5 Ways Great Design Content Will Transform Your Marketing Strategy
The content substance is, by all accounts, a crucial factor for any content marketing strategy.
No matter how well one presents lacklustre, uninteresting content, it will simply not resonate with audiences seeking value.
However, it is creative and authentic designs that best project content value at a glance.
Think of how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) dictates uncluttered page layouts, the information above the fold, and visual element readability.
Or how Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) hinges on compelling CTAs, or how social media marketers insist on visual consistency.
Great design content will transform your marketing strategy precisely because it will emerge throughout the customer journey.
What is a content marketing strategy?
First and foremost, let us distinguish our terms; specifically, define “content marketing strategy” concerning “content marketing plan”.
The two terms do often see interchangeable use but, even if they do overlap, they’re distinctly different.
A content marketing plan answers the “what” questions of content creation, such as:
- What content will you produce?
- Which form will it take?
- What will it aim to achieve?
Conversely, a content marketing strategy will expand on your plan and delve into “how” questions, like:
- How will your content be promoted?
- Will its chosen form best suit your platform(s) of choice?
- How will it achieve its purpose(s)?
Of course, that is not to say that great design will transform your content marketing strategy and not your plan. For example, new design insights will likely inform questions of content type and form from the ground up.
However, your content marketing strategy will span across the customer journey, and that’s where the transformation begins.
The phases of the customer journey
Content marketing strategies will typically consider the entirety of a customer journey. As such, it is crucial to consider how design choices enhance each phase.
To do so, let us use SEMrush’s breakdown of the customer journey:
The phases are as follows:
- Awareness. This is where top-of-the-funnel content lies, which will typically aim to raise brand awareness and search engine visibility. Such content may be informational blog posts, entertaining promotional videos, and so forth.
- Consideration. Here, prospects will seek further knowledge. They have now entered your sales funnel, so they will need to be presented with value. Examples may be how-to videos, deep analyses, and similar problem-solving content.
- Decision. Sometimes dubbed the “conversion” phase, this is where prospects decide to convert. Multiple types of content augment this stage; landing pages, social proof, your portfolio’s case studies, and so forth. It is here where you must convince them you are the optimal choice for them.
- Retention. As one part of the “post-purchase engagement” phase, this phase hinges on retaining customers post-conversion. This metric is crucial, as OutboundEngine reports that customer acquisition can cost five times more than customer retention.
- Advocacy. Finally, retention and satisfaction converge into advocacy. While advocacy is a result of marketing success across all previous stages, content can also inspire it. Examples may because marketing material, newsletters that highlight endorsements or spotlight milestones and achievements, etc.
You may already suspect how great design will transform your content marketing strategy from the content examples above.
This breakdown should serve to do for this exploration; outline all the opportunities for optimisation and innovation.
Why does the customer journey matter for content marketing strategies?
Now, we may briefly explain why this article follows the structure that it does.
In brief, content marketing strategies increasingly value the customer experience as a crucial strategic goal.
This customer-first philosophy stems from a plethora of observations and changing trends, such as:
- Customer acquisition versus customer retention costs, as outlined above.
- Increasing consumer distrust, as indicated by the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer.
- Increasing aversion of contemporary, tech-savvy audiences to traditional hard-sell marketing.
- This shift in the digital marketing landscape has led more marketers increasingly to embrace HubSpot’s flywheel model.
As such, offering an impeccable customer experience to nurture long-lasting relationships can only be a focal point of content marketing. To illustrate this point, consider such factors as the following:
- Does your SEO facilitate better content visibility?
- Does your website swiftly present exact value?
- Is your social media outreach consistent across platforms, and does it adhere to your branding goals?
- Do your landing pages yield optimal conversion rates?
- Does your post-purchase engagement enhance retention rates and inspire loyalty?
These, and other factors, should have a substantial impact on your content marketing strategies’ effectiveness.
In turn, content quality and output consistency aside, it is an excellent design content that can inform and augment them all.
5 Ways great design content will transform your marketing strategy
With the above context in mind, we may now explore the entirety of the customer journey.
Across each stage, we may identify how design content choices and optimal practices can enhance your content marketing strategy.
At the first stage, we may consider content that raises awareness with target audiences and boosts traffic.
Here, we may explore SEO, social media strategies, and your overall digital presence under the scope of design content.
As we’ve highlighted before, design overlaps with SEO significantly. For this specific stage, however, consider which design elements may hamper your SEO as regards raising awareness:
- Heavy design elements. Google’s research finds that slower page loading speeds directly correlate with higher bounce rates. To address this factor, you may review your design choices and de-clutter your pages as much as possible.
- A poor mobile experience. With more and more visitors coming from mobile devices, mobile-friendliness is a crucial metric to consider. To facilitate it, you may embrace mobile-first design, which mandates clean UIs and light design elements.
- Poor content readability. If visitors don’t immediately bounce, long chunks of text that strain the eyes may discourage them. Design-wise, you may address this by breaking up text with appropriate, relevant visuals. Additionally, you may review your use of white space to make content more digestible and easier on the eyes.
Social media strategies
Similarly, most content marketing strategies rightfully delve into social media as a means of raising awareness.
Indeed, social media offer an excellent avenue for branding, allowing you to share your brand’s story.
To do so effectively, consider such design content factors as the following:
- Social media post visuals. For many visually-focused social media platforms, captivating visuals are the primary arbiter of success. Put differently, content that does not allure audiences cannot help you raise awareness. Here, examine how your images, video, and other elements communicate your message and how well they resonate with your audiences.
- Digital presence consistency. Similarly, social media content at this stage serves to guide audiences from awareness to consideration. To do so effectively, your design choices should offer a consistent brand experience throughout your sales funnel. Thus, you may ensure your visuals of choice, from logos to headshots, see consistent use across the entire customer journey.
Having succeeded at raising awareness, your content may then guide visitors through the consideration phase.
Here, too, great design will transform your content marketing strategy. Specifically, it will allow for special value offers, leaving lasting impressions that prevent prospects from slipping away.
Offers of value
In this stage, conversions are not the primary concern yet – but visitors should know your page matches their search intent.
To offer value and encourage consideration, consider how your website content design choices frame your offers:
- Keep vital information above the fold. Such information can include your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP), and CTAs.
- Streamline your header menu. At this stage, visitors must quickly find your offers that most interest them. A clean header menu will allow both desktop and mobile users to do so.
Impression quantity and quality
As highlighted above, alluring visuals garner much more engagement than plain written content.
You may thus use strong visuals strategically to enhance both impression quantity and quality:
- Opt for visuals over text wherever possible. Smallbiztrends reported that “59 per cent of executives would rather watch a video than reading text”. Similarly, “four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it”. Thus, opting for visual content should help ensure more overall impressions.
- Focus on visual content quality. John Medina found that people remember 65% of the visual content they see up to 3 days later. In stark contrast, they will only remember 10% of the written content they read. Thus, your visuals’ choices and the design elements that facilitate them play a crucial part in impression quality.
Should your efforts toward consideration have succeeded, prospects should now be entering the decision phase.
Here is where conversions occur, so your design choices should now help convince prospects beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Conversion Rate Optimisation is such a deep subject that it would warrant its own article to cover thoroughly.
However, at its core, it is a series of practices that enables content to reach full potential and drive sales.
Design-wise, specifically, consider two primary CRO practices:
- Strong CTAs. CTAs are the primary conversion element to polish in terms other than copy itself. Consider solidifying your CTAs through placement and contrasting colours that enhance visibility. Additionally, consider if any adjacent design elements draw visitors’ attention away from them.
- Lone CTAs. Similarly, CRO hinges on facilitating conversions – as the name suggests. Echoing similar research, VWO finds that multiple CTAs cause decision fatigue, in turn reducing conversion rates. As such, limiting each page to a single CTA could be a very profitable design choice to make.
The psychology of colours
Having touched on colour choices manifold, it is crucial to highlight the psychology of colours at this stage briefly.
Indeed, colour affects an array of marketing factors, as DigitalSynopsis illustrates.
Great design content will transform your content marketing strategy through colour:
- Emotional connotations. Different colours carry different connotations; red denotes passion and urgency, blue inspires calmness, and so forth. Thus, your choice of colour across content should carefully align with the emotional response you aim to elicit.
- Resonance with different audience segments. Connotations aside, different colours resonate better with different audience segments. For example, perhaps unsurprisingly, blue appeals to men more than to women. You may thus let your audience insights inform your choice of colour as well.
- Brand imaging. Finally, your choice of colour directly affects your brand image, as it too creates specific associations. Consider how such brands as Apple opt for a neutral white, while others like Spotify prefer a calming green. Your logo to your homepage and social media profile pictures; consider how your chosen colours present your brand.
Having achieved conversions, at this stage, you may continue to build relationships with converted customers.
As you do so, subtle design content choices can continue to enhance your content marketing strategy. Among other content types for this stage, consider the following:
- Social media engagement. Post-sale engagement will very commonly include social media interactions, as social media marketers will attest to. To enhance retention rates in this way, you may begin with swift, professional, and valuable responses. Design-wise, however, you may ensure visual consistency, as highlighted before. Customers who receive a consistent brand experience, both in content quality and presentation, will remain with you.
- Your newsletter. Similarly, your newsletter can serve as an excellent asset toward customer retention. Its content, tone, frequency, and even purpose will depend on your unique criteria and campaign needs. You may, however, augment its effectiveness as regards retention through impeccable design. To do so, you may consider the above principles, from above-the-fold information to the psychology of colours, as a foundation. If these principles have worked for you so far, they will very likely work for this stage as well.
- Live chat. Finally, offering live chat can enhance customer service, and in turn, yield better retention rates. Contemporary audiences expect to see the option of live chat more often than not, and providing it does denote professionalism. Should you do so, you may examine your pages’ design and ensure they highlight this option.
Finally, a consistently satisfying customer journey may yield advocacy from loyal, engaged customers.
Advocacy is indeed a valuable metric, so much so that advocacy marketing strategies are now becoming increasingly popular. However, in the context of this article, let us specifically explore how design choices can enhance this stage.
Consider such content and practices that may yield advocacy as the following:
- Referral programs. Referral programs are a tried-and-tested practice you may be engaging in. Customers will typically refer their peers to you if they’re satisfied throughout their journey. Thus, content aside, you may adhere to the above principles to polish your referral programs for this phase design-wise. Make them easy to find, much like your conversion pages; use strong visuals that resonate with your audiences, like with other content; keep your offer clear and concise without visual clutter, as with your pages’ CTAs.
- “Thank you” emails. Similarly, “thank you” emails are a very effective tool toward cultivating personal relationships and, hopefully, yielding advocacy. You may use them to thank long-standing customers, high-value customers, referrers, and other segments of your choice. Design-wise, the same principles can apply here: keep your text brief and accompany it with an enticing visual. Consider the psychology of colours, white space, and other design content that can best convey your gratitude.
To conclude, it should now sound like no hyperbole to assert that excellent design content will transform your content marketing strategy.
Design choices, be they grand and bold or subtle, can enhance your marketing effectiveness in many ways.
It is the sum of your design content choices that will best frame your brand’s offers throughout the customer journey from awareness to advocacy.
While the suggestions above should only serve as a cursory glance into this subject, we hope that they can establish a healthy foundation for your future efforts.
Author Bio: Joel Turner is a freelance copywriter currently collaborating with Digital Dot New York, for whom he authors content on web design, CRM software, and related subjects.