly to them and their lives.
This can usually be done by writing in second person and using "you" and "your."
By delivering consistently engaging content, you can position yourself ahead of the pack and stay ahead of the game.
The end result should be increased lead generation, established thought leadership and heightened brand awareness.
That's not a bad ROI.
What elements of content do you find most engaging?