What are you trying to accomplish with your content marketing? Whether it’s increased brand awareness, converting qualified leads into sales, or earning the trust and loyalty of your customers, content marketing can be the most effective method for achieving your goals.
Content marketing takes more than simply producing and promoting content, however. If you want to really succeed, you’re going to need a roadmap to get you there.
Here’s your five-step plan to help you reach your content marketing goals.
1. Define Your Endgame.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but you can’t achieve a goal unless you have clearly defined it first.
Identify your top business goals, the KPIs that are most important to your business. All of your content marketing activities should be designed around achieving them. Limit yourself to the five (or fewer) KPIs that are most important to your business at this time.
Once you’ve identified your business goal(s), determine what metrics can be tied to them. Here’s an example of a defined business goal with metrics that can measure effectiveness:
Goal: Build Brand Awareness
- Increased website visitors
- Increased blog subscribers
- Increased email subscribers
- Increased social followers
If you can’t determine metrics that will allow you to measure the effectiveness of a goal, then it’s not something you want to plan a strategy around.
In the first step you are identifying what you want to achieve with content marketing. Your next step will identify who you want to reach to accomplish that.
2. Understand Your Audience
Ultimately, your content will find its way in front of a real person. If you’re going to succeed with your content marketing, that needs to be the right person.
This is where your carefully researched personas come into play.
A buyer persona is a profile of a key segment of your audience. Your personas may be given fictional names and occupations, but they are not “made up.”
You don’t guess at who your target audience is. You use data and analytics to carefully construct a persona that represents who your audience really is.
- Who is your target audience?
- What is his/her role or job title?
- What are his/her needs or motivations?
- What types of content do they prefer?
- What are their typical purchase behaviors?
- Where is he/she in the buying process?
It’s important to know who you are creating content for if you want to proceed with a solid, effective content marketing strategy.
3. Identify Your Content Marketing Strategy
You know what you are trying to achieve. You know who you are marketing to. Now you can begin the work of outlining your content marketing strategy.
“Content strategy is about providing the right content, to the right people, at the right times - for the right reasons.” Content Marketing Institute
Now you can begin to brainstorm content ideas that will
- Meet the needs of your target audience
- Achieve your business goals
What are your content objectives? In other words, what is the ultimate purpose of your content - what do you want it to achieve? Think beyond “inform,” “educate,” or “delight”... have a specific answer, such as:
“Help consumers choose a weight loss plan for their individual needs with content including quizzes and downloadable guides.”
Content Experience Matters
Are you creating content, or are you creating a content experience? The content that you create for customers ultimately creates an experience for them; a brand-defining experience. Your audience will either be delighted, engaged, and satisfied with your content and your brand…
Or they won’t.
As you put together your content strategy, keep your audience’s experience in mind.
Plan to Promote
Your content marketing strategy should include a plan for distribution. Sharing your content across your owned distribution channels (your website blog, email list, and social media accounts) can deliver it to your existing audience, but how do you extend your outreach?
Your content promotion plan may include some or all of the following:
- Paid distribution - Ads that target a segmented audience
- Alternative platforms - Publish your content on LinkedIn Pulse and FB Instant Articles
- Earned distribution - Guest blog posts, influencer outreach, or PR/ media coverage
With a content strategy in place, you can now fill out your editorial calendars and implement your plan.
4. Measure Your Results
Is your content effective? Are you reaching your defined business goals? Measuring the results of your content is the only way to truly see if your content is “working.”
How often should you collect your data? Decide on a schedule for data collection and reporting. A spreadsheet can help you document and track your business goals and the metrics that measure their effectiveness.
4 Ways to measure content effectiveness
- Review analytics
- Track patterns in leads and conversions
- Talk to your sales people
- Poll your target audience/ customers
Don’t Just Collect Data -- Analyze It.
Data may feel dry, but remember what those facts and figures are really telling you:
How well your customers are connecting with your content.
Don’t just collect the data in a spreadsheet, review it and analyze it. Look for patterns, test to see what content is having the best impact on your audience. Use the information you gather to improve your persona development and to refine your content marketing strategy.
5. Refine Your Process
Some content is more effective than others. Don’t get emotionally attached to content that isn’t helping you achieve your business goals. You may have loved the concept, and the content itself may have been a labor of love and creativity… but if it doesn’t get results, it’s time to ditch it.
Luckily, if you have collected enough data you can probably identify why content isn’t hitting the mark.
- Not the right audience. More research and data is needed for persona development.
- Not the right time. The content didn’t address the audience’s current needs.
- Not the right content. Your audience didn’t find your content useful or relevant.
- Not the right reasons. Your content wasn’t tied to a particular business goal.
Adapt your content strategy so you are continually presenting the right content, to the right people, at the right times and for the right reasons… and you can actually achieve your content marketing goals.