Content marketing is an important part of any business’s marketing mix, but it’s also important to understand that content marketing is more than just creating some blog posts.
While creating high quality content for your blog is a great start, it’s important to remember that your blog is only one piece of the content marketing puzzle.
A sophisticated content marketing strategy needs to draw in prospects, engage with current customers, and influence conversions.
Additionally, customer experience needs to be tied into your content marketing objectives. And no matter what type of content marketing you’re using, you should have a solid content strategy in place that aligns with your business objectives.
Why A Content Marketing Strategy Matters
If you’re looking to use content marketing to reach your marketing objectives, that means you have an idea of the specific goals you want to achieve. These are most likely company-centric goals that can be used to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing program.
They may include goals relating to:
- Increasing traffic to your website
- Boosting keyword rankings
- Increasing leads
- Driving more sales
Whether you realize it or not, these goals are tightly coupled with your customer-centric goals:
- Provide helpful content to customers and prospects
- Address the common questions/concerns of your target audience
- Understand your customers and prospects
- Tailor messaging to meet the needs of your target audience
In simple terms, you can’t really be successful at your company-driven metrics unless you’re doing a good job meeting your customer-centric goals. And you can’t do a good job with either unless you have a well thought-out content marketing strategy.
Having a documented strategy is critical. According to a recent benchmarking report by the Content Marketing Institute, 37% of B2B and 40% of B2C content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
Let’s take a look at how those two coincide.
Reverse-Engineering Content Strategy With Customers In Mind
A successful content marketing strategy starts with the customer. Customer experience should be the umbrella under which your other goals fall.
Because without using content to create a positive customer experience, your other goals are irrelevant. Customer experience is at the root of achieving your other goals.
The best way to begin mapping out a customer-centric content strategy is to start with your objectives: what is the desired outcome of your content and how does a positive customer experience tie in?
- More awareness & traffic: Piquing customer interest will attract more people to your website/content
- Better SEO: Answering relevant customer/prospect questions targeting keywords with high search traffic can boost your content and your rankings
- Be a thought leader: Placing yourself in popular customer channels/forums and providing helpful, forward-thinking information makes you a trusted & reliable source
- Generate leads: Answering people’s most complex questions through compelling storytelling makes people more more likely to opt-in so they can receive valuable content from you
After documenting your goals, you can reverse engineer your strategy from the desired outcome(s). Here are some examples:
Define traffic goal:
● x sessions/month
● x page views/article
What topics are important to your audience? Where do they consume content?
Put the right content in front of the right people at the right time and drive them back to your website via blog link
Define SEO goals:
● Improve keyword rankings
● Determine keywords to rank for
Determine what questions people are asking and how you can tie those key phrases into your content strategy
Use keyword planning tool & Quora to create custom content around popular keywords and questions
Be a Thought Leader
● Get RT’d x times
● Have blog post included in x content roundups
Establish what you want to be considered a thought leader for – what topics, discussions, or industries do you want to view you as a leader in the arena?
Create a content calendar that covers forward-thinking topics at a good cadence and a content promotion plan that gets that great content in front of other leaders and influencers in your space – as well as the people looking for guidance.
Define the number and qualification of leads that will account for a successful lead generation campaign
Create personas around your idea lead and build content backwards from there that will be high quality enough to elicit the information you desire from your target audience
Create bottom-of-funnel content, high-quality content that compels someone to provide an email address and promote on appropriate channels.
These are overly-simplified, but you get the picture. It all boils down to working backwards from the goal:
- What is the goal? >
- How is it measured? >
- What do I need to know to reach that goal? >
- What do I need to do to reach that goal?
A quick example of one of these goals in action is using Quora to help build out your marketing goals. Let’s say I’m looking for pertinent keywords related to content marketing.
A quick search on Quora yields the following:
Just like that, you’ve identified relevant questions that real people are looking for answers to (hint: these make great blog posts) as well as keyword clues that can help you round out your SEO strategy.
Your Strategy Should Marry Content and Customer Experience
The best content strategy melds both company-centric and customer-centric goals into one well-defined strategy. That means optimizing customer experience at every step along the way.
Where many businesses fail is by looking at their goals and metrics first and then weaving positive customer experience in after the fact (AKA they build the table above instead of understanding the significance of each goal as defined in the bullets above).
Instead, let your strategy revolve around creating a positive customer experience.
The best way to create a positive customer experience is by understanding your customer and the best way to do that is to build out personas.
Customer personas provide the blueprint for great content because they define exactly who you’re creating content for in the first place. You probably have a general idea about your target audience, but to have measurable success you need to get (very) specific.
This means creating research-based representations of your ideal audience.
In some cases, you may need to build out multiple personas because you’re talking to more than one type of buyer, each with his or her own motivations and pain points.
HubSpot is a great example of how to effectively use personas. Their blog is broken down into two sections – one for Marketing and one for Sales. Each segment has topics relevant to that persona:
Once you have a thorough persona (or multiple) defined, you can start to think about creating content for them.
Optimizing Customer Experience Through Content
The goal of content marketing is to cut through the noise. If you’ve laid the foundation for a successful and customer-centric content marketing strategy, you’re well on your way.
But it doesn’t stop with strategy.
Effective execution needs to be aligned with both company and customer-centric goals. Translation: posting something controversial on a high-traffic channel may boost your stats, but does it help your customers and drive meaningful traffic to your website?
Optimizing customer experience through content requires assessment and fine-tuning at every step along the way – from strategy creation to content development to promotion and distribution.
What good is a well-laid content marketing strategy if the quality of content produced is low? Of what use is high quality content that never makes it in front of your audience?
It’s also important to recognize that the needs of your target audience are not static – buyers (and customers) are dynamic, meaning constant analysis, testing, tweaking and updating is needed to ensure your content marketing is optimized to meet their expectations and desires.
There are some fundamental tactics you can implement to keep customer experience at the forefront:
Make It Snackable, Shareable & Social
Your content should have a coinciding promotional strategy and social media should be a part of it. Include links to your white papers, surveys, ebooks, videos and all other content on social channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Also. be sure to include social sharing buttons on content pages of your website. If you’ve done a good job with personas and have crafted compelling content, people will want to share your material. Make it easy for them.
Make Opting In Worth It
People are particular about what they’re willing to trade their contact information (such as email address) for. To get more subscribers, offer something of a high perceived value in return.
Hopefully, the quality of your content is enough to hook people, but you can also offer quick-hit guides like checklists, calculators or cheat sheets in exchange for their email address. A discount or coupon is a nice trade if you’re in the e-commerce world, too.
Make Your Content Fast
You should run regular website performance audits to ensure that your website is functioning as intended. It’s also a good idea to conduct content audits to be sure that you’re creating the right kind of content in the right format. This can also aid in checking for broken or expired links, which makes for poor customer experience.
Make Your Content Appealing
Content is more than just the written word. Video is rising in popularity as the preferred form in which to consume content. Infographics make great social pieces that you can also incorporate into your epic articles.
People are more likely to engage with content that appeals to them personally. Whether you’re B2C or B2B, it’s people who ultimately make purchases and it’s people that engage with your brand. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer: What will make his life easier? What are the major pain points this person is facing right now?
You should tackle most of this in your personas, but as the times change, the answers to questions like these may too. Allow empathy to drive your content creation, so you have the maximum impact on people you’re targeting.
Strategy rooted in customer experience has the power to propel brands to reach their goals much faster. There’s a very real business impact of creating compelling, personal and useful experiences through content and doing so exactly where your customers spend their time. Build your content strategy with customer experience in the center to get the greatest results from your content marketing.