Without that North Star to know where you’re heading, you’re just busy — not necessarily productive.

           -Carla Johnson
 
Do you know what business goal your content marketing is trying to achieve? According to Content Marketing Institute’s and MarketingProfs’ fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – NorthAmerica report, B2B marketers who have an established content strategy are more effective and have less challenges in every aspect of #content marketing.

According to the report, it seems that 84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing said they have no documented strategy. While, B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy, were far more likely to consider themselves effective (66 percent vs. 11 percent).

 

 

What it comes down to is this: If you don’t know what you expect your content marketing efforts to accomplish, not only will you not get there, but you’ll waste a lot of time on efforts that may take you in the wrong direction.

Having a game plan or defining your KPI’s (key performance indicators) is a no brainer when it comes to content marketing. But let’s be more specific. What exactly does defining a content marketing strategy mean?

Defining Your Content Marketing Strategy or KPI’s

A lot depends on your value proposition and business goals. If your goal is to generate volunteers or registrations, then your strategy will take you in one direction. If your mission is lead generation, then that should be your overarching goal and what you should measure every week and month. How you capture those leads can vary, from prospects filling out a lead gen form to download eBooks/whitepapers or to attend webinars. In addition to measuring lead conversions, you probably want to consider measuring the following:

  • Organic Search – how many people are finding your website organically (this shows the effectiveness of your keyword strategy).
  • Social Sharing – likes, follows, pins etc.
  • Unique Visits – how many people have visited your content over a certain period of time?
  • Engagement – how much time did your audience spend with your content? Measure bounce rate, time spent and page views.
  • Inbound/Referral Traffic – how much traffic is being generated from inbound links?
  • Mobile Readership – As more people are using mobile devices, it’s important to know how the content is being read.

I wouldn’t recommend measuring all of these. Choose 2-3 that seem the most relevant to your business and measure them every week. Be consistent. You don’t need any fancy tools; a google spreadsheet will work fine. The most important thing is to be consistent with your analysis, no matter how busy you get. Then, consolidate your measurements monthly to provide to your company. They don’t need to see all of the minutia. Just provide the three most important KPI’s that relate to your business goals. Odds are, they are going to be how many leads you generated and what % of those leads converted to sales.
Measuring KPI’s is the start, middle, and end of every content marketing process. The sooner you start looking at them, the quicker you will reach your goals. In time, you will find that some content is resonating and getting better results than others. Keep this content, massage it if needed, and get rid of the content that isn’t working. It’s a bit of a puzzle at first, but it’s critical that you nail down your strategy up front, even if it changes. And it will. Your metrics will evolve over time. As you find yourself looking for more information, you will add more metrics and perhaps remove others.

Defining your strategy and with it, your KPI’s up front, is probably the most important and certainly the first step in the process of defining your content marketing strategy, but this is only the first step. The Content Marketing Institute wrote a great white paper called The CMI Content Marketing Framework, 7 Building Blocks to Success. It describes in detail what it sees as the seven steps in a well designed content marketing strategy.

Step 1 – The Plan – Defining your business case and mission statement 
Step 2 – Your Audience – Identifying who your audience is via a Buyer Persona Program
Step 3 – Your Story – Sorting out your story – this will help identify your content strategy
Step 4 – Channels – Identifying the channels to deliver your stories and your message (social and otherwise)
Step 5 – Process – Create and manage; optimize, aggregate, and curate; converse and listen; and measure and learn. This is when you make it all happen.
Step 6 – Conversation – Create a listening strategy – respond to comments, engage with people who are responding to your content
Step 7 – Measurement – What’s working and what isn’t?

It’s very easy to get caught up in “being busy” and not necessarily “productive” as Carla Johnson so nicely put it, when creating a content marketing strategy, because there is so darn much to do. The key in my book is defining your strategy up front, staying focused on consistently measuring your KPI’s, and targeting your content to your specific Buyer Personas.

Hope this article was helpful.
Happy Marketing!
Cindy


* If you would like some advice on how to set up a content marketing strategy, go to Vizolution to learn more.

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