Let’s be honest, paid marketing is inefficient and does little to engage consumers or build relationships. Enter Content Marketing.
One of the biggest mistakes that are repeated over and over again with content marketing is that it is treated as if it is a tactical solution to a tactical problem.
Often the approach to content marketing is just creating more content and internet junk.
Many of these are misguided efforts are marketing or SEO campaigns disguised as content marketing.
Lets, set the record straight, your e-book is not content marketing. Your landing page with content on it is not content marketing. The YouTube video that is part of your marketing and advertising campaign is not content marketing.
Content marketing is not going away, not today or ever.
Content is the gasoline of the internet!
It’s the fuel that runs the engine and runs the lights and ignites connections between people and brands. It always has and it always will.
For content marketing to be successful in your organization, it needs to be ingrained and intrusted within your business and thought of as a strategic approach to marketing across the business landscape.
Consider the facts that content marketing is the leading priority for many CMOs and yet most have no idea how to go about it or what to do to bring effective content marketing into their plans.
More content is not the answer; that leads to more internet junk.
Technology in itself serves a purpose, but it is only part of the answer.
The critical factor of content marketing success in any business is the need to establish a culture that embraces and delivers customer-focused content continuously.
Every business needs to practice The 4 Cs of Content Marketing:
- A culture that delivers customer focused content, continuously.
- Content delivered across all the channels your audience uses.
- Content should ignite conversations.
- Content that drives conversions.
To make content useful, you have to start with defining the problem that the consumer is trying to solve and then build the business case to solve it.
The problem isn’t your problem; it’s the problem your customer is dealing with.
Content marketing is attracting an audience to a brand-owned destination versus interrupting or buying an audience on someone else’s platform.
The World Has Changed, Has Your Business?
Your target audience is deciding when, and how, and where they will engage with you, and if they will at all.
If your business isn’t creating engaging and educational content throughout all stages of the buyer’s journey, you are losing ground to your competitors.
70% of the content your marketing and other teams create goes completely unused, meaning that over 50% of your budget that goes to creating content is completely wasted.
You Have A Content Problem, Don’t Make It Worse
Outbound media is so ineffective because the content is mainly promotional messages that consumers avoid it and hate it.
As a result, your strategic content is it in a marketing campaign, or other is adding to the internet junk and leading to a significant waste of your marketing budget.
The cost of bad content is high and gets more expensive every passing day.
Consider the cost of:
- Ineffective advertising
- Cost per lead that turns out to be a bad or unqualified lead
- Social media channels hungry for compelling content given sales pitches as content
- Gaps that content could easily fill across all stages of the buyer journey
- Content marketing that is ineffective and leaves the buyer looking for competitors to solve their problem
Content marketing is no longer a question of when. It is imperative for every single brand to embrace it.
Content marketing has become one of the key marketing disciplines today coupled with data and technology.
Today, silos are broken down, and marketing is no longer has a channel-based approach. The days of an advertising or marketing department working directly with an agency to do whatever they want are over.
The same is true for social media teams struggling to figure out what to post on the various platforms where your target audience hangs out online.
Today, marketers realize that they need to address all stages of the buying/sales funnel:
- Early stage – Creates buzz and defines the brand
- Middle Funnel – Drives demand and lead generation
- Late Stage – Focuses on the product
Then layer in content across all the stages of the funnel.
Why do few companies manage their content and marketing strategically?
Its simple, its hard work and requires breaking down the silos within an organization.
Every department produces content, and when everyone is doing it, no one owns it.
How Do You Take A Strategic Approach To Content Marketing
Let’s start with 9 questions that will set up the strategic plan for content marketing.
What Is Your ‘Why” For Content Marketing
The first thing you need to do is stop and define who your customer is and why you need content marketing. Let’s start with outlining a few areas that need to be the focus:
- What and where is the gap in your marketing.
- How much content do you need to fill each stage of the sales funnel and buyer journey?
- Are you ranking in SERPS for the keyword or longtail keywords that your customers are using for your product or service?
- What is your share of voice for the keywords?
- How much of your content is read or downloaded?
- What is your market share of “conversations” for your product or service?
Why You Need A Content Strategy?
How do you create content without set goals that combine the needs of your customer and drive business goals?
A content strategy should combine both a business strategy with an editorial proposition that meets the target audiences needs, engages them, incites them to act and drives revenue for your company.
The goal of a content strategy is to force you to think with purpose and strategically with the intention to drive business through content.
What is the mission statement of your content marketing strategy?
Who is your target audience? Have you developed the persona of who your target audience is? What the problem they are trying to solve and how you can help them achieve success.
Answering these questions will define your content mission statement.
For example, a car dealership content mission statement may be “To be the destination for insight for consumers who want to understand how to maintain their vehicle and maximize the residual value and become the destination of choice when they are ready to upgrade their vehicle.”
Your visual design needs an objective
This requires research on your competitors. You want to know who is doing content well in your market space.
- What does their content look like?
- What type of visuals do they use?
- Are they sticking to a standard, if so what is it?
- Who do you want to emulate as a standard?
Take the time to look at who has done content marketing well in and out of your market specialty. Evaluate the various aspects of their site and identify what you like and build similar elements into your strategy
How big do you want your brand to be?
This may sound crazy. However, you need to examine your objectives along with your odds of success if your target audience becomes cognizant that your ultimate goal is to sell them on your product or service.
To establish trust with your target audience, you need to deliver value and build deeper, in-depth relationships, this means that branding every piece of content is something you need to reconsider. It takes as little as reducing the size of your logo and not making every piece of content a sales piece.
The rule of thumb that I suggest is for every 5 pieces of content; one can incorporate a minor sales pitch. People realize that what is “free” regarding content has a price to it; you don’t need to beat this into them.
Once you have established trust with your target audience, they will freely drive your brand and brand message through sharing your content and by word of mouth, which is the best advertising one can get.
Content returns a higher ROI than PPC or TV ads, once you buy it, it lasts forever.
Research shows that 78% of consumers believe that companies providing custom content want to build long-term relationships. That goes a long way for brands trying to find new and keep customers, especially when the purchase is a big ticket item like a new car or auto service.
Content that is informative solves a problem and educates, that earns trust positions you as one of the leading authorities in the industry.
Focus on your keywords
Content needs a focus and researching keywords aids you in this task. There is little sense in creating content that either has a very limited audience or one that has an enormous audience that you will never rank for.
Researching and building a list of keywords to target is one of the most critical first steps in any content marketing campaign, is an ongoing and ever-changing process.
Start by reviewing your Google analytics account and see what keywords are driving your traffic today.
Then start with a review of your marketing funnel, compile a list of potential keywords, followed by ‘why’ of your content strategy again compiling a list of possible keywords and longtail phrases.
Now that you have identified the gaps, you can build a list of potential keywords to target to build into your content calendar.
With your keyword list, now its time to fire up one of the many keyword research tools, such as SEMRush and narrow down the list to relevant keywords that have a decent amount of web searches.
Keywords assist search engines to identify what a given page is about. Although, today, Google algorithm can determine what a page is about without specifying keywords.
Develop your editorial approach to your content process?
Now you need to define content topics, who is going to create and author the content and what type of content, from written articles, infographics, video, ebooks, white papers, etc that will aid you in your content strategy.
Will you incorporate content syndication?
Content is king. However, syndication and distribution of your content is the queen, and she wears the pants. How will you manage content syndication and distribution? Native advertising? Building backlinks, distribution tools, such as Quuu, social media?
Have you established a budget for your content strategy and distribution? Content is an asset; you need to consider what will give you the biggest bang for the buck and drive an ROI.
What content will drive conversion?
Conversions are sales of your product or service. While impressions are nice, they are a vanity number that do not pay the bills.
Content needs to cover and fill the gaps in the customer journey as your target audience moves through the sales funnel.
No buyer is going to go from awareness to purchase in one step. You need to bring value to every stage of the sales funnel.
Your goal is to bring value to your target audience versus trying to sell them.
This requires a content calendar.
A content calendar covers the topics that led your prospect through the sales funnel and includes the three stages of the funnel:
- Early stage – Creates buzz and defines the brand
- Middle Funnel – Drives demand and lead generation
- Late Stage – Focuses on the product
How will you measure results?
Now that you have defined your content marketing mission and objectives, now it’s time to track the results of your efforts and how they relate to each goal.
I strongly suggest you track your “share of conversation,” this can be done using SEO tools such as SEMRush.
If you are going to use native advertising or social media tools to aid in content distribution, be sure to track your results.
The same holds true for backlinks and unlinked mentions. Unlinked mentions are easy to track with Google Alerts and then follow up with the website owner and ask for a backlink to the article they are quoting from.
Now that you have tracking in place, its time to either utilize a dashboard or create a report and keep it updated at a minimum on a monthly basis.
Either the dashboard or the report should be shared across your organization to everyone, from sales to marketing to accounting to tech.
Everyone needs to work together to help drive your business efforts, and content marketing is no different.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t’ be. It may feel right now that this is impossible, but when you get started, the stars will align, and the results are magical.
Three things to think about as you get started:
1. Assure that you have management buy-in and look to them for support and courage. You want your business to support a culture of content
2. Create opportunities to enable training and creative license to develop the skills needed to get the job done.
3. Don’t skimp on technology, gain access to and utilize the right technology to support your content marketing efforts.
Wrapping it up
Content marketing is all about building a relationship, providing value and engaging with your target audience, regardless of the form the content takes – be it a webinar, guide, eBook, video or just a blog article or a guest post on another blog or trade magazine
Today, most marketing teams are focused on creating content that supports the brand or its products.
This type of content is not meeting the customers need. Great content meets the customer’s needs and has the customer, not the brand in the driver seat.
The problem with most content is that it is created for by the brand for the brands.
Stop creating content that sells your product.
Stop wasting your time and resources creating content no one will ever see because it’s a sales pitch.
Stop creating marketing campaigns that have a short shelf life and start creating content that educates, is a resource or entertains.
The one statement that Seth Godin said that has stuck with me is: content marketing “is all the marketing that’s left.”
Many people confuse content with content marketing; anyone can create content, that’s easy.
To reach, engage, build relationships with and convert new customers to your business, to do this you have to create content people want.
And you need to attract them to a content marketing destination.
Ready to get started with content marketing? Contact us to get started