“How-to" content is a popular motif for almost every industry. Readers enjoy these online tutorials and educational learning materials. Google reported back in 2015 that 91% of smartphone users turned to their device while completing tasks and called these “micro-moments”. An estimated 100 million hours of “how-to content” was consumed in North America alone that year. In 2020, the number is, undoubtedly, a lot higher. Consumers want to know how to do things and want to do themselves or at least understand the process. Digital marketing can tap into that need by producing content to solve problems. Taking advantage of these micro-moments through “how-to” content can deliver significant results for your branding and visibility.
“How-To” Content Bridges the Divide Between Problem and Purchase
Your content strategy may focus on your products or services to demonstrate your brand. You want to sell more. But here’s the thing: modern consumers want solutions, not sales. Content readers aren’t always looking to make a purchase. They want to find inspiration or a trustworthy source of information. “How-to” content offers a way to reach a new audience while still marketing your brand as a subject matter expert and an authority in the field.
In some industries, the connection is direct. A car parts store provides a tutorial on replacing windshield wiper blades with a call-to-action to buy new blades. However, in many businesses, the how-to isn’t as obvious. A coffee store that provides a piece on “how to buy coffee beans” may not get many readers. The opportunity comes in finding ways to engage with readers by providing relevant and interesting content. Search for “how to make coffee drinks at home” and there are more than 683,000,000 results. Most articles link to coffee products and specialty coffee beans to build brands and make sales.
Finding Creative “How-To” Topics
Content that is relevant to your audience will be more engaging than content you simply create to meet your content publishing targets. How-to guides are no different. You need to look for ways to be creative with your how-to content. Here are a few tips:
- Ask your customers what they want to know about your products and services. Find out their challenges and how you can provide solutions.
- Research similar content. Look at your competitors. Read through comments posted on other how-to guides. What confuses people and what are they asking about?
- Talk to your staff, especially those in sales or customer service. What questions are they fielding from customers? You may find a lot of new ideas.
How-to content may not be the sales promotion material that closes the deal, but it can introduce your business and products to a potential customer who is interested in knowing more. Good content relates to your brand and is relevant to the consumer. When your how-to content solves a problem and is effective for the user, they’ll come back to your brand to learn more.
Creating Effective “How-To” Content
After you’ve done your research and determined a topic, you need to find a way that adds value to the user and makes your piece engaging and relevant.
- When you’re developing how-to content, be specific. Sum up your piece in one sentence because users want specificity. It will also keep you focused when you’re creating new content items.
- Look for similar content online to see what’s working and what’s not.
- Make your content more interesting by offering variation. Sometimes, adding video or pictures that offer more description is enough. Other times, you may need an embedded poll or survey. Perhaps you can develop an e-book to give users the opportunity for a deep dive into the subject matter.
The content marketing spectrum is endless; you just need to identify the niche that attracts your ideal audience and build your dominance accordingly.
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