Owly contentThere came a point at which my grandmother had to say “no” to any more owls. It started with the gift of a china figurine of a barn owl, perched on a mossy branch set into a wooden base. This was received with delight and given pride of place on the mantelpiece.

Then came the rest: plates, key rings, soft toys, t-shirts and yet more ornaments. On every special occasion for years, wrapping paper would be torn away from another owl item to add to the pile. Finally, she admitted she had had enough of owls, thank you very much. Maybe just some fancy bubble bath or a pair of socks, next birthday.

Is your content marketing making the same mistake? According to a recent report by Beckon Marketing, businesses have recognised that content marketing is a good thing. However, that started an avalanche; more and more content, not necessarily of the highest quality, just some new topic to throw at consumers in the hope of generating traffic and conversions.

The Beckon researchers found that just 5% of branded content produced 90% of total consumer engagements. The other 95% produced very little engagement; another owl toy to clutter up the spare bedroom.

What is it that makes that 5% of content engaging and leads to 95% missing the mark? Let’s think about some of the key criteria for good content marketing:

  1. Original and useful content
  2. Relevant to your audience
  3. A suitable length and tone
  4. Presented in an accessible format
  5. Informed by measurement of former success

It is in this last element that content marketing can come unstuck. You monitor your content reception and find a formula that works. What next? You need to crack why that content worked, getting into the very core of what appeals to your customer base.

If you replicate superficial elements, believing this to be the secret to pleasing your audience, you will end up doing the equivalent of showering your customers with owl paraphernalia: churning out more content that goes nowhere and seems repetitive and bland.

The truth is, much as my grandmother likes owls, what really appealed to her about the original figurine was that someone had taken the time to pick it out for her, wrap it and bring it to her in person. The real pleasure in receiving a gift is knowing that you are valued and someone understands you and cares about you.

If you hold this approach to content marketing in mind, your pieces will really hit the mark. Instead of showering customers in content that fits some general category of the kind of thing they like, pay them the respect of being selective and precise in crafting content that will express your appreciation for them. It will receive the content marketing equivalent of being placed on their mantelpiece, and your relationship will flourish as a result.