Don’t Just Do Content Marketing. Do It Well.

Does your company have a website? A blog? A way of sending email messages to prospects and customers? If so, then you’re already doing content marketing: creating and distributing digital assets to meet your business goals. But are you doing it well? While most marketers commit random acts of content daily, the true intent (and real promise) of content marketing lies in having a defined content strategy that works hand in hand with your organization’s goals.

 

First, What Is Content?

Before we can master content marketing, we have to figure out: what is content? Actually, a better question would be, “What isn’t content?” Digital content can be created in a wide array of formats, literally from A-Z: articles, blog entries, contests, diagrams, e-books, free offers, games, how-tos, info graphics, jokes, knowledgebases, lists, music, news and opinion pieces, podcasts, quizzes, reviews, slide shows, toolkits, user-generated comments, videos, widgets, XML feeds, year-end overviews, and zany cartoons. Each of these assets can be part of content marketing.

 

Don’t Settle for Pretty Good

How do you build a strategy that ensures you’re making the right decisions about content? To be effective, drive lead generation, and drive business, your content must have:

  • Context—Your work should be placed in the right venues for the right audiences. Organizations must research their target customers and understand how and where they consume content. Many organizations create personas based on their prospects’ demographics. Each persona will have a name, age, role in the organization, business needs, and so on. You’ll need to ensure that all of the important constituencies in your organization – especially marketing and sales management – buy into the personas. Once you have personas, you can start modeling their online behavior. Do they read blogs or trade journals? Do they trust analysts or their peers? Do they participate in social media? If so, which platforms? By focusing on personas and modeling their online behaviors, you can begin to narrow down your targeted venues and ensure that your content will get in front of the right eyes to drive lead generation.
  • Timing—Potential customers want different kinds of content at different stages of their research and purchase process. Similarly, newly engaged clients need different content than those who are deeply familiar with your organization. Build a timeline for each of your personas and brainstorm what kinds of content they’ll need at each stage of their engagement with your company. What are the content items that will push them to the next level? 
  • Cost—Content marketing takes time and money to develop and manage. After you’ve modeled your personas and figured out which content they’ll need at each stage of engagement with your organization, you should set priorities based on your current business needs. If your organization is looking for brand-new contacts to market to, maybe you should invest in “top of the funnel” online marketing venues such as social media and a blog. If you need to focus on moving a small set of known prospects through the buying process, perhaps you’ll prioritize content that can be personalized to each prospect’s organization and business need. No matter what your current priorities may be, remember that you should allocate some budget to keep new and existing content up to date in the future to maximize your content marketing and online marketing efforts. 
  • Creative—Your original content can’t just be “same old, same old.” It must bring something new to the table. Try to make all your content engaging and useful. Work hard to make it so enjoyable that your audience will share it with friends and colleagues.

Gain Insights from “Digital Body Language”

Having a defined content marketing strategy ensures that your clients and prospects will get the information they need to make informed buying decisions. And content marketing works hand in hand with marketing automation systems, because as your prospects engage with your digital content, you’ll gain insight from their digital body language. Using this knowledge, you can communicate with your entire audience (via email or on the web) in ways that are aligned with their interests and business needs.