With each year that passes, content marketing becomes more formalized and increasingly important for a company’s digital marketing strategy. Having a plan in place for creating and publishing blogs and posting on social media is a good start, but going a step further with your content and crafting how it all ties together is where your content marketing strategy provides real benefits. Here are five reasons why creating a content marketing strategy is integral to attracting the right customers for your business:
1. Documenting a Plan Increases the Chance of Success
According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI) research, as many as 88% of marketers use content marketing in their strategy, yet only 32% have a documented plan. Research shows that marketers who document their strategy are more effective. One lesson to take from all of this, whatever you think your initial strategy might be, is to write it down. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, the CMI would also say that there are no universal templates for developing a strategy. Simply going through the exercise automatically puts you in a better position than just talking about it.
2. Aligning Business Goals to Customer Segments Creates Focus
What will move the needle for your business? Whether you are focused on more sales or more leads, content marketing can help increase brand awareness, drive referral traffic, and increase sign-ups, leading to contact form submissions and, ultimately, purchases.
Before you can effectively target and drive the right traffic, you need to understand your customer segments so you can create relevant content that speaks to them. Setting aside the time to go through a customer persona exercise will allow you to be more focused on producing the right type of content, with the right tone of voice and messaging, that immediately connects with your target audiences’ pain points. Understanding your customers’ motivations will help you craft quality content encouraging them to take action.
3. Understanding Content Goals Improves Channel Objectives
Knowing how to effectively leverage available content mediums, such as blog writing, is important for improving channel objectives. Understanding and using inbound marketing methodologies allows you to align content goals with the appropriate channels. Below are the four pillars or steps that make up an effective inbound marketing strategy.
- Attract. Use buyer personas to develop content strategies for your blog, SEO efforts, website optimization, and social media marketing.
- Convert. Collecting an email address is the ultimate success metric for a digital marketer. The best way to collect an email address is to produce evergreen content in the form of e-books, whitepapers, tip sheets, or other helpful downloads.
- Close. Use email marketing to convert a lead into a customer and use a CRM to keep track of contact information and customer segments.
- Delight. After you've made the sale, you still need to uphold the relationship. Now's the time to nurture the customer with superior content. Leverage your social media channels and email and continue to engage with customers, offering content that keeps them engaged and interested in what your company has to offer. Offering your ideal customer additional content is the best way to upsell them. It keeps them coming back for more, and most importantly, keeps your business top of mind for them when it comes time to spread the word about your company and its products.
4. Establishing a Plan Helps Measure Results
You're doing content marketing for a reason, so it makes sense to measure your efforts. By establishing business goals and understanding buyer personas, you can create the right content for the appropriate channel. It’s much easier to measure channel objectives once you understand the goals of each channel. And it’s much easier to see the effects of content marketing on the business if you understand how to tie channel results back to the larger business goals.
- Traffic. Has referral traffic increased? That can indicate your blog and social media are doing their jobs.
- Reach. Are certain keywords performing better than others? If so, consider targeting those keywords and modify your content SEO strategy accordingly.
- Contacts. Have you gotten more contacts/email addresses in your CRM? If not, create another content download.
- Inquiries. Have the number of overall inquiries increased? What about quality leads? Sales appointments?
5. Measurable Results Allow Optimization
You will learn a lot during the content marketing journey. Some things will work on the first try, others will need to be tweaked. Understanding conversions on gated content might help you determine what type of content encourages certain actions for your audience, like whether prospects are willing to give their email. Learn what the baseline success metric is for your content. Double down on the winners.
Content marketing is one of the most affordable, yet effective, digital marketing strategies out there. If your team doesn’t have the time to build and implement a content marketing strategy, our team of digital marketing strategists can help, allowing your business to continue to trend and gain momentum. Get in touch and let's talk about we can help you reach your content marketing goals.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2016. It has been completely revised and updated.