July 08, 2014

Five Content Marketing Strategy Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Is your current content marketing strategy in need of a gut check? If your content is running wild and is failing to meet expectations, then you’re not alone.

According to CMI and MarketingProf’s “2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” report, 69 percent of B2B marketers struggle with a lack of time when it comes to custom content creation, while  55 percent claim they can’t produce enough content.

Round up your marketing team, break out the white board and roll up your sleeves. It’s time for a content marketing intervention. Below are some hard-hitting questions you need to ask to get your content moving in the right direction: 

1. What are your main objectives, and are you measuring them? A baseball team will start the season with a list of core objectives—the ultimate, of course, winning the World Series. And just like them, your business needs a list of core objectives, too. Otherwise, the time and money you invest will be prove futile. First, identify the real reason you’ve decided to adopt a content strategy. According to the aforementioned report, brand awareness, lead generation and customer acquisition are the top three objectives.

Tip: Whatever your goal, remember that your content is like water to a vessel. Whatever you pour the water into, it will conform to the shape of its container. Mold your content to individually cater to your specific needs and watch as the results flow in.

2. Are you using the right vehicles? Imagine if Stephen King decided to publish his next novel on the front page of a newspaper. It sounds ridiculous because he is a novelist, but think about this with your own copy: Your creative content needs to be partnered with the appropriate vehicle in order to experience success. If your Web copy is informal like a blog post, it will send the wrong message to your readers.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and explore some interesting new vehicles you might not have previously considered. For instance, you could highlight an example of how your company helped a client or customer experience success in a case study or white paper.

3. Does your content target a certain audience? Unfortunately, many marketers control their content production like they are playing darts—hoping they will hit the mark, but not entirely certain if they will. But your content needs to target a specific audience if you want to experience results. And you can’t do this if you don’t know who is buying your products. To get started, create buyer personas. First, gather all of the data you can about who is clicking on your website, requesting quotes and liking your social media accounts.

Once you have this information, get to work figuring out their behavioral information such as motivating factors, pain points and their role in the purchasing process. Then, create individual personas and craft content geared toward them.

Tip: Once you have identified your target market, don’t forget to take into account their place in the buying cycle. Ideally, you should create content geared for every step of this cycle from passive interest to post-sale.

4. Does your strategy align with your company’s overall business vision? Imagine if you came across an article on an organic grocer’s blog about the benefits of genetically modified foods. As a reader, you’d be confused about the company’s overall vision—and you would be angered, too. Remember that each word should be an extension of your brand and should be true enough to your organization that you could post the content on a banner outside with confidence.

Tip: Unless you are prepared to back up your statement, steer clear of controversial content, or content that could in any way paint your company or industry in a bad light. Remember that at the end of the day, content marketing is advertising. Your goal is to convince customers—not to deter them from buying your products.

5. Is your approach integrated? We know you’re anxious to sit down and write. But a first-class content strategy involves a lot of planning and coordination between your marketing, management, sales and editorial teams. You need to be able to set objectives, understand the metrics behind them and optimize your content in order to reach the right audience.

Make sure that strategy and purpose is at the heart of your content strategy at all times. This will help you form the right tone, audit for quality, and post to different channels and engage/ distribute as necessary.

Tip: Once you start posting content to different social channels and sites, it will be impossible to keep track of it all. The trick to getting all of your different teams on board is to have an internal content management system (CMS) that your company can use to gain access to the latest content, and see where it lives online. The more comprehensive your CMS tool is, the easier your process will be.

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