Content User Experience 101 – A Marketer’s Guide For Long Term Benefits

Content User Experience 101 – A Marketer’s Guide For Long Term Benefits

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This article has been contributed by Katarina Raguž.

Are you creating engaging and valuable content for your readers?

The truth is that anyone can write copy or make videos, but it can be challenging to create purposeful content that aligns with your overarching marketing goals.

Having a content strategy to power your content marketing efforts gives you clarity and focus for the content you’re creating – it helps you understand the needs of the audience and offers you bona fide strategies to create content that encourages user engagement.

In fact, statistics have this to say about content creation and its importance for businesses:

  • 92% of marketers reported that their company views content as a business asset (Content Marketing Institute)
  • 84% of people expect brands to produce content that entertains, provides solutions and produces experiences and events (Meaningful Brands)
  • 35% of marketers say that creating visual content that engages the audience is one of their biggest struggles (Venngage)

If you want to deliver real value using your digital content, it is imperative to prioritize user experience when creating it.

Take a website that you regularly use – study it to figure out why you like it. Does it let you navigate effortlessly to collect relevant information? Does it allow you to buy-in with a few clicks (if it’s an eCommerce site)?

The content only gets you so far, but it’s the end-users’ experiences, including their perceptions and emotional responses to your content, products and services, that create value for them.

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Facilitate better experiences and your audiences will pay more attention to your videos, blogs and websites – it is as simple as that.

What Is The Ideal User Experience For Content?

User experience includes all aspects of a user’s interaction with your website. It’s your job as a marketer to improve the quality of their interactions with your brand – pay special attention to the ease of use, convenience and accessibility of your content.

When you think about it, customers are always looking for fast and simple ways to solve problems and that’s why user experience is so crucial. Content alone cannot impress without thoughtful design and vice versa.

UX Design Principles To Pay Attention To

In a nutshell, you need to be clear and concise in your content while presenting it in an intuitive and friendly manner.

1. Usability Test Your Pages

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A flow chart showing how usability testing is carried out - Content User Experience 101

Image source: miro.medium.com

Take some time to test the usability of your pages for content and interface design performance. Studies show that usability tests with just five users can pinpoint 85% of problems related to user experience.

For instance, if you have product descriptions on your website, you can test how effective your content and design is by getting feedback directly from users from your target audience.

User motivations, needs and behaviors can be evaluated from quantitative and qualitative data gathered in user testing sessions and focus groups. You can get feedback from real users regarding sign-ups, onboarding and customer service to analyze what’s working on the site and where there’s room for improvement.

Usability testing can also be useful for creating buyer personas. The data you collect can help you understand your ideal prospects as you learn more about the people who will use your products, websites and apps.

You’ll be able to empathize with your users and address their pain points when designing a website that features precisely the kind of content they are looking for.

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You can do usability testing and collect other valuable data via:

  • Single-question surveys that pop up on blogs and product landing pages
  • Conducting formal studies by partnering with a research firm that has a database of people using your products or those of competitors
  • Use short quizzes to learn about the needs and challenges faced by website visitors
  • Telephone interviews with customers and prospects

2. Focus On The End-User – Optimize For Mobile

Four iPhones showing different websites optimized for mobile - Content User Experience 101

Image source: neilpatel.com

It’s important to focus on the end-user when creating and displaying content on your website – but it is also crucial that they are presented with it quickly. That’s because 53% of mobile users leave websites if it doesn’t load in the first 3 seconds, so you have less than that to grab the attention of your site’s visitors.

Make those first few seconds count – ensure that users don’t have to wait for images, videos and other aspects of the website to load.

Mobile screens are much smaller, which can make them tougher to navigate. Too much information can distract users, so present information clearly:

  • Prioritize the most useful content for users
  • Keep a consistent structure and the most essential features visible (menu options, home icon, etc)
  • Have a clean landing page that’s direct and to the point. Your visitors will certainly click through to more information on a secondary page if they require it, so incorporate that into your website design
  • Don’t confuse users with too much content and excessive information
  • Make it easy for users to scroll through intuitively and avoid making them pinch and zoom to read the text, which can be a hassle
  • Keep in mind how people will navigate and tap on buttons and how it can all be made easier

Additionally, don’t choose colors that will clash and distract your users. Use contrasting colors that are easier to read and background patterns that don’t compromise visibility. A complementary color palette will help your imagery stand out from the background and make it more prominent.

Aesthetics and readability both matter when it comes to creating websites that offer enhanced user experience.

Scalability also matters, so make sure your images and text scale well to landscape and portrait – the two main views for mobile.

It is no longer feasible to use Flash for coding your website – it makes websites heavier and they take forever to load and besides, Flash is no longer compatible with all devices as many are ending their support for Flash content in 2020.

Make the switch to HTML5 or PHP for developing a responsive website.

3. Offer Context and Easy Navigation

Make it effortless for your site’s visitors to go down the sales and marketing funnels without feeling pushed or overwhelmed with information when they click on your website.

Fat footer used by Zappos with helpful links like social, about pages, resources and exploration options - Content User Experience 101

Image source: zappos.com

Your website should be designed in a way that brings them to the answers to their questions. Zappos does this with a fat footer at the very end of its page to let users navigate to wherever they need to go.

4. Humanize Your Interactions

This is very important, especially when trying to gain the end-user’s trust. Let your brand’s personality and voice shine through in your content – this will make your business more approachable to users and lead to higher conversions.

A tweet showing Cisco CCO Oliver Roll with his three kids - Content User Experience 101

Image source: @Cisco on Twitter 

You may choose to shine the spotlight on your employees to reflect company culture like Cisco does in the Tweet above or get influencers on board with your brand to attach a face to your business.

Alex Gastle shares a tweet from Vetterview about influencers swaying the market and influencing buyer behavior as they engage people - Content User Experience 101

Image source: @alex_gastle on Twitter

In fact, Alex Gastle, founder of Vetterview, is of the view (no pun intended) that, “Working with influencers that not only have established relationships with your target audience but also believe in your message is key to crafting consumer brand perception.”

Interviewing influencers and creating a blog post or podcast around that is a great way to humanize your interactions with users as they can relate to the voice lent by the influencer to your business.

5. Make It Easy For People To Find Content Online

This has to do with the information architecture of your website, i.e., the process of structuring and presenting information.

This is crucial for larger websites that have many pages, videos and blogs as well as a range of other content. Organizing this content is essential for it to make sense to your website visitors.

You can even carry this out on a smaller level with your blog to make sure that only relevant content is shown to those who are ready to consume it.

Tips For Creating Engaging Content

Aesthetics are essential when it comes to the overall user experience, but no matter how well you design your website, if the content doesn’t engage users and establish a connection, it’s all for naught.

You still need engaging content to keep users coming back. Users will not find you worth their time if you don’t have something relevant to offer.

Engaging content helps humanize your business and allows users to relate to the services and products you’re offering.

Quality content offers measurable results like:

  • Increased traffic
  • More email opt-ins
  • A greater click-through rate
  • Better conversions
  • More sales
  • More traction and engagement on social media
  • Increased user-generated content creation with mentions of your brand

If your content lacks value or disengages visitors from your target market, your business will suffer.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense that you put consistent effort into making your content stand out to users while also having impeccable design.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when creating content for your website:

1. Originality Counts

In March 2019, over 4.4 million daily blog posts were published daily – this gives us an indication that there’s a lot of competition out there and it won’t be easy to produce 100% original content.

Other businesses are operating in your niche, and their content marketers are trying to attract your prospects and leads. They may even be using similar buyer personas to inspire content creation – making blogs, videos and infographics identical to yours.

The idea is to produce content that stands out from others – according to 56% of B2C content marketers, this is one of the top challenges they face.

Top Challenges faced by B2C content marketers - Content User Experience 101

Image source: Quick Sprout

One way of overcoming this challenge is to add your personal experiences and center your blog posts on these experiences. We already know what lending your voice to content can do for you.

2. Nail Your Headlines

Content must be clickable if you want users to read it – get the headings and titles right on social media, your website and in organic searches. It’s the first thing users will see, and if that doesn’t prompt them to click, it’s over.

Leave something for the meat of your content – don’t give all of it away in the headline, because that will lead to zero views of your blog post or article.

Ask a question that resonates with your audience in your headline to raise users’ interests, gaining you more click-throughs.

Positive and negative superlatives in headlines and how they affect click-through rates - Content User Experience 101

Image source: Outbrain

Using simple or powerful language with negative superlatives can be one strategy to hook readers into your content as shown here. Negative superlatives increase click-through rates by 50% compared to no superlatives.

Adding numbers to headlines takes their overall preference to 36% according to research by Conductor - Content User Experience 101

Image source: Conductor

Adding numbers to headlines can also be a useful approach. Doing this takes their overall preference to 36% according to research by Conductor.

Targeting the right keywords is also important to make sure users click. Your target keywords need to be relevant to your brand and ideally be frequently searched by web users as well as not too competitive (i.e. not many other web pages already target the word).

Look at this headline from Muse and how it entices busy people looking to increase their productivity to click and read the content.

Headline showing 45 Productivity tips for extremely busy people - Content User Experience 101

3. Gear Up Content For Action

You should be clear on your objectives as a marketer when producing content for users.

Every blog post, social media post, video and other content needs to be crafted to inspire one (or possibly two) of steps in the AIDA model, and shift them to the next often via a link or form.

  •       Awareness
  •       Interest
  •       Desire
  •       Action

Start by creating awareness about your product’s features and benefits (talk about the benefits to the end-user), how the product is used, how existing customers have used it and the impact on their lives.

Provide navigation to the product right from the blog post – don’t expect users to navigate by themselves through your website, search for the right product and then buy. They should be able to go straight to your product from a link in your content.

Locating the CTA buttons on your website shouldn’t be a chore for the visitor – make it intuitive because including the right calls to action at the right time is imperative for excellent content production.

4. Create A Connection With Storytelling

Last but certainly not least, use storytelling to make a lasting impression.

People relate to stories and that’s why almost all of us watch TV shows. Backing those stories up with accurate information and supporting data can add to your credibility on the subject.

Stories create an emotional response in the user’s brain, as shown below.

How storytelling affects the brain - Content User Experience 101

Image source: Quick Sprout

Now, Get Going Crafting Content With Strong UX

Pay attention to the best practices for creating content that enhances user experience – that’s the secret to engaging content that keeps your loyal customers returning to your website for conversion.

Know your users, do your research, tell your stories, get clicks from your headlines and follow that up by applying the AIDA model in your content.

And remember to provide an intuitive experience to users from your target audience where they can find what they’re looking for in just a few clicks.

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About the author: Katarina Raguž is an internet marketing specialist at Point Visible, a digital marketing agency providing custom blogger outreach services.

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