According to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2016 Reports 69% of B2C and 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content this year than last year. The fight for customer attention, spend and loyalty is more intense and now is a great time to review and act on how you have fared so far.
On the one hand there is research to suggest that more marketers have a documented content strategy, and no doubt eyebrows have been raised about the standard of quality content production and distribution. On the other hand it seems to me that many marketers and business leaders are still struggling with the organisational and content marketing issues of yesteryear, and are finding it very difficult to gain the desired traction in their content marketing efforts.
As a daily content surfer across blogs, websites and social media channels I still see a significant slant towards the quantity over quality content approach as well as dozens of link bait articles likely to hurt bounce and conversion rates not to mention search rankings.
Having analysed various companies efforts I dig deeper I find a lot of wasted content potential that is not advancing search (keywords, SEO, PPC ) tactics and conversions as much as it really could, as well as consistency and integration issues across the offline and online marketing channels.
Yes we are up against it. Content marketing is still an emerging philosophy with inherent challenges constantly under tactical development, particularly when it comes to measurement. However there are many instances where we as marketers need to shoulder some responsibility for marketing that is poorly aligned to business goals, and content marketing efforts that are failing for lack of an understanding and relationship with the sales funnel and customer journeys.
Are these the signs of resource or capability issues? Is there outsourcing issues that need to be collaboratively addressed? What internal working issues hold you back? Have stakeholder relationships not been correctly analysed and managed?
Now is a good time to assess the root causes and make the achievable adjustments/ changes needed to enhance your performance for this year and identify some of the learning’s to develop next years plan. So the following is a range of considerations that will help you review and improve your content marketing efforts.
Analyse your Content Marketing performance
Mistakenly assumed to be a straightforward task the challenge is to establish credible answers to the most important questions. How is our content advancing your strategic and organisational goals? Are you performing better than last year? How do you fare against your competitors? How can we improve?
Remind yourself – What is Content Marketing?
Whilst sales is one of the goals and there is an emergence of content used in the social selling process it is important to remind ourselves that it is not a tactic best led by sales goals. The core purpose is to start conversations with customers and prospects, focusing on all stages of the buying process and multiple personas, from brand awareness through purchase and loyalty to brand evangelism.
Marketing giant, Marketo recently reminded us of 6 good rules of execution to follow subject to my edit below:
- It’s not promotional
- It is relevant and contextual – be useful
- Answer a business question, solve a pain point or entertain – to build the trust and reliability useful to lead nurturing or engage an emotional response
- Ensue it’s well written
- Be relevant to your company objectives
- It gives proof – e.g. research, quotes, testimonials, actual metrics, stats
Why do I need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Without a content marketing strategy in place there would be no road map to produce goal focused content that engages in an integrated and measurable way.
Your strategy sets the focus for your creativity and innovation processes that lead to producing a highly effective portfolio of paid, owed and earned content. It is also is the impetus for collaboration and marketing integration across your business functions and roles to improve marketing in and consistent, effective and efficient way.
Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, quality content should underpin all forms of your offline and/or online marketing.
Overview: The 7 Pillars of Content Marketing Strategy
I wrote recently about the 7 Pillars of Content Marketing Strategy which explains top topic and structure in greater details and provides tips to excel but an overview is as follows:
- Plan for Purpose – Your clearly defined objectives and business goals for content e.g. brand awareness, lead conversion, customer loyalty/retention, build email subscribers
- Audiences – The details about your target segments / personas
- People – Assimilating the key people and planning the tasks, responsibilities and procedures for everyone in the content process
- Storyline and Principles – The brand story and propositions for the campaign including style guides, tone, design
- Platforms – Decisions about where you will source, create, publish and amplify content
- Processes – Outlining the series of repeatable actions for each piece of content
- Performance – Specifying the budget, benchmarks and measurement KPI’s and metrics for control and monitoring success that matters
For more description, guidance and tips please read the article…
Schedule a Content Audit
If you haven’t done one already perhaps it will be a good time to schedule a content audit to appraise and adjust content in terms of position, links, search value, accuracy, consistency and relevancy.
The overarching issue is whether each item within your content inventory is relevant to both your customers’ needs and your needs. An audit will help you clearly understand where you are, where you are going and identify and gaps for consideration.
During the process it is also beneficial to refresh content because as an ongoing concern out of date content is annoying and bad for business.
It is well worth investing time out at least mid-way through implementation season to consider these key factors and take necessary action. For some the process will validate much of an already successful year, highlight the need for a few pats on the back and spur on greater performance. For others I hope that it serves at as the catalyst to boosting your performance beyond your targets.
About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaigns and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn