Experts agree planning and documenting your content marketing strategy is key to the success of your efforts. But is this often a case of do as I say, not as I do? According to research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, it may be. While 78 percent of B2B marketers and 74 percent of B2C marketers said they had developed a content marketing strategy, only 39 percent of B2B marketers and 33 percent of B2C marketers said their strategy was documented.
Formally documenting your content marketing strategy is beneficial for several reasons. First, documentation can align marketing and other stakeholders on the goals of each content offer. Second, it can keep content direction focused on the intended audience. Third, it helps hold those involved in creating and promoting content offers accountable for their commitments (from responsibilities to timelines). And fourth, it can encourage putting more strategic thinking behind the following key elements of your content marketing plan.
Who do you want to target with your content offer? Is your content offer focused on specific audience segments and a match to well-researched personas? In what channels does your audience interact with your company? How does that interaction change at different points along the buyer’s journey?
Are there certain types of content your audience is more likely to consume? Does your audience frequently download white papers, read blog posts, or watch videos? If you’ve previously been investing in content marketing, which types of content have produced the most ROI? When documenting your content marketing strategy, include lessons learned in the past.
Creating engaging content isn’t about what you think your content offers should be. It’s about what your audience thinks is relevant. 90 percent of the most successful B2B content marketers say they put their audience’s informational needs ahead of their company’s sales/promotional message.
So, what truly matters most to your target audience? What pain points are they trying to address and how can your content offer help? Will your content offer help them lead a healthier lifestyle, choose the right school for their MBA, overcome a career obstacle, etc.?
You’ll notice with the first three key elements of your content marketing plan – audience, content type, and topic – reliable customer data is essential. You must “know” your audience to be able to anticipate their wants and needs, the type of content they’ll most likely consume, and the topics that will matter most to them. Ensure the accuracy and completeness of your customer data by employing best practices for data-driven businesses. These include regularly assessing the quality of your customer data, and automating routine data quality processes like data cleansing and deduplication.
What do you want to accomplish for your organization? When considering the goals behind each content offer, include the specific and the immediate. Also include any larger business objectives this content offer supports. For example, is your content offer designed to generate leads for a new product or gain subscribers for your newsletter? Should it increase your market share with a specific audience, or introduce your company to a new audience segment? Define success for this content marketing effort. For example, will you measure results by the number of page views, unique visitors, social shares, or downloads?
If lead generation is the goal, don’t forget to address how the leads will be captured and the path they’ll take. Let’s say individuals who are interested in your content will be directed to a landing page to fill out a form to access it. How will you ensure you’re capturing valid email addresses for proper lead follow-up? Have you embedded an API on your web lead forms that verifies email addresses in real-time? How will you deliver the content to those requesting it?
Once prospects have received the content, how will you ensure the sales reps who get the leads know their origin and the type of information the lead requested? Robert Rose, founder and chief strategy officer of The Content Advisory, wrote, “In many companies we’ve worked with, a salesperson has no idea which content a new inbound lead interacted with. Subsequently, the salesperson treats the prospect as new to the ideas the company puts forward. And, in fact, this can ruin both the relationship between the customer and the content, and between the prospective customer and the salesperson.”
This is yet another reason why it’s important to document your content marketing strategy. Documentation forces you to think through each aspect of content marketing. This includes everything from the reasons you start the project in the first place, to the steps that should take place after your content offer is received, ensuring it returns maximum returns for your efforts.