Direct Line Blog

Go in For Strategy, Not Magic Bullets

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Don't take a "fingers crossed" approach to your content.
Don't take a "fingers crossed" approach to your content.

Magical thinking never got anyone to click on a link. If you're spending time and energy on producing quality content (and I know you are—according to the Content Marketing Institute, 58% of B2B and 72% of B2C marketers said they were looking to increase their content marketing budgets this year), then it makes sense to be systematic. In other words, if you're not measuring the impact of your content marketing, you're a bit like this guy—and as much as I love faux hawks, you don't want to be this guy. 

To make sure you never have that look on your face in a departmental meeting, focus on strategy and metrics. However: “There is no one set of metrics that's the [magic] bullet for all content marketing programs,” says Alex Krawitz, VP of content development at Firstborn. “Prior to determining how best to measure content performance, marketers need to have a clear picture of how they want consumers to respond to their content, what actions, if any, they want consumers to take, and, most important, how that ties in with the brand's goals and marketing objectives.”

But it's not just about tracking the impact of the content itself—marketers need to measure what kind of effect it's having on the overall mix.

“What typically isn't measured is the effectiveness of each piece of the content strategy as a function of the whole, so while success is measured by each type of content, how each type affects the other is often overlooked,” says Liju George, Firstborn's associate director of analytics. “For example, if a print ad includes a call-to-action on a social site, adding a unique hashtag that appears on that print ad adds in a layer of measurement that's cross-platform [and] measuring the effectiveness of this cross-platform outreach allows [you] to understand a brand's success within its content platform and as a whole.”

But, of course, it all starts with the content itself. It doesn't matter what you're creating—if your eBook, advertorial, infographic, or microsite isn't engaging, there won't be any impact to track.

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? If so, Karen Helweg, VP of user engagement at WebMetro, suggests asking yourself these seven prep questions. If you can answer them, you're well on your way to creating content that drives conversions.

1. Who are you talking to? Know your audience. For example, if you're targeting the B2B space, your content should concentrate on how your brand, product, or service will solve a business problem and improve the bottom line. B2C audiences are generally more interested in the specifics of the “what,” as in how a certain soft drink will quench your thirst like no other or how a particular skincare product will make your face as smooth as that of a newborn babe.

2. What's on their collective mind? Do research. Social and search data are a great place to start. See what kinds of questions your customers and potential customers are asking, where they're being asked, and what key topics or phrases they're using. A review of your competitors' customers also wouldn't go amiss.

3. How's the content landscape looking? Conduct a broad media review and audit. Analyze your website content, blog posts, press releases, whitepapers, videos, etc., to give you an idea of what can be leveraged and what might be missing that needs to be created. It's also crucial to see what your competitors are doing.

4. What's the storyline? Make sure your story centers on the key differentiators of your product or service. Make it easy for consumers to understand what sets you apart.

5. What are the optimal content formats? Create an adaptive content plan to maximize your investment in content creation—that way you can create content once, repurpose it multiple times, save production money and time, and, most important, ensure that your message is consistent (and recognizable) across all touchpoints.

6. Where will consumers be interacting with your content? Having answered the questions above, you should know where to distribute your content to reach the intended audience. If your audience is Facebook-obsessed, turn to Facebook. If your audience is composed of YouTube junkies, get some TrueView ads in the mix. Does your audience respond well to email? Well, you know what to do.

7. Did it work? To determine the success of your content marketing, you need to measure reach, visibility, and impact. With reliable tracking tools and by collecting integrated data across all the touchpoints you've tapped, you'll be able to determine the value of actual transactions at any given point, as well as your content's value in the overall media mix.

Having done all that, there'll be no need to cross your fingers and frantically furrow your brows. You don't have to rely on hope when you've done the legwork.

Now, you're this guy: 

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