Content marketing is the future.
The growing benefits of using social media and engaging content to drive traffic and sales seem obvious, but knowing the best way to jump on the content marketing trend–well, not so much. Meanwhile, companies in every market continue to make the shift, and you don’t want to be left behind. We’re offering 9 steps to help you achieve great content marketing that will skyrocket your conversions. Together, they form a comprehensive approach you can tailor to your own business.
Step 1: Set Goals
Any effective business strategy starts at the same point: setting goals. As always, goals need to be specific and achievable. Success for each goal requires different types of content, so the numbers can be measured as independently as possible from each other.
In content marketing, there are four core metrics:
- Site visits–it’s important to track visit sources. How many are direct? How many come from search results? How many take referral links from other sources?
- Conversions–look at them in two categories, namely, new visitors vs. returning visitors.
- Returns–you’ve already got a built-in metric in the previous conversion measure.
- Engagement–measure in terms of interactions, and include comments, replies and other forms of direct communication. When the goals are set, it’s time to move to Step 2.
Step 2: Do the Research
A study shared by CMI shows that across the board, B2B businesses are spending an average of 33 percent of their total marketing budget on content marketing, and most businesses are actually increasing their content marketing budgets.
Research begins with identifying your market niche, narrowing down to the target audience and demographics. Get a better picture by trying to answer these key questions:
- What is unique about your business?
- What problem within the niche can you solve?
- What are the interaction and spending habits of your target audience?
- What are your biggest competitors doing?
Apply those four major metrics to your top competitors. Analyze their traffic and conversions along with scraping keyword data, noting marketing affiliates and general types of content, and checking overall user engagement. How many shares or replies is their content generating? Combining all of this research should help you pinpoint your primary keywords, your general range of content, and the major points of emphasis for overall content marketing strategy.
Step 3: Build a Strategy for Great Content Marketing
Now, you’re ready to tackle content creation to achieve your set goals. Come up with a focused content category for each metric. Is a piece aimed to generate visits, sales, engagement, or returns? While any upload can have a positive impact on multiple goals, each should prioritize a single purpose. This approach makes content performance analysis more reliable when it’s time to assess your content marketing campaign’s effectiveness.
Step 4: Perform a Content Audit
OK, you have a strategy and a means to deploy it, but it’s still necessary to identify one more data set before you can reasonably enact the plan. Create a content audit to analyze everything already created–make the most of your existing assets. Classify each one according to the strategic divisions set up in Step 1. Now, you can see how far your current content is from your desired goals, and it’s much easier to decide what additional content you need in order to achieve them.
Step 5: Generate Content
This step feels obvious, but it’s trickier than it sounds. It is not enough to just put out content that loosely conforms to the general goals. It is best if you track how many pieces of content will be developed for each metric. In order to clearly analyze results, you need to avoid content that crosses multiple goals. Choose your topics to complement and build on those already documented in your content audit (Step 4).
Step 6: Amplify Your Message
Creating great content that meets a focused goal is the primary point of this strategy, but it isn’t enough. You still have to drive your audience to that content–that’s where amplification comes in as a marketing strategy. The biggest opportunities for promoting new content are on your website and through social media. Amplification has to be a dynamic approach, meaning you target the content that needs the most views. If you notice a metric that is underperforming, give it an important boost through your promotion tactics, and make the most of social media for that step. If that doesn’t work, consider altering the content piece.
Start by shaping your social media campaign around popularity, as shown in this chart from the Content Marketing Institute study.
Step 7: Engage Users Socially
Here’s your chance to get qualitative feedback on your content marketing strategy. Social media promotions show you direct feedback from customers. Expand your reach through blog comments plus direct communications via customer surveys and complaints/compliments. It’s easy enough to count these feedback sources and make adjustments, plus, they offer another, unique opportunity to reply directly to customer concerns. Carrying on visible conversations with customers improves overall engagement and provides additional data points for strategizing.
Here’s an example of engaging with a committed audience:
Note the number of likes and shares generated by this post–they reached their audience and the audience got the joke.
Step 8: Re-Audit
Once you’ve brought new content into line with your strategy, you can measure the results. Compare changes for your core metrics and any other measures of success you have been using to find an objective performance analysis. This lets you see exactly how effective your models are, and you can adjust them accordingly. This audit can be much more accurate in measuring marketing success as a function of cost and returns.
Step 9: Make Adjustments
A few best practices for content marketing can do a lot of good, especially when it comes to cost analysis. Does your revised strategy justify the costs? If the steps have been followed properly, rewards should easily outweigh costs, but as your marketing grows more efficient, repeating the process will inevitably gain diminishing returns. The easiest way to avoid excessive costs is to monitor your return on investments (ROI).
There is plenty of room for customizing these steps to content marketing to serve your business needs. If you stick to the principles of focused research and develop steps that can be reliably tracked, you’re sure to find a winning formula. Better yet, partner with a team like ours, and rely on proven success for great content marketing that converts.
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