From photographs of cats to Super Bowl commercials, viral content has become the Holy Grail of digital advertising. By the numbers, however, utilitarian content serves a greater purpose than flash-in-the-pain successes.
Utilitarian content solves a problem, fills a need, or answers a question. It stays relevant long after the latest celebrity ice bucket challenge video fades from the collective virtual memory.
Produce Evergreen Content
Rely on royalty: Content is king
Evergreen content remains useful and enticing long after you hit the publish button. Not only does it answer users' questions in the moment, but readers can refer back to it months or years down the road.
Evergreen content "can be referenced long after it was originally published, and even then, it's still valuable to the reader," according to Hubspot. In other words, it continues to attract links and visits even after the current season has passed.
Mine Your Customers' Questions
They've got questions - you've got answers.
You probably hear dozens - if not hundreds - of questions each month from your customers or clients. They want to know how something works or how to achieve a particular result. Think about the most common questions, then create content around them.
If your clients ask a particular question, other people are also interested in the answer. Provide enough detail so that your content not only qualifies as utilitarian, but could serve as the quintessential resource for that particular topic.
Hit the Pain Points
Neuromarketing reports that advertisements with emotional content result in almost double the profit gains of advertisements featuring only rational content. This research applies to content marketing, as well.
If you hit your readers' pain points, they make an emotional connection to your content. Figure out what drives your readers crazy or causes them despair, then find a way to fix it. Create content that addresses the issue and provides reasonable solutions.
A mechanic, for example, might publish a blog post about how to stay safe when the car breaks down on a deserted road. This hits a common pain point - the fear of encountering trouble during a breakdown - and helps readers avoid the problem. It's also utilitarian because it addresses a specific question.
Build a Reputation
A single piece of viral content fades into obscurity the moment its Retweets and Facebook repostings cease. Utilitarian content, on the other hand, stays relevant for years. It remains indexed in search engines for future retrieval.
Producing consistently utilitarian content attracts readers (and potential customers) who rely on you for solid information. This creates brand loyalty and inspires word-of-mouth advertising. It also establishes your business as an authority in your industry, which makes you the go-to source of related information.
Interact with Readers
When you produce utilitarian content, you might attract follow-up questions from readers. They'll ask you to expand on your points or to address a related topic. Use these comments and questions as inspiration for future content.
Whether you're posting on a blog or a social media site,address customers directly. When they reach out to you, reciprocate in kind to open the lines of communication. You'll establish lasting relationships with your audience.
Utilitarian content might not seem as flashy or as impressive as viral content, but it serves a more worthy purpose. Anyone can create a piece of content that catches fire for a brief period of time, but it takes dedication and perseverance to continually publish relevant, helpful articles.