The 5 Key Characteristics of Online Content Marketing

In the past, in order to market a business you would hire a few agencies to create advertising campaigns, write articles, or design websites. But with today’s world of digital marketing, all of that changes.

No longer do you need to spend a lot of money on expensive ads, hoping that one or two catch on with potential customers. Instead, you can create your own marketing content, promote your products via blogs, and connect with potential customers through social media.

While it’s important to make your content digital and reach as many people as possible, it’s not always necessary to have an online presence to effectively market a business.

In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 56% of consumers claim to have bought something simply because they saw an advert or sponsored content for a brand.

Key Characteristics of Online Content Marketing

As a business owner, marketer, or content creator, you’ll need to make sure that your online content meets certain criteria in order to maximise its effectiveness. After all, your target audience is probably reading the articles, watching videos, or listening to podcasts to find the information they need. So if your content isn’t relevant or interesting, they may click away without leaving a trace.

This is why it’s important to develop a clear understanding of what makes for high-quality content. Aside from creating valuable and informative materials, you’ll also want to make sure that all of your content answers five important questions:

1. Is the content concise and to the point?

According to HubSpot Blogs research, short answers are popular among consumers, especially on social media. In fact, only 7% of Americans claim to have read a full-length novel in the past month. But if you’re writing for a blog or vlog, you don’t need to provide an elaborate answer. All you need to do is prove that you’re indeed an expert in your field and that your advice or guidance is worth listening to. If you do this well, your readers will thank you for your concise answers and won’t have as much reason to complain about lengthy articles on your blog. Plus, you’ll have more room to write about other things.

2. Is the content relevant to each individual reader?

If you’re regularly publishing material that’s only relevant to a small segment of your audience, you’re limiting its effectiveness. For instance, if you run a food blog that focuses on healthy eating, you might want to include a guest post by a doctor or nutritionist regarding the health benefits of kale. However, if your audience mostly consists of dog lovers, you might want to avoid writing about diets and focus on topics such as training or behavioural psychology instead.

When publishing content for different platforms, be sure that each piece addresses a different audience. For instance, if you’ve got a blog article that’s been driving a lot of traffic to your website, you might want to repurpose the content for use on social media to encourage users to come back and engage with you there.

3. Does the content establish credibility?

Even if your content is unbiased and objective, sometimes it’s important to include references to help establish your expertise. If you’re writing for a blog, you could include citations from peer-reviewed scientific studies or consult with a professional in your field to lend extra credibility to your work. Alternatively, you could interview subjects or experts with more experience than you.

As a rule of thumb, the more you can do to lend credibility to your content, the more effective it will be. For example, if you’re writing a blog post on the topic of fashion and you want to include a link to an esteemed fashion website, that would be a perfect fit.

4. Does the content inspire curiosity?

If your content can’t spark the reader’s interest, they will have little reason to keep reading. Ideally, your content should be informative and educational, but it should also be interesting and engaging enough to make the reader stop and wonder “What’s next?” If you can achieve this, you’ll have crafted a piece of content that’s as effective as any one published by a large magazine.

When creating content for digital marketing, you’ll want to keep in mind that people are busy. You don’t necessarily need to grab their attention with a dramatic headline, but you can help them gain more value from your content by making it interesting and concise.

5. Does the content encourage action?

When was the last time you heard or read a piece of content that inspired you to do something? For example, if you read a blog post about the positive effects of green tea, you might decide to try some for yourself. Or if you read an in-depth analysis of the financial effects of the 2008 economic collapse, you might decide to invest more wisely in the future.

Your content should be able to convince your readers to take an action, whether that’s to visit your website, download a specific app, or buy a particular product. If you can accomplish this, you’ll have crafted a piece of content that’s as effective as any ad published in a national newspaper.

Why Should You Care About Key Characteristics of Online Content Marketing?

Aside from making your content more accessible to a larger audience, it’s important to consider key characteristics of online content marketing for several reasons. First, a study by HubSpot Blogs found that consumers want shorter pieces of content. Second, as you’ll see below, these pieces are often more effective at drawing in, engaging, and retaining customers.

Consumers Prefer Shorter Pieces

Writing shorter pieces means that you’ll have more room to explore in greater detail a particular subject. For example, if you’re writing a blog post about the history of tennis, you could focus on the major events that shaped the game, or you could dive into the minutiae of the sport and how the rules have changed over the years.

Writing a short piece takes more skill. Generally, you’ll want to show your expertise by providing concise answers to complex questions while also making the content interesting and engaging enough to pull the reader in.

Saves Pages!

One of the biggest reasons why consumers prefer shorter content is that they want to save pages on their mobile devices. Thanks to the rise of mobile browsing, individuals now have smaller data plans and hence less of a concern for running out of space. If your content is longer than the recommended length, your readers will be forced to download it so they can continue reading it later.

When it comes to content consumption, individuals are increasingly expecting their content to be easily accessible on mobile devices. In fact, a report from WordStream found that consumers increasingly expect a lot from their smartphones and tablets. The report states that while 39% of respondents expect to do most of their content consumption on their phones, another 41% anticipate using both phones and tablets.

More Engaging Content

Besides saving pages, shorter pieces of content can also be more engaging. In a world full of clickbait and oversaturated media, being able to grab the reader’s attention with a couple of engaging sentences can be the difference between success and failure.

While you don’t necessarily need to resort to using keywords like “free” or “easy” to make your content interesting, you can certainly include a dash of personality to make the reader feel that they’re adding value. For example, you could write a blog post on the benefits of owning a dog and include some funny anecdotes about your own pet. You might also decide to interview an expert in your field on a relevant topic or ask them to provide some tips for newbies in your industry. The important thing is that you make the content interesting enough for the reader to keep their attention throughout.

Retains Customers

Besides engaging with your audience and encouraging them to come back for more, one of the primary goals of content marketing is to retain customers. According to HubSpot Blogs research, 65% of consumers said that an effective digital marketer will “usually provide more value than what was asked for.” Similarly, 66% of consumers said that they would “definitely recommend a company that provides value and is trustworthy.”

While it’s important to provide value to your readers, you must make sure that you’re also measuring the results of your efforts. When creating content, you should set-up automated emails or notifications to make sure that you’re always aware of how many people are opening your emails and reading your content. Then, you can decide whether or not to continue producing more content of this type.