Making content is just part of the daily grind for any brand. But making content for an advertising campaign that will go above and beyond your expectations? That's not easy. We turned to the experts to find out what they say you should focus on to have a successful content advertising campaign.
What are the core principles for a successful and entertaining content advertising campaign?
The MarTechExec takeaway
There's a lot to consider when creating a successful content advertising campaign. Some say to make that personality stand out, others say focus on education. Overwhelming, however, our experts agree that you need to put the customer first.
The expert takeaways
- Let your personality shine
- Make them stop and stare with beautiful visuals
- Make them laugh
- It's all about the customer
- Have your target in sight
- Be the ultimate storyteller
- Bring on the diverse content
- Take them to school with your educational content
- Craig Addyman
- Walter Akolo
- Tom Bentley
- Nick Brooks
- Mel Carson
- Bob Carver
- Rishabh Dev
- Archana Dhanar
- Ronald Dod
- Joe Escobedo
- Melissa Harrison
- Pamela Hyatt
- Paul Lancaster
- Dan Laske
- Rachel Lindteigen
- Louie Luc
- Nick Lucs
- Melissa Mannozzi
- James Mathison
- Patti Minglin
- Anna O'Byrne
- Carin Oliver
- Jerome Perrin
- Owen Philipson
- Julie Poupat
- Amy Rederburg
- Łukasz Rogala
- Konrad Sanders
- Johann Savalle
- David Soler
- Christoph Trappe
- Stephen Twomey
- Nathan Warne
- Jacob Warwick
- Ricky Wolff
- Gary Wollenhaupt
- Joe Wozny
- Joseph Yaacoub
Let your personality shine
"My biggest tip for keeping an audience entertained is to truly discover the personality behind your brand. Think of your brand as a living, breathing entity--what kind of voice does it have? What kinds of things would your brand enjoy doing? Knowing the personality behind your brand allows you to not only create and curate content that will resonate with your target audience, but you will also be able to use a voice and tone that connects.
This living, breathing brand of yours should act like a real person in your social spaces--commenting on other's posts, answering questions, thanking people for participating in a discussion, etc. This moves your content from being a dialogue to a true conversation."
“Being natural and credible in what you say and that the content is really in the interest of your followers. There is nothing wrong with sponsored content as long as it has these three premises.”
Make them stop and stare with beautiful visuals
"The type of content 100% depends on the audience and your offering. If you're selling content/information products, it's about going deeper and more targeted than other purveyors of Intel, while making the info products super-engaging.
If you're selling physical consumer products, as most of my clients do, it's about visual variety. Most people would rather look at images of products than read about them.
So, as a copywriter, I look for clients who are committed to going the extra mile with visual content. They need to be investing in great custom or curated/photoshopped photography, video content and working with influencers and customers to get fantastic User Generated Images.
Never underestimate the demand for visual novelty.
But while you're keeping it fresh, you also need to be very clear on your brand look and voice. That core identity needs to come through each piece of content, so you're reinforcing your brand with every single piece of content.
There's a surprising amount of repetition in writing content for consumer brands. You're always reiterating your positioning: what makes you different, your unique benefits and features, and your 'reasons to believe.'
Part of that positioning is knowing who you're creating content for. Take the time to get to know that one person who you make products specifically for and create for them, speak to them. Keep gathering insight into what gets them excited, and do more of that, constantly getting more and more targeted.
Big brands know this, but smaller businesses often don't have positioning and aren't truly branding with their content. Audiences start to feel confused about what the brand stands for and then they tune out. So, surprisingly, engagement is often about a core vein of repetition in your messaging.
Engagement, then = visual variety + messaging repetition.”
“Blocking the ‘back’ button in every browser. Joking!
The key to great and entertaining content is long forms with images and videos (if it is possible to make one). Also, it's crucial to show people that you care about their time and share some main thoughts/summary at the beginning so they can easily get what they need."
Make them laugh
“Keep it real. We all have a sense of humor; just because we're talking about business doesn't mean we have to tuck that away.
We're more likely to read content if it doesn't sound like a research paper written by a team of data scientists. I say keep it clean, but let your humor shine through. Use funny stories and images; they lighten our mood and people will remember you.”
“Present your informational and educational content in a way that's not too stiff and shows your brand's human personality. Even traditional stiff content doesn't usually need to be as stiff as it's presented.”
It's all about the customer
“It sounds like a cliche but know your audience and deliver what they need. If you're regularly providing interesting and useful content that will genuinely help them in their personal or professional lives then they will keep reading your blogs, watching your videos, sharing your infographics and responding to your social media posts. Always remember it's about them not you.”
"Content marketing, particularly in the B2B space, can often feel like a bland endeavor and earning reader attention can be a challenge. You always seem to add some combination of technical writing, buzzwords, or odd product placement and self-promotion to make your boss happy—but it doesn't have to be like that. To entertain your readers, add more emotion into your writing and concentrate on presenting your content in a more conversational tone. Make it a point to empathize with your readers by addressing topics that are on the top of their mind and incorporate energized vocabulary or sentence structure that garners interest.
For example, consider the empathetic emotional connection I made with writers that deal with writer's block on a boring topic.
‘You stare at blank page begging for the right words will fill your fingertips. Your boss flashes a disconcerting look your direction indicating that your deadline is far past and Kevin keeps bothering you for your Starbucks order. If only they understood that you loathe writing about another way to share the team's brand new, innovative, game-changing product line. Ugh. All copywriters can relate this struggle…’
Entertaining writing comes from building a deep understanding of the audience's interests, pains, and daily life. To learn more about your audience (and improve your writing) begin calling your customers, speaking with your sales team, and paying attention to any feedback they give you on blog posts, company reviews, or social media channels."
"The piece of content should first fulfill its purpose. You should aim to hit the bullseye by providing exactly what the reader is looking for.
To keep them entertained and engaged, infuse your personality into the content. If you are philosophical, include some smart, inspiring bites. If you're comical, make some cool jokes. If you're a great story-teller, wow your audience with mouth-watering stories.
Recent and relevant stats, quotes, surveys or studies by industry experts can also help build credibility. Don't forget to link back to the source.
When doing long-form content, make it easy to read by including subheadings, block quotes, infographics, images, content boxes, and videos."
"I have one tip: Listen to your customers' stories, needs, and wants, then give that back to them with your brand's promise as a character in the story.
Watch the PS4 commercial, For the Players Since 1995. Sony collected customer stories on social media, then rewrote those stories into a killer ad that earned millions of views and tons of praise."
“Never post content for the sake of posting content. Do your research so that you know who you're trying to reach, what they are looking for, and at the same time, be true to your brand.
While keeping an audience entertained is great, content marketing is about engagement and providing a solution to pain points.
Are you solving a need? Are they clicking on your links? Are they commenting and providing feedback? That is when you know you're doing content right.”
“Speak their language. If you are doing content marketing for the medical industry, well then speak the language that the physicians and staff would use. Nothing "gets you in" like knowing the vernacular of that particular industry.
In the book "Primal Branding" they discuss how knowing the language is like a secret handshake. If you know the secret handshake, then you gain access, trust, and credibility. Using writers who know the language or can learn it to a high level is paramount when publishing content in a niche that has its own 'dialect.'
If you don't speak their language they will see right through you and your content and move to someone else's website who engages them with their own tribal language.”
“Keeping your readers entertained comes down to having in-depth knowledge and understanding of your audience, this might be as whole or smaller cohorts.
So, how might we do this and keep our audience entertained?
Start by defining your audience personas, these will, and should evolve over time. If your site is brand new, then use common sense and try put yourself in the reader’s shoes. If you’re an established brand, look at your analytics data; what are their interests? How are they searching the site? What are they already looking at? How are they consuming content? What is their demographic?
If you want to take your personas to another level, look at actively surveying your users – it’s a good chance to find other issues with your business, too.
Next, define micro and macro conversions on an engagement level, these might change between campaigns or media types, but you should have general conversions KPI’s in place. A micro conversion might be scroll depth, and a macro conversion might be subscribing to the blog or series.
Now that we have the basics covered, we want to look at building a mind-map of topics around our primary topic or niche. These should cover both topical ideas as well as user-intention.”
"Entertaining your audience depends on who you’re aiming to target. For example, a research scientist looking to unwind will find more joy in an article about academic writing struggles than a young entrepreneur looking for tips on writing their first blog post.
Gather research on what your audience cares about before setting out with the intention in mind to ‘entertain.’ Look for what your target demographic is talking about online, follow trends they are interested in, and spy on conversations around topics they care about.
Once you have a good grasp of what it will take to resonate with your chosen audience, start planning a topic theme around those ideas. You’ll use the data you’ve gathered to direct the conversation to something that rings true.
I look at creating entertaining content as an iceberg: the stuff people share is at the very tip while the bulk of the work is hidden beneath the surface. Focus on research about your audience before making any assumptions about what they’ll find entertaining."
“The best tips I have for keeping an audience entertained are to think about the audience. Don't focus on yourself and your goals but rather, focus on your consumer and their needs/wants.
Talk to your audience, ask what questions they have, and answer them fully. Use video, photo, graphics, and other fun design elements that bring your messages to life. Don't just broadcast your message. Be an active participant in the conversation.”
"To be successful with content that entertains your audience, first you must really understand your community properly. As with any content marketing, you must have done thorough research into your buyers requirements, your personas, and their actual needs.
Although entertaining content often doesn't address a specific customer requirement, you still must know what makes them tick, so that the 'fun stuff' does not fall flat on its face.
Can you make the content about the audience, not about you? If you put them at the center, and make them the heroes, you will stand a good chance of succeeding."
“Write with a person in mind, based on a persona or your own experience, and every story should be built around a journey or a sense of motion - The reader should be drawn through the content to reach the conclusions on their own, not be the victim of an info dump.”
"Start by planning your content strategy and really figuring out your audience; remember not all of your ideas will resonate with your audience and that’s okay!
To keep your audience entertained you should be ready to provide your visitors with useful information without expecting anything in return. You should be unique because we as 'users' tend to remember things that are unusual, make us laugh, or make us think.
Finally, where you post your content is important. Do your research to find the right platforms and customize your content based on each platform. In other words, use the right format.
Don’t hesitate to mix and match, test and re-do until you find what works best for you.
Remember, your content is a long-term lead generator and one of your most important marketing tools. Give it the attention and focus it deserves. When managed properly, content marketing can expand your online reach and provide you with endless opportunities to grow your business."
"If you don't know your audience very well, stick with universal themes such as dating, love, loss and achievement."
“Give them something that's totally new. People engage with content that solves a problem for them, answers their questions, or gives them unique insights into a topic that is close to home.”
“Audiences today are seeking a more authentic experience when engaging with high profile brands. Social media is a great equalizer today, placing all participants on the same level playing field. This is something that is very important for corporate entities, non-profits, and high profile persons to embrace - fans and followers RESPOND far more favorably when they experience a feeling of true connection with the person or enterprise.
Content Marketing today is about producing content that is of natural interest to the target audience. The goal must be to create an ongoing dialogue with audiences. Audience members want to feel that their contribution to the conversation are valued. They desire to have their opinions heard and their concerns addressed. This can be accomplished through active and attentive engagement with audiences.”
“Understanding your audience is critical; in particular the challenges they face. Provide insight, ideas and inspiration - do not attempt to sell directly through content.”
"Regardless of whether your content is organic or sponsored, how you engage your audience shouldn't differ that much.
It's all about bringing your audience into the content creation experience. I try to do this before, during and after I develop a story. For example, before I start writing I ask my connections what are their biggest challenges on a particular topic and then craft the piece accordingly. Once I have a few headlines, I'll post the options on LinkedIn and ask my audience which one they would click on. After the piece is finished, I share it on social media and ask them for their feedback. This helps me refine my upcoming stories.
Remember, if your audience feels like they contributed to your piece then they are much more likely to latch onto it and think of it as their own."
“Make sure the content you are creating is adding value and benefiting the followers, rather a complete advertorial. Your followers are following you for advice and inspiration. Always try to think of value add that you can do.”
Have your target in sight
“Ensuring timely, target audience-focused, and relevant content is key. As a growth hacker, my approach is to target blogs, publications, forums and magazines directly with a similar target audience, and run sponsored content campaigns on such channels instead of the obvious big targets with bloated CPEs. This helps better target and deliver content while maintaining lower costs and higher campaign ROIs.”
Be the ultimate storyteller
"In a time of big-data dizziness, automation software and companies buying marketing stacks of tech tools that make cappuccinos as well as conversions—not a bad idea—going back to the simple, relatable expressions of everyday life still keep an audience engaged. One of the simplest, and one that seems to have an electric path from ear to the brain is storytelling.
People crave stories—of courage, absurdity, threat. If companies can couch their ‘why’ through compelling, crafted tales of their origin, the evolution of their products or services, the near misses, the crushing failures, the moments when what was lost was found again—customers will lean in, perk up, pay attention.
Today’s stories might emerge from a keyboard, but the ones that affect us the most come from emotional cores, the struggles to make sense out of our world, the insight to see what might happen next, the curiosity to pursue it.
And if you can toss in a good joke along the way, you’ll have your audience in your pocket."
“Content marketing can involve all kinds of mediums, but here's how to keep your audience entertained in blog posts specifically:
Tip 1: Grab them with a powerful hook line.
Make it a one sentence paragraph which slaps them in the face immediately with a big old benefit. Or arrows straight to a problem they hold dear. Here are some powerful examples.
Tip 2: Tell a story.
We've been listening to stories since nappie-hood and our brains are hardwired to love them. They grip. They engage. They fire up our imaginations. It doesn't matter how dull or technical the subject matter is, you can always teach and entertain through a story. This post explains how...
Tip 3: Have a conversation with your reader.
Two-way entertainment is better than one. Involve your audience by asking them questions, giving them commands and telling them to pause and mull things over every now and then. Get inside their brain's operating control box.
Say stuff like:
- Are you starting to understand the value of…?
- I know what you’re thinking.
- Now imagine this scenario;
- How would you feel in this situation?
- Picture this.
- I’m going to ask you something. And be honest.
- Let me guess.
- What if you…?
- Have you ever noticed that…?
- You probably already know that…
- Do you remember hearing…?
- Have you ever…?
Tip 4: Build anticipation.
Just like a movie that begins with the shocking/amazing end scene, tease your reader with what's to come. Let them peek into the future and see what wonderful delights await them. Say things like:
- By the time you reach the end of this post, you’ll be a [insert profession] expert!
- As you lap up every drop of this blog post, you’ll become more and more…
- I’m about reveal three little known industry secrets. But first, let me tell you a little story.
- The tips you’re about to read will drastically help you improve…
- The story I’m about to tell you is both shocking and amazing. Brace yourself.
Tip 5: Use metaphors and similes.
Make your content tap dance and sing. Really paint pictures and draw analogies that intrigue and resonate. This article will give you some food for thought.
Tip 6: Stagger the length of your paragraphs and sentences.
Big chunky paragraphs are scary and just plain hard to read. As are uber long sentences. Try to mix up your flow.
See what I did there?
Subheaders and bullet points also help to break your blog posts up, making them sexier to look at and easier to digest. Throw a bit of humour and/or wordplay into those subheaders and you’ll make your blog posts even more entertaining.”
"To successfully deliver a sponsored content that is engaging to your followers you need to tell a story that’s both entertaining and useful to them. It has to be something helpful and interesting and not just an ad disguised as an article.
Publishing sponsored content is easier to me since I only review products or services that I’ve used or use and think can help my readers reach their goals. Every time a company asks me to review its product or service, that’s precisely what I tell them. I only consider accepting their offer if they’ll grant me access to using their tool for as long as I need to reach a business objective.
Only then will I feel properly equipped to review their stuff and I do so by telling how their product helped me reach a desired outcome in a set amount of time -- making sure that people know it’s sponsored content -- and how it could help my readers replicate my success."
Bring on the diverse content
“In order to keep an audience entertained, it is pivotal to generate various different types of content. Don't solely focus on blogs, but also create webinars, white papers, infographics, case studies, video's and perhaps consider live streaming through social media channels.
This enables diversity and makes sure that your audience is not always reading and soaking up the same content over and over again. Diversity is key. Content should also be adjusted to the reader. If the reader doesn't know your company and product yet, make sure they consume high-level content.
Once they start to get to know your company, make sure they are consuming heavier content. You have to create a nurture funnel while clearly defining the stages in which your readers are in.”
“There are three approaches we use: fundamentals, data, and infotainment. Fundamentals include using storytelling, compelling images, custom images, screenshots that illustrate key points, and keeping writing concise and to the point. This is for blog articles and things like infographics. All of these fundamentals help bring the writing to life for the content consumer.
That said, we get the best engagement when we include data. We prefer to use data that we collect, but we can also take data from other articles to show trends, make comparisons, and draw conclusions. While people love data, there's an art and science to publishing data based analysis. The science is the numbers and the analysis, the art is not making articles too thick and chewy. We like articles with three to five pieces of data we can correlate to show a trend or draw a conclusion. Keeping these articles to a page or page and a half in length works really well. Visualizing data, and the conclusion is a must for easy consumption.
If we have more data, we'll do an article series which is a great opportunity to link back to previous posts. Finally, we'll do infotainment. We've just increased the amount we do this, and tend to do it on Facebook more as we see much better engagement from entertaining pieces. We'll take some content and rewrite it to be more entertaining. This might include funnier pictures, snarky titles, or tuning and article into a series of snarky questions and answers.”
"One of the greatest entertainers of all time, Mr. Charles Aznavour, once said: ‘Well, the biggest task of a creator is to be loved’. Whatever your genius, whatever your skills, whatever the content you publish, if people do not love what you create, it will be very difficult to entertain any kind of audience on the long term.
The ideal path will always be the following: a great content >>> a great hype >>> a great tribe.
Once you can seal this golden link between a content creator and a content consumer, it is of the utmost importance to a) understand the nature and the beauty of this link b) take care of this link c) nurture this link with fresh contents which can fit, respect and make this link evolve - and live...
Whatever the content you create: articles, podcasts, books, etc. Creating an audience is very tough. And once you managed to create a tribe of fans, you will notice that you possibly may have to manage something new, too: a horde of haters, fools, and trolls.
Their jealousy will motivate them to destruct all the beauty that you could create. It’s all about love and hate. So, may the hate not make you blind.
And always follow your heart when you elaborate, sculpt and nurture this golden link between your fans and you - when you market great contents."
“Content Marketing is only 10% about CREATION but 90% about DISTRIBUTION. Some of the best performing tips to improve audience engagement and retention are:
#1 Using different formats of content including GIFs, Videos, and Infographics.
#2 Using Gamification in your content strategy
#3 Redistributing content in different formats across channels
#4 Using Discussions on the created content to answer relevant questions of the audience.”
Take them to school with your educational content
“When someone asks me for content marketing tips, I always answer: Education!
Our readers and targets need to understand what we say. Education is the best way to convince them. When you teach something, you earn trust. You give something precious and you make them more powerful. They like this feeling, so they'll like you.
Teach some part of your knowledge to your targets: they will see you as someone who brings them something essential, not as someone who is selling something.
For instance, every month, I write marketing vocabulary articles, explaining one word. After reading my article, the reader knows everything about this word.
Another tip is ‘structure.’ Your targets really need you to go along with them. they mostly don't know what to do and that's why they ask for your help. If you give them a structure and methodology, you'll be sure to create a relationship with them. They will ask questions about it, try it and give their opinion. It's an excellent tip to create engagement.
But giving structure or methodology doesn't mean giving your entire workforce. That is just an overview of your structure.
For instance, I wrote an article about creating a community management contract for freelancers. I shared all the points of a legal contract, the content, the way to write it, and a template of a contract. Many people read my article and thanked me because it helped them a lot. I had a lot of reactions and now, they recommend me as an expert of Community Management!
Everything is about giving. Tips, structure, templates, experiences, use cases… Prove that you are able to share your knowledge and that you're an expert in your job (without being haughty) and you'll get the trust of your targets.”
“Being entertained doesn’t necessarily mean your audience is in the game for laugh-a-minute content. At Delightful, we have a mantra that if you’re looking to create great, engaging content to increase the halo effect of your brand, you need to have AURA.
Whatever you publish should be Authentic, Useful, Relevant and Actionable.
Authenticity is crucial when establishing trust with your audience. By being real and genuine with your content, you’ll keep people coming back as you build an audience that feels connected to your brand.
Being Useful goes without saying. Whether it’s a how-to video or a comedic skit that helps break up a mundane day, content needs to have a purpose and not the so-what-factor. You don’t want your target segment watching or reading some content and feeling it was a waste of their time as there was nothing in it for them!
Relevancy is a no-brainer but so often overlooked, especially on social media. Research and completely understand your audience and serve them what they want or need. Spray and pray marketing has been relegated to the annals of time as increased analytics and targeting capabilities make lazy placements obsolete.
If you have your audience take action when they come into contact with your brand, they’ll spend more time with you and you have the opportunity to create deeper connections. The more time someone spends with your brand, the less time they’ll be spending with your competition!”
“The most effective sponsored content I have seen have two attributes: it doesn't lie about being sponsored content and it is really great content! If the content is strong is doesn't matter if it is sponsored or not.
The companies which do poorly with sponsored content are usually promoting content which is very promotional and not educational. When creating and delivering sponsored content be sure to make it valuable to the audience, provide them value, and let them know the benefits they will receive when they get the content.
If you do those things then you will be successful with sponsored content and users will continue to engage with you.”
“Sponsored Content is a form of Digital Advertising that can include a single image, video or article/blog, which is posted on the social platform or website of a publisher or influencer.
Sponsored Content is editorial in nature, typically not brand-biased and focuses on informing rather than convincing your target audience, and uses the power of storytelling to build relationships with consumers by providing them with something entertaining or useful.
Recent measurements show that consumers find sponsored content equally engaging when compared to non-sponsored content (Huffington Post, Nov 2016). This runs contrary to the negative stigma toward sponsored content that existed when it was introduced as a ‘native advertising’ option.
- Ensure your sponsored content is contextual to content stream it is embedded in.
- Identify what your target market is interested in (through social listening tools, for example) so your advertising stands a better chance of being engaged with. It’s also an anchor to an efficient advertising spend.
- Using keyword research when developing your content (not keyword stuffing) can help it be indexed and found.
- Return on Investment matters. Use conversion measurements to groom both your advertising and content strategy.
Bottom Line: Create your sponsored content with your key focus on the consumer…. and be sure that it provides actual value.”
Keep that content crystal clear
“Keep – the – eye – moving. The eye is a fickle creature, dancing across the page. If it trips over too many words it will bounce away. So put it into a trance. Open the post with short sentences.
Make them easy to ‘snap up’ and move on. Your ideas should slip into the reader's brain without effort. If you make them work for it, they'll leave. So don't be "clever". Be clear instead.
Write subheadings as interesting as the title. If a reader scrolls to the bottom (even if they were only scanning), you've got a great chance of earning an email with a well-placed "content upgrade" lead magnet.”
“Make the placement and subject natural. Keep the sponsored content similar to the style that either you create or the influencer creates. You want it to blend in as much as you can.”