Did you know that 70% of marketers say they lack a consistent or integrated content strategy and that 60% of business marketers say they’re unable to measure ROI on the content they produce? Surprisingly this is true for many businesses out there. Of course, I am sure that while you read this, you might be thinking your organization is not one of these, right?
Companies’ Obsession with Content Marketing
Companies need content marketing for its survival, and not surprisingly 69% of marketers are creating more content this year compared to last. Following the same lines, 73% of B2C marketers and 70% of B2B marketers expect their organization to produce more original content in 2017. Just to add a cherry at the top of this content cake, by the end of this year, 51% of companies will have an executive in their organization who is directly responsible for an overall content marketing strategy.
As you might be wondering why and how this content marketing obsession came about, let me share with you its story.
Inbound Marketing Background
If we go back some years in time, it was around 2013 that businesses realized that inbound or permission marketing strategies were much more cost-efficient at reaching a target consumer compared to the ones from traditional or outbound marketing. It was at this time when the industry saw a tremendous shift in the way companies thought about the customer online journey: they understood that customers wanted to be “pulled” instead of “pushed.” Also, it was proved that the ones who engaged with the brand through self-initiated actions because of their genuine interest, tended to produce higher ROI.
As a result, 84% of small companies and 49% of medium companies shifted their marketing focus on inbound marketing only.
Companies then focused on two things:
Firstly, they started producing more and more innovative and creative content trying to capture everybody’s attention. Infographics, videos, images, quizzes, blogs, how-to-guides, and gamification are just some examples of it.
Secondly, they shifted their content marketing strategy so that it was optimized for mobile. With the unstoppable growth of mobile usage, user experience on a device had to be, of course, the top priority.
So, eventually, this led to an unexpected explosion of companies making thousands of innovative content optimized for mobile.
Content Marketing Challenges
However, marketers started facing several challenges that are still present today: 65% struggled to define which content was efficient and which wasn’t. They were also not quite sure on how to create more visual content (51%), or how to make more compelling stories that would connect emotionally with their audience (41%), and the rest were simply just lost.
On top of that, marketers mistakenly believed that content marketing strategies would turn “seekers” into “joiners.” They envisioned that a customer searching around Google or Facebook would be pulled by their content, would engage with it and some months later would magically remember their brand name and finally would decide to buy. But is this really possible? Let’s be realistic. Most likely and only in the best case scenarios where a brand that captured a “seeker”‘s attention comes out during a google search (see how your SEO should be on point here), the user might remember it and decide to make a purchase. Maybe right there, you have a chance to convert that “seeker” into a “joiner.”, but as you might be thinking right now, the chances are low, really low.
Examples like the previous ones show us why it is extremely crucial to have a good content marketing strategy with clear implementation guidelines and objectives. Only then companies will be able to see results.
Let me share with you some of the biggest lessons I have learned about how to do this the right way.
Successful Content Marketing Strategies
Throughout my career implementing successful content marketing and learning from experts in the industry, I have been able to identify 6 crucial steps when developing a successful marketing strategy:
- Analyze your business performance, identify improvement points and devise on broad objectives to focus. Gather internal and external data and share this cross-functionally to gain relevant insights that will help you make a decision. Some objective examples could be brand awareness, customer education, customer retention and customer loyalty.
- Align your objectives with top management as well as with the Marketing team. Of course, agreeing on a single or a few goals is not just something your digital marketing team decides by themselves, it has to be a shared target that will work across teams.
- Create a super bright buyer persona you want to target. It might be the same one you already had before, or it may change following the new objectives. The data you have already collected from your web/app analytics, your business intelligence and directly from your clients will be the key here.
- Design all your campaigns and your new content with your buyer persona in mind, appealing to their interests together with an explicit attention grabber. Identify where this persona browses online, which social media pages they go to, which blogs they read, which communities they engage with, what they care about and so on. Everything should be designed around that.
- Have a very defined call-to-action/objective in every single content campaign, leading the customer to the desired agreed goal. It can vary widely. If your company is a start-up, call-to-actions such as getting customers to subscribe to the newsletter, to like a Facebook page, to download an app or to tell their friends about a product are great examples of it. On the contrary, if your company is well known and more mature, more high-level objectives such as strengthening brand perception are more realistic.
- Work with Marketing team to analyze which strategies and campaigns they are currently undertaking that lead to the agreed objectives, and ideate new ones jointly. Collaborate to strengthen these successful activities and create a joint strategy, plan and campaigns activities for new ones.
Now it is time to launch your campaign, track performance (KPI) and adjust! And remember: no company achieves its success without a clear strategy, impeccable implementation and idea execution, and time. Repeat these seven steps guide on a regular basis, apply prior learnings into new upcoming strategies, and start seeing results.
What are you waiting for to revamp your content marketing strategy?