Nearly all digital publishers would agree: one of the key points of creating content online is to educate your audience and solve a reader’s problem. That’s why so much content monetization strategy starts with the question, “What problem are you solving for your audience?”
Solving a customer’s problem provides great SEO benefit. Say you own a magazine about pets. If someone searches, “How to Train Your Dog,” they might stumble upon your article and engage with the rest of your site.
Answering questions is great for generating traffic, but if your content goals stop there, you’re missing an opportunity.
Emotional, lively content builds brand loyalty. And with loyalty, you have an opportunity to monetize.
Back to the pet magazine. What if you created a behind-the-paywall subscription to advanced training techniques for pups? Sounds promising, but you need to first prove your pay-to-play content is worth the price.
According to Dr. Peter Murray, research shows that customers base their purchasing decisions on the emotions a brand elicits, rather than features and facts. It doesn’t matter if your dog training techniques are the best in the world. What matters is how you make your customer feel about your content.
Think about other successful content products. Is it their technical information that earns them subscribers? Rarely. There are probably other companies offering similar information for a better price, or even for free. But people continue to subscribe because they like the company and its identity.
When your visitor reads your tips for training a dog, did it make them laugh? As they read along the article, were they nodding their head, thinking, “Yeah, that definitely sounds like Royce!” (had to plug my dog there). Or maybe it inspired them to want to be a new-and-improved version of themselves; your advice made them think, “You know, maybe Spot would behave better if we were running buddies! And, hey, I’d like to get off the couch more myself.”
Whatever it is, they’ll be more likely (over time) to join a membership where they have access to more helpful, relatable content that makes them feel good.
If you want to boost brand loyalty and encourage more people to pay for your content, it’s time to audit your current efforts with a content attributes survey. Gather a large group of people across your organization and take the time to review all the content your company has already published. Then, assign both technical and emotional attributes to your work.
From here, you can analyze what personality your brand is already projecting to its readers and decide where and how you can improve or evolve going forward. Maybe all your dog training articles are currently extremely technical and sophisticated, but you’d like to appeal to a more family-friendly audience. This audit will help you match your current voice to your desired audience’s needs.
Once you know what your personality looks like, it’s time to hit refresh! Consider rewriting your brand story or editing your content to better match the emotional response you aim to evoke.
This is a necessity for B2B as well. Chances are the personality will be more authoritative than in a B2C context, but there should be a personality nevertheless. Think Marc Benioff of Salesforce or Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway or Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot. A common trap is to think business decision makers only buy on technical specs. They too buy first on emotion (then try to justify with logic).
Rob Ristagno is the CEO and Founder of The Sterling Woods Group, a firm that builds new revenue streams for media companies and publishers. He is an expert in direct monetization of content. Prior to creating The Sterling Woods Group, Rob served as a senior executive for several niche media and e-commerce companies. He most recently was the Chief Operating Officer of America’s Test Kitchen, considered to be the gold standard in the niche media world for building diversified – and often digital – revenue streams.
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