With a witty look, Russ Klein the CEO of American Marketing Association asked us,
“Who was the first to implement an intentional experience design?”
I put my hands on the Keyboard and before I could write anything, I could see some answers. My fellow attendees submitted names.
Apple, Disney, Coca-Cola, etc.
I was sure that the answer would be either Disney or Coca-Cola. But seeing the answers Russ smiled and I realized that the answer’s something else.
It was around 27,000 years ago. The prehistoric religions were the first entity with intentionally designed experiences. Back then, all the 5 senses were tweaked into one loveable experience. And it’s not something emotional but rather more practical. See it like this, the use of light, negative space, sounds with the choir, the organ, the smell of the candles, the incense – everything blended together to give the best experience.
And when it comes to content marketing, try to keep this in mind. You must use all the 5 senses while delivering content. And that is the gist of our discussion here.
Now, let’s unravel the details-
Experience design is basically, creating the minimum loveable experience with proper intention. To understand better let’s get back to our previous example-
The prehistoric religious activities were intentionally designed. And the intention was to bring more people into religious practices. Hence, they put out an effort in designing all that.
So, according to the example, the experience is a collection of sensory inputs at any given time.
Now that, we’ve established the nerd talks, it’s time to get real-
How could we design the experience in content marketing?
Well, we have already unraveled the core answer. That is by creating the minimum loveable experience.
Now, you might have all sorts of questions like,
What is this minimum loveable experience?
How do I do this?
How is this important than storytelling?
And lastly, if my goal is to establish a brand or authority, then how could experience design help me?
Well, address all your concerns throughout this whole piece. Now, let’s move on-
Imagine a microwave oven. What do you use it for? Cooking, warming up food? And to do those perfectly, you need a timer. Now, there might be a lot of different uses of an oven. But I think these are the prime ones.
Now, look at this one. I’m sure that each of those is necessary but are all of those buttons really necessary?
I believe to most of the users this is overkill. Because sometimes you get into a mode from where it’s hard to come out. And that’s a bad experience.
Now, let’s look at a good example of a minimum loveable experience.
The Virgin America airline app has been a popular app since its birth. And it focuses on just 3 things-
Now, couldn’t they add up more things into this app? Well, yes. But they didn’t. And now let’s look at the results of this decision.
This app promises to bring down the flight booking experience in less than 60 seconds. And as they kept their promise they saw a conversion rate jump of 300%. That’s not all, this app secured more than 200,000 downloads in just 90 days.
Let that sink in.
So, a minimum loveable experience is just the basic experience that your customer needs. Basically, that’s the solution that your customer needs.
Now, what does that mean in the case of content marketing? Let’s explore that in the next section-
What form of content are you in? Articles, videos? No matter what’s your type, it’s important to incorporate a minimum loveable experience in your content.
Now, let’s start with a niche site example. Those sites are built upon giving solutions in a specific niche. And while delivering the solutions, sometimes the writers end up overkilling.
And I believe that the reason behind this is a myth.
“Bigger articles rank better.”
Yeah. This myth has been driving writers on making bigger and bigger articles on a specific topic. And in this process, they tend to go out of the topic.
But that shouldn’t be the case. You should focus on delivering the minimum loveable experience.
Now, you might be a result-oriented person and you still might say that experience doesn’t matter as long as the article ranks. Well, sorry to say but Google itself is now focusing on experience. At least that’s my realization after the June 2020 update.
To make things easier, I’ve prepared a comparison table. Let’s look at the structure of 2 different articles written on the same topic-
Can you see the difference? Well, Google can see the difference. And as a reward, Google will rank Article 1 higher.
Here’s the thing-
This principle applies to all types of content. If you don’t have anything more to satisfy your consumers’ needs, then stop right there.
So, what about branding? We all know that storytelling has been incremental to branding for all these years.
Well, yes storytelling is important. But the relationship isn’t that incremental. Let me explain through a formula.
Brand = ExperienceStorytelling
So, when your storytelling = 0, and if your experience = 1, you’ll get a brand =1. But if your experience = 0, then you’ll get a brand =0.
This means even if you don’t have the storytelling in your product or service, the experience alone can establish your brand.
However, if there’s storytelling along with minimum loveable experience, then you’ll see an exponential boost in your brand image, and everything associated with that.
So, even if your target is to create a brand, you should start with creating the minimum loveable experience.
In short, the answer is STOP. Yeah keep this word in mind and you won’t forget the process ever.
So, what’s this STOP about?
Basically, that’s an acronym. When expanded, it looks like this-
Now, let’s explore each of these with a focus on content marketing-
With your content, you’re delivering a solution to your customers. That should be your focus on a constant basis. Ask yourself, “How can I solve this?”
Now, the problem with this approach is that the problem isn’t clear every time. In my content creation career of 3 years, I have faced this numerous times. However, here you have to trust your empathy.
Get into the shoes of your target market to understand their problems. Then design the experience or the solution.
Now, comes the question, how should I design the solution or experience?
Well, to answer this we have to get back to the pre-historic religious activities. Remember how they created an experience for all the 5 human senses?
Well, you have to follow that while making your content.
Make sure that your target group can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch through your content. Try to bang as many senses as possible. Don’t feel disheartened if you miss out on 1 or 2. You’ll get that eventually.
Now, if you’re cynical about creating a sensory experience in written content, don’t be. It’s possible in all forms of content. You just have to use the right words to evoke those senses.
For example, suppose you’re writing content about repairing a car. Now, in your content, you have to-
All these together can deliver a memorable experience to your reader.
While designing or making your content make sure that it’s time-efficient. Time is the only resource that’s more expensive than money. In fact, this is the only non-renewable resource.
Companies like Google are spending millions of dollars each year to make their operations faster.
And in this pandemic lockdown, people have realized the value of time more than ever.
So, while making your content, make sure that it saves the time of your target group. A good structure can always reduce time waste in an article. Let’s explore an example to understand better-
Now, look at Article -2. It doesn’t go off-topic like our previous example. But it’s not structured. The reader would feel discomfort while reading this article. Hence after opening the article, the reader will instantly go out to look for time-saving solutions.
In article 1, the reader can easily explore the symptoms. As a result, the reader can find his/her solution fast. In turn, this will create a good impression on the reader. Which means a good experience. And we all know what a good experience means.
In short, this is delivering the content to the target market in every way possible. You know that proverb, right? Out of sight, out of mind.
And if this proverb isn’t enough for you, then ask Coca-Cola. They know the advantage of being at arm’s length.
Now, you might be thinking, how could this help me if I am in a digital business?
Here’s the thing- If you have precisely figured out your target group then being available to them can increase your traffic and shares.
So, even if you’re mostly dependent on Google for traffic, don’t cut this off. Having a little extra traffic from social media won’t hurt your site. Rather it’s something good. So, use as many channels as you can. Reach your target group in every way possible.
This too increases the experience. Just imagine, James is in a problem, and just at that moment, your solution appears on James’s social media feed. James would feel really happy about it and this will be a good experience for James.
This is basically engagement. And we all know the importance of engagement. A good engagement rate is the dream come true of brand managers.
Now, here I have something to add. For engagement, I love to take a rather different angle.
Think of rituals. There are small and big rituals. Small rituals are innocent and spots of deep emotions. For example, having morning coffee is a ritual to many. Gardening on the weekend is like a ritual to many. Cleaning that car on the weekend is a ritual to some.
And these activities are more emotional than just duties. They feel good while doing these. So, if you can get into the ritual mindset while creating content, then that’s the last nail for you.
In turn, this little gesture might increase your participation or engagement rate by a lot. Because after triggering the ritual, you’re one of their own. And now they can share you with their friends and families.
This is the last piece from our title. The 360 articles. What does it mean?
Well, these articles are prime piece articles. In short, if you incorporate everything that we’ve said till now in an article, you’ll get a 360 article.
And these articles can give you extraordinary results. I’m saying this because I’ve seen the results myself. Here are a few snapshots for you. Take a look at yourself.
With just 23 articles, the site attracted 15972 organic visitors from Google in a month. And they used to interact with these pieces all the way. The google analytics snap of Average Session Duration is the proof behind it. That’s the power of 360 Contents.
That’s not all-you-can implement this strategy in all forms of content. So, you can make 360 videos, whitepapers, etc. Basically, widen your imagination and you’ll end up with something.
If you’ve stuck with me till now, then thank you. I know that marketers always have a lack of time. And as a gift, I’d like to share something more with you.
In the content, try to surprise your target group by giving something extra. No, I’m not talking about something extravagant like that microwave. It’s more like an extra tip.
If you know about lagniappe then you’d understand this better. Some people call this the baker’s dozen. Just look these up and you’ll understand what I’m referring to.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Russ Klein and Income School for inspiring me to write this content.
Now if you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to comment below. However, if you want to have deep discussions on this, hit me up on LinkedIn.
Good luck to you all! Happy marketing!