As the digital media landscape grows and evolves, more and more marketers are putting emphasis on targeting. Of course this makes sense. If internet advertising is the wild west, targeting is a great Sheriff to keep your numbers and metrics in check.

That being said – targeting can often be flawed. Say you’re a company selling baby products. Perhaps you’d target married women ages 25-35, as they’re likely to have children. But how many grandmothers, fathers, and single mothers are you missing out on? This is a simplified example, but regardless of your particular business, there’s a good chance you’re letting a percentage of your audience fall through the cracks.

Let Users Opt-In to Your Message

This is where content marketing, and more specifically content discovery, can play an important role in your efforts. By putting your value proposition out into the world, users can opt-in and self-select merely by clicking on it. In other words – with the right content, distributed to as wide an audience as possible, clicking is generally an indication of interest. This will allow you to build an audience based entirely on their interest in your brand/content rather than a predetermined demographic.

I’ve written more than once about focusing your content strategy to improve results, and in this case the principal remains the same. A great example of this would be Secret Escapes. This international luxury travel site was looking to drive email signups to their service. Their most successful content piece to this day is “How to Find the Best Luxury Hotel Deals Online.” This is a fairly straightforward strategy – a user clicking on this content piece is a user that is specifically interested in Luxury Hotel Deals. In other words: Secret Escapes’ entire value proposition.

Of course, one could argue that such a direct piece feels a bit too “sales-y” and may not do well in terms of CTR. These are both legitimate concerns. For the former – I’d argue there’s no harm in supplementing the purely engaging content with something that’s tied into a direct performance goal. It’s unlikely to hurt your editorial integrity as the only people who click on the content piece are ones that have clearly “opted in” to your message by clicking.

Rethink Your Metrics

For the latter, I’d argue CTR is a flawed metric. In fact, I’d challenge any content marketing team driving toward a clear ROI-driven goal to give their current benchmarks for a success a second look. For example, companies tend to put a lot of stock in pages per session as a metric. Of course it’s a good one. But does a second content page view bring you closer to, say, selling a pair of shoes? Perhaps – but that may not be the most effective measuring stick.

As data capabilities and sophistication grow, there’s another emerging technology that’s worth paying attention to: complex attribution models. If your company has a robust display retargeting program in place, and you can use your content to provide an ample cookie pool of new prospects for that program, isn’t your true measure of success the amount and percentage of new users your content brings in?

If a user clicks on a content piece showcasing new shoe styles for fall, they have clearly said to you “I’m interested in shoes.” You can then easily retarget them with a more direct sales message around a shoe sale or a special offer. You know they are relevant because, by clicking, they have told you so.

This is the power of content marketing in general, and content discovery specifically. It’s not just about letting new audiences discover you. It can empower you to discover brand new audiences.

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