Content marketing has been building up a muscle that now displays how much engagement and reach a brand can get with non-promotional or non-advertising content. Through the constant efforts from educators such as the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and through very visible showcase examples such as Red Bull’s Stratos Initiative (where they sent a man to jump off from the edges of space), content marketing has gone from concept to practice.
Content marketing in 2014 will be one of the hottest buzzwords for marketers of any industry and of any organizational size who will be looking for best practices and for entry points to add more content to the mix of their digital initiatives.
Here are 4 essentials steps to plan for content marketing success:
- Plan for Content Marketing
Like with any Marketing initiative, content marketing requires a strategy and a plan. It requires even more planning as the complexity of producing and distributing content on several channels in different formats needs to be accounted for. Another consideration are the costs involved in producing this content and making sure that ROI is defined and measured accordingly.
Here are the 5 key areas of a Content Marketing Strategy:
+ Define your target audience and understand what they’re looking for. In other words, define you buyer’s person and journey through the sales cycle (whether B2C or B2B).
+ Identify the distribution platforms for your content and the formats and frequency required to create increasing and rewarding engagement.
+ Identify the key themes and topics that resonate with your audience for the content you want to produce and create an editorial calendar where will define content publication frequency per channel.
+ Map out your conversion funnels throughout all your properties and make sure that all the critical interfaces related to converting a customer into a lead or a sale have been optimized.
+ Define how you will measure success and what are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and make sure you have a way of tracking them and reconciling the metrics throughout all your platforms.
Organizations that have a documented content marketing plan are 50% more effective than those who don’t.
- Plan for Content Production
While content marketing is a fairly recently coined term, it’s not a new science. Most top bloggers of the AdAge Power 150 Index have been doing content marketing for close to a decade and have reaped the benefits of their numerous blog posts by becoming world famous authors, consultants, and successful business owners.
Some companies, such as the renowned HubSpot, have built their multimillion dollar businesses only through publishing blog posts, which created a large and engaged audience that eventually converts into sale.
Their secret? They publish content all the time. Relentlessly, they are champions in the game of content marketing and each leader in terms of content in their field or industry has set the bar really high for followers to compete.
HubSpot revealed (in its 2013 Marketing Benchmarks from 7,000 Businesses) that companies that create six to eight blog posts a month start seeing two to three times more traffic to their website than websites that don’t blog. Companies that blog over 15 times a month, start seeing a multiplying impact on lead generation through their content (up to 400% increase compare to companies who don’t blog).
The more content you produce, the more results (traffic and leads) you’ll get.
Producing content at that scale requires resources and commitment. Organizations need to start hiring bloggers, journalists, content marketing agencies, designers for infographics, video casters, photographers, etc. to help them with producing a constant stream of content and to go head to head with the competitors in their space.
Organizations will also need to assign the responsibility of getting this content produced and appropriately distributed to someone in the organization to make sure it gets done and someone is accountable for the performance of content marketing initiatives.
- Plan for Content Distribution
While content production is essential to content marketing, content distribution is critical in order to put an organization’s content in front of as many relevant people as possible.
There are 4 main platforms where marketers should be focusing their content distribution:
+ On their website, where the blog should live and drive all inbound traffic after links to the blog posts have been shared and distributed elsewhere.
+ In their newsletter to add more value to their too often promotional based emails. Email marketing is still the digital initiative that yields the highest ROI.
+ On social networks, where they know their audience hangs out. They should also take advantage of the advertising opportunities social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn offer to promote these links and push them in front of targeted audiences (at a cost).
+ On major media websites that have created new ad units called “Native advertising” that enable an organization to publish (at a cost) a link to a piece of content right in the flow of articles or news of the media website. See Yahoo’s news stream on their homepage featuring links to external sites’ content.
- Measure your Content Marketing’s ROI
Producing content is costly, and waiting for organic SEO to generate traffic can take time; and therefore, organizations will often actively promote their content with native ads or sponsored content on large social networks and media sites. This creates extra costs.
In order to justify such investments, it’s essential to clearly define KPIs and how to measure ROI up front and then to implement the tools and operations that track the performance and ROI of the content marketing plan.
The sooner organizations figure out what content yield the best return on what platform, the sooner they will be able to optimize their content production efforts and focus on just a few high potential channels rather than producing content that might be to generic on channels that won’t engage the right audience.
Stephane leads the digital marketing expertise for RevSquare, an international digital agency with headquarters in NYC and with clients such as The Economist, The New York times, Showtime, Bravo, and Sephora. He is responsible for overseeing all services related to helping clients increase their notoriety and sales through web, social media, and mobile marketing.
Images courtesy Percolate.