Yes, it’s possible to train your content creators to create viral content.
If you’re creating content right now, but it’s not getting the numbers you were looking for… we know exactly what’s going wrong.
You don’t know your customer avatar well enough
You’re not creating content for the right parts of the Customer Value Journey
You don’t know the difference between a viral article and an average article
With virality on her resume, DigitalMarketer’s General Manager Erin MacPherson knows what it takes to get traffic and conversions. Even though it might seem like you’d start with the content, we’re actually going to take it a step back first.
First, we need to know who your content is for.
After that, we’ll make sure you’re creating the right content based on where your customers are reading it in the Customer Value Journey.
Finally, we can train our content creators to make viral content.
As much as you’ll want to skip ahead and just figure out how to make your content go viral, that’s not a great idea. If you don’t know who your content is for or show the right content at specific moments of the customer journey—you’re not going to go viral.
We know it’s tempting to just go straight to the last section of this article but trust us. You’ll save time, money, and resources by making sure your content is worthy of going viral by going through these first two steps first.
Who Is Going to Make Your Content Go Viral?
The goal is to get your content to go viral with your customer avatar, which means it needs to be created to serve them. In Erin’s Workshop, she explains that knowing who your customer is has to be the first part of your content strategy.
And this can take some time. It might take you an entire day of sitting down with your team to nail down the details of your customer avatar. We use the Customer Avatar Worksheet to know as many details about our customer avatar as possible.
We want our content to relate to them more than any of the competitions, and we do that by knowing them better. Here’s what the Customer Avatar Worksheet looks like:
Notice how we’ve gone a lot farther than saying, what challenges do our customers face that we solve? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We also need to know:
What are their pain points?
What are their values?
What are their goals?
Why would they object to buying our products?
Can they decide to buy our products, or do they need to get permission from someone else first?
What books have they read that we can reference in our content?
What podcasts can we mention that they’d be familiar with?
Who are they inspired by?
Then, we learn even more about them. We want to turn the Customer Avatar Worksheet into a real person… so we give them a name. We figure out if they’re single or married, where they live, what their job title is, how much they make, and more.
We don’t take getting to know our customer avatar lightly. And neither should you. By knowing who our customer avatar is so well, we can create content that they actually like (AND gets conversions).
The key to getting the conversion you’re looking for is to create specific types of content at certain parts of the Customer Value Journey. Let’s explain.
Are You Meeting Them Where They Are in the Buying Journey?
We use the Customer Avatar Worksheet to figure out who our customer is in such detail that we’re reminded that these are real people. That means our relationship with them has to grow like a normal relationship. We don’t want to ask an avatar who just found our blog to buy our highest priced product right out of the gate. We want to help them know, like, and trust us enough to make the decision down the line—not scare them away by asking for something so big at the start of our relationship.
We use the Customer Value Journey for this. The CVJ helps us figure out what content needs to be created at specific points of the buying journey. Someone who just became aware of our brand needs to see much different content than someone who’s already bought our products and is now turning into a brand ambassador.
The Customer Value Journey is an 8-step journey that customers go through as they become aware of your brand and eventually turn into raving fans that promote it for you. Here’s what it looks like:
Here are the different types of content to create for your customer avatar that Erin covered in her workshop.
Content To Make Customer Avatars ‘Aware’ of Your Brand:
This content is built to make people aware of your business or initiative. Generally speaking, you want a lot of this content to be published regularly so you can get in front of as many potential customers as possible. Choose TWO online spaces to create your content on when you first start based on where your customer avatar spends their time. For example, choose to create content for Twitter and Instagram, and then add more spaces as necessary.
Content To Make Customer Avatar’s ‘Engage’ With Your Brand:
This is the content that’s created specifically to get your audience to engage with your brand. It’s more in-depth than the content they saw in the Awareness Stage of the CVJ or provides more value (like a contest or a giveaway).
This content entices your audience to share their email address with you to subscribe for more. The goal of this content is to make your audience think, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting this for free.”
Content to Get Subscribers To ‘Convert’ Into Customers:
This type of content has one goal: get the conversion. Even sales pages count as this type of content because they drive conversions. This content should be more in-depth on your product and what you’re doing as a company, showing your subscribers what they can expect when they become customers.
Examples of this content are:
Sales comparison page
Content To Get Customers ‘Excited’:
The Excitement Stage of the CVJ is designed to get your customers excited before you have them ‘ascend’ their way to the next stage. The goal is to create hype around what it’s like to be your customer, so when you show them the next stage of content, they’re ready to buy from you again.
Examples of this content are:
Content That ‘Ascends’ Them To Buy More or Higher-Tiered Products:
At this stage of the CVJ, you’re turning one-time buyers or low-tier product buyers into repeat buyers or higher-tier product buyers. This is when you’re really solidifying your relationship with these customers, so you want your content to be really impressive.
Examples of this content are:
Content That Motivates Them To ‘Advocate’ For Your Brand:
This content has the purpose of making your happy customers want to share their excitement. At this point, you want to be making them extra happy with their experience with your company.
Examples of this content are:
Surprise and delight
Extra time on a free trial
Erin suggests spending at least one day looking at the Customer Value Journey and figuring out where your content fits into it. After that, you’ll finally be ready to create viral content (and make sure your team is on board). This is how you’re going to train your content creators to create viral content.
How Do You Get Your Content To Go Viral?
Ahh, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Now that we confidently know who your customer avatar is and what content you need to show them based on where they are in the buying journey—we can finally make it go viral.
Viral content is an incredible boost to your brand. We want you to stop trying to get lucky and start strategizing how to get that virality. After helping Elmer’s Glue and Clorox go viral, Erin MacPherson has figured out the secret sauce to making content stick.
Study other viral content.
On Erin’s desk are printed articles of the most viral articles of the last year. They have highlights, comments, and underlines all over them and have been dissected to figure out what the patterns were in this viral content. Since what goes viral changes constantly, Erin’s figured out a way to make sure the DigitalMarketer content creators are always making content that has actual potential to go viral.
She’s done this with 2 training exercises.
Training Exercise #1:
Choose 8 viral articles to study with your content team
Have the team read through them for stickiness, not for content, and annotate what makes this article so good
Discuss everyone’s annotations
The articles you choose for this training exercise do not have to be in your niche. What you’re looking for are the articles that racked in views, not the ones that are also relevant to your products. When we study viral articles, we look at articles on design and even heroic stories of people saving each other during natural disasters. They rarely involve much content about marketing.
Branch out of your niche to see what’s going viral in general, so you can figure out how to make that niche-specific when you sit down to create your content.
Training Exercise #2:
Google a common term like “Marketing tips” or “internal comms.”
Start with the top results on Google and set a timer for 30 seconds to read each article
As soon as the timer goes off, write down whether you want to keep reading the article or move on to the next one
If you want to keep reading, analyze that article for why you want to keep reading it
This is a great way to figure out what titles, introductions, and visuals made you want to keep reading. Since you won’t have a lot of time to dive into the body of the article in 30-seconds, you’re going to learn a lot about what makes a great article title, how to create captivating hooks, and why your visuals need to be updated, simplified, or something else. You can also learn a lot from the articles that didn’t make you want to keep reading. They lacked something, what was it (and how can you make sure always to avoid it)?
As much as we’d love to hand you the blueprint to virality, it’s nearly impossible. For example, pets are a great way to go viral right now. By adding your pets into your Awareness Stage content, we’ve found that we can get more views than average. But we couldn’t say that this is going to work in 6-months from now.
When we see a huge decline in our virality, we’ll go back to the drawing board and take a new look at what’s going viral these days.
We love that the answer to virality isn’t spending thousands of dollars on ads. It’s all about knowing who your customer is, at what point of your relationship with them that content will reach them, and using what made other articles go viral to your advantage.
As tempting as it might be just to hold a team meeting to discuss viral articles, all in the name of going viral faster, you have to do the work of understanding your customer avatar and at what point of the CVJ you’re showing them this content.
That’s when you can go all-in on studying what’s going viral now and how you can grab a home run for your marketing team.