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Relevance is defined by the consumer
February 21, 2014 | Lynn Manternach, Ph.D.

Is your content relevant? The answer to that question might differ depending upon whether you are wearing you consumer hat or your content marketer hat. Successful content marketers understand that what is relevant is defined by the consumer, not by the marketer.

Effective content marketing drives consumer behavior by creating and distributing relevant, valuable content to attract and engage.

Marketers of all kinds are evolving from old-school selling techniques to planning and creating content that puts the needs and interests of consumers first. It’s not an easy transition. It means consumers are allowed to define the conversation. Instead of pushing content consumers need to know to make the "right” choice, marketers have to understand what their targeted consumers are most interested in, and then consistently align content – and the brand – with those interests. It’s not always a direct and obvious path.

Relevance is the most important driver of engagement. And the goal of content marketing is to get consumers engaged with your brand.

Start with behavioral data.

Behavioral data can be found in website analytics and marketing automation analytics. It is how many people read your article, viewed your video, opened your email, shared your content, and more. Behavioral data tells us what people are reading and sharing, as well as where and how they are finding it.

Use research to help explain what drives consumer content needs.

Your behavioral data may show that certain content is driving the majority of your website traffic. But why? That’s where online surveys can help. Surveys can help you understand the nuances of your audience, including their demographics, roles and preferences. Surveys can also help you understand how those who consume your content perceive your brand, how your content influences decision-making and how it impacts offline behavior.

Connect with consumers where they connect with your content.

Timing is everything. People will be more likely to accept your survey invitation if you can get the timing right. For website content, try not to ask for input before people have had a chance to consume the content. For email newsletters, focus on those who typically open your emails. In addition to formal survey invites, make sure you keep the door open for unsolicited feedback from consumers. If they’re engaged enough to reach out, make sure you are there to listen and respond.

Add content-related questions to existing research efforts.

Consumer relevance isn’t just for content marketing. It should be a core component of your overall business strategy.Look for ways toexplore what is most relevant to your targeted consumers within the parameters of your existing consumer research efforts. Use research to understand the context of how or why consumers use your product or service. Chances are you’ll learn something that will help you sharpen your strategy as well as identify another way to engage with targeted consumers.

Of course, great content is not everything. You have to make sure your content is digitally visible, and stretches across multiple channels and devices.

Content marketing is not a "set it and forget it” strategy. It requires constant monitoring and real-time adjustments to make sure you remain on track.

While there are a lot of steps to a robust content marketing strategy, understanding how to make your content relevant to the needs of your targeted consumers is probably the most critical one. If your content is not relevant, your consumer is not engaged and you are not actually marketing.

This column originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal.

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