To understand the secret to great content marketing, you will first have to understand what content marketing is and how it operates. Many businesses and marketers completely misunderstand these concepts and end up using it haphazardly, producing no meaningful results through their content marketing efforts.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “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.”
This method goes entirely against traditional marketing efforts. Digital marketing, or marketing conducted over a digital environment, can be separated into two major categories.
Content Marketing Strategies
Outbound marketing, or sometimes known as interruption marketing, is how businesses were promoting their products and services before the internet. This method is still in use today, even over the internet. It consists of techniques such as advertising, promotions, PR, email spamming, direct mail, cold calling, sales, etc. Unfortunately, this marketing strategy tends to backfire, leading many consumers to suffer from a phenomenon known as ad fatigue.
Inbound marketing is a marketing technique that aims to draw in customers to products and services by providing them with something of value in exchange for their business. Content marketing, social media marketing, video content marketing, branding, and SEO are some examples of inbound marketing. One of the significant benefits of inbound marketing is that it’s less intrusive than outbound, allowing customers to come in of their own accord.
Many companies can’t tell this difference and misapply content marketing. So, what’s the secret to successful content marketing? Below are several steps that will help you answer this question.
The Content Marketing Strategy Goal
Every successful endeavor needs to start with a plan, and your content marketing is no exception. Fundamentally, your content strategies should be all about why. Why you are using it in the first place, and what are your content marketing goals? Some companies look for better engagement rates. Others want to lower their costs, while others are looking to generate more leads.
So, before you start the process of creating material, you need to define why you are making it. Are you trying to become a thought leader in your industry? Do you need more recognition for your personal brand?
Having clear content marketing goals early on will help you determine other decisions as you craft your content marketing programs. You need to know where you are headed before starting on the journey. Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and some trial-and-error will be required. Every business is different, desires different things, and will generate different results. Nevertheless, employing certain techniques and producing a lot of content will help you.
This can be a challenging task to undertake on your own, and you may benefit from speaking with someone who specializes in marketing consulting. Having an effective project management professional who will guide you in your marketing efforts can be a critical factor for your content marketing success. Someone with a strong background in the content marketing industry can assist you with content creation, deciding on what types of content will be beneficial for your business, and developing an impeccable marketing program to promote brand awareness and improve your ROI.
Content marketing consulting is a vast and diverse industry. It is up to you to find the right organizations and individuals to build relationships and develop content marketing programs to accomplish your business goals.
Content Marketing Metrics and KPIs
Once your business goals are set in place, the next step is to identify and monitor the metrics that will help you get there. Numerous KPIs and metrics can be taken into consideration. Some of the most important, in our opinion, are unique visitors, geographical location, bounce rates, click patterns, page views, comments, and shares. All of these metrics can be tracked by using Google Analytics or similar marketing analytics tools.
- Unique Visitors – This standard metric will show you how many people have viewed every piece of content within a predetermined period. This KPI acts as a baseline on which you can compare different types of content and trends over time.
- Geographic Location – This KPI shows where your content is being read. It helps you optimize your content ideas based on geographic locations that make the most sense for your company.
- Bounce Rates – This indicates the average time spent on every blog post or piece of content. The longer viewers spend on a page, the more valuable it is for them. High bounce rates, on the other hand, means that your material is not engaging enough.
- Click Patterns – A less obvious KPI are click patterns. Google Analytics and other similar tools allow you to monitor this metric. This will help you determine what is relevant to your audience and how to optimize your design and content.
- Page Views – This metric is generally overlooked but can provide valuable insights. This KPI tracks the number of pages a user has accessed before leaving your site. A combination of high numbers of page views and unique visitors can indicate that you have killer content that keeps viewers engaged.
- Comments – Once you post your content on social media, you can expect people to start commenting on it. Never make the mistake of blocking comments on a post. Instead, embrace it even if the discussion turns negative. Social media is a perfect environment for two-way communication, acting as an excellent customer service tool. The key is to answer and engage with customers promptly.
- Shares – Creating shareable content should be on every marketer’s mind. The more shares a piece of content receives, the better.
SMART Goals and KPIs
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Whether it’s the goal of your content marketing strategy or the KPIs that help you keep track of it, you should always use the SMART approach. Many businesses are unaware of this technique and usually, have unrealistic expectations from what their digital marketing strategy can deliver.
- Specific – Your goal and KPIs need to be explicit enough so that you can focus your efforts on achieving them.
- Measurable – You need to measure and keep track of these metrics before you assign them.
- Achievable – The goals you set for your content marketing strategy will stretch your abilities. Nevertheless, they also need to remain realistic and attainable to be successful. Try thinking outside the box and explore overlooked resources that may help bring you closer to that goal.
- Relevant – Always make sure that the goals and KPIs you use will align with your marketing strategy and goals.
- Time-bound – You will need to set a target date for each of these milestones. It will help ensure that you are making progress.
An example of a SMART goal would be something like 2,000 more Facebook followers within three months, rather than more sales.
Who’s Your Target Audience?
To create effective content and have a successful content marketing strategy, you will need to know your target audience. This means that you need to figure out who they are as well as their wants, needs, and pain points. The more information you have about your target audience, the better the chances of fulfilling your goals.
Google Analytics and social media audience analysis tools will help you determine many of these factors. You can start developing the buyer’s persona – the fictional and generalized representation of the ideal customer. Make sure that every piece of content aligns with the personas’ interests. This will help motivate them to move down the customer journey. All content ideas should be tailored in such a way and provided at the right time to obtain your objective.
Great Content for a Continuously Changing Target Audience
You should always keep in mind that any audience persona will change over time, and your content creation techniques should change with it. This is why you should regularly check your audience’s data and tweak the buyer’s persona accordingly. This way, you will ensure a constant influx of value with every piece of material you post on social networks or your landing pages.
Somewhat recently, Google introduced a new algorithm that favors a blog post or other text that is valuable to the reader. So, by staying on top of your target audience, you will also improve your site’s SEO ranking. Additionally, this audience insight will tell you which keywords to use for your content ideas. It helps drive organic traffic to your website.
Focus on Long-Form Content
When creating posts to complement your social media strategy, you need to pay attention to its length. In the early days of content marketing, short content ruled the internet. Marketers realized that quantity trumps quality and attracted people’s attention with sheer numbers. But today, long-form content – over 1,000 words – reigns supreme. Also, Google’s algorithm can detect what is engaging content and what isn’t. It will help with search engine rankings.
According to Neil Patel, this type of original content will earn you more online visibility through social shares and links. This visibility will increase your authority in the industry, help build trust, and provide more opportunity for engagement.
Content Marketing Success and Email Marketing
All of your digital marketing campaigns need to contain an email component. While your social media, content, SEO, and other forms of digital marketing are designed to attract potential customers, email marketing is designed to nurture those leads before, during, and after their sales journey.
Email lists are an excellent way of keeping potential customers engaged and up-to-date on your business. There are email providers that can sell you one such email list or allow you to rent it. The problem with using email lists from a third party is that the owners of those emails may not want anything to do with your business.
Building an exclusive email list is the best way to go. By sharing gated content with those willing to provide their email, you will make such a list in no time. You should also promote that content on social channels as well as include sharing buttons in emails.
A great content marketing strategy revolves around knowing what you want to achieve and keeping track of the milestones. Always remember that your audience is the one that ultimately creates content, while social media provides an excellent environment for engagement. Email marketing is where you nurture your leads and help them through the last stage of their customer journey.