How to Improve Your Content Marketing the Right Way
What Is Content Marketing?
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
Content marketing attracts prospects and transforms prospects into customers by creating and sharing valuable free content. Content marketing helps companies create sustainable brand loyalty, provides valuable information to consumers, and creates a willingness to purchase products from the company in the future. This relatively new form of marketing does not involve direct sales. Instead, it builds trust and rapport with the audience.
When businesses pursue content marketing, the main focus should be the needs of the prospect or customer. Once a business has identified the customer’s need, information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, blogs, etc. Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.
Marketing is impossible without great content
Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your process, not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing:
Social Media Marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy.
SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content.
PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business.
Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads.
Content strategy: Content strategy is part of most content marketing strategies.
Metrics to determine the success of a content marketing are often tied to the original goals of the campaign. For example, for each of these goals, a content marketer may measure different engagement and conversion metrics:
Brand awareness and visibility:
Businesses focused on expanding their reach to more customers will want to pay attention to the increase in volume of visitors, as well as the quality of those interactions. Traditional measures of volume include number of visitors to a page and number of emails collected, while time spent on page and click-through to other pages/ photos are good indicators for engagement.
- Number of visitors to a page
- Time spent on the page
- Click-through across pages/ photos
Businesses focused on increasing sales through content marketing should look at traditional e-commerce metrics including click-through-rate from a product-page to check-out and completion rates at the check-out. Altogether, these form a conversion funnel. Moreover, to better understand customers’ buying habits, look at other engagement metrics like time spent per page, number of product-page visits per user, and re-engagement.
- Conversion through the sales process (the process from sign-up to check-out), including click-through-rates at each stage of the conversion funnel
- Time spent on the page
- Re-engagement (i.e., % of returning visitors)
- Click-through across product pages
Why do you need a content marketing strategy?
A content marketing strategy (not to be confused with a content strategy) analyzes the different ways content marketing can be used across the buyer’s journey the customer life cycle and/or the different customer experience touchpoints but it goes beyond that. Essentially a content marketing strategy looks how content marketing (not content) can be used in a strategic way as such and for and with other marketing, customer and sales strategies.
Content marketing is an umbrella term. This means that it can be used for numerous reasons and can mean many things to many people. It’s less tangible than search engine marketing, for instance. This is exactly the reason why you need to think about the strategic role of content marketing within your organization and its ecosystem. Without a content marketing strategy, you risk focusing on the content – and content strategy – too much and not seeing the overall goals anymore. In fact, this is one of the most crucial and deadly mistakes in content marketing. Unfortunately, this disconnected view on content marketing happens very often and leads to a focus on the wrong things.
In an age where everything gets integrated and taking into account the fact that content marketing – and social media marketing – is a huge umbrella terms this mistake of content-centricity can not be made.
In the ‘modern’ approach of content marketing, where more people look at the role of content in branding, reach, engagement, social and SEO. especially in a pure branding, reach and engagement approach, organizations look less at buyer personas but rather at audiences. Nevertheless, such a view requires a content marketing strategy as well. Unless your company lives from website traffic, a pure publishing model without an overall strategy makes no sense. It’s also advisable to not look at content marketing from the pure social and search context.
The steps in a strategic content marketing approach
While a content marketing strategy first looks at the strategic place of content marketing in the overall marketing process, there is also a planning and organizational dimension, mapping the different steps regarding content planning, mapping, creation, etc. In this sense, a content strategy involves various components. In most cases several of them come back but here are some common questions to answer or tasks to fulfill in a content strategy.
A content marketing strategy quick list of things to do:
- Analyzing what content is needed to fulfill different business goals across the customer journey or for branding purposes (often overlapping, each touchpoint has a branding dimension as well).
- Making aninventory of existing content and other resources or pieces of information that can be turned into content.
- Setting up the proper content planning, collaboration and scheduling processes.
- Developing a narrative that takes into account the brand’s promise and unique value proposition. Link the brand with the business goal and customer intent through content. Establish the tone of voice, style (guide), etc.
- Automating specific marketing processes, often triggered, using the right content at the right time on the right place.
- Planning a content strategy for differentchannels. OK, channels are never the priority but, on the other hand, each channel has specific characteristics, technical aspects, usage patterns, etc. Twitter is not Google is not email is not LinkedIn is not a webinar or a trade show.
- Making sure the content gets found by and shared with the different buyer personas and target audiences.
- Planning campaigns in the overall marketing strategy whereby various content marketing tactics can be combined.
- Analyzing: competitors, markets, what customers/prospects want and say, the marketing place, a baseline analysis, etc.
- Testing, optimizing, testing, optimizing, testing, optimizing, etc
What Makes a Piece of Content Effective?
Every piece of content is different, with its own purpose, style and message. If your content hits one or more of the characteristics below, it will help drive the audience to further engage online with your brand. And that’s what leads to conversions.
Does the content tell something new? Does it offer an interesting, original or helpful perspective? Does it provide useful information?
Is the content fun, up to date, and readable? Does it capture the imagination and leave the reader wanting more?
Is the content something your readers would love to share? Is it clickable and relatable? Could it even go viral?