Over the past decade, content marketing grew to become a widely established practice: blog creation and management, white papers, chief content officers — an entire new field was developed to reach out differently to consumers. It is no longer the top-down, we-speak-you-listen approach as it has been for decades of advertisement. With content marketing, businesses can raise brand awareness in a more educational way, providing information on various topics to their audience and potential customers with a broader scope than just their company name and services.
As a content marketer, you want to provide your readers with a high-quality, trustworthy, and entertaining content that will subtly pique their interest in your company. To do so, you need a little of preparation ahead to make the best out of your efforts in the long-run – because content marketing is more of a marathon than a sprint. You will find here 5 key steps to boost your strategy.
- Know Your Target Audience & Goals
Before anything, you should of course think about who you are writing to. Who are your visitors? How old are they? What are their interests? All this information is precious to adjust your tone and writing style, as well as the topics you will discuss. Writing for fifty-year-old businesswomen will be drastically different than writing for college students in their early-twenties, as it will be different to new parents. Creating a customer profile, also know as a persona, can help to understanding and reaching your ideal customers.
Once you have defined your audience, you need to think about and determine specific business goals and objectives. Why are you producing content, in the end? What will this content bring to your organization? Do you want to create awareness, generate leads, increase loyalty and retention? All of it at once? Keep in mind that the end goal isn’t to be good at content marketing. The end goal is to be good at business thanks to content marketing. To manage all of this at once properly, you should benefit from the help of a marketing dashboard tracking the metrics you need to assess your performance. We will go into more details on how to be data-driven and optimize your content successfully in the fourth part of this article.
- Prepare Content For Every Step Of The Funnel
Actually, content marketing is mostly about solving your customers’ problems, just like your products and services. That’s why you should consider every step of the customer journey and identify the needs your audience could have, to answer them accordingly with a specific type of content. On the image below, you can see content ideas from ez.no for each stage of the purchase cycle:
- Craft It Well
In a world where an average person is subjected to an equivalent of more than 174 newspapers every day, the customer’s attention became the scarcest resource. Welcome to the information age – where social media notifications, advertisement overload, and permanent interruptions reduced everyone’s attention span to the one of a goldfish (no joke). According to some data analyzed by the HBR, he average viewing time for content is 2 minutes and 27 seconds – you hence have less than 3 minutes to make an impression.
You should therefore write it in a way and a length tailored to your audience’s tastes. Infographics and videos or longer, text white-papers – you know how they react and engage to each, so play accordingly. Likewise, analyze on which device your visitors are coming to your website. If more than half of our traffic is performed on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), consider optimizing your website in a mobile-friendly way, otherwise you may drive frustrated visitors away. Lengthy page load time, bugs and inadaptable site structure will provide a bad experience and you will not see them back.
- Be Data-Driven & Optimize Your Content
This point might be the most important of your content marketing strategy. Just like for any other business strategy, when your set objectives, your need to track them to ensure they are achieved: in other words, you need to be data-driven. A goal like the one we mentioned in the first step, increase brand awareness, can hardly be evaluated if you do not specify how you want to measure it – and that’s when metrics tracking comes in.
Monitoring the performance of your content will let you know whether your efforts are worth it or not. Pick the marketing KPIs that fit your strategy the best and measure them regularly to assess your performance. There are a lot of self-service BI tools that can help you easily analyze your data, and most of all visualize it. Understanding in a clear and efficient way how you perform and the evolution of this performance thanks to an online dashboard will save you a lot of time and energy. As the saying goes, an image is worth a thousand words; and that is all the more true when it comes to raw data, figures and numbers stuck in a table. It will be much easier to see trends and patterns that happen in your data and would otherwise be overlooked; and if something works well, you can spot it immediately and reproduce that best-practice. Likewise, when a certain type of content doesn’t work at all, you see it thanks to the performance indicators you track and avoid spending time creating that type of content in the future.
Another technique you should use is to conduct an A/B testing to figure out what type of content resonates best with your readers. For instance, you can write two versions of an email marketing campaign and send one version to half of your list and the other one to the second half. Then, analyze the respective open rates, CTR, conversions, etc. The best result wins!
Rich of all this data-driven knowledge, you can now optimize your content marketing strategy accordingly!
- Maximize Your Promotion Efforts
Last but not least is promotion. Often enough, marketers believe that a content produced will work by itself and on itself. Treat it like a living thing: nurture it and support it in order to grow, especially in the beginning.
Sharing on your various channels is a good start; involving the sources that let you write that piece of content is an added-value. Shoot them an email with a link and a request for them to share your content on their channels. You can also re-share a piece of content that you already shared – but within reason of course, your readers do not want to be bombarded with the same content over and over. Likewise, a growing subscribers list is important to maximize your promotion efforts. Such list provides a direct link to your audience attention, unlike social media where you never know how far a post will reach. To grow that subscribers base, free inventive such a long white-papers and eBooks are encouraging readers to sign up and get access to your future content.
A content marketing strategy should be carefully thought-out and prepared. From the target audience definition to the goals outline, you should consider every step of the funnel and how to reach your readers in different ways. The key action to undertake and make all your efforts worth it, is to be data-driven and track your performance. Constantly assess your strategy and its impacts (it’s nice to have 2,000 likes on a Facebook post, but have you seen an increase in your subscribers list or in conversions?), so as to adjust what needs to be. Your content marketing strategy will always have room for improvement, so never stop being creative to step it up!