There's a reason why we like to read content organized in list format -- it sets an expectation and makes it easier to track how we're doing/where we are in relationship to it. As such, lists should not be taken as prescriptive, nor as exhaustive of all you could do.
They are just a starting point.
Lists help categorize information for retrieval, connection, and sorting. The brain likes to process things in batches, and the best groupings to remember are threes and fives, followed by sevens. All odd numbers.
Lists are great for helping us think about logical progression in issues and, when necessary, they help us memorize things, or cross things off when done.
A couple of years back, NPR published a useful list post about 10 reasons why we love making lists that is still relevant today.
Lists also help you break down a task into manageable steps, and, with that in mind, here are five content marketing ideas you can use today:
(1) Create a robust content road map
Start with collecting information about your field, business, or niche by using saved keyword searches, topical industry RSS feeds, and setting up Google alerts. Create a bookmarking system from basic to advanced. Then map what you share to your customers buying cycle guide.
Your guiding principle should be a progression from awareness building, to discovery, to validating customers' choice. Base your choice of tools on those phases. For example, micro blogging and what I call and public relationship are well suited for awareness and discovery.
Reserve more technical and detailed benefit-centered content for validation.
(2) Simplify presentation and voice
How do you present your organization in the business community? Use a conversation strategy to iterate your content based upon customer feedback -- comments, @ replies, and reviews. Utilize an integrated approach to develop and test digital content.
I'm a huge fan of testing, which allows you to learn about what works and what doesn't for you from being exposed to interactions. Manage your involvement so you do more of what works combined with what you wish to convey.
Allocate more time and attention to using the tools that are more congenial and simpler to use for your team to start.
(3) Go direct to educate, entertain, and engage
The biggest opportunity social technologies present you with is to interact directly with your customers. Use technology and automation to help you stay organized, the human touch to develop and nurture those relationships.
When it comes to useful content, all roads can lead to engagement.
Think beyond search to what your customers want to experience and plan to integrate content for both active participation and interaction, and passive entertainment.
(4) Deliver utility
With location based services and mobile apps especially, there are multiple opportunities to wrap your product in hyper-relevant and super useful content. Don't do unusual for its own sake. Instead, spend the time and resources it takes to create simple and compelling content suited for the medium.
Leave the benchmarks or beaten path, and seek opportunities to become the "go to" company for utility and amazing experiences.
(5) Take care of the little things
Details matter a great deal.
Design the experience right into the product or the way it's delivered. By doing that, you build conversations right from the start. People notice, especially those things you have not gone out of your way to shout at them.
If you've ever read the packaging of an Apple product you know. The case for my iPod reads "Like a fine pair of jeans, iPod nano colors may vary and change over time." The iPod Shuffle package said something to the effect of do not ingest.
This is built in content marketing.
More on list building and 50 blogs for your #mustread list.
[image by woodleywonderworks]
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