Coffee and content habits

Top 100 Content Marketing Question: How do you develop a strategy to retain readers over a period of time?

To retain readers, help them form a content habit. How? Keep content fresh and engaging, on mission, and on a regular cadence.

Keep content fresh and engaging

Use these 5 ideas to retain readers by keeping your content fresh:

  • Host a quiz.
  • Survey your audience.
  • Hire an expert to study future industry trends.
  • Make news.
  • Hijack other people’s news.

 These ideas will help you retain readers by keeping your content engaging:

  • Express a strong opinion.
  • Give employees license to create and share content.
  • Empower and incent user-generated content.

For step-by-step instructions on how to implement all these ideas, see the blog, “How do you keep your content fresh and engaging?”

Keep content relevant: stay on mission

A written content marketing mission statement helps you sharpen your content, keep it on track and retain readers.

Yet 4 out of 5 marketers don’t have a written content marketing mission statement. By taking the simple step of writing down your mission statement, you pull ahead of 80% of your competitors.

It’s easy to create a content marketing mission statement with these step-by-step directionsUse my free template.

Content Mission Template
Use this free template to create your content marketing mission statement.

Co-create your content mission statement by convening your marketing team, sales and product managers face to face. Through co-creation, you gain buy-in, support and momentum for your content mission.

Caution: don’t make your content marketing mission too limiting. For example, when Digital Photography School started serving up content, its mission was to review cameras.

The problem with this approach: buyers came to the site, read the reviews, chose a camera and bought it – and never went back to Digital Photography School.

Why? Because readers already gathered all the information they needed, in one visit. That’s no way to retain readers!

Make sure your content delivers more than a one-and-done experience. Give people good reasons to return to your content again and again.

That’s why Digital Photography School changed its mission statement, which now reads:

“Digital Photography School has what you need to get your photography to the next level. From basic to advanced we offer daily tips, resources, and tutorials that will help you get the most out your camera.”

Daily tips, resources and tutorials give people many reasons to come back to the website again, so the site can retain readers. That’s how Digital Photography School overcame its problem with a one-and-done content experience.

Keep content on a regular cadence

The news media have trained people to expect content on certain days at certain times:

  • Nightly TV news begins at the same time each evening: 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m.
  • Radio stations play news on the hour, and sometimes on the half-hour.
  • The morning newspaper (online or print) arrives before breakfast.

That’s why people expect a regular cadence of content from you.  You retain readers when you form and feed a content consumption habit.

It’s easier to deliver a regular cadence of content when you plan your editorial calendar well in advance.

Make a date with your audience and always show up with new content when they expect it. Never miss a date.

For example, this blog has appeared every Wednesday morning since April 2014. It’s posted on the website, delivered to subscribers by email, and shared on social media as people head to work.

As a result, traffic to this website peaks on Wednesdays, because people have formed a habit about when to look for content.

Time of Day
Publishing on a regular cadence helps you create a habit and retain readers.

To set your own cadence, create an editorial content calendar that starts with big rocks:

  • Industry trade shows you’re involved in
  • Sales meetings
  • Product launches
  • Milestones, celebrations and anniversaries
  • Customer use season: information customers need when they actually use your product or service
  • Customer budgeting season: when budgets are set, and when budgets need to be used.

Set up your calendar to follow the rhythm of your customer’s year.

For example, See’s Candies are often given as gifts. (Before you ask: yes, I like chocolate.)

See’s builds its annual content calendar around a series of gift-giving occasions and limited-time products. Of course, See’s creates content for the holidays you’d expect, like July 4 and Father’s Day.

But See’s goes above and beyond the expected by celebrating offbeat holidays like National Lollypop Day.

See's National Lollypop Day
What holiday can you mark or invent to help retain readers for your content?

In the summer, See’s serves up content to customers that’s built on an imaginative calendar:

  • For back-to-school shoppers, get a free piece of candy in stores.
  • Come in for National Lollypop Day (July 20) and get a free lollypop.
  • Mark Independence Day, July 4.
  • See’s makes sure your candies arrive in good condition despite the summer heat by shipping in insulated containers – a seasonal message.
  • Limited-time sweets such as Summer Berries and Summertime chocolates.
  • Gifts for Father’s Day.
  • How to make S’mores around the campfire with See’s candies.
  • Honor new high school and college grads.

That makes for a full summer of sweet content to retain readers!

As a gardener, I like getting reminders about what needs to be done right now, at this time of year.

Abundant Harvest of Asian Pears
Reminders from my fruit tree supplier help ensure a good harvest. Build a calendar that reminds people what and when to do.

My fruit tree supplier, Stark Bro’s, sends emails that remind me when it’s time to:

  • Plant trees at the right time, spring and fall
  • Check for pests and diseases in growing season
  • Take care of peach and plum trees with summer pruning
  • Protect trees during the summer drought
  • Prune fruit trees in the winter.
Stark Bros content calendar
Content from Stark Bros is designed to retain readers with reminders of what to do and when to do it.

Brilliant! How can you create content to remind customers of the milestones ahead? It will help you retain readers who avidly consume your content.

When you do buyer persona research, always ask customers when they want to receive content. Also ask when they don’t want to receive content.

For example, for B2B marketers, many customers put their heads down and focus on meeting quarterly performance goals in the third month of a fiscal quarter. That means it’s not a great time to share content and get readers.

Instead, choose a time that works for better for your customers.

To retain readers, keep content:

  1. Fresh and engaging.
  2. Relevant by staying on mission.
  3. On a regular cadence.
Top 100 content marketing questions
Get the answers to marketers’ top 100 questions about content marketing.

“How do you develop a strategy to retain readers over a period of time?” is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions about content marketing. Here are answers to marketers’ Top 100 Questions on content marketing.