Content marketing is nothing new, but its role in a successful online marketing strategy has continued to increase over the past number of years. With Google’s recent updates (Panda & Penguin) making great content a critical part of any brand’s SEO strategy – the rush to build #winning content marketing campaigns has never been greater.
But what are some of the key steps to a successful content marketing campaign?
1. Mapped Against Business Goals
It’s important that any content marketing campaign you develop a strategy for is mapped against core business goals. For example, I want to increase our traffic by X% is not a core business goal. I want to increase sales of product X is a specific business goal. Content marketing campaigns can be targeted at the entire customer lifecycle or the individual parts of that lifecycle e.g. awareness, acquisition, service, loyalty, retention. For example you may have a blog that is categorized to meet the different needs of your readers, with a category for posts that are full of actionable tips for potential customers and another with posts announcing the latest company roadmap or new features for existing customers. How these business goals are mapped against the customer lifecycle is captured by this infographic put together by the guys over at the Content Marketing Institute:
2. Target Audience/Persona Development
Persona development helps you understand who your audience are, what are their pain points and what type of content they like to consume. You can then map this against the type of content assets you develop. Persona development could take months or days, depending on how comprehensive you need it to be.
There are a number of places you can start to gather data to help build personas for your content marketing campaigns, some of these are more manual than others.
a. Social Media Tools
There are a bunch of a social media tools that can help gather data for your personas. Some of these tools require more manual effort than others. For example, you can use tools like Topsy and Amplicate to find people who are sharing content around a topic that is relevant to you. You can validate they are target personas by taking a look at what information they have put in their bio.
You can then add a bunch of these personas to a twitter list and monitor it using Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, for example here is one I started to create for “Content Marketing”
You can also use the newly acquired FollowerWonk to search for people with certain phrases in their bio (e.g. content marketing) and then use a tool like TagCrowd to identify other common words in their profiles. This can help you understand what else they may be interested in.
If you are looking for a more automated way of gathering insights from social media you can use a tool like Radian6.
You can use a range of survey types to gather data for your personas.
– Google has a new tool that easily lets you run consumer surveys.
– If you have been building an email list you can incentivise them to give up some free information by giving away some goodies. For these kind of surveys you should segment by prospects and customers, keep them short and make sure the questions are focused.
– You can run surveys on your website asking specific questions from users who visit your site. An example of one would be an exit survey for when users leave the site.
c. Internal Data Gathering
There should be a lot of knowledgeable folk in your organisation who know lots about the people you’re trying to reach. Often running internal workshops with the marketing, sales and customer support departments can really help you gather information about your target audience.
There is a lot of data to be extracted from your analytics package, from the keywords users are finding your site with, to what content they are consuming and what keywords & content are generating sales.
For a comprehensive persona development plan, you can go out and interview your customers, prospects and if possible, your competitors customers (or you can hire a company to do this).
3. Competitor Analysis
It’s always good to have a quick look at your competitor sites to see what their users care about. A tool like SocialCrawlytics can give you a quick snapshot of this showing you the most shared content on their domains:
4. Define Your Content Marketing Sweet Spot
Once you have gathered together all of your data, it’s time to find your value proposition or sweet spot. The sweet spot is that area where you can own the conversation. You have the expertise and knowledge to produce thought leadership content, it’s aligned with your business goals and target personas. It’s not so general that everyone is writing about it e.g. Marketing vs Content Marketing – but it’s not so niche that you will not get any traction. Your prospects and customers are out there looking for information on this subject and you have the experience to deliver content that fulfills their needs.
5. Develop Your Content Mix
You can now develop a content mix to own your sweet spot. For an online content marketing strategy this could incorporate eBooks, White Papers, Blog Posts, Social Networking Pages (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), Groups, Infographics to name but a few.
6. Define Your Metrics
For any content marketing campaign you are trying to answer 3 core questions when it comes to measurement:
Are people Consuming & Engaging with my content?
– You want to know how many people are visiting the content you are producing and are they actually reading it. Look at metrics like unique visitors, pageviews and average time on page.
Are people turning into Leads after consuming my content?
– You want to know how many people go onto fill out a form after consuming your content. Create goals in your web analytics tool to check which content is generating leads for your business.
What content is generating Sales?
– You want to know what content people are consuming prior to turning into a sale. This really helps you determine what content across your funnel is helping to drive actual revenue. This data is a lot more difficult to get. If a prospect consumed a number of eBooks & White Papers before turning into a sale, you want to have this information to hand so you can see what’s the ROI on each piece of content. Of course we happen to know a great tool that can help you get this data
The above are just some of the steps required to build a successful content marketing campaign. For a lot more resources on how you can super charge your own content marketing, why not visit our resource center.