Objectives First, Content Marketing Second
Photo source: DigitalRalph on flickr.
If you already
started creating content, then you know that it's not free. Creating content
be very expensive. If you don’t believe me, see how much it costs to create a
professional video or a white paper.
is an investment for your organization, and as such, you want to see a Return
On Investment (ROI). The good news is that if you open Google and search for
“content marketing strategy,” “content marketing ROI” or “content marketing objectives,” you will get a
few million results. Maybe not all of them are
relevant, but it won’t take you long to find some good information.
It's Too Easy to Jump Ahead
I’ve done this
myself and after I read a few of these blogs and articles, something doesn’t
feel quite right. The ones I found speak about content marketing in
(almost) isolation. For example, they teach you how to calculate the ROI of
your blog. They get into analytics, conversion rates, engagement, etc. In short, they jump ahead.
But wait! Resources
are limited and you can’t invest in everything. It’s like opening Netflix and
choosing every movie you think you’ll like. If your time is limited, then
you’re going to have to choose, and the same happens when you have limited content
Focus on the Problem At Hand
trap: don’t fall in love with a solution, fall in love with the problem.
Before we decide
that content marketing is the solution, let’s first look at the problem. So let’s
put content marketing on the side (for now) and take a look at our business plan
or business strategy. Your business plan will very likely include a number of
- Increase sales by 50% in the
next 24 months
- Reduce the number of support
calls by 30% in the next 18 months
- Increase the number of
qualified leads by 75% in the next 24 month
Photo source: Carla Gates on flickr.
After looking at
the plan, it will be more clear what your organization wants to accomplish in
the next 12, 18, or 24 months and you can decide if content marketing can help you
get there. For this, we need to answer these questions:
- Can content marketing help my
organization increase sales?
- Can content marketing be used
to educate and reduce the number of support calls?
- Can content marketing be used
to increase the number of qualified leads?
The answer to many
of these questions is going to be “yes” and for the purposes of this blog post,
we’re going to assume it is your most cost-effective option.
Now you have a
good starting point to define your objectives, you can move to the next phase,
where you can start making more concrete decisions. The possible objectives for
content marketing differ from author to author but in general terms they are
- Branding and Engagement: content
can be created to put your organization in front of your prospects where they
can enjoy the value you deliver and engage with you.
- Information and Education: to
create valuable information, it is important for you to understand your
audience and the information gaps they may be dealing with. Then you can create
content that fills those gaps.
- Drive Traffic: publishing
content is a great way of bringing people to your website, and this is an
obvious goal for many organizations. If this is one of your goals, I’d recommend
you consider creating evergreen content (content that is not bound by a
period of time) since that will deliver the best ROI for you. For more on evergreen content, check out this
useful article from Search Engine Journal.
- Generate Leads: you have to
make sure your content is reaching prospects at moments when you can influence
- Increase Conversions: content
can be used to help drive sales. The decision journey is going to change by
industry and whether you’re B2B or B2C, so make sure the content you deliver is
relevant at key decision points.
- Increase Site Ranking: the
last advantage of creating content, when done well, is that it can increase
your site ranking through strong SEO. This means that you’ll have more of your
site visits come from organic traffic.
With content marketing,
you need to be careful about riding the wave (i.e. jumping in because everyone else is
doing it). Make sure it’s driven by your business strategy.
Define clear and
measurable goals. Understand the needs of your audience and create content that
meets their current needs. Very few marketers get it right the first try, so
implement short cycles where you create content, measure the results, learn,
and then plan the next cycle.