Content marketing has always been tricky to justify to senior leadership teams. In a lot of cases, it requires long-term investment to show tangible results or conversions, investment that can be difficult to validate in this world where quick wins are king.
The majority of the time it can be hard to directly attribute conversions to an individual piece of content. This can make it hard to know which pieces of content are worth focusing on and which you’d be better off scrapping.
Add to the mix the fact that more and more companies are now talking to their audiences online, people’s attention spans are shorter, audiences are more discerning, and content is becoming increasingly ephemeral in this fast-paced world of marketing. It’s more important than ever to get your content in front of the right people, make it stick, and deliver on your marketing objectives.
So what do you do when you have messages you want to share with your customers but don’t know how? How do you get across that your brand has something of real value to offer to your audiences? Have you been writing and putting out content over the last year, but haven’t been getting the results you’re aiming for?
There are some simple ways you can improve your content marketing strategy, to help your messages hit the right people, at the right time and more effectively.
Why you should invest in a content marketing strategy
Increasing sales, increasing footfall, raising awareness, raising credibility, achieving a 25% response rate, reducing churn – are goals all marketers are familiar with, but can be difficult to credit directly to content marketing efforts. Plus, it’s important to be efficient, and show return on investment of your time, particularly for long-form content.
But while in isolation individual pieces of content can be hard to justify, it’s important to remember that they make up part of a much larger whole. And when carried out as part of a well thought through content marketing strategy, can add genuine value to your audience and pay dividends.
Content marketing can play a vital role at every stage of the customer journey. From getting you noticed by prospects in your target market, onboarding, nurturing and adding value after customers have converted, right through to retention and exit comms.
So how do you get started?
Be clear on your customer journey
When starting from complete scratch, plot out your customer journey, mapping the touchpoints where your customers could interact with your brand. Aim for an end-to-end customer journey map, this will make it easier to plot what content will target your customers and precisely when. And be thorough – you never know what might spark an idea!
Revisit your customer journey often, refining it as you go along. As you get further into your content marketing strategy, there will be learnings that can help hone and improve how and when you target your customers with content.
Keep your business objectives front of mind
Always track every piece of content you plot against your customer journey back to your business objectives. If you can’t explain in one short sentence why you’re putting this piece of content out, it shouldn’t even reach draft stage.
The Content Marketing Matrix
If in doubt, refer to the holy grail that is the Content Marketing Matrix. There’s a reason why businesses large and small still keep this in their arsenal.
Firstly, it allows you to clearly plot your content across a spectrum defined as ‘Entertain, Inspire, Educate, Convince’. Then you can map your content to fall under Awareness through to Purchase, and whether it is more Emotional or Rational. Depending on your brand, you may need content that falls into more of some areas and less of others. Quite simply, this matrix stops you from forgetting the obvious.
Secondly, when plotting your content against this matrix, it enables you at a glance to see if you have too much content in one area versus another. If your main aim is to Convince and convert your audience, you’ll need to be putting out very different content to that which would fall under Educate or Inspire for example.
Your content is only as good as your targeting
Once you have your customer journey defined and have mapped your content out against it, you can start to consider cross-targeting. Are there different groups to target with the same or similar content? A clever content marketing strategy will repurpose and adapt content for a variety of audiences. This is where you can derive true value for your time and money invested.
That’s not to say you send everything out to everyone. Some of the worst offenders fail at content marketing simply because they aren’t targeted enough. Always consider the nuances within the pool of your customers and where they are in the customer journey.
Ultimately, the more targeted your content is, the more likely it will deliver the results you want. Investing in highly targeted content can seem costly, but it’s a great strategy to offer tailored content that feels like you’re speaking to your customers on a personal level. It will make your brand seem more human and approachable too.
Consider whether your audience has been targeted before, and if so, what are the key learnings? Can you retarget your customers off the back of existing content? Could you develop your own content matrix, that allows you to retarget your customers quickly and effectively?
Developing long-form content for Uniper
Uniper have a lot of experience in leading the energy transition to renewables in Europe, and wanted to offer their expertise to other international markets. We’ve helped create highly targeted, longer form content including white papers, articles, case studies and slide packs. Each piece reinforces Uniper’s expertise as a leader in flexible operations, decarbonisation and digitalisation in the global energy market. These comms speak directly to areas of the world that are behind Europe in the energy transition, and position Uniper as a point of authority.
100% increase in number of web pages visited and average time on Uniper website doubled.
Bring it back to your brand
Every single piece of content that you publish should be developed under the lens of your brand and your overarching brand strategy. The best in the business combine skills in content development with a strong knowledge of brand consistency.
You may feel the need to keep up with your competitors, or your market may be incredibly fast paced, but the best content isn’t just a flash in the pan. Don’t get drawn in to competing with others who may put out fifteen pieces of content a week or more, when you only put out two. Quality is still key, and if you dilute your message with more frequent but less relevant content, you’ll more likely damage your brand than enhance it. Expert content developers always think about the brand and the bigger picture, no matter if it’s a forty-page white paper, or a single Instagram post.
Thought leadership for Experian
With our help, Experian have been successfully carving out a thought-leadership position within the UK and global financial sector. We’ve created engaging content using their own research, white papers, animated stories and pushed these out through blogs, webinars, events and their website. The success of their content strategy has been in the breadth, frequency, quality, timing and relevance of it.
65% of B2B buyers see your website as one of the most important content channels.Elise Dopson
Competing for clicks
They say imitation is the best form of flattery, and the world of content marketing is a very competitive space. So, it can be quite tempting to simply copy what everyone else is doing, as they seem to be performing well enough.
But rather than copying your competitors like-for-like, think about how you can offer content and insight that sets you apart. After all, you are different to your competition, and you should only be putting out content that’s relevant to you and your brand, not someone else’s.
If in doubt, refer back to the Content Marketing Matrix I spoke about earlier. You could even try plotting your competitors’ activity against it and comparing it to your own for a gap analysis.
Tips for developing your content marketing strategy
- Authenticity: Simple really – don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
- Relevancy: You might want to write about any number of subjects, but if it’s not relevant to your audience it won’t get picked up and read by the right people. Therefore, your content won’t serve its purpose, and won’t deliver the results that you want. When developing every piece of content, always ask this question: “what action do I want my audience to take from this?”
- Consistency: On its own, it’s very rare that one piece of content will create the impact and sustained results you’re after. Develop a realistic content schedule and try to follow it as rigidly as possible. For example, it can be useful for some audiences to know that you only post articles on a Thursday. They will get used to the routine you establish, and more likely re-engage with you on a regular basis.Speaking consistently to your audience is also key. Try sticking to core themes when posting content. A scatter gun approach is less likely to work.
- Repurpose: Not only does this provide amazing value for money, but it helps with consistency too. The most obvious strategies include:
- Developing standalone infographics repurposed from longer content.
- Writing a follow up post in direct response to a previous article or white paper.
- Updating old content such as blogs or infographics with newer, more relevant information.
- Taking the same content and adapting elements to make it specific and relevant across different audiences.
- Structure: Make it digestible. Even if your content is longer in form, there are tactics you can employ to break it down and make it more palatable for your audience. They’re more likely to retain information on your brand this way, and it can help massively with brand recall.
- Evaluate: We’ve already talked about measurement being tricky for content marketing on the whole. However, there are methods you can use that work as indicators for how your content is performing. Some key performance indicators include:
- Growth of mailing lists or subscribers
- Landing page views and page duration
- Number of downloads (if your content is downloadable)
- Making content gated so you capture audience data for mailing lists and future comms
For more information on content marketing, check out this article on tips for content creation.
To find out how we can help you improve your content marketing strategy or establish one get in touch – we’d love to help. Alternatively, for the latest marketing and branding news, take a look at our Articles page.