Did you drink the content marketing cool aid yet? My guess is yes, after all, who hasn’t? The bigger question is, are you succeeding? It seems most of us aren’t. According to the B2B 2015 Content Marketing Benchmark Report, only 35% of all marketers are effective with their content marketing.
We are writing blogs and producing powerful pieces of content, from videos and slideshares to infographics and webinars, which are then uploaded to websites and pushed out via social media channels. We then sit back and wonder why we aren’t generating the leads or website traffic we were hoping for.
If only it was that easy.
So, it seems, we’re creating a lot of content. In fact, the internet is flooded with it. Good or bad, 70% of us said we are creating more content this year than we did last year. So, then what’s the problem?
Where are all of the leads, website traffic and revenue that’s supposed to be coming in the door?
In many cases it is (that’s fodder for another blog), but today’s we’re focusing on the issues we face, where the problems lie, and hopefully where the solutions exist.
As I indicated in one of my earlier blogs, content marketing is a beast and creating valuable content is only one small piece of the puzzle. If your content is created in a silo, if it can’t be scaled or repurposed, or if it simply can’t be found (because it wasn’t tagged correctly), the stool upon which your strategy sits will tumble.
Reasons Why Your Content Marketing is Failing
- You are creating content about yourself and your products (people really don’t care – sorry!) Content marketing is about content that helps them in some fashion.
- You don’t have any calls to action in your content (if you want your customers or donors/members to do something, then you need to ask them).
- You haven’t created a strategy around your content that ties one piece to another that drives people to the business goals you are measuring against (i.e. website traffic, leads, brand awareness).
- You are not telling great stories. People connect with people and great storytelling.
- You haven’t spent time identifying your target audience and are creating content that isn’t resonating with your buyers/members.
- You haven’t written down your content strategy.
- You don’t have C-level buy in (this is perhaps the hardest part).
- You don’t have the technology to measure the success of your strategy.
- You lost patience. Content marketing takes time, patience and consistency.
- You are working too slowly. This is the internet my friends and you need to be nimble and work quickly and efficiently.
Ok, enough with the negativity. Lets talk about solutions and how we can work towards success. I was reading my CCO (Chief Content Officer) magazine recently (thank you Joe Pulizzi) and came across an article about Intelligent Content, a term I had never heard before. I was intrigued and decided to pursue it further. It seems that the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recently acquired the Intelligent Content Conference (ICC). So, clearly there is a connection between content marketing and intelligent content, but what is it?
Ann Rockley, known by many as the mother of content strategy, defines intelligent content as “structurally rich and semantically categorized, and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.” So what does that mean exactly? Ann go on to describe it further as:
“Intelligent content is not about the words or the images, intelligent content is how you create, manage, and deliver your content. You can have the best content in the world, but if you can’t get it out to your customers or prospects at the right time, in the right format, and on the device of their choosing, it doesn’t matter how good your content is”.
To break it down further, here’s my understanding of what Ann means when she says make your content intelligent. It’s the idea of taking a piece of content and publishing it to multiple distribution channels, all set to display in different ways (because of the rules that I set) without having to massage each piece of content separately. That’s intelligent content and where we as marketers need to migrate if we are to achieve success.
In the mean time, there are many of us who still need help with the very basics of content marketing (as discussed above). So, I created a slide share outlining 7 steps (which only took me 104 slides – I am storyteller after all) detailing the basics of how to put together a content marketing strategy. Each one of these steps could have 25 slides on its own, but this, I think/hope, provides a good foundation.
Here are the 7 Steps to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Step One: Define Clear Objectives
What are your goals for your content marketing strategy? Do you want to generate more leads or build your social communities? Is your goal to generate more awareness around your products and services? Or perhaps you’re looking for more name recognition or thought leadership. Defining these objectives up front and writing them down is critically important to the success of your strategy.
Step Two: Develop a Core Message
What’s your story? Why are you in business? These seem like simple questions, but answering them concisely can be difficult for many companies and organizations. Write down one main message and a couple of smaller ones that are related. These will become the guiding principles for all of your content creation.
Step Three: Target Your Audience
Create fictional representations of your ideal customer or member/donor. Learn everything you can about them, their age, personality, hobbies, education and even give them a name and picture. These are called Buyer Personas (in the non-profit world, they are called Member Personas). Here are a couple of templates from Hubspot. These personas will help you created targeted content.
Step Four: Develop a Content Creation Plan
Your blog is the heart and soul of your content strategy. It fuels social media, SEO and the sales process. You own them which means that you control their message. Different people consume and process information in different ways. Keep this in mind as you develop your content strategy.
Some content carries more weight than others. For example, a 30 page eBook or a video weighs more than a blog. These are called “content pillars”. Utilize “content pillars” to ensure you’re reaching your targeted personas via multi formats on various social channels. Read how Kapost used content pillars in a content campaign to boost their traffic by 84%“.
Step Five: Measure, Measure Measure
Establish up front what your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are, so that you know what you want to measure. Your KPI’s could be the number of email subscribers, number of leads, completed registration forms, sales increases etc. Focus on 4 primary metrics:
- Consumption: How many people consumed your content?
- Sharing: How often do your customer/prospects share your content?
- Lead Generation: How many leads are you generating?
- Sales: How many customers are you generating as a result of your content marketing strategy?
Step Six: Amplify Your Content Through Content Distribution Channels
Many people believe that just because they are creating content, that people will see it. Most likely they won’t. This is where a strong distribution strategy comes into play. You want to create a strategic content distribution plan that doesn’t involve “spray and pray”. You want a plan that supports a custom approach to each channel. There are lots of way to distribute your content:
social media, earned media (pr), paid media, organic search, email marketing, display ads, offline ads, paid search and guest posts.
Be strategic in what you choose to do and how you play the game.
Step Seven: Develop a Define Social Media Marketing Plan
Where does your audience hang out? Pew Research Center has some data on this. Define your social media channels. Each channel has a very specific demographic and create measurable objectives for each channel. Define your posting strategy as it relates to content, tone, frequency, messaging etc. Start with 5 basic types of updates:
Remember, social media is a two-way street. You need to “listen” as much as you “talk”. Engage with your customers, comment, retweet and share. In order to fill that “social media beast”, you’ll need ALOT of content. This is where a strong influencer strategy comes into play. These are bloggers, or media organizations creating content of interest to your target audience (ideally with a large following) These influencers will help provide content, but also credibility with your audience. Now get the attention of your influencers by sharing their content on your social media platforms using the 4-1-1 strategy.
For more on making smart content decisions, check out A Content Marketing Scenario in 9 Slides. Please join me on twitter where I post regularly on all topics related to content marketing (surprise surprise), social media, digital marketing, technology, content strategy and worldly events that inspire and motivate me to grow and learn. Thanks for reading and following.