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Increasing engagement in content marketing

You’re not going to get very far with your content marketing efforts without great content, but achieving one of content marketing’s great goals – engagement – is just as vital to your content marketing success. Here are a few tips on increasing engagement.

It may sound redundant, but perhaps the simplest way to increase engagement with your content marketing is to build opportunities for engagement right into the content. Reminding people to favorite, like, forward, or otherwise share your content is important, as is making that engagement easy. Most CMS’s have modules or plugins available to keep these options front-and-center for your readers, so web content is a great place to aim for engagement. And, of course, social media is built on the idea of engagement, so it’s almost hard not to create engagement opportunities, assuming your content is relevant and, yes, engaging …

Ask Questions, Respond to Answers
Beyond the basics, you can also ask questions or construct content so that points of conversation naturally present themselves and then give folks a forum to chime in. Comments sections and threaded conversations in social media are good of course, but also a promise to publish and/or respond to the most insightful response in the next issue of your email newsletter. People love to be heard.

As your group of more highly engaged audience members grows, you’ll have the beginnings of a community. Nurture it for all you’re worth, as little is more valuable than the highly engaged group that an online community typically becomes. There’s no better way to learn about your audience than by listening to them “in the wild.”

Surveys are another potential tool, and one that can serve a number of purposes. (Engagement – your audience participates, enticement – share results with subscribers or customers, insights – learn what your audience is thinking about and what concerns them.) Typically you have to have at least the beginnings of an engaged audience first, though, for a survey to be successful without major marketing effort.

Personalize
There are different kinds of engagement, of course, and creating a community isn’t always the goal. Getting folks to dig more deeply into your content – and strengthen your relationship with them – is another worthwhile goal.

On this front, nothing beats compelling content for creating opportunities for engagement, but you can increase your odds even more by personalizing that content. “Dear Andrew” rather than “Dear friend” as a salutation certainly helps, but you should also strive to personalize by interests and behavior.

A solidly integrated suite of digital marketing tools should enable you to track what individual audience  members are interested in and what topics they’re digging more deeply into. Tailor email messaging and even product offerings or promotions to those interests. (And in the aggregate, this information can help guide your content marketing editorial calendar – publish content that interests your audience!)

Test ‘Em
Finally, don’t be afraid to push your audience a bit. Challenge them to rethink their assumptions, challenge them to improve things that work but could be better. (Hopefully in ways that make your products or services more attractive.)

In the end, it’s still the content that matters. If it’s relevant and thought-provoking, you’ll get engagement. But when you’re sure you’ve ticked that box, build one or more of the ideas above into your content creation and you’ll increase engagement further.

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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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