The Why's of Content Marketing
Content Marketing accounts for 20% plus of marketing budgets
Content marketing is “second only to Internet advertising in accelerated growth…and now accounts for more than 20% of marketing budgets,” according to the Content Marketing Association. Content Marketing not only helps with building relationships with people but also helps businesses increase sales, generate traffic, retain customers, build brands, answer questions and sustain engagement for longer periods of time. Content marketing is also highly adaptive and easy to integrate across multi-channels, which can double or triple its effectiveness.
Most importantly, according to Jay Bear, content marketing is “an information annuity that can’t be replicated elsewhere.” Once you produce the content, it’s there forever.
In 2016, it means nothing without a community. Jay Bear believes: “content without community, without approachability, without humanization and kinship is ineffective. Just as content that is focused on selling, rather than helping, is doomed to fail.”
To remedy this, a winning content strategy is going to have to be built. According to a report by CMI, “more than 80 percent of B2B marketers say they have a content marketing strategy” but only a third have documented their plan. This is an interesting statistic, particularly because the same research shows that marketers who documented their strategy “are more effective in all areas of content marketing.”
With this in mind, take the extra step and document the strategy. Every business’s strategy or plan will be a little different, but Mark Schaeffer breaks the basics down to 6 easy steps:
1. Business Objectives
2. Brand Objectives
3. Content Inventory and Audit
5. Content Gaps
6. Content Calendar
Business objectives are the goals to be accomplished as a content strategy is developed. The objectives should be clear, specific and actionable. More importantly, goals will set the foundation for the other sections to follow and keeps everyone on the same page as the strategy is moving forward. Examples of clear objectives include:
• Educate consumers about the difference between the product
and the competitors product
• Become a recognised thought leader in the market
• Increase time spent on the company’s website by developing interactive content
• Improve conversion rates by supplying content at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Jay Bear states: “The goal isn’t to be good at content marketing. The goal is to be good at business because of content marketing.” If objectives can be outlined into action items on a list, not only will the content be more manageable and easier to create, but the business in general will also benefit from the efforts. Brand objectives are different from the business objectives as these are not about the company but about the audience of the product.
• “How do you want people to feel about your business?”
• “What effect do you wish to have on your audience?”
• “What effect are you actually having?”
• “How can you close the gap?”
Interestingly, the above questions are also similar to the questions we would ask clients with regards to video content production. The best video marketing isn’t about slapping potential clients with information that is simply selling at them, however it is about building profile as thought leaders and experts in specific fields.It’s also about asking the right questions of contributors that will lead views to think: ‘Ah that’s me, that’s what I need to know about…’ and of course to make contact!
Brand objectives need to be just like business objectives, clear, specific and actionable. The questions for brand objectives need to be answered with tactics that work to help achieve the business objectives. For example: to promote greater visibility on social media by working with industry influencers, which is a great tactic to have if a business objective is to gain more traffic to the company website from social media.
However brand objectives are defined, make sure they are coming from data-driven-analysis, not from “your gut”, personal opinion or agenda. It can be hard to do when working closely on a project. Avoid making assumptions at this stage; time and money will be saved further down the line. The more honest the manager can be when mapping out the objectives, the more likely the content will be effective within the target audience.
Starting the content marketing journey
Most businesses will begin their content journey with some content already available which might include: case studies, research papers, old blogs, how-to videos and interviews. Focus on content mix: what works and what does not? If it is hard to distinguish what is working and what is not working, try measuring the results of the content in terms of either lead generation, sales or social reach. The content should help the business objectives, if the content is not doing that then it is not doing its job. At the very minimum, an insight should be gained from basic interactions which are counted all the time such as: page views, downloads and time spent on a page. Most Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms will have tools which can be used to start tracking straightaway. As a strategy is developed, metrics can be looked into more, with the likes of sharing (likes and shares on social media) and lead generation (blog and subscriptions). Quantify the results before successfully reviewing and auditing the content.
Once the existing content has been reviewed, look at the competitors. Marketgizmo states than when dealing with competitors “until you understand what your customer’s value, you won’t know where to start when you begin to analyze the competition.” On average B2B buyers interact with at least 8 pieces of content marketing before making a decision on their purchase. Is the content being created in the places where the buyers can find it? Be a customer of a competitor to find out.