When content marketing works, it’s just awesome. Brands that have mastered content marketing report gaining more visitors, better engagement, higher quality leads and increased sales. Yet for every successful brand, many others struggle to achieve content marketing results.

Often, better content marketing results can be achieved through a series of adjustments rather than a complete overhaul. Here are 6 things you can do to power up content marketing results.

Make it mobile, social and shareable

Responsive content that displays well on desktop, tablet and mobile devices is more work. But your hyper-connected, always on audience won’t stand for anything less. Same story with creating several images and formats for different social networks, but it’s the price of entry.

Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. What’s that mean? For content creators, the goal of responsive design is to create content that responds to user preferences and devices. That means your content should look great on any device, be it desktop, tablet or mobile.

Another reason to make your content responsive is visibility in search results. It’s not clear exactly how much weight Google puts on responsive design, but the company has stated that providing content that adapts to the user’s device is the preferred way to go.

A compelling reason to plan your content with mobile in mind. The number of mobile users in the world surpassed desktop users sometime in 2014, and mobile users will only increase as time goes on.

 Focus on promotion and distribution

These days, content marketing heavyweights like Neil Patel and Derek Halpern recommend a version of the 80 / 20 rule — that marketers spend 20% of their time creating content and 80 percent of their time distributing and promoting it. Because of sheer information overload, the emphasis on content has shifted from quality to quantity over the years.

Search engines have become better at identifying (and penalizing) the SEO tricks that were once so effective and instead reward high-quality original content and useful information.

An effective balance between content creation and distribution will vary depending on your audience and your organization’s goals . But if you’re spending closer to 80 percent of your time creating content, it’s time to take a serious look at your content promotion strategy.

Make it measurable and data-driven

What do the world’s most-admired and innovative companies have in common? No, besides the buckets of cash.

Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are all data-driven and have some of the world’s most sophisticated measurement, testing and optimization plans in place.

Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain those customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result, according to McKinsey Global Institute.

But further down the food chain, many organizations don’t have clear goals for content marketing success. For example, your goals might include:

  • Attracting more visitors to your website
  • Increasing your social media audience and engagement
  • Lead generation and conversion

How to you measure progress? Be sure each goal is quantifiable. These goals are similar to the ones above, but with more specific outcomes:

  • Achieve 10% monthly increase of unique visitors to your website
  • Create a Facebook group of 1,000 members by year end
  • Convert 5% of unique visitors to paying customers

The next step is to analyze and improve. There’s no way to consistently get better results from content marketing without setting goals, analyzing results and experimenting with new tactics until you find what works with your audience.

Add that emotional appeal

How important is emotional appeal in content marketing? It’s the difference between success and failure. Is your content marketing focused on your brand, products and features? Two issues here:

  1. It’s hard to differentiate yourself from other brands by talking about products and features
  2. People don’t care about your brand, products and features anyway

You won’t get far by simply asking people to think about your products and services and comparing them to competitive offerings. That’s a lot of thinking, and humans are hard-wired to look for shortcuts and reduce cognitive load.

What’s the better path? There’s a ton of research and real-world results showing that people make decision based more on emotion than logic. The “old brain”makes the decisions while the logical parts of your brain help justify the decision after the fact.

To capture attention, hearts and minds, target the emotions of your audience. Talk about the transformation from where they are to where they want to be.

Branding consultant Graeme Newell says that emotional marketing begins with the feeling you want your audience to have after the transformation. Your need to show in a visually interesting way how your product features support the transformation.

Focus on visual content marketing

Content marketing is a visual art – and science. And it’s a skill digital marketers will have to focus on in the future.

The reason for the art is clear. People are simply drawn to appealing images and the emotions they trigger.

It’s a natural that people want to create and share images – lots of images. Worldwide, about 1.2 trillion photos will be taken in 2017, according to research firm InfoTrends.

The reason for the science is also clear. Humans are visual creatures who naturally respond strongly to images and video.

This fact, coupled with the adoption of mobile devices – more than half of online video vies now happen on mobile – has sparked tremendous growth in visual and video marketing.

But what is it about visual imagery that’s so appealing? There’s a strong body of research that shows that people:

  • Prefer images to text
  • Process images much more quickly than text or audio
  • Retain visual information longer
  • Take action in response to images and video
  • Are “hardwired” to react to visual content

Marketing professionals who understand this human preference for visual information can win over competitors by incorporating visual elements into their marketing activities.

Create actionable content marketing results

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

This definition from the Content Marketing Institute has a powerful conclusion. Yet many blogs, social media posts and videos leave their audience without clear next step.

It’s true that content marketing is more about building trust, engagement and relationships, but that’s all in the service of that “profitable customer action” thing.

Just because you’re not asking for money at every customer touchpoint doesn’t mean you should not invite your audience to take the next steps. That might include:

  • Checking out another post or video
  • Subscribing to your blog
  • Sharing your content on social media
  • Recommending to a friend

These “microconversions” are the secret to increasing engagement and moving your audience ever closer to your ultimate goal. And for whatever reasons, many marketers don’t build calls-to-action into their content to drive conversions.

In fact, for every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them, according to Econsultancy. There’s a golden opportunity for marketers that know how to create content that drives conversions.

The bottom line is, even if you and your competitors have similar content, it’s possible to win big by making a few changes in your content strategy to drive profitable customer action. For more examples of actionable online content, check out our portfolio and contact us for more information.