Learn about developing a content marketing strategy

Attract, acquire, and engage your audience by developing a content marketing strategy. Learn the key steps for success that include optimizing and measuring the impact of your content.

Content marketing is a term we hear a lot. But what is it exactly? Well, content marketing is simply when you create a piece of content to attract, acquire, or engage your audience. When done right, content marketing can elevate your brand above thousands of other marketing messages. Traditionally, marketers have had to rent attention from other people’s media. Like when a brand pays out millions of dollars for a Super Bowl ad, they are renting attention that the TV networks have built. Content marketing, on the other hand, allows marketers to become publishers and attract their own attention.
When you own your own attention by creating your own content, you benefit in three major ways. First, you build awareness for your brand. When your content ranks high in search results or is shared on social networks, that is free brand awareness. Second, you create a preference for your brand. Creating content that has real value makes you a trusted source of information and education.
Third, you reach more customers at lower costs. Creating content pays dividends for a very long time as you use, refresh, and reuse it across campaigns.
So how do you build a successful content marketing strategy? Start by getting to know your audience. Understanding the buyer and where they are in their buying journey helps you identify the right content to offer and win.
Your content Strategy should include a variety of content for every stage of the buyer journey. So let’s go over some of the most common types of content. eBooks are particularly popular in the B2B world. They can vary widely in length and subject matter, but they should contain educational material that is relevant to your customers. White papers are informational, educational, and are much shorter than eBooks. To enhance credibility, you may want to work with a third party source to create these or purchase the rights to an externally created report. Videos can improve branding, demonstrate instructions, answer questions, provide customer reviews, and entertain your audience. Based on the production quality and timeline, videos can be a big investment. So maximize your time and money by integrating them with the rest of your marketing plans. Blog posts share educational thought leadership industry insight, upcoming events, and new content. The key to success with blogging is to set and maintain a cadence of new posts, keeping the content fresh and interesting. No matter what type of content you create, use it to tell a continuous story about your brand. Be aware of the content you put out on each channel. Keeping an editorial calendar is one of the best ways to plan all your content out and keep your whole team aligned. Give every content asset a clear purpose and system of measurement. Will the content be used to build brand awareness or to drive revenue? Establish goals and ROI estimates up front so you’ll know how you’ll measure results. Planning ahead will help you to focus on the metrics and data that will actually help you make decisions later.
Make sure to offer your content on the channels your audience prefers. You’ll want to use inbound strategies to help your content get discovered. Through SEO, pay-per-click, and an easily navigated resource center and outbound strategies like display ads, paid promotions on social networks, and content syndication. Here are a few specific channels to consider. Your social media pages are a perfect place to share early stage content. You can post about your new content and even add a customized image as a profile picture or cover image. Emailing is a great way to promote your content especially when you segment your list and send content only to individuals who will find it relevant and valuable.
Your company blog is a great place to promote your content and the more educational and entertaining, the better. Ideally, post promoting your content will not only entice your audience to download, but will offer value of their own.
And finally, there is search marketing, which means purchasing ads on search engines. Companies bid on keywords and phrases that are most relevant to their company or products, and the highest bidder ranks the highest in search results. These are often called pay-per-click, or PPC ads, because you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad.
Now let’s talk about how to get the most out of your content. To do this, you need to remember the three Rs, reorganize, rewrite and retire. Reorganize. This can mean creating an infographic from an eBook, a cheat sheet from a guide, and so forth. This gives your audience different ways to consume your content. Rewrite. Inevitably, your content will go stale. It could be the design or some of the predictions, statistics, or technology. One way to fix this is to rewrite your content. Before you begin, look at a piece of content with a critical eye to make sure it’s worth investing more time to rewrite. Was it high performing to start with? Once you have decided to rewrite, identify the aspects of the piece that make it stale and fix them. Take out language that dates your piece, update old statistics, and get fresh quotes and contributions from subject matter experts. Also, don’t underestimate the power of a simple design refresh. Retire. Even good content does not last forever. Content that has passed its expiration date can be brand damaging, and effectively undo the good work it did in the first place. In order to avoid keeping content around too long, ask yourself these questions. Is the content asset performing well? Does the content site reports or ideas that are no longer accurate? Was the content created to support a particular moment in time that is now passed? And most importantly, does my audience still care about this topic? How should you measure the success of your content? You should measure what matters most to your stakeholders. Here are the basic metrics for early, mid, and late stage content. Content at each stage should be measured differently since each stage has different goals. Early stage metrics don’t tie directly to revenue. The purpose of your early stage content is to build brand awareness, create preference for your brand, and educate, entertain, and engage your audience. Shares, downloads, and views tell you whether your content is attracting attention and whether people like what they see. Some important early stage metrics to track are traffic to your blog and website, views and downloads of your content, links to your content, and shares, comments, likes, favorites, and followers on social media.
For mid stage and late stage assets, you’ll want to measure how your content is generating new interest and how your content is affecting your profits. Marketo has reporting that lets you see the path new customers follow to conversion. The pay-per-click ads they clicked on, the webinars they attended, the emails they received, and the content they downloaded or viewed. For late stage content such as customer testimonials, data sheets, feature guides, or demos, you’ll want to know that your sales team is actually using your content. Some important mid and late stage metrics to track are lead generation, pipeline and opportunity allocation, revenue allocation, and sales use. Valuable content should help your sales representatives sell. So work with them to make sure your content is resonating with their intended audiences. You should meet with your sales team regularly to gather suggestions for content and to train them on the content you’ve already created.
In order to capture the buyer’s attention in today’s noisy market, content marketing isn’t just a nice to have, but a must. An effective content marketing strategy helps your brand engage with potential customers early in the buying cycle and build a relationship with them over time as they move through their life cycle with your brand. Now that you know what makes a successful content marketing program, it’s time to engage your audience with content that educates, inspires and begs to be shared. -