Your answer to online traffic-building strategies may be as close as your doctor’s waiting room.
The editorial focus of old-school print publications — which has traditionally helped publishers limit costs and more effectively sell advertising — may serve as the perfect playbook for content strategists and bloggers seeking to build an engaged audience. Lifestyle magazines in particular have a long tradition of exploiting a niche and honing their reader personas — down to the number of kids the reader has, what she likes to do in her free time, and what car she drives. By really getting inside the minds of their readers, many of these magazines consistently produce relevant, sticky content and develop loyal, engaged audiences.
Why is this a key takeaway for companies engaged in blogging and content marketing? According to an NM Incite (a Nielsen company) study, competition in the blogosphere is fierce and getting fiercer, with the number of blogs increasing from 36 million to 181 million in the last five years. That translates to 6.7 million people publishing blogs on blogging websites, and another 12 million writing blogs using their social networks. That’s a lot of noise.
The power of point of view
To break through the noise and boost readership of your blog or other content, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Focus on serving the specific needs of a niche audience instead.Trying to be all things to all people is boring — not to mention impossible. Watered-down content isn’t the answer. Focusing on a niche makes it more likely your blog will engage your audience with relevant, focused content, allowing you to quickly establish your blog as an expert resource in a specific area, driving more traffic from like-minded readers.
Where can you “play” in a way that makes you a credible source of information?
In more concrete terms, say you’re a 45-year-old brand manager for a window-and-door company. You set out to create the go-to blog focused on interior design, with the goal of driving search-engine traffic to your website. But that’s too broad — dozens of established and popular interior-design publications are there already, with rabid followings, hundreds of social media shares every day, and organic search engine rankings that are hard to beat. Your company is focused on introducing product lines made from sustainable materials that are more energy-efficient. Find out whether you have an opportunity to establish a unique voice and perspective in this less-saturated area.
Now you know your audience and understand how you’re positioned compared to other online voices about your niche, you can establish your voice and point of view to better engage that audience. This is the “what” and “how” of your posts — the topics you’ll write about and the way you’ll write about them. For example, maybe your audience’s business is regularly affected by controversial legislation, so you take a strong stance and invite comments. Or maybe customers and peers are interested in the impact technology will have on the future of your industry — so you write about your forecasts and invite other industry experts to guest post.
Fast Company’s Co.ntent Strategy
Fast Company clearly knows its online readers intimately, beyond demographics (34-year-old male, $70k+ HHI, business decision-maker at work). The blog gets into its audiences’ head about intangibles such as cultural influences and values. The publication’s stated point of view is “innovation,” and this comes across in the online category names (e.g., Co.Create, Co.Design), in individual articles about groundbreaking innovations and ideas, and in the carefully curated mix of content spanning technology, culture and business. The publishers state that their readers are “actively inventing the future of business” — so to explore this, the blog almost “invents” a unique point of view through its content and presentation to readers.
Time to take action
Putting this strategy into action requires much research, planning and vigilant editorial oversight — it’s a time investment upfront, but it’s definitely worth it. Understanding your audience and determining a niche and point of view forms the strong foundation for your overall content strategy, and will help guide you to create authentic content that resonates with readers.Read more about how to find your brand’s voice.