Content marketing has been one of the hottest topics in digital marketing for a while now. This may lead some to believe that content marketing is a cutting edge new facet of marketing execution. Wrong, the truth is that content marketing is one of the oldest things in marketing in general. In fact, it is not wrong to suggest that content marketing is over 100 years old.
So, we’ve established that content marketing is nothing new. What is the lesson in that? The lesson is that there is no reason to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. What made good content 100 years ago makes good content now. The difference is in the execution and delivery.
So, what makes good content?
Everyone has a differing opinion on just what makes good content. But if you know your customer well, you should have a good idea of the content they will likely respond to. But just to make a start, great content needs to be all of the following:
- Useful or fun
- On brand
What type of content should you use?
There are no hard and fast rules as to what types of content you should use. However, there are some general rules of engagement when it comes to selecting the content type, or types, to use:
Target audience. Who exactly do you want to consume the content? It goes without saying that this is dependent on your brand and products but there is also more detail you should consider. For example, your target audience for this specific content may be a subset of your overall audience. If you sell 10 products and one of them is most suitable for older consumers then testimonials and white papers might make great sense, as an older audience will more often look for trust and proof points. IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE!
Buying cycle. At what stage of the buying cycle are the audience you want to connect with? Again there are no hard rules here, but give it consideration. If you are mainly trying to target consumers who are at the ‘decision stage’ (the moment of decision) then detailed product information on-site and analyst reports/white papers might make sense. During the ‘consideration stage’ (still shopping around) case studies and testimonials could be the best choice.
Think plural. If you have a great content idea that ticks all the content marketing pillars then don’t necessarily limit yourself to one content type. An infographic can make a great presentation and vice versa. If you have points that you are making within a slide show that you will share online then can these points become an infographic… and can that infographic fuel a white paper… and can that white paper be shortened into an article… and can that article be further shortened into a blog post… and so on.
Don’t just take the easy street. Publishing content on your website is easy and certainly makes sense. Indeed your website should be your home for content. But, unless you have a household name, the unfortunate truth for many businesses is that only a fraction of your target audience will be visiting your site.
Objectives and strategy behind content
One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when starting down the content journey is to jump straight to creating content. This can be because someone in a position of authority is demanding it quickly, the creator assumes they know their audience or ,the most common reason, jumping straight into creating content is easier (and potentially more fun).
As tempting as it might be to do this it is crucial to start with setting your objectives and strategy. Jay Baer summed this up very nicely in his book ‘A Field Guide to the Four Types of
Content Marketing Metrics’: “Content helps achieve business objectives, not content objectives”.
So objectives and strategies need to start with what your business wants to achieve. For example, if the focus is on retaining and growing existing customers then the content requirements will be very different to a focus on attracting new customers.
So, you’ve made the content…now how do you get it out there?
Creating content is not easy and, once done, it is all too easy to consider the box ticked. Content created, job done. However, without a rock-solid distribution plan (and effort) all the hard work will go to waste. As a rule of thumb you should allocate 30–50 per cent of your budgeted time to distribution.
No matter how good the content is, creating traction in a crowded market is a key stage in delivering success. This is typically achieved using a mix of three channels: owned, earned and paid.
This diagram adequately explains these 3 channels:
Measuring the value of content
Given that content can have many guises and the objectives can be quite different there is no one standard measurement approach or tool set. Below is a list of common metrics used; which ones you utilize will depend on the content being measured and the objectives for that content.
Volume and reach metrics:
These metrics look at the volume of touchpoints with an audience as well as the quantity of campaign/channel-driven goals. Examples include social reach, impressions, social mentions, and link backs to your site.
Engagement and consumption metrics:
These metrics look at the quality of customer interaction and discussion, as well as how campaign or channel content is consumed. Examples include content interaction, social triggers, and social engagement.
Acquisition and value metrics:
These metrics look at traffic acquisition as well as the full range of sales and revenue metric. For example, How many conversions/leads have been generated? What is the attributable sales volume and revenue? What is the cost per lead/action/sale?
Depending on your content objectives, a combination of the above metrics should provide the analysis you need to ascertain what content is working and what is not.
This is an important consideration for content marketing. When it comes to making engaging content you should expect, and indeed celebrate, failure. That is not to say that if you produce 100 pieces of content you think are engaging and they all fail you should be happy, but it is important to recognize that not everything you produce will work. In fact if everything is working you might ask whether you are pushing the boundaries enough.
About The Author:
Joan MacDougal is the CEO of Macrison. She is the founder and owner of this innovative and original marketing company. Prior to Macrison Joan held senior roles at both American Express and Telstra. With 30 years of front-line marketing, advertising and communications experience Joan brings honesty and perspective to her views on better marketing, communciations and advertising. Visit Joan’s website www.joanmacdougal.com to get to know Joan a little better. For more information on our Services click here Macrison Services