Whether you operate as a small business within a local market or a large-scale international company, brand loyalty is an important performance factor to consider. According to Forbes, 29% of consumers want rewards for their brand loyalty to be more interesting. Likewise, 87% of them are open to brands monitoring their activities if it leads to more personalized user experience (UX) on their respective platform.
This showcases a shift in brand perception, one that leaves businesses with ample opportunity to build brand loyalty in a variety of ways in 2020. Data published by Small Biz Genius showcased that 82% of companies agree with the sentiment that retention is cheaper than acquisition. Likewise, 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, with retention as small as 5% being able to raise profits by 25-95%.
The often-overlooked blog sections offer a unique and cost-effective way of building brand loyalty without delving into PPC or paid social media placement. Enter long-form content, content which is more complex and valuable than typical blog content found across the web. Long-form content can in fact retain a sizable audience on your website and ensure their brand loyalty due to the professional nature of said content. That said, let’s take a closer look at how you can build a long-form content pipeline for your business and encourage brand loyalty in 2020.
1. Goals & Milestones Matter
Producing long-form content takes more time than typical blog posts created exclusively for the purposes of SEO. While long-form posts will likewise add to your SEO ranking, their planning and execution should be done more carefully. Setting concrete KPIs in regards to your goals and milestones matters.
Goal-setting methodologies such as SMART can act as a great catalyst for your long-form content production. Goals set before your content creators should be attainable, numeric, and clearly understandable to ensure proper audience targeting, calls to action, and emotional triggers. Some of the KPIs you can use as brand loyalty via long-form content include:
Pieces of content produced over several weeks/month
Number of visitors from SERP/social media/industry websites
Number of visitors converted into subscribers/customers
Number of social media shares and mentions
Number of B2B stakeholders reached out after reading long-form content
2. Standardize your Long-Form Content Format
Before you commit to a long-form content format for your blog, make sure that you settle for a standardized set of formatting rules. For example, how long-form is long-form in your website’s case? Do you have enough resources and time to devote to 1500+ word pieces on a weekly (or more frequent) basis?
Does your industry have ample opportunities to explore new trends, innovation, case studies, and other forms of long-form writing regularly? Standardization of long-form content formatting also applies to the way you treat headings, subheadings, lists, and other elements contained within a single article.
Digital marketers often rely on a standard content creation stack for editing and formatting necessities, so it might be a good idea to assemble it. Don’t go into long-form content creation ad hoc and expect brand loyalty to follow suit – adopt a more methodical approach instead.****
3. Topic Clustering as a Catalyst for Retention
Ideal long-form content creation should serve a two-fold purpose. Primarily, it should add to the appeal of brand loyalty for your business in regards to lead retention. However, it should also enable your content creators to produce content as quickly and professionally as possible within the confines of your industry.
According to Smart Insights, it takes 65% more time to write posts than in 2014, with 19% of bloggers spending six hours or more writing. Standard form blog posts thus include images (90%), lists (60%), and statistics (57%), as well as contributor quotes (39%). These elements can find their place in your long-form content in the form of topic clusters, or articles which are related to one another. A great example of topic clustering can be found in Typeform and their Brand Awareness cluster of pages. As the name suggests, the pillar of their topic cluster revolves around brand awareness tips and guidelines, with different articles embedded throughout the main content. This allows for a seamless transition between pages that are interconnected allowing readers to pick and choose what to read.
Topic clusters offer the opportunity to explore a single topic in-depth and offer very minute details to your readers in regards to any discussion. Likewise, interested readers will be very likely to come back for more information on a certain topic within a cluster, leading to elevated brand loyalty.
4. Emphasize Personality & UX in Content
Building brand loyalty through long-form content is all about making sure that readers feel welcome and appreciated on your platform. Thus, personal pronouns, casual tone of voice, and an inviting and approachable vocabulary play pivotal roles in your content’s appeal. Address individual readers as “you, yourself” and your brand as “us, me” – include the reader in the topic’s exploration with “we”.
If we turn our attention to eCommerce, a great example of UX personalization can be found in Pull & Bear and their website’s navigation design. Inherently, eCommerce websites consist of endless product pages with descriptions, sales incentives, and calls to action, making their personalization a must. Pull & Bear adopts an approach that invites visitors to personalize their browsing experience from the moment they hit the landing page without mandatory registration.
Don’t distance yourself from the reader who took time to go through your long-form content; instead, include them along for the journey. You can refer to writing services such as Trust My Paper or Evernote to edit and format the flow of your writing prior to publishing. While informative writing and professionalism play a large role in brand loyalty, user-centric UX, and brand personality are just as vital for long-term success.****
5. User-Generated Content Implementation
Given the nature and size of long-form content pieces, user-generated content can find its way into your articles without much trouble. You can emphasize the necessity for UGC through social media, email marketing, and other communication channels to let users know about your newly-implemented initiative.
According to Medium, 84% of millennials report that UGC on company websites had an influence on what they buy. Additionally, millennials trust UGC 50% more than original content produced by online brands, further cementing its necessity in long-form content. One of the most predominant venues for UGC can be found in social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook due to their easy-to-share nature. Starbucks took this as a sign that UGC campaigns can improve its brand awareness and personalization efforts and introduces the Red Cup Contest every December. The goal is to bridge the gap between customer and brand, effectively marketing their products while providing a platform for users to express their creativity.
UGC in long-form articles can also take the form of quotes, related multimedia, or reviews/testimonials relevant to the topic you’re tackling at the moment. Depending on the type of business you run (marketing, design, IT, etc.), UGC can take the form of fan art and production inspired by your products.
6. Long-Form Multimedia – Appealing & Unique
We’ve discussed long-form content primarily as text-based articles and production centered on case studies on trending industry topics – but what about multimedia? Long-form content can take the form of extensive infographics, presentations, as well as video materials or audio podcasts and then be posted on your company website.
Take REI, the outdoor apparel company, as an example of long-form video content. The goal of their long-form documentary (which acts as an advertisement platform) was to humanize the brand of authentic, professional outdoor apparel. The entirety of “content” takes the form of video – there is no accompanying article or case study which offers a transcript of Paul’s Boots video.
That’s because Paul’s Boots IS the content specifically produced as a means to incite loyalty, word of mouth, and brand awareness. The same strategy can be applied to any number of industries without effort – all you need is to get creative and start producing unique content.
7. Influencer & Guest Contributions
Individuals who opt for brand loyalty are likely to do so because your brand plays well with others – no one likes to follow monopoly-centric companies. Even large-scale brands such as Disney and Coca-Cola collaborate with local creators and youth to encourage positive change through teamwork and networking.
As such, it’s a great practice to invite community influencers from social media and blogging sphere to your website for long-form content contributions. Working with B2B partners and inviting them to contribute to your blog (in accordance with standardized long-form content formatting) can do wonders for brand loyalty. Leesa is a brand that specializes in luxury mattress manufacture and works exclusively online. Thus, the company has decided to reach out to influencer bloggers to produce long-form blog content as a means to promote their brand worldwide. Content such as the article published by Sleepopolis has managed to spread awareness of Leesa and thus affect their engagement and sales in a positive manner.
These long-form content pieces can take the form of interviews, Q&A sessions, or simple discussions between like-minded individuals which are then published as blog posts. Coupled with the aforementioned UGC, guest contributions and influencer content present on your blog section will further elevate the appeal of brand loyalty toward your company.
8. Data Gathering & Reevaluation
Lastly, once your long-form content pipeline is in place and performing as intended, data analysis should become a priority going forward. Gathering data and evaluating your content’s performance will give you ample opportunity to detect bottlenecks and build on the solid foundations of long-form content. When it comes to the question of brands that use data to improve their services, the real question is “which ones don’t do it”. Data has become an inherent part of online interaction, be it social media, your favorite streaming platform, or an indie blogger.
Platforms such as Google Analytics as well as Lucky Orange for user heatmap tracking are great examples of tools that can help improve your services. Consulting these tools will give insight into how your leads interact with the long-form content you produce. Use a variety of sampling and performance tracking methods to ensure the quality and relevance of generated data. Surveys, polls, as well as live tracking on your website, can help detect behavior patterns, interest triggers, and other hot spots on your website.
Failing to track your long-form content’s performance post-publishing will leave you in the dark in regard to its appeal and effects on brand loyalty. Remain vigilant and apply your findings to future content production to allow for organic growth of interest in brand loyalty for your company.
Recap & Takeaways
In the age of fast data circulation and competitive marketing, emphasis on brand loyalty can truly transform your business for the better. Long-form content marketing can serve as a catalyst for positive change and inspiration for deep discussion, sharing of experience, and user retention regardless of your industry.
However, proper planning, format standardization, and collaboration with like-minded industry individuals are what will seal the proverbial deal for many customers and brand followers. Don’t be afraid to commit to long-form content– play your cards in a smart way and your user base will return the favor in spades.
Marques Coleman is a blog writer and specializes in marketing and copywriting. Moreover, he is an avid traveler and always tries to learn something new.