I don’t have kids, but I was one. And I know I was totally guilty of finding creative ways to get people’s attention.
You might remember Stewie Griffin from the sitcom Family Guy showering his mother with love with a repeated chorus of “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mommy….”
That aired in 2006. I was born in 1992. I think he got that from me.
Truthfully, content marketers are not all that different from a child in that way. We all want your attention to be focused on us, and we will be as creative (and occasionally annoying) as necessary to get it (and keep it).
Don’t worry though. As professional marketers (and adults), we are a little more creative than a child tugging on their mother’s sleeve to the beat of the world’s most annoying chorus.
Attention is one of the hottest commodities to marketers and advertisers (it’s practically a currency). It’s such a popular commodity that a name has been coined for it.
The attention economy.
If you’ve heard of this before, great! You’re about to get a review. If not, you’re about to make this face while going, “Ooooohhh. Yes, this is totally a thing.”
Content marketer “bing!” moment is coming.
Yes, it’s a thing. But why is it an important thing for content marketers to know?
Attention leads to more website traffic, more content consumption, and more lead generation and more lead conversion.
Cool? Cool. But I’m not done yet.
Content marketing is competitive and the competition is FIERCE. It’s time to get creative and figure out how you will get the attention of the customers you want. And to help you overcome the attention economy, we have a few content marketing tips.
When you are finished reading this post, you will know:
- What the attention economy is (it’s not just a rumor like a Bigfoot sighting)
- 18 content marketing tips that get results – you’ll be a pro in no time
Get ready for the best content marketing tips ever.
What is the attention economy?
“Now when we speak of an information-rich world, we may expect, analogically, that the wealth of information means a dearth of something else — a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes.
What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”
– Herbert Simon
Herbert Simon was an American economist, political scientist, and Nobel Prize winner, and he perfectly defined the attention economy with his famous idea that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
But I’m going to put it into slightly easier terms.
The attention economy is the idea that a consumer’s attention is a scarce commodity and a resource for survival. The more attention you get, the better chance your business has to thrive.
And how do you get consumers’ attention? With content, of course.
So, go do that. Lesson over.
HA! Gotcha. I wish getting customer attention was as easy as just creating content, but it’s not. Remember, it’s a scarce resource. As Matthew Crawford put it, “attention is a resource – a person only has so much of it.”
Content isn’t scarce, but attention is. Humans only have so much mental capacity to be receptive to information, and they have to filter who gets what attention (and how much).
Only really great content and solid content marketing efforts are going to have a shot at standing out among the ridiculously high volume of existing content (which is growing every single day).
Great content needs to:
- Grab attention
- Keep attention
- Be easy to find
- Provide value, educate, or solve a problem
- Be personally relevant
63% of marketers cite generating traffic and leads as their #1 challenge.
So, how do you compete?
Math: it’s not totally useless. (Source: Vidyard)
I need to stress that following this formula is only a general guideline. How a customer feels or thinks isn’t something that is perfectly measured, so what draws their attention one day might not the next.
Competing for attention in a saturated content environment is easier said than done, but you can start with these tips that get results.
18 tips for great content marketing that stands apart in an attention economy
This list is probably why you’re here in the first place, so I won’t waste time writing a long intro to this section. Without any further ado, here are 18 tips for great content marketing to get you all that customer attention.
- Don’t create content just to create it. Make sure your purpose is clear
- Make your content personal
- Consider creating evergreen content
- Make a content strategy. Flying blind results in crashing planes
- Consider longer content over shorter content
- More content doesn’t equal good content
- Build influencer relationships for mutual link sharing
- Repurpose or redo old content (or get rid of it)
- Don’t get intimidated by what others are doing; get inspired
- Show your appreciation and get retention
- One keyword does not an SEO strategy make
- Ideas don’t have to be original, but your interpretation should be
- Silence is golden, not a red flag for bad content
- Focus less on an audience and more on solving problems
- Don’t be a slave to a schedule. Editorial calendars are not the key to content success
- Don’t forget who you are really writing for (hint – it’s not your boss)
- Create a chain of great content with internal linking
- Make your content interesting (and I’m not just talking about the copy)
#1 Don’t create content just to create it. Make sure your purpose is clear
You don’t see a movie just to see it. There’s a reason why. You see it because there’s a story or a cast or something else that is driving you to know more about it.
You need to know why you’re writing whatever you’re writing. If you don’t know that yourself, then how do you expect your customers to get anything out of it?
Often marketers will create content for these reasons:
- To stick to a schedule
- To meet a manager’s expectation for X amount of content published weekly
- Just to look better
Any of these not-great reasons will be totally transparent to a customer and give way to the fact that you don’t have goals for your content.
This is often referred to as thin content (and it does nothing to help your brand).
So thin customers can see right through it.
Content without a driver is going to fall flat, even if it’s got good information. Spitting out statistics and good examples and quotes will make you sound like Google or a robot. Providing context makes you sound like a trusted resource.
The best way to do this is to consider searcher intent.
There are 4 types of searcher intent:
What you should pay attention to will depend on the content you’re creating, but it’s likely that informational is a common one for content marketers.
Informational intent is looking for content that has the what, but that also has the all-important why. As a content marketer, you need to make sure it has one and not just for your customers, but for you. Ask why this content will help your customer and your brand.
- Does it fit into your content marketing goals?
- Is it relevant to your target audience?
- Does it provide value?
#2 Make your content personal
The place for stiffer, more formal language, a bunch of technical jargon, or big, important-sounding sentences that sound like everybody else isn’t in your content.
Your content should make customers feel two things:
- That they know you
- That you know them
Targeting people’s individual needs, traits, problems, likes, dislikes, and everything else will help build a stronger connection between you and them.
And it doesn’t even have to be anything groundbreaking or life-changing.
I published an ActiveCampaign blog about targeted content. Part of it goes into depth about knowing your audience, and I used a personal life story to be an example and get a point across.
Guess what it was about?
No, it wasn’t a life-altering travel story. And no, it wasn’t about the last time I got mad (my WiFi broke and stopped my Netflix streaming, in case you were curious).
None of those.
Give up? Well, the answer is…
My vacuum cleaner.
WHA- wait, a vacuum?
That’s right, my vacuum cleaner. I recommend you read this blog, it’s a riveting vacuum story.
Do you know why that particular personal story worked for that blog (probably better than any heavy personal story)?
Because it was relatable, something many other people who were looking for the same solution I was had probably also experienced.
Bottom line: you don’t have to share your private journal entries (probably too personal) but sharing a bit of your personal self makes your content and your brand that much more connected.
#3 Consider creating evergreen content
Of course, you will still want to write about specific, industry-related topics or trending news, and you should.
But that may not be the only thing you should stick to.
Ever thought about evergreen?
It’s content that has long-lasting relevance and can be updated when needed. You get a lot of mileage for less work, and it can offer another view of your brand.
It delivers traffic, leads, social shares, and can hang onto valuable positions in the search rankings for an extended time after the publish date.
Your industry-specific content now shows that you are an expert in your business. But what about:
- Business in general
- Leadership tactics
- Organizational strategies
- Keeping up company culture and morale
All of these and other evergreen topics are relevant to business, and they are definitely relevant to your business. Content like this can provide a well-rounded content experience for your customers.
Plus, you can still create evergreen content about your specific industry topics, as Single Grain does.
People can reference this to choose a digital marketing agency for years to come.
They can read it the day it’s published. And a week later, and 6 months later. And a year later. And it’s still a solid piece of relevant content that YOU made.
Evergreen content results in compounding growth. That is, if a piece of content lasts a while, the next piece of content can deliver performance ON TOP OF that previous success.
Venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz shows a hypothetical example of an evergreen content strategy’s compound growth vs. a temporal content strategy.
Evergreen content compound growth. (Source: TomTunguz)
Each evergreen post generates about 150 views on day one, and about 20 each subsequent day. A year later, you can see the compounding effect with more than 250k visitors per month.
Temporal content compound growth.
As you can see, both have declined over the course of a year (which is natural and expected as new content is produced over time). But the evergreen content decline is noticeably less aggressive than the temporal.
In a world so saturated with content that’s often a repeat of 20 other content pieces, evergreen content can be one more thing to set you apart.
#4 Make a content strategy. Flying blind leads to crashed planes.
Who wants their plane to crash? Any answer other than “not me” is wrong.
And that counts for your content “plane.”
Imagine putting in weeks or months of work on blogs, videos, and other content. You’re ready to watch it all takeoff, ascend 30,000 ft and land with the right people. And it does…not.