July 25, 2016

The Absence of a Content Marketing Strategy Is Killing Your Marketing Program

A disturbing pattern is emerging among marketers: Fewer of them are documenting their content marketing strategies. This is worrisome because research consistently shows that marketers who document their strategies are more effective across nearly all content marketing spheres.

According to a report from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, titled “B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America,” although 88 percent of the 3,714 marketers surveyed stated that their organizations are using content marketing, only 32 percent had a documented strategy for content creation in place. Even more concerning is that that figure is actually down from 35 percent last year.

Source: Pixabay

Part of the reason for the decline can be deduced from another survey finding: A majority—55 percent—of marketers said they are unclear or unsure about what an effective content marketing strategy looks like.

Ascend2’s 2016 State of Content Marketing Survey Report draws a clear picture of how this lack of knowledge is crippling marketing outcomes: Of the 219 marketing influencers surveyed, 48 percent deemed lack of an effective strategy the most significant barrier to achieving important goals.

So what should a content marketing strategy comprise so that your organization’s content will have maximum impact? Your guiding philosophy should be to nurture relationships with your customers. You want their experience with your brand to be so positive that it builds their trust and loyalty—buoying your revenues in the long run. Before you can make your customers fall in love with your business, however, you have to garner the proper support and resources from your company leaders. To do that, you’ll need to lay out strategic revenue-generating marketing initiatives (click here for more on that).

Following are six best practices that we recommend you incorporate into your marketing mission to help you develop and deploy effective strategies for content marketing, as follows:

1. Get executive team buy-in. Successful content marketing strategies don’t bear fruit overnight. You’ll need support at an executive level and the understanding that without a long-term strategy, your marketing aims may not hit the mark.

2. Know your buyers. Develop customer personas and map your content to mirror the buyer’s journey. You need to understand what kind of information is important to potential clients so the education your content provides is efficacious. Write in a tone and cadence that will appeal to your buyers and engender them to your brand.

3. Determine your optimal content rubric. Effective content facilitates conversations between customers and personnel that inspire key targets to take the next step. It should also position your organization as a thought leader in your industry by providing information that’s valuable to customers, e.g., solves their problems and educates them on relevant topics. Overtly sales-focused content, on the other hand, is likely to turn off readers and negate your message.

4. Execute an editorial calendar. Each piece of content that is crafted should be part of an overarching strategy that, when looked at as a whole, gives recipients a consistent and positive picture of the value your business delivers. Know what you want your end results to be (e.g., more leads to feed to sales and/or brand awareness) before you begin, so that your content is crafted to drive those results.

5. Craft content that will work across platforms. A good content strategy takes advantage of all the channels available for content delivery, e.g., blogs, white papers, case studies and social media. The best content marketers can tweak the messages from a piece of content to reuse it across platforms for broader appeal.

6. Leverage metrics and big data. To track and measure the success of your content marketing strategy, you must first develop key performance indicators (KPIs) based on the business value you hope to derive from your content marketing program (e.g., decreasing costs and increasing profit margins). Performing KPI analysis on the data you collect from your marketing campaigns will give you insight on what is and isn’t working so you can tweak your content strategy as you go along to improve outcomes. For example, do your key targets share more of your social media posts when you put them up on Tuesdays vs. Fridays? On which channels do you get more viewers when you publish a blog?

If accomplishing these steps is simply not in the cards with your existing in-house staff, consider developing a strong content strategy with the help of an expert content marketing vendor

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