Content is a journey

by Martin MacConnol – Jun 19, 2020

If there is one idea above all others that we try to help clients understand, it is that content is a journey.

When planning content marketing campaigns, we find many clients fixate on one element – the big idea that was their kick-off point for it all. And we get that. For some clients it’s all about social media presence, for others it’s all about content that enriches a website, for others it’s about a direct campaign to inspire audiences to engage with a brand through email.

The reality it is, whatever goal you want to reach, you are likely to do it better, and achieve better results, if you see it as just one part of a bigger content journey for your audience.

Here’s an example of how content as a journey works. It might start with a 280-character tweet, a post on LinkedIn, or a share on Instagram. That’s a teaser that floats your brand and its thinking or products in the world of social.

Depending on what you are talking about, that teaser may be enough to provoke the engagement you are looking for. It’s not unreasonable, if you’re marketing products for a mass-market audience, that such a teaser might be all someone needs to buy. So, a post from the Jolly Green Giant showing a beautiful recipe using sweetcorn might well persuade me to pick up a can on the way home.

But for some people, and definitely when it comes to marketing more complicated products and services, you are likely to need something to back up that teaser post. In the example above, I might want a few more details on how to make the recipe before I part with my money.

And so your social share needs to take audiences on a journey to a place where there is more detail. That is usually content on your web platform. Again, even here, we find that people want the journey to be easy. Working with some of the big professional services firms, we’ve learned that if the jump from 280-character tweet is to a 1,000-word narrative article, people see it as an unappealing chasm and leave the page rapidly.

What we find works better is to provide an easy entrance point to the web content: it could be an infographic, a slide deck or a video. Again, for a lot of your audience, this may well be enough to convince them to engage with your brand in the way you want – ‘hey, I can see how to make that recipe and it looks healthy’. But not everyone will feel like that and some still want to know more – ‘what’s the nutritional value?” … and here is where a well-substantiated narrative article can come into its own: the “deep dive”, as we call it.

Each step of this journey from social works by itself and each step leads to the next.

We’ve talked here about the journey from social. But of course, the same basic principles apply if you are doing a direct email campaign. And with both routes, the key idea is that every step of the journey stands in its own right as a great representation of your brand that, in itself, could be enough to persuade a customer to take the action you want.

When it comes to planning these content journeys, there is one final piece of advice to give. You may want to create an amazing social campaign, but don’t start just by thinking of the social asset. Think about that deep-dive piece of content at the end. The more thought that goes into that at the start, the easier it is to ‘shatter’ the idea so that it works as a standalone infographic and social teaser.

So, content is a journey, but start by thinking about the journey’s end.

Published Jun 19, 2020

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