Digital Trends Series – Content

People are digesting more and more media through the internet, so providing interesting and valuable insight on your website that’s relevant to your customers’ needs is an effective way of increasing engagement.

It also drives web traffic, builds kudos through the knowledge and expertise it demonstrates, and boosts loyalty by adding value to the online customer experience. Growing the customer-focused content on your website also helps increase search engine optimisation as it confirms relevance to search engines like Google, which view it as an online resource.

The first lesson for anyone planning a digital content strategy is that the information must be engaging and relevant to their target market and not just sales focused. For many marketers, this may require a shift in mindset.

Why do you need a content strategy?

Having a content strategy helps brands focus on what’s important to them and their target market. It means avoiding wasting valuable time and resources on content that may or may not appeal to internet users and customers. To do this, it’s important to study the target audience in question to determine what information it finds important and valuable. This can be done through a range of activities, from trial-and-error (publishing content and then tracking how many people read it), to audience surveys/focus groups and feedback through existing social media channels.

As well as making sure digital content is appropriate, a good strategy can also help with audience conversion (transforming people from being simply website visitors to customers) and so drive sales. By understanding and catering for the needs of its target audience, a website becomes relevant and appealing to customers and prospects. What’s more, using keywords that relate directly to a website’s digital content creates a more targeted resource that will optimise the visitor-to-customer conversion rate.

Understanding customers is nothing new, but being able to drive them directly to the information they want and answer their questions quickly and easily is a key benefit of digital communications. But doing this requires marketers to learn more about their target audiences than simply basic demographic data. The aim should be to develop a comprehensive picture of their interests and desires to inform the creation of a key online resource. Howard Schultz, Chief Executive at Starbucks, which has been extremely successful in social media, describes this as “breaking a code”, in order to give people opportunities to feel good about themselves. He also considers the experience of ‘discovery’ to be very important for communicating content (Harvard Business Manager Special, Oct 2010, “Managers need to reveal weaknesses”). This suggests that people are likely to be more loyal when the make their own ‘discoveries’ on the internet during the process of searching for information using a search engine like Google, than simply being directed to it.

Importantly, if a brand or business is already active in a range of social media channels, then any relevant digital content it produces – from written articles to applications and video – should be used to feed this activity, increasing and broadening audience engagement and driving more web traffic.

How can marketers do this?

Producing this kind of customer-focused digital content is not something that marketers are traditionally accustomed to. But to really engage customers and drive brand awareness, it’s important to create regular new content that promotes and encourages two-way dialogue with your audience. Doing this successfully requires techniques more usually associated with journalism. Indeed social media makes it possible for organisations to become publishers and so the line between these disciplines is becoming increasingly blurred.

It’s crucial that any content produced must also be tailored for publishing on the required channel – whether that’s a blog, Facebook page or Twitter. Employing a one-size-fits-all approach will not work in this situation, as each channel requires a different approach. Furthermore, the relevance of the topics will be a deciding factor in whether information will be shared further, or disappear without being noticed.

Tone and style also need to be clearly defined. It’s not about broadcasting advertising slogans. Building a successful content strategy revolves around creating an entertaining form of brand and sector-related reporting. It is important to remember not everyone will react to a brand, so in many cases it is better not to appear too polished and corporate.

Beyond simply generating the content, the brand’s ‘editors’ also need to ensure that they encourage community members to participate in groups and social media channels, promoting feedback. After all, the whole purpose of modern communication channels is to encourage discussion and interaction. From this feedback, brands can not only gain valuable customer thoughts and opinions about their existing products and services, but also use obtain key information that can drive future product development.

Cece Salomon-Lee


Cece Salomon-Lee has over 15 years’ experience building and implementing successful communications and marketing strategies for Fortune 500 and technology companies. She has been an active participant in the emergence of the virtual events industry, originally in her roles with technology pioneers ON24 and INXPO and previously as a consultant with the Virtual Edge Institute. She is currently director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc.

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Posted: July 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

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