Eric Wendt

The 2016 presidential election results offered up numerous content marketing lessons to be learned. Regardless of political affiliation, President-elect Donald Trump’s victory generated vital takeaways you can identify and use in future content marketing efforts.

Target your audience

While both candidates worked to broaden their voting base throughout the general election, each also tailored their messaging to narrower audiences in an attempt to shore up support.

Trump performed well among white non-Hispanic voters, beating out Hillary Clinton with this demographic by 21 percentage points, according to data from Edison Research. Meanwhile, 54 percent of all women supported Clinton, compared to the 42 percent who were for Trump.

Looking at the states where each candidate spent significant amounts of time and money, as well as listening to their stump speeches, illustrates just how customized their campaigns were for these and other demographics. For instance, data compiled by The Washington Post showed Trump spent more time than Clinton in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – all states with high numbers of white voters that had voted for Barack Obama in 2012.

As a marketer, you can apply similar tactics to your content stratgegy. You should:

  • Recognize your own preferred audience and refine your messaging accordingly.
  • Fine-tune your content to be more impactful.
  • Produce content that offers relevance and value to a specific audience.

Plan for the unexpected

Even some die-hard Trump supporters likely woke up Wednesday morning in a state of total shock. Seemingly every major poll in the nation had predicted a Clinton win, including polls from Bloomberg, CBS, Fox News, Reuters, USA Today and NBC. Celebrated statistician Nate Silver even gave Clinton a 72 percent chance of victory heading into election night.

If there’s one lesson marketers should learn from this, it’s that educated guesses are still only guesses. Forecasts aren’t written in stone, and it pays to plan for unexpected events.

Casting your vote for a content marketing strategy you like doesn't guarantee it's the perfect choice.

For instance, websites that previously enjoyed high search engine results page ranking due to overzealous keyword usage but failed to adapt to algorithm updates found themselves struggling to remain legitimate in the eyes of Google.

Then there are the marketers who initially shunned the value of social media platforms in favor of more tried-and-true marketing strategies. Today, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are vital components of content marketing strategies.

Base your decisions on the here and now

Use facts and data to back up assertions. However, understand that what’s true today may not be tomorrow. You must be flexible and adaptable, willing to change your strategies to align with content marketing best practices. The same holds true for new developments in your particular industry.

Vary your content marketing campaigns

One way to avoid falling victim to rapid changes is to expand your content offerings. For instance, while producing high-quality blog content is important, you should also focus on creating valuable videos and graphics that can be deployed using different channels.

Invest in technical website analysis

It’s crucial to examine how your content is performing and how it may be enhanced. If your strategy is not performing to your expectation, you may need to reexamine your approach and find a more effective way to win your audience over.

Search engine optimization is also constantly evolving, making it necessary to routinely check in on everything from your link-building strategy to how content is viewed on mobile devices. If unexpected changes arise, website audits will allow you to easily see what updates are necessary.

Avoid confirmation bias

Social media isn’t just an essential content marketing tool, it’s also how millions of Americans communicate. Seventy-eight percent of the U.S. population had a social media profile as of 2016, according to Statista.

However, people surrounding themselves with like-minded individuals can create an echo chamber of sorts, one where people only share and support news that confirms their specific thoughts and feelings. Many have pointed to this as one reason why so many people failed to anticipate the election outcome.

Confirmation bias can snake its way into marketing strategies if you’re not careful. Whether it’s insisting on a specific strategy despite data contradicting it or only focusing on one channel because you personally feel it’s the best, confirmation bias clashes with the ultimate objective of marketing: engaging and converting potential customers.

This is another obstacle easily overcome through testing and analysis of content. Personal feelings based on instinct and experience can be beneficial, but no content marketing strategy should discount hard facts.

Experimenting with different options can lead to success.

Use hard evidence to determine the best content marketing strategy to employ. 

For example, A/B testing website landing pages allows you to see the type of content that performs best, in addition to
other on-page elements. You may have preferences concerning tone and style of content, or which topics deserve the heaviest focus. Yet there’s no arguing with traffic metrics and bounce rates.

The election may be over, but its effects will continue to reverberate for years to come. Marketing professionals would be wise to put its hard-earned lessons to good use.