How To Use Consistent Content To Attract Attention And Hook Your Audience

How To Use Consistent Content To Attract AttentionDo you provide regular servings of consistent content? 

Think: Meal kits like Blue Apron for content.

Like meal kits that do the shopping and chopping, this content saves you creation time.

Why?

Because you follow an established content structure regardless of whether it’s an email newsletter, blog post, video or podcast.

And like meal kits, this consistent content makes it easier for your audience to consume!

Further, these regular servings of content aren’t new. Traditional media has used different variations of this formulaic content for years. 

Well known examples include:

  • Regular advice columns in newspapers and magazines. Among the most notable columnists were Ann Landers and Dear Abby.
  • Late night television host monologues. From Johnny Carson  to Jimmy Fallon, these show openers often involve a sidekick. Some hosts, namely Stephen Colbert has added special segments to his monologue such as “Midnight Confessions”.
  • Weekend news talk shows. Like the long running, Meet The Press, these shows include interviews and roundtable discussions.

Why do they work?
Because they save content creation time by following a set format and structure. 

Since digital media eliminated appointment media that requires audience consumption at designated times, cyclical content builds reader expectations and attracts an audience with: 

  • Appearing on a scheduled publication day and time,
  • Having a human face and personality, and
  • Providing structured information.

As a result, you develop Share of Audience Attention (aka: SOAA).

Let’s examine how you can add consistent content to your content offering.

 

Consistent Content Definition

Consistent content is defined as information published on a regular scedule using a set structure. Regardless of whether it consists of email newsletters, blog posts, videos, webinars and/or podcasts, the content has a human personality that creates a connection with your audience. 

5 core traits make consistent content easy to create and distribute on a regular basis:

  1. Address a specific audience. Appeals to a targeted readership to give them information they want and need or to entertain them. Remember focus your communication on your audience, not your business needs!
  2. Focus on a defined category. Use a general topic that doesn’t change over time. By contrast, like personal letters, the perspective of thought leaders can provide the focus.
  3. Deliver on a regular schedule, ideally weekly or every other week. As the digital version of appointment media your audience depends on receiving your information at the same time every week. Over time, this builds share of audience attention.
  4. Have an established structure and format. Since each issue follows a uniform approach, the information is easy-to-create and easy-to-consume. Further make each portion finishable. So offer a moderate amount of information but don’t overwhelm readers. Also make it scannable with outlining, bolding and images.
  5. Select a dependable writer or host to create this content. Beyond providing a reliable voice, it builds a human connection between the writer and the reader. By breaking theater’s fourth wall, it creates a human connection so that the reader feels like the writer is talking to him directly.

 

Key to Success With Regular Content Servings

Consistent content benefits include:

  • Is relatively easy and quick to create due to pre-defined structure.
  • Keep brand and business visible due to regular publication schedule. As a result, it builds audience expectations.
  • Give a human face to your content and business. So readers feel like they’re part of the conversation and develop a relationship with your content.

Consistent content success is grounded in models of consumption habits. According to, Northernwestern University’s Medill Local News Study of 3 daily local US newspapers, a regular content consumption habit predicted retaining paid local news media subscribers better than number of articles read or time spent per visit. 

in The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg defines a habit as occurring when you get exposed to a cue. It triggers a mental, emotional or physical routine to act and  you get rewarded. 

By contrast, Hooked author Nir Eyal’s Hooked Model adds to 2 key elements to Duhigg’s approach. They are variable reward to hook users by changing the reward to increase user impact due to uncertainty, and investment to get users to stay engaged.

As a result, consistent content creates long-term business value:

  • Develop an addressable audience that wants your information. It supports marketing activities such as laying the foundation for community or customer retention.
  • Saves content distribution expense. Since you have an addressable audience, you don’t need to use paid media to find them.
  • Building trust. While intangible and difficult to measure, it contributes to your brand.

 

3 Stellar Consistent Content Examples (and Why They Succeed!)

To help you understand how to create must-have consistent content, let’s look at how 3 different marketers have made a specific content format their own.

Each of these creators:

  • Grew their audience from zero,
  • Focused on their audience’s needs (while addressing their content to a specific person), and
  • Showed up on a regular basis over time since they felt a responsibility to their audience.

Ann HandleyAnn Handley’s Total Annarchy Newsletter

Ask most marketers what’s on their must read email list and you don’t need to guess because Ann Handley is their first answer. 

But that wasn’t always the case.

After a reader commented about her lack of correspondence in 2017, Ann decided to pivot and focus on her email newsletter in 2018.

More importantly, Ann writes her newsletter herself as if she’s writing for a special and specific friend or colleague. She takes this cue from Warren Buffet who writes his annual shareholder letter for his sister Doris.

Ann Handley's Total Annarchy Newsletter

As an experienced writer, Ann knows that the more specific your writing becomes like writing to one person, the more universal it often feels. 

Here’s what Ann says about her newsletter (Hat tip to Kerry O’Shea Gargone’s MarketingProfs podcast interview with Ann):

“I design [my newsletter] to be story-driven, so that it feels like you read the first line and then it leads you to the second, third, fourth line. I spend a lot of time crafting a story to really open up the newsletter.” 

 “If this is a letter that goes directly to one person and it’s appearing in an inherently personal space (your inbox), the bar is pretty high.” 

 

Amy Landino

Amy Landino’s AmyTV

With 350,000+ YouTube subscribers, Amy Landino has racked up over 20 million views on her AmyTv Channel.

Like Ann Handley, Amy focuses on and cares deeply about her community and their needs. She helps her viewers to go after the life they want especially with her “Good Morning, Good Life” videos.

Consistency is key to Amy’s success:

“For the last couple of years, I’ve consistently published on AmyTV every Sunday and Wednesday at 4pm.”

AmyTv

Like many things in life, Amy credits showing up as important:

“Promising to show up and follow through for my community has been the biggest level of consistency in my brand. My audience knows they can rely on me to deliver for them on time, therefore they come to watch the video as early as possible to support me. It’s a small part of the loyalty we can offer each other that contributes to a much greater relationship.”

 

Douglas BurdettDouglas Burdett’s My Marketing Book Podcast

With listeners across 150+ countries and 1+ million downloads, Douglas Burdett credits Woody Allen with inspiring his succes. In a 1977 New York Times interview, Allen said, “I have learned one thing. ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide [at] home in bed. I’ve done both.”

For Burdett, this translates to consistency.
Every Friday since January, 2015 he “showed up” and published an interview with the author of a new marketing or sales book that he read.

While Doug has published 250+ interviews as well as implementing and testing different things to get the show get discovered by more people, he credits, “Consistency made the biggest impact over time.”

Like Amy, Doug says, “As the audience grew, showing up became easier because I didn’t want to let my listeners down by not showing up.

As Douglas Burdett says: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started. You can do it. Just get started showing up.” @marketingbook Click To Tweet

 

5 Actionable Consistent Content Marketing Tactics

After investing marketing resources in consistent content, why not get the most out of every issue?

You’ve already done the hard work!

1. Improve on-boarding to give new subscribers the velvet rope treatment

At a minimum, provide a tailored landing page, thank you page and confirmation email. Keep the voice, visuals and other elements the same to reduce abandonment.

Since they’ve just shared their contact information with you, why not go further? Especially because it helps reduce churn and allows you to spotlight your best content. For example, Enchanting Marketing’s Henneke offers an 18 email course that she drips out over time.

Actionable Content Marketing Tip:

  • Add chat functionality where appropriate to add subscribers and help them to complete registration.
  • Create a unique email address for each edition of consistent content. This allows you to respond to inquiries faster and in a branded way. 
  • Use your initial communication to ask newbies what is their biggest problem. Where possible, take the time to answer these responses since it helps build your relationship with them.

 

2. Transform content into other formats to expand distribution and consumption.

Since by its nature, this type of content is easier to create doesn’t restrict you from getting more mileage from your content!

Just because you view this information to as redistributed or reused doesn’t mean others don’t consider it new and interesting. While at The Economist, we transformed 2 columns from our print edition into newsletters  our email subscribers wanted.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Share your newsletter, video and/or podcast to social media platforms. All you need is a link! Note: Some email services allow you to do this automatically.
  • Include a link to this content on your website or blog. Here’s the wording I use at the end of my newsletter:  “Click here to get this and previous AMG newsletters on the Web” Even better, this helps readers to share it on social media and email.
  • Use your blog or website to increase distribution for non-text consistent content. BTW, if you distribute blog posts via a feed service, this option increases content distribution. For example, Mark Schaefer adds a photo and commentary to when he posts his podcasts on his Business Grow blog.
    Mark Schaefer - Business Grow Blog
  • Transform consistent content into other content formats such as video and audio to expand your audience. For example, Chris Penn does this for his You Ask, I Answercolumn where he responds to audience questions. To increase searchability, he records a video, strips the images to create an audio version and adds machine generated text.Chris Penn - You Ask I Answer
  • Share snack-size tidbits such as pull quotes and images. Even better drip these out over time. Instead of relying on your branding in your social media presentation, I recommend including a link at the bottom of the image to your original content or your subscription.

3. Use consistent content to support other content marketing

In addition to being one of the 5 core content types, consistent content allows you to vet new content ideas as well as to promote other content, promotions and events.

The key to success:
Skip the outright promotion! Instead spotlight these other content offerings as additional benefits. 

Where possible take a page from Hollywood and include outtakes and other bonus materials.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Curate related content where appropriate. But don’t offer too many options or readers will bail since they can’t make up their mind. For example, Chris Penn’s Almost Timely News email is one of the best examples of how to use curation to attract an audience.. Chris includes his own content and other people’s.
  • Spotlight other content you think is useful. I love that Tamsen Webster labels this content her #SwipeFile. Even better, she points out when the content is gated.Tamsen Webster #SwipeFile
  • Give a shout out to people who have mentioned you in their content. I call this “Heidi Around The Web” in the Actionable Marketing Guide newsletter.Varonica Jarski and Heidi Cohen at Content Marketing World

BTW–AI tools can allow you to personalize email content based on you content curated in your newsletters.

4. Build subscriber list over time 

Just because your consistent content is important to you, doesn’t mean everyone you know or would be interested in it is aware that it exists.

Therefore take advantage of every opportunity to ask people to subscribe especially if you’re starting to build your list.  For example, after his year-long sabbatical, Joe Pulizzi started another newsletter from scratch, Random Newsletter. So he had to build his list from scratch.

For example, I added a call-to-action to my business cards, “Get AMG Newsletter: https://heidicohen.com/subscribe” 

But don’t register people to your list without asking for their permission and providing easy unsubscribe. 

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Include a subscribe link on your social media profiles and email signature files.
  • Make it easy for recipients to share your newsletter across platforms. Include share icons for Pocket, Flipboard and email.
  • Allow readers to get their own copy of your newsletter. Here’s what Joe says, “P.S. If this email was forwarded to you, you need your own.”

5. Measure content results

Since consistent content contributes to business value, measure how it performs. Where possible assess how long subscribers continue to receive your content and what the churn rate is.

Focus on key email, video or podcasting metrics.  Understand that email and video are significantly easier to track than podcast or audio content.

Actionable Content Marketing Tip:

  • Include a call-to-action where possible and related tracking codes.

 

How To Attract Attention and Hook Your Audience Conclusion

Put consistent content at the heart of your content marketing plans.

Why?

Because in today’s seismic content marketing shift environment, you need a way to attract attention to build an audience.

Not because they have to sign up for your information to get your bait! But because they want to hear from you.

And, since the content has a consistent structure whether it’s a newsletter, video or podcast, you don’t waste time thinking about how to structure it.

But most importantly, a real person is associated with your content! While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s what makes your readers feel a connection with you. Of course, you have to create the content with one person in mind but that specificity matters and makes your consistent content more universal.

Now isn’t that a much better way to achieve your marketing objectives while setting your business apart?

As many of the marketers referenced state, consistently showing up for their audience was the key to their success. Translation: Publish and distribute on the same time every week or every other week.

Go on, take the first step. As people start to read and share your content, you’ll start to feel an obligation to them.

But more importantly, you’ll keep your business visible over time while creating a business asset in terms of your list. And it’ll help you distribute new content.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

 

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Photo Credit: Typewriter and Ann Handley via Heidi Cohen. Amy Landino and Douglas Burdett with permission.

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