The first step to developing a kick-ass content strategy is determining your business goals.
Here’s how to do it.
‘Chief Storyteller’ has officially become a respectable corporate job title. Sounds cool, right? You’re getting paid to create compelling stories that hook an audience. That really is the core of what content marketers do. But a successful content marketer isn’t working on a best-selling fairy tale. Sure we all strive to give people inspiring content, but ultimately we don’t tell stories – we use stories to sell. And to be savvy at selling (and meet your KPIs) you need a content strategy.
A content strategy should always come before content creation – it dictates your business objectives as well as your customer touchpoints, then the tactics you’ll use to successfully marry the two. It also dictates your chances of success – recent research from The Content Marketing Institute found that of the 87 per cent of B2B marketers who use content marketing, only 38 per cent believe they are good at it. This could have something to do with the 48 per cent who are not documenting their content strategy. According to the CMI:
“B2B marketers who have a documented strategy are more effective and less challenged with every aspect of content marketing when compared with their peers who only have a verbal strategy or no strategy at all.
Of those who have a documented strategy, 60 percent consider their organization to be effective. In contrast, only 32 percent of those who have a verbal strategy say they are effective. To take it a step further, 62 percent of the most effective marketers also say they follow the strategy “very closely.” The lesson is clear: If you want to be more effective at content marketing, take the time to record your strategy and follow it closely.”
To determine your business objectives and begin to form your content strategy, here are the key considerations in mapping your content to your business goals:
Determine your business objectives
Your objective is to “increase web traffic”, right? Wrong… No CFO – or CMO for that matter – will be impressed to hear your blog post got a few insightful comments. But if you can show how this increased brand awareness, altered customer perceptions or even led to a sale – well now we’re talking!
There’s no point creating content for content’s sake (or just because you hear the likes of King Content telling you content marketing is all the rage!). Good content marketing objectives align with the overall business goals. And if you want that budget back next year, you better find ways to prove you’re meeting them.
With this in mind, let’s discuss the three most common business objectives you should consider when building your content strategy and some ways to measure success.
Visibility and brand awareness
If you’re not visible on Google, you may as well be invisible. Quality, optimised online content puts you in front of consumers – you have an opportunity to be a part of their online buying process and a big part of their consideration set.
Solid SEO and amplification are the tactics that will help you get there. And yes, page views definitely play their part! Consumption metrics (how many people viewed or downloaded your content) and sharing metrics (how many people liked, forwarded or linked to your content) are all ways of measuring whether you’re meeting this objective.
When you produce your own content, you control the messages you go to market with and connect with customers the way you want to. Unfortunately, Google Analytics won’t tell you whether you’re changing perceptions for the better – qualitative metrics such as focus groups or feedback forms have to come into play. But the goal is to generate demand for your product – you want people to want it.
Lead generation and nurturing
From a content marketing perspective, a lead is someone who is so interested in your content they are happy to give up enough information about themselves (an email, phone number or other) to allow you to market to them. Once you have these details (and their permission) you can use content to help move them through the buying cycle.
Lead generation is the crème de la crème of marketing goals. Remember that at the end of the day, your job is ultimately to sell – you need action, not eyeballs. But this also means you need to offer premium content, be it an exclusive downloadable e-book, inherently useful emails or other. If you’re really clever, you’ll even work with content to find ways to convert those leads.
When you’re defining your business goals, think of yourself as a Chief Financial Officer rather than a Chief Storyteller. Is your content working to increase business revenue? Lower business expenses? Make happier, more loyal customers? If the answer is no, then go back to step one.