Content marketing is a key part of our overall marketing strategies. What’s more, the budgets we’re allocating are getting bigger with 75 per cent of marketers increasing their spend. But why do we like it so much?
When it comes to communicating with today’s digital-savvy, information-seeking consumers, content marketing is king.
By sharing relevant, engaging content across multiple platforms, we can give consumers the information they want, and when they want it. As a result, we earn trust, authority and eventually loyalty. This is the key to what we’re all chasing: leads, sales and return on investment (ROI).
Even with a solid content marketing strategy in place, you now have to successfully execute it. And this is no easy task.
How to be a content winner
What are the practical steps to content marketing success?
- Ensure your organisation is optimised for content marketing.
A critical part of this is getting everyone on board – from CEO and sales through to IT. To do this, you must become your company’s content leader and ambassador.
- Build your capabilities.
Can you achieve the details of your content strategy with your current set-up? Do you have a document content workflow? Do you have the right staff and resources – for example, writers, designers, media producers – in place to produce great content in the context of fluctuating demand? Is the right tech in place to support your efforts?
- Know your buyer personas.
You need to be aware of who they are and what their journey looks like. Here, you need data and lots of it. You’ll also need to share this information to the right people at the right time.
- Content marketing requires corporate buy-in and new capabilities.
The specifics: from ideas to metrics
Coming up with a constant stream of quality ideas is a big part of the content marketing challenge. You need to take charge and equip your team with the right tools and knowledge:
- Set up Google Alerts and RSS feeds, such as Feedly for fresh ideas.
- Use BuzzSumo to identify what content is working well and be aware of any influencers.
- Engage in industry relevant forums, such as Quora, Reddit and LinkedIn.
- Arrange regular ideation sessions for brainstorming.
- Create a shared document to input ideas.
- Speak with other departments for insights, such as sales or customer service.
- Talk to your customers to understand their thought processes.
The content plan
This process is about achieving the right flow and should already be documented in your strategy. It’s about defining what you’re going to publish, when you’re going to publish it and who will be responsible:
- Create a shared editorial calendar include dates, times, topics and platforms.
- Invest in a content marketing platform, such as Communiqué to streamline the process.
- Set up regular planning sessions so you can discuss practical details.
- Make someone responsible for each task to facilitate accountability.
- Establish a firm workflow process to track progress of content items.
It’s fine generating a wealth of awesome ideas and planning your content creation process, but if your written content sucks then no one will read it. Your task is ensuring your words are up to scratch:
- Hire good writers and editors – whether in house, freelance or through an agency.
- Prioritise headlines – this is what grabs attention in the first instance.
- Make it best practice to include stats, case studies and other primary sources.
- Set up quality checkpoints such as manager sign-off for final drafts.
- Invest in courses to boost skill levels.
To appear in search engines, you need content – and SEO is the techniques you use to improve your rank position. Ensure your content SEO is successful by knowing your stuff and then applying it:
- Use keyword generation tools such as Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush.
- Optimise all content, paid and owned – include keywords in your header, subheads, first and last paragraph and meta descriptions.
- Focus on in-bound links – these are highly valued by Google.
- Keep an eye on algorithm changes and read authority blogs.
- Use SEO insights on Google Analytics to monitor your efforts.
Now you’ve got great content, you need to get it out there. To do this, ensure your team is effectively promoting it through the right channels, and at the right stages of the funnel, so your audience can engage with it:
- Create 20+ social media snippets so you can share a piece of content multiple times.
- Use BuzzStream to find influencers, request a quote to include and then ask them to share the content when published.
- Add links to your new content from your existing popular content.
- Encourage your employees to share your content.
- Consider promoting your content through Outbrain or Plista.
- You need to devote time, effort and resources into each stage of the content marketing process.
- Upskill your team and ensure you involve them at every stage.
Measuring your success
With your strategy in place and your practical content processes optimised, you’re two-thirds of the way there. For your content marketing to be deemed a success, you then need to prove that it’s success. However, this can be one of the biggest challenges.
While it’s easy enough to define and demonstrate engagement and conversion success with quantitative metrics such as web traffic/visits, views/downloads, lead quantity/quality and social media shares with various analytics tools, validating ROI is not so easy.
According to recent statistics from Deloitte, only 21 per cent of business-to-business content marketers and 23 per cent of business-to-consumer content marketers believe they’re successful at tracking it.
To master it, you need to do two things:
- Apply a dollar value to a specific conversion goal, such as traffic, views and/or shares. Then measure that against dollars spent.
- Look for more qualitative data around perception change (such as social media sentiment), interaction and loyalty.
Content is ultimately about long-term wins so it’s your job to manage this expectation. You should generally allow at least six-to-nine months to see results.
- Use a mix of quantitative metrics and qualitative data to prove success.
Content marketing as part of the big plan
Content is not just another tactic to add to your toolkit. To gain the most benefit from content marketing, you need to integrate it into your overarching marketing plan. Why? Because its principles can be used to strengthen all of your other marketing efforts, as it:
- Drives other types of marketing, such as SEO, social media, demand generation.
- Informs overlapping disciplines, such as PR storytelling.
- Take advantage of it to strengthen your brand.
- Apply its principles to paid marketing.
Succeeding at content marketing can be hard work but ultimately your efforts will be worth it. As the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) changes, you’ll be pushed to the forefront driving the customer journey – and content marketing is where it all begins.
- To succeed at content marketing you need to take control and be an ambassador.
- Investing in new capabilities and technologies is critical to driving results.
- Understanding your customers should be one of your top priorities.
- Data and metrics must become your new best friends.