In fact, I'm willing to bet that you can think of a dozen instances where timing has been responsible for the success or failure of a particular task. For example, in cooking, it can mean the difference between a culinary triumph and a big, burnt mess. And in comedy, it can determine whether a joke falls flat or evokes a raucous laugh.
The same applies to content marketing. In order for our efforts to amount to anything, marketers must be focused on delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time, right?
But, how do you go about ensuring you achieve all of the above? To help, I've detailed six quick tips to get you thinking more strategically about the type of content you're producing, and how timing might influence its success.
6 Tips for Creating the Right Content at the Right Time
1) Get to know your audience.
Understanding who your customers are is the first step in ensuring any content created engages with the right people and achieves its objectives -- whether that’s to raise brand awareness, increase traffic and conversions, or build quality links to improve your search ranking.
Most businesses will capture data on people who have used their services or bought their products in the past to draw up a generalised picture of potential customers. (Check out this resource for free templates to help you build out your personas.)
Another way to gather data for your personas is to extract it from social media. Facebook's Audience Insights is a great tool to simplify this process, as it allows you see the demographic of a business’ audience, as well as their gender, relationship status, interest sets, job niches, etc. It can even tell you the amount of time a specific audience spends on Facebook and the time of day they are accessing it. (For a beginners’ guide on how to access this data, check outthis article from our social media manager, Naomi Parry.)
Another way to get a better understanding of an audience is through YouGov profiler. This tool allows you to search for brands, people, or things and -- as long as there is enough data available -- find out facts about them including political persuasion, favourite foods, hobbies and other brands they are interested in.
2) Identify opportunities for campaign alignment.
There are many reasons a business needs to invest in content marketing. To get the wheels turning, here are a few examples:
Give their brand a voice/personality
Engage with their audience
Encourage upsell opportunities
Secure a higher ranking in search
Increase brand awareness
Build domain authority
Increase traffic and conversions
To shape your strategy, think about the content you are producing and which of the above you want it to achieve. For example, if you're looking to drive traffic to an ebook to increase conversions, you may want to create supporting blog articles that link to the CTA. Thinking about how the content you're creating (or plan to create) fits in with other promotion and campaigns you're currently running will help you become more purposeful in your approach to content creation.
One of the best ways to align your marketing projects is to create a detailed content calendar. This should list content being worked on, campaign launch dates, and other events that your team should be aware of when planning content. For example, if you work in the gardening industry, find out when national events such as the Royal Horticultural Society Show are taking place, think about other national holidays and celebrations (Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, etc.) that could influence your customers, and make sure your content calendar details all the other promotional campaigns your business is involved in.
3) Figure out the right content mix and flow.
Once you know who you are talking to and what you want to accomplish, you need to think about the types of content that your audience/potential customers will want to consume.
Will they want downloadable, detailed ebooks and guides? What about short and snappy blog posts? Are they looking for in-depth articles answering specific questions? What about visual content such as infographics? What role will video play in your strategy?
To cater to your buyer personas, you need to provide a mix of different content types. Think of your website as if it were a newspaper or magazine. Print journalism specialises in offering variety for its readers -- from hard news stories to picture spreads to personality profiles to option columns. Make sure the content on your site offers the same.
4) Experiment with reactive marketing.
Often executed through social media channels, reactive marketing is one of the best ways to prove that your company is staying on top of industry trends and changes. To give you a better sense of what this approach looks like, check out some of these examples of reactive marketing in action:
This August, Arena Flowers reacted to the news that hackers had downloaded the details of 37 million account holders of the Ashley Madison infidelity site, by sending out a tweet announcing it was offering 10% off all ‘Apology’ flowers.
When Uruguay striker Luis Suarez hit the headlines after biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup, Snickers’ marketing team sent Suarez the clever tweet above. This was retweeted more than 45,000 times.
When the wrong Korean flag was mistakenly displayed during the Olympics in 2012, the eye care company, Specsavers, seamlessly tied it into its "Should have gone to Specsavers" adverting campaign.
These examples prove that quickly taking advantage of a trending issue can be a very effective marketing tool. However, it's important to note that you should be careful when selecting an event or trend to jump on. As a rule of thumb, avoid anything that might be offensive to people such as a religious instance or natural disaster.
5) Stay informed.
When I was a cub reporter for a regional newspaper, we used to get all the national press delivered to our office every day. As part of my job, I would have to read through the broadsheets and tabloids to see if any of their stories could be localised. I was a great way to stay "in the know."
To ensure that your business doesn't fall behind, it's important that you're regularly checking out news websites and industry blogs to see what people are writing about. Other websites such as BuzzSumo and Google Trends are also a great place to discover which topics, related to your business or customers' business, get the most attention.
Another interesting platform for this type of discovery is NewsWhip. This tool helps you track and predict the spread of stories on social networks and find what people are talking about. And Spike, NewsWhip’s pro-tool dashboard, shows what content is capturing the world’s attention in real time.
Content teams should use this emerging information to brainstorm more "forward thinking" pieces that offer a fresh perspective. And getting the timing right is particularly important here.
As soon as you notice a hot topic beginning to emerge, you need to act fast to avoid piling on. Similar to the reactive marketing examples above, the quicker you can deliver the content, the better.
6) Test different posting times.
There's a lot of research out there on determining the best time to send and publish content on social media, email, blogs, etc. While I'd always urge you to test these things for yourself, here's some of the best advice I've come across:
Facebook. Research by Buffer into Facebook’s News Feed algorithm found engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays and 32% higher at weekends. The best times vary, with stats ranging from 1pm to get the most shares and 3pm to get more clicks; generally early afternoon is a solid time to post.
Twitter. A recent study by Twitter found that 81% of users are more likely to be on Twitter during their commute home and the highest time for retweets is early evening, while a huge piece of research by the Buffer team suggests that the best engagement comes in the early hours of the morning. Those that tweet between 2-3am earn the most clicks on average.
Emails. Research carried out by MailChimp, found that 8am – 11am and 12 – 2pm is the best time to send your newsletters for the best response rate but that timings varies enormously depending on audience.
Blog Posts. Track Maven analysed almost 5,000 blogs last year and discovered a high correlation between those that published posts on a weekend and a higher average number of social shares, putting it down to the lack of ‘competition’ for headspace and engagement.
Again, I recommend that you use these finding to inspire your own tests for determining optimal send and publish times. While they may have worked for these companies, you can often expect to see different results from different audience types.
What are your favorite tips for posting the right content at the right time? Share them with us in the comments section below.
Originally published Nov 11, 2015 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017