What Should Brands Know to Create Engaging Content Marketing Strategies [Highlights from Media Conference]

This September the Group presented new products for journalists and media. We selected the highlights from the talk of the Mail.Ru Group’s editorial director Sergey Paranko. He talked about how media measure the effect of publications; what is the “infoxication,” and how the users’ behaviour have changed recently.

The info will be useful for advertisers and PR managers who wish to create engaging content and native advertising for their users. Brands will learn how to write topics that appeal to the audience and how to offer their texts to the media.

The Way We Measure the Effect of Articles Has Changed

The behavior and habits of the audience have been constantly changing during the last 15 years. A couple of years ago, mass media considered the number of views equal the number of readings. The time proved they wrong. The Nielsen Norman Group study shows that people hardly ever read the text on the pages they visit.

Digital media have long time been measuring their success the way printed media used to do it. They’ve just counted the number of page views. Unlike printed media, online journalists knew exactly what articles had the biggest traffic. They could boast that they knew more about their readers than printed media. But the times are changed.

About fifteen years ago visiting the article meant reading the article. Because people consumed information more consciously. They visited websites to read articles, bookmarked for the most valuable resources. Modern users absorb content unintentionally. Social media and search engines are the main sources of information. It is a permanent information flow. You should hook one’s attention immediately after a person lands on a page, or you lose a reader.

The way people land on a website has also changed. The main entry point today is an article page, not a Home page. And the overall number of visits means almost nothing for the media.

Modern users open a page, start reading and then get distracted by multiple applications— from social networks to messengers. To keep user’s attention and have them read the article till the end, you should create a really engaging text.

Modern users are “passengers” driving through the informational space. They create their own customized and personalized news feeds. Search engines provide personalized results page for users based on the data they get from each one.

Time for Data-Driven Journalism

Modern journalism isn’t based only on the statistics of views— the number of users who “bought” into the title and clicked on it. Data-driven journalism rules today. Editors should take into account more metrics like scrolling and time users spend on the page.

Holding User’s Attention in the Context of Infoxication

Infoxication is the information overload we all suffer from. In its context media produce far more content than users can read. Publishers compete not just with each other, but with other media platforms like social networks, messengers, email services, apps etc.

It takes only 8 seconds for users to make up their minds on whether to read your blog or to leave. So you have to catch their attention extremely fast.

Why Metrics Don’t Reveal the Real Picture about Reading

Marketing analytics appeared in journalism in 1998. It is still essential for editors, but it seems a bit misleading today. Marketing metrics help editors create a user’s persona—It’s Mary. This article is for her.”

Personas are perfect for marketing. Marketing shows us the level of the media, but it doesn’t tell us how the content is consumed.

Number of views, shares and even comments doesn’t show us how people read the text. Users often comment without actually reading the article or leave irrelevant messages.

The bottom line—“viewed” doesn’t equal “read”. Not everyone who visits a page reads the text on it. And the success of your title doesn’t mean users read the text. They may be clicking the catchy headline but don’t read the text due to poor UX. And it’s the case where editor’s metrics should be used.

The difference between controlled information before and the infoxication today is in the level of the information glut.

The editorial metrics allow evaluating the text by its content, not the hype it creates. Editor publishes the article and tracks the moment users close the page to track the issues. Any issue be it poor visuals or text structure can be solved within minutes. Thus, the engagement level can be raised highly.

The efficiency of the information submission changes extremely fast. What worked a couple of months ago may not work today.

Even the platform readers use during the day can affect the format of the text presentation. When you publish the article at 4 p.m., first traffic you get comes mostly from desktops. But after 5 p.m. you get the traffic from portable devices, because people browse the web on their way home. That means the editor should adjust the structure and the layout of the article to the platform.

The Content Is More Important than the Form

Metrics show that content plays vital part. Reader’s emotions make them read the text to the end. An empathic reader perceives the text even without images, charts, infographics and other visuals. Users crave for true stories with real people. But in case of large amounts of text, it’s better to thin it with visual elements.

To create native advertising that will be useful and attractive for users, brands should keep the following in mind:

  • How to win user’s attention in the context of infoxication;
  • What articles engage readers and why;
  • How the user’s behavior on the web is changing;
  • Why brands should trust editors when creating advertorials.
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