If you spend any amount of time on digital marketing blogs, you’ve probably noticed by now that content marketing appears to be the “hot promotional strategy” of 2013.
However, what you may not have noticed is that content marketing is more than a fad – it’s a shift in online promotional paradigms that’s here to stay. According to the Content Marketing Institute “2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” report, 86% of B2C companies plan to maintain or increase their content marketing investments throughout the year, with 54% of B2B companies sharing the same opinion.
If your website doesn’t yet have a content marketing strategy, it’s time to create one. Here’s what your plan should include:
Element #1 – A detailed description of your target audience
The first thing you need to know when planning a content marketing campaign is who you’re trying to reach. The better educated you are about your target customers; the more likely it is that you’ll be able to develop content pieces that appeal to them.
Specifically, try to find out your customers’:
Age and gender distribution
Average annual incomes
Belief systems and personal priorities
Online habits and activities
Your website’s analytics data can provide insight into some of these topics, as can customer surveys or simply tracking the behavior of your followers on public social media sites like Twitter.
Element #2 – The content channels you plan to utilize
As you learn more about your target audience, you should be able to get a feel for how they spend their time online. Make note of the social sites on which they’re most active, as these key locations will provide the basis for your content promotion activities.
While you might think that it’s safe to promote your content on Facebook and Twitter and call it a day, you’re always better safe than sorry. If your customer research efforts determine that your target demographic is hardly active at all on Twitter and instead prefers a niche forum for online engagement, it’s better to find this out before you’ve committed to a new Twitter marketing plan!
Element #3 – The content types you’ll produce
Another important component in a good content marketing strategy is a publishing calendar that details the types of content you’ll produce and when you’ll release each individual piece.
As an example, your customer research might indicate that your target audience prefers to share infographics and list type blog posts with others in their networks, compared with videos or long form, editorial-style blog posts. As a result, you could create a publishing calendar that involves releasing one infographic a month and weekly blog posts that periodically utilize the list format.
Keep in mind that consistent engagement is critical when it comes to content marketing success. By deploying content at regular intervals, you’ll expand your brand’s reputation and keep website visitors coming back for more.
Element #4 – The resources needed to create your content
As you’re building your publishing schedule, be careful not to get too ambitious!
If you hate writing, you need to either focus your efforts on the kinds of content you enjoy producing or you need to hire an outsourced writer who’s familiar with your industry. Similarly, if you love writing, but don’t have the time to commit to drafting regular posts, you’ll need to make the same type of decision.
Be honest with yourself. It’s fine to be optimistic about your campaign’s potential outcomes, but leaving yourself without the resources needed to develop high value content pieces will doom your promotional efforts from the start.
Element #5 – A metrics-driven plan for measuring the impact of your campaign
Finally, be clear with yourself about what you want your content marketing campaign to achieve. If you’re going to be investing either your time or your money, it’s important that you have a way to determine whether or not you’re achieving a positive ROI.
Potential goals for your content marketing campaigns include:
More website traffic
Increased brand mentions
New social followers
Viral content shares
More email newsletter subscribers
Whatever general goal type you choose, be sure to create both target milestones and a method for tracking your progress. For example, don’t just say, “I want to increase sales through content marketing.” Instead, say, “I want to acquire 10 new customers each month through content marketing,” and then set up a system (as in, Google Analytics Goals combined with Advanced Traffic Segments) that will allow you to determine exactly which sales can be attributed to your content marketing efforts.
Use the information your tracking program generates to regularly assess the success of your campaigns and to make adjustments as needed. By continually measuring and reevaluating your content marketing initiatives, you’ll position your business well to see improved performance through this powerful promotional strategy.