Last week, Search Engine Watch shed some light on a dismal statistic: only 13% of 521 content marketers surveyed in enterprise and small and medium-sized businesses feel their efforts are “very successful.”
Why is that? Deeper investigation into marketers’ obstacles to achieving their goals with content showed that their efforts are being focused more on content creation rather than strategy, and it’s not paying off.
Nathan Safran writes, “the data suggests that marketers have tunnel vision on an outcome (more leads) to the detriment of other activities that could get them there … there may be an issue with a disproportionate focus on an outcome that results in insufficient focus on the process that helps them achieve their goals.”
It makes sense for content marketers focus to be on the bottom line – (53% of enterprises said for them, that was increasing leads, and 52% said it was brand awareness), and “beginning with the end in mind” has been named one of the 7 habits of highly effective content marketers. Alas, no amount of clarity-of-goal will help you achieve it if you don’t have a plan to get there.
Content marketing (like life), is a journey, not a destination. Having a plan informed by factors that matter (your buyer personas, any data-driven insights you have access to, etc), to guide each of your tactics along the way ensures that each content piece is created with your sales funnel in mind.
No one piece of content can simultaneously attract, convert, and retain customers. You need a piece for each of those. As Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute said, “Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.”
So, while paying attention to things like what your audience is saying on social media / what your competitors are doing may seem beside the point, (in the survey, boosting organic search visibility and social media engagement proved “less important” to content markers), as Safran points out, “both precede increasing leads and brand awareness in the lead conversion funnel.” In other words, they matter. A strategy can help make sure you have all your bases covered.
So where should you start creating your awesome, bottom-line-achieving strategy? Safran advises answering these questions: who is my audience? What are their challenges / desires? What content types appeal to them?
Here are some other ideas:
– What data do you have access to that might help?
– Do you have a grasp of which keywords your customers are searching for?
– How will your content support the rest of your marketing efforts?
– How will the execution process look within your company?
– How will you market your content?
– Who’s content marketing efforts are you inspired by?
After you’ve answered these and you have a sense of what you’re working with, you’re one step closer to creating killer content. When you’re confident it’s going to achieve your goals, that part’s way more fun.
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