Can Content Marketing Work for my Business?
Content marketing is one of the most popular buzzwords used in today’s world of digital marketing. We’ve all heard the saying “Content is King” and the hype only appears to grow. HubSpot has reported that as many as 53% of marketers drive their inbound leads through content marketing, and that B2B marketers allocate as much as 28% of their total budgets to content marketing. However, at the same time, only 30% of marketers report that their organizations are successful at content marketing. Cutting though this disconnect between content marketing’s potential and its actual returns can be a problem for many marketers.
Why Isn’t My Content Getting Results?
To answer this question, it’s important to look at some of the inherent traits of content marketing that make its immediate results harder to measure than some other forms of digital marketing such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns or general Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Unlike other forms of advertisement, content is often consumed at the earliest stage of the buyer’s journey. Customers often consume content in the discovery stage, or the period before they are ready to make a purchase. Because a customer might read an article, or watch a video months, or even years before they make a purchase; it can be incredibly difficult to measure the exact ROI that a piece of content had.
And yet we know that successful content marketing works. Probably because all of us, in some way, make purchases based on content. Successful content marketing is why we trust REI for gear advice, and why any visitor to McKinsey, Morgan Stanley or IBM’s websites knows they are dealing with an industry expert.
We all know that content marketing gives us emotional connections to brands, it establishes authority and credibility, and it helps engage both potential as well as repeat customers. But how do we translate that knowledge into campaigns that drive results and revenue?
How Can We Craft Successful Campaigns?
Every successful content marketing campaign needs two things, commitment and consistency. Content campaigns take time. You won’t develop an audience of engaged customers and brand evangelist’s over-night. Your content can only build an audience and attain results from consistent effort and long-term commitment to your marketing goals.
Unfortunately, too many content marketing campaigns are in short supply of either or both necessary traits. Content is often generated sporadically and unevenly, and content calendars are often neglected with inconsistent publishing. Deadlines are missed and projects scuttled when other commitments or pressures arise. The result is content that is neither trusted, valued, or engaged with by audiences.
We’ll cover a few simple techniques that you can use to keep your content campaigns on track, along with some ways to measure your campaigns to keep you updated on your campaign’s progress.
Using a Content Calendar and Keeping to It
This content calendar from Hootsuite is a great example.
One of the first ways to energize your content marketing efforts is to institute a content calendar. A calendar can be customized to fit your specific business needs but in every case, it should include what pieces of content you want published with a set date and team assignment. Using a content calendar provides accountability as well as a long-range vision on where you want your content to be.
Using a content calendar will also help your team create a unified theme and goal for your content. Content that is focused and organized will outperform content that is random, no matter how engaging the content might be.
Google Analytics and Your Campaigns
This dashboard was taken from an example given by Neil Patel.
A very valuable tool for your campaign measurement is Google’s Analytics application. Using Google Analytics, you can insert a line of code into your website’s code to track visitor actions such as conversions or which pages receive the most traffic.
At Affirma, we use Google Analytics to track each aspect of our content marketing efforts. Some of the metrics we use to track our campaign’s success is measuring conversions from our site’s content. We then measure the conversions we track from the website against conversions we receive from other inbound sources such as PPC campaigns.
Promoting your Content
Once you have your content, you’ve won the first half of the battle. Now you must ensure your carefully crafted words find their way to the right sets of eyes. Promoting can be the difference between your performing and failing.
The important thing to keep in mind is to know your audience and always keep yourself relevant to your audience. Look for platforms that your audience congregates on. Some common platforms that are great for distributing content are Medium and Quora. Both platforms segment by interest, allowing you target like-minded viewers. Promoting your content on platforms such as Quora and Medium will give you a minor SEO boost as well, as you’ll be able to ride on the strength of their web domain.
Quora can be a great resource for finding content promotion and creation ideas.
Social media can also be a great promoting device, depending upon your audience. Harnessing social media can be great for quickly sharing your content across multiple channels, platforms and devices. If you can distribute your content to industry influencers, you can have an effective voice into your target audience.
Measuring the Return from your Content
One of the perceived flaws of content marketing campaigns is an inability to accurately measure the returns from their efforts. When measuring the return from a given content marketing campaign, it is important to factor in which stage of the buyer’s journey that you are targeting.
For example, if you want to build awareness for a product or service, your content will be focused on introducing yourself to customers. In these instances, it will be helpful to measure success with metrics such as traffic, page views, downloads or social shares. But for a campaign targeting customers later in the purchasing pipeline, it will be more helpful to produce content that is critical for closing deals and securing customers. In these instances, metrics should be focused on qualified leads, sales opportunities and closed deals.
Traffic to Conversions
For your content to translate into conversions and landed revenue, you’ll need to turn traffic into results. What we’ve outlined here are some steps to help you produce high quality content on a consistent basis, as well as how to ensure that your content finds its way to your intended audience.
As the quality of your content improves, so will the quality of your corresponding opportunities and landed clients. Remember that your return from content marketing campaigns will rely on your patience and consistency as much as the quality of your content. For more advice on how to run a successful content campaign, subscribe to our mailing list for bi-weekly marketing tips.