What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is not a one-size-fits-all strategy and it changes depending on what your business does and what your business goals are. When you take the time to develop a content marketing strategy, you focus on how to achieve your business goals first (increasing leads, driving website traffic, making online purchases…) and then look at how you will produce “content.” Essentially, every bit of content your business produces (newsletter, social media, advertising…) should serve a clear purpose that aligns with your business goals. Whether you’re looking to improve your website, social media accounts, or in-person customer experience, it’s absolutely essential for your content marketing goals to align back to your primary business goals. During the process of creating a content marketing strategy it is important to remember that your marketing goals have nothing to do with the number of social media Favorites, Retweets or Likes your content may receive. While having a popular social media account or a “viral” post can be an ego-boost, if all those eye-balls, clicks, and shares don’t move you forward in meeting business goals, it’s time and money spent for minimal gain.If you want to reach new customers, you need a content marketing strategy. Click To Tweet
As you start planning your content marketing strategy, think about your business objectives – what are your most important goals and who are your most important customer groups? Having these clearly defined will help you in determining the best ways to connect your content and messaging to reach your goals and customers.
Ready to start? Grab your laptop or a pen and paper and take some time to think about and answer these questions:
What are your specific business objectives?
Really drill-down into the details here! If you’re too general you won’t be able to craft a strategy this is measurable. Here are some frequently used content marketing objectives to consider:
- Increase brand awareness in one of your key markets
- Increase visitors to your website
- Increase signups (for a newsletter, mailing list, group…)
- Completion of a lead-generation page or inquiry form
Every goal on your list must be measurable. This could be in terms of an increase in dollars, visits or a sales percentage, but it’s essential that you define a numeric target of so that you can track your progress. If you’ve set a goal and can’t determine how to measure it, you probably need to re-think, or dig deeper into what the goal represents.
Do you know enough about your target audience?
Take the time to gather as much information about your target audience as possible. You can get this information in a variety of ways including customer surveys, analyzing the demographics of your social media accounts, and talking face to face with customers and clients. Here are three important questions to get answers to:
- What do they like to share with friends and family (videos, photos, stories…)?
- Where and how do they share these types of information (social media, emails, texting, blogs…)?
- What’s the best way to “keep in touch” with this customer group (social media, local newspaper advertising, text messaging, e-mail…)?
Chances are your business has more than one target customer group. For example, a retail store specializing in clothing for children may have a primary target group of adults with children between the ages of 0-12 and a secondary target group of grandparents. How to most effectively communicate and market to these different segments will vary – one group may want to follow a social media page, another group may want to see an ad in the local newspaper. If you want to be effective you need to target your messaging and your delivery to what your audience wants.
Does your content fit your goals?
Remember, goals vary from business to business and they will also vary over time. The goals of a newly launched business may be different from those of a well-established one which may be different from the goals of a business currently undergoing an expansion. The key thing to remember is that your content will need to change over time to align with what your business objectives are. Here are a few examples:
Example Goal 1: My business needs to increase awareness in our primary market
If you’re new to the market, you want your messaging to have broad appeal. You’ll want to highlight your expertise to as many people as you can to “spread the word” as far and as wide as possible.
Content to consider:
- Videos tutorials
- Customer success stories, interview profiles or business case studies
- Blog or newsletter content that illustrates and promotes your expertise
Example Goal 2: My business needs to increase subscriptions or signups
To encourage people to subscribe or sign-up for your service or product, your content needs to reinforce the benefits of your business has to offer while clearly establishing a very simple and easy call to action. Each piece of content must reinforce what makes your offering stand out from the pack and your sign-up mechanism must be simple, easy to understand, and error-free.
Content to consider:
- Photo, video, or live demonstrations of your product
- Video tutorials
- Social media campaigns/ads targeted to your niche market
- Content that demonstrates your leadership or expertise such as blogging, podcasts or video streaming
Example Goal 3: My business needs to increase our lead generation efforts
Driving people to complete a lead generation form can be a challenge but it will be less so if you offer content that is helpful and appealing enough that visitors to your website decide it is worth sharing their contact information with you in exchange for it. Of course, it rarely hurts to offer incentives – just make sure it’s one that you know your target audience will find hard to resist!
Content to consider: