Our last post explored ways to boost social engagement. Now, it’s time to put those tips to work and begin some basic planning of an integrated content marketing strategy. Research shows that “content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads.” Content marketing is defined as a program that centers on creating, publishing and distributing content to target audiences — usually online — with the goal of attracting new customers. According to a recent Demand Gen Report survey, 47 percent of B2B buyers consume three to five content pieces before engaging with a business. Yet, more than 70 percent of marketers lack a consistent content strategy. It’s clear that having a defined content strategy is critical to long term business health in a competitive landscape.
As the pace of marketing and business accelerates, having an effective, integrated, sustainable content marketing strategy has never been more important. The challenge is with so much information available online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
#1 Getting started
Explore the value of the services or mission of the business or organization and then look at the target audience against an annual calendar. Now, look at the competition and see what they’re doing or not doing. Identify areas which may be weaknesses for them and think about how to do it better. This important step can help guide the process of building out a grid to organize efforts to effectively integrate and track opportunities along with content initiatives throughout the year. Compile lists of topics which are unique, interesting and relevant and break them into two categories. Compile another list of all the target markets to be engaged through these efforts.
TIP: Consistency in a topic through a cycle will streamline the process and lead to greater audience engagement and less confusion.
- List one: Timely topics such as news, market cycles and events. For example, the healthcare industry’s need to address changes in insurance coverage and developments in the field or a not-for-profit’s participation in #GivingTuesday.
- List two: Ideas for content which are focused on broader topics which are core to the brand. For example, real estate developers using video to address a project’s design philosophy or approach to urban planning.
Once the lists are complete, begin distributing the content throughout the grid to determine when the best time is during the year to develop and deploy everything.
TIP: Break the calendar into quarters to help simplify the process and make it less stressful.
#2 Choosing channels
Selecting where content should live is largely determined by a combination of factors such as audience behavior and engagement levels in context to the types of services provided. Below is an overview of some of the most effective:
- Blogs: Many businesses don’t consider blogs, but they have been proven significant influencers of SEO, as well as, great ways to engage audiences around specific keyword sensitive topics in a timely fashion. For example: Recent changes in tax structures in the state are a great subject for an accounting or law firm to publish.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all have different and often overlapping audiences along with their own unique strengths and weaknesses to consider.
TIP: Research and develop the content which resonates best with audiences. Good content can be used effectively and efficiently across all platforms.
For example: One video of a real estate developer’s interview discussing a new project can be used across all channels with the modification of copy.
- Email: B2C email marketing is a cornerstone of online shopping. Every day brands deploy millions of emails to promote sales and new products. B2B strategies pivot on this idea by providing valuable insight and advice as “the product.” Round out the integrated content marketing plan by deploying an email strategy to coincide and support blog content. The correct coordination can lead to big results in lead generation.
#3 Setting up measurement systems
Managing the scheduling and tracking content performance is the critical final stage of building a plan. Research optimal times to deploy emails and post on Facebook or Instagram. All platforms today provide metrics such as open rate, CTR (click through rate) and engagement. The measurement of these initiatives provides insight and understanding into how content is being consumed to determine an ROI. Also, important in this process, is the opportunity it provides to identify positive patterns to be replicated and negative ones to be eliminated. For example: A video post that performed extremely well along with a high engagement rate will see significant sharing as well. If an audience likes it, make more.
I hope that this overview has been helpful and provided a foundational understanding of the building blocks for an effective content marketing program. Being a successful content marketer isn’t complex, but it does take a large degree of effort and a commitment to consistency and learning.
Most importantly, practice is key. Tracking content performance through trial and error will yield a roadmap to success.
Please let me know how it goes and what you’d like to see in our next post: Jason@HarrisonRand.com