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Content Marketing: 10 steps for serial story-telling

One of the perennial through lines of Content Marketing World is keeping site visitors engaged. One popular way of doing this is serial storytelling. It's sort-of a no duh situation, if we think about it from our own experience as content consumers.

The idea's pretty simple:

Create a content arc that builds on what our audience needs to know as those needs evolve. Oh, and make it easy for them to find the next piece of content that meets their desire for more information.

How do we do this? Write like a content consumer.

When we give visitors the content they're looking for initially -- and make it easy for them to find the next most appropriate piece of content on our site -- we create an opportunity for them to hang out with us bingeing on our content. That increases time on site, of course, and also user satisfaction, loyalty and likelihood to take action.

10 Steps to Create Serialized Content

Here's how to use serialized content to keep people engaged and learning on your site:

  1. Walk through the learning curve, from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom. Note: this is different from, but related to the customer journey.
  2. Chart all the question, concerns and objections that might come up for audience members.
  3. Determine what type of content most effectively addresses each item, keeping in mind that multiple formats might apply. For instance, we often create companion articles for infographics to provide more details and insights. Same information on the surface, but different depths of detail.
  4. Get the sales and customer service team to participate, or to review your first pass. They're closest to our customers and have a solid understanding of what people need, don't understand, etc.
  5. Create a final set of Topics and content types.
  6. Look for opportunities to create actual multi-part series in addition to building a logical sequence
  7. Map a path for each "story line".
  8. Identify and fill gaps in the logic or flow.
  9. Slot into your content calendar.
  10. Start producing, reminding content creators to point readers to the next best piece of content via contextual and related content links (if your CMS doesn't automate the latter)

Use this step-by-step process to produce serial content that encourages visitors to our sites to stay longer because we're telling our stories more effectively, establishing our brands as trusted and reliable sources of information, and helping solve problems or fuel aspirations.

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