Creating two-way communication through content

Tue, 05/12/2017 - 08:35

How do you write online content that encourages two-way communication?

Well, we’ll start by looking into the usual ways that it’s achieved and then we’ll look, more specifically, at the content itself and how it creates a conversation between the brand and the reader. 

Interactive content

In this digital realm, the easiest way to get readers and users engaging with content is through interactive means. And interactive digital content will be a trend pretty much until the end of time. What will change, however, is the degree with which users will be able to interact with content, as technologies and possibilities continue to advance. 

But, for now, let’s take a look at what the current interactive abilities and trends are of digital content that creates this dialogue I’ve been talking about. Quizzes, interactive videos, competitions (because who doesn’t like winning free things?), games and polls are just a few. 

You can also, more directly, communicate with users after they’ve interacted with your content through comments, shares and follow-up email newsletters. But we’re looking at how content communicates from the moment it’s published on the web.

Basically, interactive content creates dialogue through some kind of “call to action” where users are asked or persuaded to engage with content, which is then rewarded with more valuable content. You can think of this interaction as a user saying “hello” by finding their way to a site’s content, and the content’s call to action as a “hi there, how are you”. And if the user is still interested after that, there’s a back and forth between the user and the content. 

Personalised content

Through personalised and tailored content we start the conversation with a user. And to achieve personalised content you need to make use of the data available to you (location, device, date and time, customer history, etc) and, this way, you target specific users/groups of users by giving them the content they want to see and interact with. 

According to a Benchmark Study Report on The State and Impact of Content Consistency by Demand Metric Research, “... almost three-fourths of the content is rated “consistent” when it also enjoys a high degree of personalisation. Not only does personalised content engage prospects better, but it is also a catalyst for consistency.” And consistency in content is important for marketers who want to be successful. 

Conversation starter

Your content can create two-way communication (on many levels) if it’s considered authentic, informative and interesting – much like you would choose to stay in conversation with a person who possesses these qualities as well. 

We’ve already established that if your content is interactive, you’ve already started a dialogue. But if you can start a dialogue with one user, who then starts a conversation with another user because of said content, then your content becomes relevant. This is also where viral content comes into play through the power of sharing.

In this way, it’s then possible to create indirect two-way communication by being a conversation starter with your original content. Relevance is the key to the beginnings of a dialogue. Without it, or interest, there’d be no reason to engage. Create content that users want to listen to and share with others.

Why do you need it? 

Think about it in your own life. When you engage in a conversation (two-way communication) with a colleague, client, stranger or family member, your goal is to establish, maintain or rectify a relationship. This is found through the power of online content for relationships between brand and user. Speaking of power and content, here is what some of the experts have to say. 

  • Andrew Davis, content marketing expert and keynote speaker, says: “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
  • Content marketer Doug Kessler says: “Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.”
  • And content marketing expert Jamie Turner says: “The only way to win at content marketing is for the reader to say, ‘This was written specifically for me.”

So, according to the people who have been in the industry for more than a while and definitely know what’s up, we need to create communicative content. Static content, with no interaction, interest or relevance, won’t be able to start those necessary conversations around your brand, your values and your product. Then your content marketing efforts are, essentially, going to waste. 

It’s no secret that creating content which really speaks to people is necessary in a world where businesses are prioritising the customer experience and doing everything they can to add value to people’s lives without product-polluting their news feeds. It’s all about customer engagement first with your content and then, should they like what they read, with your company. 

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