It’s no surprise that “content marketing” is an extremely hot buzzword right now, but knowing how to execute an effective content marketing plan or even knowing where to start is easier said than done. As Google continues to crack down on shady SEO tactics, the team at Customer Magnetism has been doing what Google has recommended all along: creating valuable content.
We’ve all heard played out phrases like “content is king” and “create great content,” but the truth is, it’s just not that simple in practice. Google’s notoriously vague guidelines stress the importance of making your website content “useful and informative,” “more valuable than other sites,” “high quality,” and “engaging.” Sure, those are all useful and informative tips, but for the marketing director with a full plate or the small business owner focused on going beyond for every customer, it can be challenging to make that a reality.
In 2013, $118 billion was spent on content marketing and 55% of B2C marketers plan on increasing content marketing spend over the next 12 months. That means it’s more important than ever to get serious about creating a content strategy that will drive value for your business. When it comes to sales, 61% of customers said viewing content from a trusted brand makes them more likely to buy and 77% of B2B buyers conduct extensive research online before talking to a sales person. So, the question isn’t whether content marketing is a necessary investment, but instead, how do you build smarter strategies and create better content to grow your business? Read on to find out.
In this crucial phase, the goal is to gain a deep understanding of your brand, your audience, and how your customers buy so you can create the right content for the right situation. Start by building buyer personas so you can properly address your customer’s needs along the path to purchase. Define demographics, psychographics, awareness triggers, pain points, and identify influencers. This is where you’ll define your voice and tone, including brand values, communication style, and desired perception.
This is also the point where you’ll want to map out the customer buying cycle so you can create content targeted to each stage of the purchase funnel—awareness, consideration, purchase, and retention. Finally, begin the ideation process by conducting an audit of current content assets, monitoring relevant online conversations, asking your customers their needs and desires, and developing a plan to repurpose existing or newly created content for other channels. By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to wrap it all up by mapping it out in content calendar that’s shared with key stakeholders.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the fun part! Most of the hard work has already been done in the planning phase. Now you get to roll up your sleeves and work with your team to develop a creative brief for each content asset and determine the best format for that asset. Depending on the targeted persona, your strategy might include white papers, infographics and visual assets, case studies, videos, SlideShares, blog posts, eNewsletters, and/or a number of other formats. Keep in mind that it’s important to have an owner in charge of the editorial process to prevent a situation where there are too many cooks in the kitchen, but remember to involve all stakeholders early on so they’re comfortable with the creation process.
Often the most overlooked by marketers, promotion is a vital step to ensure your content reaches its desired audience. Here, you’ll want to leverage Owned, Paid, and Earned media to get your content seen and shared.
Owned media includes: your website(s), blog, eNewsletters, and social media channels. Paid Media includes: social ads, content placement services, AdWords, Reddit ads, target publication ads and so on. Finally, Earned Media includes: direct outreach to target publications and influencers, traditional public relations outreach, and relying on existing connections to help spread the word.
Most successful promotion plans are fully fleshed out during the planning phase so promotion can begin as soon as the content asset is launched.
Not all metrics of success are created equal which is why it’s important to understand which metrics matter based on the type of content being produced. For example, metrics like traffic, page views and email opens may be more important for an “awareness” piece, whereas lead metrics like downloads, signups, or free trials would be a better indicator of success for content targeted towards those in the purchase portion of the funnel. Armed with this data and the knowledge of what content resonates best with your audience, you’re now ready to rinse, refine and repeat.