Last week, after surveying 3,000 consumers across demographics, HubSpot released a 2017 Content Trends Report exploring what types of content and which online channels best attract people’s time and attention.
To save you some time, I’ve unpacked five striking insights for digital publishers here.
1. When and How Your Audience Is Online Matters
With brands everywhere competing for the finite attention of our audience members, the time of day you publish and promote your content is a key chance for folks to engage with your brand over others.
Do you understand when your visitors are online? Say you are a publisher who targets mechanics. Your readers are most likely not perusing your content weekdays at 10 in the morning. Mechanics are online very early in the morning and again at night because they’re busy on the shop floor during weekdays (and often on weekends, too).
The good news is that mobile-first users, which make up nearly half of consumers, have made working around your audience’s schedule easier than ever. Before the digital age, your audience needed enough time and the space to sit down and thoroughly read a newspaper or magazine. But now, if your audience has access to their phone, and you’ve formatted your content to be mobile-friendly, you can meet them wherever they are.
In fact, according to HubSpot, 56% of millennials and 49% of older millennials (ages 25-34) admit to consuming content from their phone in the bathroom.
2. Where They Find Content Depends on Age
The way audiences find and access content is changing, and depending on your target demographic, it should influence where and how you promote your work.
It seems folks use Google for search but Facebook for browsing (makes sense, right?). While 52% of respondents said they find news and lifestyle stories by searching in Google, 48% said they find it by browsing their Facebook feed (with the numbers being even more highly skewed towards Facebook for younger generations).
If you have a young audience, say 18-24 year olds, only a third will go directly to a publication for content. Even more striking, only a fifth access content from email newsletters. This means paid promotions on Facebook can be incredibly valuable in serving up your products to the right audience members at the right time.
For older generations, there is still interest in email (34% being the highest percentage and for the oldest age bracket at 55+) and Google still slightly outpaces Facebook for these groups. A focus on SEO is critical to meeting these audiences online.
3. People Are Going to Skim Your Products
Let’s take a look at some curious stats about skimming information from the report:
- 62% of people pay close attention to videos.
- 61% of people thoroughly read the news.
- 73% of consumers skim blogs.
- 75% skim long-form written content.
- 78% skim (or half listen to) podcasts.
Video presents the largest opportunity to grab attention deeply. If your content needs focus for it to be valuable, this may need to be your medium of choice.
But you can always get creative in non-video channels to grab attention. Consider how you can format content or deliver it in new ways to better capture the attention of your readers. More informative subheads in your blogging content, pop-out quotes and statistics—these sorts of design tricks will help guide your readers’ eye where you want them to go so that even if they skim (let’s face it, when they skim), your most important information will still land.
4. Video and Email Effectiveness Depends on Your Target Demographic
Across age groups, people love video content. But when it comes to other content such as email newsletters or social media images, it totally depends on who you are talking to: Just 22% of young consumers want emails from brands, compared to 68% of baby-boomers. On the other hand, 60% half of younger respondents want to see social images from brands, compared to just 20% of boomers.
The age of your audience matters. Just because everyone likes video, it doesn’t mean you should shut down your blog and switch to vlogging instead. Resist the urge to jump right into video because it’s popular and trendy; consider all the ways you can target your demographics based on their unique content consumption interests.
While HubSpot is concerned about using too much email to reach younger millennials, if you have an older target: it’s still a great way to reach your readers. For them, email isn’t dead… it’s actually quite spritely.
5. Your Website Really Matters.
Finally, let’s not forget the most important part of your content efforts: your platform. While talking so much about what kinds of content to create and how to get it out to your audience, it’s easy to forget how critical it is to focus on where it actually lives.
67% of consumers learn more about a brand by visiting their website. If you have slow load times or an unclear value proposition, you’ll lose your prospect right at a critical moment when you could be turning them into a loyal brand ambassador.
But with a clear and thoughtfully designed website—backed by content that reaches them when and how they like to receive it—you’ll boost your subscriptions in no time.
How Sterling Woods Can Help
The Sterling Woods Group teaches clients our five forces to methodically make more money online. The goal: make sure you lock in double-digit growth year after year using the power of digital media. Many companies have experienced over 50% growth using our system. Beyond the financial benefits, clients tell us that – for the first time in years – they feel truly focused.
We offer workshops, coaching, and keynote speeches. Sterling Woods is also an agency that launches new digital initiatives, so clients don’t have to add overhead. Our agency business model is unique in that most of our fees are based on performance.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, Founder and CEO of Sterling Woods, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. He started his career as a consultant at McKinsey. Ristagno holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method for Making More Money Online, set to be published in 2018. He regularly speaks at key media conferences, including at Niche Media events, Specialized Information Publishers Association meetings, and the Business Information and Media Summit.