The Content Sweet Spot | Hitting the Mark and Becoming Effective At Outdoor Industry Marketing
Graphics By: Deanna Riley – Web & Graphic Specialist
Article By: Weston Schrank -Content Marketing Manager
Having a strong content game is difficult. Any content manager, producer, and marketer will attest to this statement if they have been in the grind for a while. It is quite easy to hit a block, seem repetitive, and can at times feel like a struggle to think of, create, and manage effective and interesting content. Luckily for content creators, freelance writers, videographers or marketers in the outdoor industry, it’s addicting for us to do our jobs as it one of our deepest passions and obsessions in life. Our own team at Stone Road Media, lives and breathes the outdoors, we know, even better WE ARE the audience, the customers, and the consumers we target. However, even with this intense drive and understanding, it can be quite easy for content to come up short and miss the mark. The fundamentals of your content should have 3 goals in general, and understanding the goals and where to place the content should be key for any brand, marketer, content producer, or freelance writer in the outdoor industry. Missing the mark is wasting time, resources, money, and more importantly valuable content. When it comes to outdoor industry marketing, hitting the content sweet spot is demanding, but particularly effective when done correctly.
So what is the content sweet spot? It is the point between the 3 general focuses and goals of content, balancing each goal perfectly to achieve maximum effectiveness. While this might sound a little bland and honestly un-informative, it all makes sense when you have a deep understanding of what the goals of your content should be. To start, do you even know? Sure one of your goals is to drive people to the website, create leads, be successful at conversion, and drive sales. But that is only one goal, and without focusing on the other two, you will never get there.
Honestly when I was forming the idea for this blog, I was trying to figure out the best way to explain how to structure content around these goals. I know this same principle has been taught or explained for content marketing before with this, and it really is quite simple…elementary school simple, but in my mind pretty effective. It’s a 2nd grade lesson for today, a Venn diagram!
The 3 goals of your content with the content sweet spot being the intersection at the perfect balance. In other diagrams on the subject, it’s all about dialing into the sweet spot between the consumer and your expertise, but in this niche, the outdoor industry, fishing marketing, hunting marketing, shooting and tactical marketing, we know the general topics and direction of the content we produce. This is understanding where the sweet spot is between the customer, Google search, and your website. It’s easy to only concentrate and get carried away with only one aspect, but this makes the content miss the mark at achieving your goals…if you even know what they are?
Content Goal Number 1: The Customer
“Every day your target customers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of digital advertisements. Whether via website ad space, email marketing, social media ads, or AdWords, the irrelevant nature or broad generality have made that outdoor industry consumer nearly numb to the delivery.” – Customer Profiling For Greater Customer Engagement
When it comes down to finding your brand/company’s outdoor industry marketing content sweet spot, your first goal should, and always be the customer. When Stone Road Media’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Flinn wrote the above quote, he meant it, and hit the nail right on the head. This kind of hits home doesn’t it? Our passion is and will always be the outdoors, whether that is hunting or fishing, the sad reality is that we have learned (rather have literally been forced) into being numb to the delivery of outdoor industry content. Some fans and consumers would even say it has ruined the industry. Season after season, any click would take us to bland, lifeless, uninformative product focused content.
Literally it has been forced down our throats, and it makes a lot of people sick. The moment really hit home when I was discussing SEO, Google, and outdoor industry marketing, with my father over lunch…literally taking a break from writing this very article. Now remember he (an old guy) is the generation that grew up on the good ole days of print and magazines. His words were, “even if I did get on the internet and look up something on hunting or fishing, I wouldn’t click on anything, at least not the first things to come up”. The second thing he mentioned was “if I do happen to click on something, it isn’t what I thought I was going to read and a lot of stuff pops up that I don’t want to see”. While he really doesn’t operate a phone that well, and never touches a computer, he knows a surprising amount, at least something important enough to put in a blog, about content marketing in the hunting and fishing industry!
What my father was basically saying is that the consumer has learned to avoid ads, really again been forced to avoid those first (paid for) results with the green ad box. When a SERP pops up in front of him, an advantage for those that can reach the consumer with content organically. But it has to be content for the consumer…VALUABLE content. This has forced your customer to only steer to the content that they want to see and are searching for. Real information not slandered in buy this and click this…but engaging, interesting, informative and consistent content.
In this reality, your number one goal for any content produced should not be a repeat, or a broad generality like so many other blogs, videos, and sites have produced over and over again. You have to strive for the content that the consumer is really searching for, what they want to see. So what? Honestly up to this point a whole bunch of smoke has been blown without some real numbers to show you why giving consumer’s content for them is worth it. I’ll admit it, it does need some numbers.
“More than half of consumers are inspired to seek out brand specific content during or after the show. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of consumers spend time reading about brands that interest them, and once found, 78% perceive a relationship between themselves and the brand after reading or watching digital content; 82% of which is positive feelings towards the brand – all of this by just giving them the content they seek (Demand Metric 2014)…. giving them custom content, on a digital platform, can reach them through other channels or devices, and give you better results, views, and loyalty right? Correct! Companies with blogs, and custom content especially in the form of video, generate 67% more leads per month (Demand Metric 2014).” – Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | How to Show More Digital Love” To Your Sponsors
Content customized for your consumer is powerful, anything less than that minimum is wasting time, resources, and money. It should be specific and be given enough power to be the authority piece on that topic. If it is not then there is no use creating it. Ask yourself or your content creators and free-lance writers if it is something you or they would read, something informative that is interesting, that gives a return to the reader. This is your content’s first goal, capturing the audience, readers, viewers, and fans.
There is an endless amount of content for your brand to create that can achieve this goal. There is always another subject or detail to dive into, and there are an endless amount of ways and combinations to make it attractive to the consumer! Here are a few ways…
Content Goal Number 2: Google Search
After you have thought of a very valuable piece of content for the customer, you need to relate it to your website. While the website is your first content goal it is your last…make sense? I know it doesn’t, it barely makes sense to me why I would even rank them like that, but at the same time it is correct. The fact is that you, me, bob, or whoever, it doesn’t matter, if they are reading this article they are looking into content marketing, and have a brand or they are a content creator for a brand. So? Well you or they are already in the mindset of driving people to your/their website. While the consumers and customers are set as your first goal for your content, the first thought it your head is and will always be your website. To be effective at digital, inbound, and content marketing, you have to put the website as the first initial unspoken goal, but the last overall concrete goal. Is that clear? I didn’t think so… hopefully this will clear it up.
The Google Search is your next content goal, it is your delivery system. “No social media is my delivery system” is what you probably thought. It is initially, for a short time, but google is long term, organic, continuous, domination type lead delivery!
“Your customer will unknowingly seek your brand, TV show, company, and product or service out online, so you need to give them exactly what they are searching for.” It is the premise behind the BE SEEN. BE FOUND. BE DIFFERENT of Stone Road Media. Customers will educate themselves before the buy, whether that buy is online or in the store. Those businesses and brands that give the information, detail, expert opinion, enjoyment, and influential piece on the subjects and topics related to their goals and objectives, and if they do it consistently will beat out the competition. How?
The fact is that custom content alone, no matter how attractive it actually is will not go anywhere without proper optimization for the google search. Optimization? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to be exact, and if that is new to you then read up!
More often than not, literally we see this all the time in this industry, a piece of content is slapped on YouTube, Vimeo, and/or the blog page of a website with no optimization.
“A good piece of content for the consumer with no optimization is like showing up to a job fair, you have the experience, the skills, and the education, but have no name tag, no resume, and you are afraid to speak….you are basically non-existent to employers”
This about sums up the majority of outdoor industry sites and content posting. They are non-existent to google and as a result the customer as well. Literally hundreds of great pieces of content over trail cameras, tree stands, fishing rods, baits, guns, ammo, tips, tactics, and videos, you name it, it all has been posted for readers and viewers that never can find them. Why? They lack optimization. To start they have horrible titles, more artistic or dramatic more often than not, or my personal favorite example of what not to post in the outdoor industry “BOB’s 180 inch 2010 buck” video on YouTube.
The title is just the start, getting that right is pretty basic and common sense. Title generally, your contents title should be exactly what your consumer is looking for! After this, sub headers, keywords, LSI keywords, density, hyperlinks, backlinks, multimedia use, content length, pictures, picture titles, and much more have to be considered and optimized. Getting that mastered takes work…I promise you.
That is the basic framework behind achieving the content goal of the “google search”, it is printing that resume, grabbing a name tag, and being vocal at your job fair…
After this syndication, advertising, and social media takes place, but other than that the content you have created is out of your hands and into the consumer’s hands. Google takes into account many things, I have no 100% idea of what it does, no one does and it is always changing, they keep marketers guessing. What we do know is that it listens to the consumer. Dwelling time or average time on page in Google Analytics, bounce rate, exit rate, all of these analytics google takes into account as should you as they are key performance indicators or KPI’s for your content.
With google lending an open ear to consumers and letting the indicators speak for themselves about the content you create, it only enforces that creating optimized content for the consumer will set the base for achieving the third goal, your website.
Content Goal 3: Your Website
Your final goal is bringing it all around. You have achieved your first goals. You have captured the consumer through a top ranking organic search, you have kept them engaged with the content, and they are reading and watching the whole piece, now what? How does it benefit your site, your brand, how do you get a return on your investment?
How do we consider “success” and achieve the goal of “Your Website” for our hard work and the content we are creating and delivering?
Here is a great excerpt from a past article, something SRM’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jeremy Flinn wrote:
“If the digital, inbound, and content marketing is not directly generating dollars in the account; how can we really say we are succeeding, let alone say there is a ROI, on the inbound marketing services implemented? You’re right, at the end of the day you aren’t paying the office rent/mortgage with page views, and last time I tried, my employees were not a big fan of direct deposit of visitor sessions. OK, maybe that was a horrible attempt at digital marketing comedy, but the fact is cash is king, right? It is, but all of those KPIs lead to money in the bank! In other words, all of the indexes (in the form of KPIs) that we are tracking and working so hard to improve are the means to an end. That “end” is a customer for our service or product. The more customer visits (sessions) to a website, the more they look at the brand, services, and products (page views), and longer they are impacted by our company content and products/services (time on site) the more likely they will become a customer! In the end, the stronger your digital KPIs are, the stronger revenue flow will be. It doesn’t matter if you make revenue via advertising, eCommerce, or at retail, the bottom line is nearly 70% consumers are starting the buying process online. This initial step may be a long (or short) way from the end (buying) depending on the purchase, but it very much is true about “the first impression is everything.” Those with little unique content to engage with, will lose customers on the brand, products, and services and fall short…” – Content and Digital Marketing Results
Again this is where you can get lost or become too focused, the first and last step is your website, traffic, sessions, and in the end a ROI for the content you produce. There is a fine line to forcing the issue, in other words slandering your content up with buy this, click this, and ads. Your end goal for the content, as far as your website goal, shouldn’t be to make that reader buy that product on the spot, it should be a lasting impression that slowly creates consumers and their trust for your brand, product, or service. Converting one reader or lead out of 100 is not as valuable as creating a base of addicted consumers, there addiction being your site and your content.
The world of hunting marketing, fishing marketing, and inbound marketing is unbelievable, if you know what you are doing. No matter the size of your company in the outdoor industry, you can be competitive if you are dialed into your content sweet spot. It’s so much more than who has the most ad presence, it’s about who is the authority in their niche with the content they create. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Focus on your consumers, optimize the content, and generate website traffic. As you dial into your content sweet spot, just remember and then record and analyze your digital marketing KPIs. Let the numbers do the talking, and lead you to greater revenue in the bank account.
Graphic: Deanna Riley grew up in western PA with a love for the outdoors, which lead to her drive to capture the essence of what’s around us in her nature photography and design work. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design, and is excellent at web, logo, and print design as well as social media.
Article: Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners, and outdoor freelance writers.