The Content King is Dead: Long Live the Empress of Experience

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This is a guest post by Tea Silvestre of  ProsperitysKitchen.com.

(How to create kick ass content that gets put to use, rather than just downloaded and forgotten)

There’s a glut of information available on the web today – and now that everyone’s building their lists with a free download, our hard drives all have a bad case of infobesity.

Don’t lie. You know yours does, too.

I’ve seen a variety of statistics on the topic, but most agree that somewhere in the neighborhood of 85% of all web content and info never gets put to use.

Makes you say, “hmm.” Doesn’t it?

Here’s the awful truth: if you hope to attract and retain new clients, you need to be able to show prospects your value via the real outcomes you’ve helped past clients achieve.

And there will only be real outcomes if those folks take action.

It’s a vicious circle, and one that’s bound and determined to continue…at least until you figure out how to get all those folks who download your kingly content to do something with it.

Experience vs. Content

Alright. So we’ve established that content by itself is no longer King of all the Interwebz. Useful for attracting visitors, yes. But marketing King? Nope.

The thing that’ll make or break your business – especially if you don’t have a brick and mortar shop to call your own – is your ability to create an engaging experience for your readers, visitors and prospects.

Lucky us. Technology makes this easier and easier every day.

So why are you still relying on a PDF or a blog post when you could create a 3-dimensional, multi-media experience?

If you read Denise’s blog at all, you already know you need to have strong calls to action at the end of your blog posts. That’s because every time you ask a reader to do something (and they follow through), they are that much more likely to take the next step. And the next. And the next…

Every little action – even if it’s just clicking a button — can add up to something quite profound for your reader (and potentially profitable for you). With that in mind, what we want to aim for then is content that’s highly interactive. And yes, asking for a comment to a blog post is a great start. But we can do better.

Beyond the Content: Engaging Your Website Visitors

These suggestions aren’t necessarily new – but if you’re not using them, it’s time to seriously consider starting. And while there are probably many more ways to create engagement with your prospects, these categories specifically encourage community and group interaction – something that’s proven to get and keep people more engaged than if they’re passively reading or watching something on their own.

1.       Host regular interactive events – These might be Twitter Chats (use the TweetChat.com interface to make things easier); Google hangouts; or even podcasts (BlogTalkRadio is a great way to get started). These types of events are better than traditional webinars or telecasts because they’re more inclusive of audience feedback and encourage conversations rather than just one person speaking in one direction (to a passive audience). Just be sure to publish the event time/hashtag invite prominently on your site with a link to instructions for first-timers and include a way to follow up with participants.

2.       Create interactive or collaborative content. Yes, our blogs are supposed to be interactive by virtue of the comments – but try to think outside the comment box. Use email to spark conversations that you continue on your site (via video, podcast or blog post). Let email readers know that you’ll expand on their responses or compile them into a post on your blog so you can continue the group discussion.

Another option is to let readers create something personal using a template of some sort (remember Office Max’s elf-yourself campaign? You could do something similar with a simple Powerpoint slide) that they can download/alter and then share with their friends and colleagues.

For video tutorials, bump things up a notch by asking viewers to answer a multiple-choice question in the comments. There are even special plugins that will allow you to embed calls to action with a video. (EasyVideoPlayer is just one example.)

3.     Gamify your content. Gamification is a big topic and there are lots of great resources on the internet to learn more. The idea is to add game elements and design to something that isn’t usually thought of as a game. For a blog, this might mean running a contest or holding a competition. You could have readers enter by answering a question in the comments; or use a plugin like PunchTab to manage entries and encourage social sharing.

Another option is to use a short quiz or poll that gives your reader customized information and rewards them for taking action (even if it’s just finishing the quiz).

A Case Study in Progress: The Test Kitchen Project

In preparation for my Prosperity’s Kitchen program (a 12-week reality web series/competition/online marketing class that premieres this January), I’m running a gamification experiment with a small group of my loyal blog readers (see The Test Kitchen Project).

The idea is to see what types of missions they find most engaging so that we can build even better ones for the Prosperity’s Kitchen contestants (this is important as they’ll be competing for a $10K prize package).

We’re just two weeks into the 8-week experiment, and so far the results look good. Nearly 75% of those who raised their hands to participate are actively doing so – tackling fun missions that focus on a fellow player’s real-life marketing challenge.

Enticing these readers to play a new game each week (facilitated in a private Facebook group) hasn’t been too difficult. The fun factor is definitely there.

But beyond the fun, I made the WIFM (What’s-in-it-for-me) factor clear:

  1. Get free help with a current marketing challenge
  2. Have the chance to earn and win prizes
  3. Possibly learn something new in the process

The rules are simple and promote things like collaborative sharing of ideas, earning points and badges, as well as random (surprise) rewards.

The games help the players to learn from new content and implement ideas that I write about on my blog. To date, we’ve focused on email list building, downloadable giveaways, and sales pages – all things that my readers would like to get better at doing themselves.

Could You Gamify a Free Download?

To be honest, I haven’t figured this one out, yet. Instinctually, I know that we’ve got to change HOW the free information is delivered. That a simple PDF or even a video isn’t going to cut it. A simple call to action is no longer enough.

Perhaps our downloads are replaced with games, quizzes or some other dynamic activity (like the gamified tribe example above).

What do you think? How could you change up your content so that folks are more likely to take action and follow through? Ideas are everywhere.

Share yours in a comment below so we can help each other build more engaged and enlightened readers, customers and loyal fans.

Tea Silvestre (aka The Word Chef) is a gastronaut, marketing coach and the producer of the ground-breaking web series, “Prosperity’s Kitchen.” Learn more and apply to compete at ProsperitysKitchen.com

photo credit: theilr via photo pin cc

photo credit: Ally Mauro via photo pin cc

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been involved in campaigns where the goal was to get people to download, but there were interactive games on the landing site and/or a contest that people were automatically enrolled in when they downloaded. It adds another incentive besides the content. Of course, the danger is that they just want to be in the contest or to play the game, and thus aren’t strong leads. But if the contest or game is closely linked to the content, it can work well.

  2. says

    Great tips, Tea! You have inspired me to come up with a fun idea for my current blog planning guide gift for my email signup list. I have to play around a bit and pay a visit to Office Depot! But I’ve found a new creative spark! hehe Of course I need to tie it in with the upcoming Halloween season!! YOU rock my friend!!!

    Thanks, Denise, for sharing this guest post! You rock, too!!! :D

  3. says

    I’m officially stealing, ahem I mean borrowing, the term infobesity! What a perfect description. And then the Empress of Experience. Perfect. Great post with great ideas Tea, thanks.

  4. says

    I love this :) So glad I came across it. I work for the marketing department of a website and we were talking just this morning about making our blogs more interesting and interactive, I’ve circulated this article to everyone for ideas! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. says

    Hi Tea, I love the saying ‘infobesity’ unfortunately this is what many online information marketers want. They create information to sell then hope you will buy more. Action is required, not collecting drives full of info. Still I digress, great post by the way.
    Regards
    Si

  6. says

    Tea, this is a great article. (Love the term ‘infobesity’!) I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around this exact subject of community and engagement and your ideas have gone a long way toward helping me sort out how to make it work on my website.

  7. says

    An interesting argument for change. We’ve all had the “Content is King” principle drummed into us for so long that for many of us it’s become our comfort zone. This is a very timely reminder that it’s essential not to get stuck in a rut but to observe what’s happening around us and be seen to communicate rather than just keep on talking.

    Gamification, interactive events or any other means of communication with our audience sounds like a great way to keep that communication active and relevant. I’m looking forward to find out how all of this will be applied in the Prosperity Kitchen.

  8. says

    Follow through is my biggest thang. I’m a personal trainer by trade so I want coaching clients to finish what they start no matter if it’s a free autoresponder course or a paid coaching program.

    I recently set up a free foodie blogger challenge and had no one join in on a really busy blog/twitter/fanpage. Frustrating but I’m going to work on taking the same challenge I did and put it on my biz blog as an autoresponder. I know it was a good idea, the timing just could have been and probably WAS all wrong. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose

    • says

      It’s happened to all of us, Val — don’t feel too bad. Not sure what happened in your case, but don’t give up. You’re on the right track. As you pointed out, timing is a big part of the mix that also includes message/promise + visibility.

      • says

        Thanks, I was proud of myself for not taking it a bit personally that it “bombed”. I’m not considering it a bomb since I can repurpose it into an autoresponder series and it has brought a lot of traffic to my site by posting every day. A ton of work but good experiment.

  9. says

    You’ve asked some fabulous questions.

    Like you, I don’t have the answers, but I think we’d all get closer if we understood better what makes people take action.

    I’ve read some fascinating explanations recently by Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, especially his book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

    Haven’t figured out yet what it all means as far as my business and web sites are concerned, but it’s definitely been on my mind. One thing I’ve been seriously looking at is moving away from using primarily text-based content and adding audio.

    Maybe podcasting will be more engaging than blogging, at least for my target audience.

    Looking forward to hearing what others have to say about their experiences in getting people to take action.

      • says

        Forgot to mention how grateful I am to @derekhalpern. I probably wouldn’t have known about Dan if it weren’t for the interview Derek did on his site SocialTriggers.com. It’s a great place to learn more about this entire situation you’ve described.

        Can hardly wait for the start of Prosperity’s Kitchen to see how the gamification piece works.

  10. says

    Great post Tea! A couple of thoughts to add. 1) We do see interaction what we don’t see enough of is collaboration. It is the collaboration that builds the tribe not just interaction — which can be something like a comment or tweet exchange. A great example of interaction turned collaboration is our Word Carnival group. 2) Content needs CONTEXT to be really effective to turn information into knowledge that drive action. We have way too little CONTEXT for our content and this post is a great step in that direction.

    • says

      Exactly, Clare! Which is why — if you’re going to try to boost engagement — you want it to be group engagement. When we participate in groups, we tend to stay more accountable to our goals and take more action. Love the idea of focusing on context.

  11. says

    Some interesting thoughts here! I like the idea of gamification as it’s all the rage right now. Also could do a lot more with video. Totally agree with all the negatives about flash. My customers are mainly in the Foodservice industry and it still amazes me how many restaurants use flash on their websites when all a customer wants is a telephone no and menu to browse, not all the fancy flash that they are forced to sit thru.

    Thanks for a different perspective on content!
    Ian Said

  12. says

    Great post, Tea ! It’s funny, my latest blog post I just published today also talks about Infobesity ;-) So I’m definitely with you. However you took it to another level and I totally agree with you. People are no longer happy with just a free e-book, they have too many of those already. I like your ideas about interactive events. Denise’s “Virtual Blog Writing Day” is also a good example. Can’t think of any “gamifying” strategies right now, but you definitely gave me food for thought ;-) Thanks again

    • says

      Great minds think alike, huh Sarah? Let me know if you get any bright ideas later. I definitely think this takes some brain juice to figure out. (And you’re right about Denise’s Blog Writing Day — that’s what we need to do more of.)

  13. says

    Great post, Tea. “Infobesity” (awesome) is epidemic, and this much is undeniable. We ALL have that experience, if we’ve been at all engaged in online learning (yes, marketing mainly but honestly, just about any mainstream niche) for any length of time. Like you, I’m not sure what the answer is with respect to the list subscription rate and giveaway. We don’t write so people will only read. We write because we want people to *act* on what we’ve written. To make their lives better in whatever way we’re addressing.

  14. says

    Largely, im not convinced on the whole engagement theory.

    People are not coming on to your website to be entertained. they come for products or information. Make THAT content the engagement. Years ago, there was the same argument, we saw the rise of FLASH. Soon enough people were sick of that annoying flash movie that loaded but didn’t do anything useful. Content is still king, maybe just package it in a way that engages the user. I like to segment content…rather than giving them everything…make them click or comment to get the next bit. Or every month offer an ibooks free ebook of all your blog posts, so people can have your info without having to go online to get it.

    I hope we NEVER see a return to flashing gizmo’s and gadgets that cost a packet to develop and have a wow factor ONCEE.

    • says

      I agree with you on the whole Flash thing, Phil. That kind of stuff is usually a pain in the butt for both website owners and visitors.
      What I’m suggesting here is that we try to build in particular triggers (like clicking to get the next bit) that will keep the reader interacting with us, rather than just passively downloading an ebook or PDF. Too many folks (myself included) will download something and then forget to read it — let alone take action. THAT’s where I see the big problem with all of this “Content is King” jazz. It’s not king if it doesn’t move us to change.

  15. says

    Interesting! I’m not sure the King is quite ready to give up his throne just yet, but I recognise the glut of information you describe out there.
    I think as well as engaging in the way you mention, narrative can play a large part of creating a more permanent link with visitors. Soap operas have cliff hangers for a reason, and telling real stories about real people with real jeopardy and real success may also be useful.