Matthew Inman, once a Web designer and a developer, is now devoting his time to his true passion – creating humorous content on his site, The Oatmeal. His website has over a billion visitors a year.
So how does he do it?
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If you think he earned popularity in one day, then you’d be wrong. Not all of his views provided huge revenue for him. He realized it’s only his loyal fans that visit his site at least 10-20 times that are most likely to purchase his merchandise.
Getting new customers is hard, but keeping them coming back to your site is even harder. You need to be patient. Do not get frustrated if you don’t see good traffic continuously. All you need to do is maintain high quality content to keep visitors coming back for more.
Make Your Content Interesting and Interactive
You will find most of the content on Inman’s site is in the form of humorous quizzes. This increases user engagement. You take the quiz and are then given the option to share your results via social networks or by posting a badge on your website:
Inman is not the only one doing this. In 2013, the most viewed articles and posts for renowned sites including TIME, National Geographic and New York Times were not articles – but pieces of interactive content.
So what are you waiting for? Your apparel website could easily host a quiz testing your fan’s knowledge about styles and brands. Isn’t that much more interesting than simply reading an article?
Content is King
Inman’s site has content that is highly interactive, memorable content. He found this type of content to have widespread appeal, centered on something people can easily relate to and find entertaining. For instance, he found that subjects like common spelling mistakes can go viral. Everyone can relate to spelling mistakes, right?
One thing about him is the creative format with his content – the way he packages it and the humor he injects into it. In this context, you can try preparing infographics and videos to emphasize your points and make your content even more engaging.
Share Your Content Via Social Media Platforms
Word of mouth, and most importantly social media networks, are extremely powerful weapons in your content marketing arsenals. Sharing content with friends on these platforms can serve to get you ahead fast with little effort.
Inman initially got traction through Digg and StumbleUpon. Today, his website has more than 700,000 fans on Facebook and 315,000 on Twitter.
Design Plays a Vital Role
A tile design with a headline approach allows your homepage to showcase many posts, even as high as 25. You can add tiles at the bottom of each post as well – each one inviting visitors to click on the headline.
A larger header makes strong visual statement to draw the attention of visitors. You can also opt for a slightly shorter header as it provides more room to see tiled post images on your homepage.
Instead of the conventional email opt-in box with a field that asks for your email address right on your homepage, consider placing a pair of text links that read “Email” at the top and bottom of it, that lead to a dedicated landing page to get more email subscribers.
First Impression is the Last One
While subject matter and design are vital for content, the most important factor for getting more eyes on it is the headline. In places like Facebook and Twitter, headline is the first thing that people see, so you need a headline that can make a great impression.
Remember, at the heart of every good headline, is the promise of a benefit to the reader- the promise of entertainment, satisfaction and quickness.
Make Money Through Merchandise
Do not make content your sole source of income. If you look at Inman’s marketing strategy, around 75% of his profit comes from merchandise.
How about selling belts, earrings, bags, make-ups, and scarfs along with clothing? Sections like, “how to wear a scarf in five different ways” or “best way to apply eye-shadow” will attract an audience.
Creating interesting content is good, but creating content that is both interesting and educational is even better.
Show Empathy When Connecting with People
From the marketing perspective, what’s important to focus on is the psychological factor at play. Whenever you will think about connecting with people and making sales, empathy for your prospects should be on the top of your list. Empathy establishes rapport with your customers and makes them aware that you understand their problems, likes and dislikes.
However, to effectively use empathy, you need to produce content that your audience loves to hate. More effective may be something that is popular, that your audience hates. Current events and pop culture are great sources of material that resonate with audiences and is more likely to spread.
People feel a connection through their common disdain for the same thing.
Say Something That People are Thinking But Not Saying
Highlighting something that everyone is thinking but no one is articulating is always an effective way to get attention to your site. This is because it involves discussion that is slightly controversial.
Inman creates both popular controversial and non-controversial content that can gain traction online. For instance, if you’re a new shoe company, a piece of content highlighting the designer shoe industry and their superfluous prices might be in order. This probably won’t get you first rank on Google, but highlighting something that hasn’t been openly talked about by people can make you a leader who’s authentic and honest.
Whatever your strategy, creating remarkable and creative content are the biggest factors to bring people a moment of joy to their day.
Phones Photo via Shutterstock
I guess I really needed something like this. Most of us marketers know this. But it is often too easy to fall into easy money traps. When really, it is all about building your empire slowly and getting people to know you in increments. After all, that’s how fans are made and merchandise is sold.
Attractive, interactive content boosts those visitor counts. Power tips William!
It does take time (re: slow and steady) and I’m learning that. But I’ve also learnt that it’s best to keep your end of the bargain, to just keep going even when it seems that little’s happening. Someone will see you eventually, someone will spread the word – momentum will come – you’ll get there – and you’ll be grateful you didn’t give up.
Great tips! Especially loved the part which talked about the role of social media and web design… very exciting and informative points, William. Wonderful insights and extremely helpful for young marketers who are trying to strike gold in this competitive market.