September 20, 2016
Let’s say for a minute that content wants to be president rather than king. You, the content creator, need to create the type of content most likely to get elected by your target market. What type of content will they find most appealing – pieces that are the marketing equivalent of Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson?
We don’t have a crystal ball that will predict exactly what type of content your audience will like (and let’s be honest: if we had a crystal ball, we’d be using it to predict the outcome of this crazy election). However, we can give you some guidelines about the types of content that appeal to consumers of varying ages.
The best marketing tools for different demographic groups may not be as clear-cut as you think. Just because a consumer is over 50 doesn’t mean they ignore videos; quite the opposite is true. And while young people are less likely to turn to printed materials for information, there may be opportunities to reach them through paper publications.
Below we summarize what content and marketing methods will engage different audience types. The information comes from several studies as well as our own observations.
General guide to popular kinds of content
According to this data published in Inc. (and collected by Fractl and BuzzStream), blogs are the most popular type of content among people of all ages. That makes sense; people turn to the internet for information, and blogs are a great way to get questions answered or learn new things.
The research data shows that images, comments on web pages and eBooks are quite popular with Millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers. And we’d make the case that experiential marketing appeals to people of all ages. Who doesn’t like free samples of food and beverages; opportunities to play games in reality or virtual reality; attend exclusive events like concerts and parties with celebrities; and all of the other experiences event marketers offer?
After that, popular types of content begin to deviate along age lines. For more on the specific types of content most likely to engage people in different generations, see below.
One last note: The type of content that consistently fell near the bottom of everyone’s list was white papers. If you’re looking to establish yourself as a thought leader, or want to share content that’s longer than the typical blog post, we suggest publishing your content as an eBook instead.
No big surprise here: Millennials love photos, videos and infographics. Memes are particularly popular with this group, so if you’re marketing to young people, consider generating your own snarky picture/word combinations.
Millennials trust advice from their peers over advertising from companies. As a result, user-generated and influencer content are among the types they’re most likely to listen to. Millennials are also big fans of podcasts. This report shows that half of all podcasts listeners are between the ages of 12 and 34.
The Millennial generation is also the smartphone generation. The best way to push content to them is through social media and mobile marketing. Signing them up for text message alerts can also be extremely effective.
And don’t be fooled into thinking print is dead to this generation. As this blog post points out, there are some advantages to print publications. Consumers tend to read printed articles rather than scanning them the way they do with articles online. In addition, consumers retaining information better if they get it from a piece of paper rather than a screen. Even Millennials know this and will pick up magazines, newsletters, fliers and other publications under the right circumstances.
You can catch the attention of Gen Xers with photos, videos and infographics. Case studies are popular with this demographic group, which is very career-focused at this point in their lives.
Members of Gen X still use email rather than social media for the bulk of their communications, so your brand can definitely reach them using email marketing. Social media is also a good way to reach this population. In fact, most forms of digital marketing (text message alerts, mobile marketing) can reach the majority of them.
Baby boomers are fans of photos and videos; in fact, they’re the most likely to share photos and videos on social media sites. However, they aren’t fond of video formats that move quickly, such as GIFs, or videos with lots of background noise. If you’re planning to target this group, stick to more traditional videos.
Print is still a good way to reach baby boomers. They’re used to receiving content this way, and they still enjoy it. Baby boomers are also big fans of product reviews – more so than other demographic groups.
To reach baby boomers with your content, try email, direct mail and social media marketing. This generation is still very accustomed to using coupons to save money (it was important for thrifty families when they were kids, and it’s still important now if they’re on a fixed income), so coupons can be a great way to get them to try your products and services.
Keep in mind that these guidelines are really just that. Trial and error is sometimes the best way to determine what type of content will most appeal to your audience.
Remember that no matter what kind of content you publish, consumers must find it engaging and authentic. They’re not going to interact with it if it doesn’t. If your content has some kind of call to action (or at least a way to find out more about your company’s products or services), all the better. And if it’s evergreen, you get extra bonus points.
If you can find a way to use content to capture consumers’ information, you have a marketing goldmine. You can collect this information by asking consumers to share their email address in exchange for a piece of content such as an eBook; by getting them to enter personal information into a picture-taking and posting app such as our popular FactorySnap program; or by asking them to turn over their cell phone numbers so you can send text alerts. Once you have that data, use it wisely to push content custom-made for them.