9 pro tips for creating brilliant digital content

Spencer Conway of ONE TWO FOUR explains how to conduct a best-in-class digital content campaign.

Spencer Conway

In the second half of 2014 UK digital advertising expenditure has grown 16.6% to £3.462 billion, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau. That's a big pie – but how do you get a slice of it?

With the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and now Ello occupying consumers' time, it's essential that marketers put their product promotion where their audience spend the majority of their time.

The key word here is quality. There's nothing more valuable than hitting your target audience on the right device, at the right time, with a beautiful and relevant creative that fits their life and circumstance at the moment the content is delivered. Here are nine top tips to make sure your digital strategy is on the right track.

01. Target people's phones

Like most people, when I leave the house I go through a personal item check, and ensuring my mobile phone is in my pocket is top of the agenda. I use my smartphone for banking, shopping, checking the weather forecast, social networking and numerous other forms of entertainment.

It's the most personal device any of us ever own, an extension of our psyches if you like, an extension of our psyches that because its geo locates us, and syncs with all our other apps can tell marketers more about us than any TGI data ever could.

For this reason clients should always include a mobile strategy for their audience. And what is delivered should be optimally designed for that medium. Marketers should always strive to deliver just as great a brand experience across desktop, tablet and mobile.

02. Be multiplatform or die

We all move from device to device these days – your content needs to do the same

Today’s audiences are experts at moving from platform to platform for work, leisure, personal and entertainment purposes. There is now rarely a delineation between which device is used for what.

Using a single channel or platform to interact with you’re audience isn’t enough anymore. You need to consider all of the many touch-points in which they may engage with your brand.

03. 'If you build it, they will come' doesn't work

Sorry Kevin, but content marketing is no Field of Dreams. 'If you build it, they will come' is almost never the case!

Just because you have spent months conceptualising, building and developing a beautiful piece of digital content for your brand does not mean that your audience will automatically find it online.

The internet is immense and an easy place to get lost or distracted. So while you are busy creating your content, also think about how you are going to get people to see it. A content distribution plan ensures return on your brand’s investment – it's no good making content if it can't be discovered!

04. Truly understand the audience

You need to get inside your audience's heads in order to engage with them

Any marketer or content creator worth their salt will profess to have a clear understanding of their audience. But so often there is a lack of depth in this understanding that results in sending the right message to the wrong people.

Not only does this result in a poor return but it can also damage the brand reputation.

To mitigate against this, develop a set of customer profiles, creating experiences and content that will relate to each of them in different and relevant ways.

05. Seek change, don't fear it

Back in the day there would be one creative concept rolled out across all available advertising avenues. This one creative would usually be incredibly expensive and there were also limited capabilities to measure success. So even if there was a feeling that something was not working there was little to no opportunity to tweak campaigns, once it was out there that was kind of it.

However, with digital we have the bonus of almost instantaneous evaluation capabilities and similarly agile ability to make changes. Marketers should periodically re-evaluate their messaging and customer profiles. If you’re not seeing the desired engagement levels then don’t be afraid to make adjustments.

06. Set goals and measure success

Content marketing and analytics go hand in hand

The way in which the internet is built, through trackable algorithms, means that for the first time marketers have true measurement capabilities.

Gone are the days when the success of a campaign is measured by 'feel'. Digital provides the opportunity to personalise content to appeal to specific individuals and with that gauge how effective this content is at changing the way the recipient feels towards the brand, and if the content message causes them to act positively as a result.

But amazing as digital is, if you sway from your goal this measurement capability becomes obsolete. As long as you keep to your eventual goal and maintain the same criteria for what success looks like you will be able to track your ROI.

07. Invent new trends

Fame favours the brave. Brands that embrace new approaches and fresh ideas become legends in their own right, commanding positive perceptions from industry to consumers a like. Red Bull's approach to content with its propensity for extreme sports and space travel is a case in point.

Some of the best campaigns happen when a brand creates something fresh and unexpected. Don't just follow the latest trends, make them.

08. Engage hearts and minds

It's important to not only engage your audiences' head, but also their heart. Creating emotional connections between your brand and its' audience will build a more powerful relationship. Content should appeal to the wants and desires of human beings.

Brands that create campaigns which call to basic human emotions and instincts often take on a life of their own. There's a reason why two of the latest ads from telecoms network 3 have featured a dancing pony and a singing cat, they are capitalizing on the pleasure people gain from watching cute animal videos.

Videos such as Piano Cat, which has over 37 million views on YouTube are a prime example. Of course your content doesn't have to feature a fluffy companion but if your campaign goes viral you have still achieved the Holy Grail in digital marketing.

09. Make the most of social media

One of the many beautiful things about digital is the opportunity to share. Brands can share their work on social networks and if they have followed all of the previous tips they should have a series of carefully targeted content pieces that the audience will be moved to share with their peers.

So, if you haven’t already, now's the time! The competition probably already has significant social presence and will be reaping the rewards if they're getting it right. Social is the perfect avenue through which to amplify your message and it also enables you to target specific customer profiles, making your message even more special.

Words: Spencer Conway

Spencer Conway is head of digital at leading international content company ONE TWO FOUR.