Content Marketing 101

Mapping out a content marketing strategy may seem daunting. Don’t let it intimidate you, though. Think about content marketing planning like you think about campaign planning and you’ll realize that you’re much more prepared to harness all that content marketing offers than you thought.

Here, a primer to ensure that your core content marketing elements are in place.

Why… are you producing this content?

“Start with the end in mind” may seem obvious, but without specific, measurable goals you won’t be able to track whether you’ve been successful in driving desired customer behaviors. These goals may be attracting and converting prospects, building engagement or advocacy, or retaining customers—as long as they align with your overarching marketing objectives and strategy. Each goal needs a success measure. For example, encourage X percent of visitors to view instructional videos and then drive Z percent of those viewers to purchase. 

Who… do you want to reach?

Use specific types of content for express customer and prospect segments at key points in their purchase or life cycles (e.g., in response to specific actions) via a relevant mix of channels. For instance, you may want to use top-of-the-funnel content to attract prospects who resemble your current high-value customers. Keeping that target prospect group in mind will help you better select what content to serve via which channels, and when.

What… content will you use to reach them—and your goals?

Don’t always default to the written word. Consider video, in-person and online events, and even online communities, which are often brimming with user-generated content. Content formats and topics should not only match your goals, but also your customers’ preferences. In terms of topic sources, look to customers and prospects, salespeople and service reps, discussion groups, and subject matter experts. Consider a mix of content that’s entertaining, informative, and educational. Determining what types of content will interest and engage your customers and prospects takes testing and learning—just like running any other type of marketing campaign.

When… in their lifecycle will you provide content?

Inextricably linked from your content marketing objectives are the timings for reaching your customers and prospects with content. If you’re aiming to move specific target segments of prospects through the sales funnel, you’ll likely want to present content based on specific behavioral cues that show, for example, level of interest or extent of prior research. If you’re aiming to retain customers, you’ll likely present one type of content during onboarding and another prior to, say, a contract renewal. The goal is to avoid “random acts of content marketing” and instead be purposeful.

Where… will you reach customers and prospects?

Be where your customers and prospects are, but present content where it makes the most sense. If you have a visual product, you may prefer Instagram over tweeting or blogging. If your customers and prospects enjoy live events, these may be a better option than webcasts. Similar to determining the right types of content, selecting the right channels requires a mix of feedback, observation, and research: Where are your customers and prospects currently getting their content? Where are they most receptive to specific content types?

How… will you support your efforts?

Just because you’re writing a cool and pithy blog doesn’t mean that your customers know about it or, if they do, will make the effort to find and read it. Market your content the way you market your company’s products and services. Use email or social to direct customers to content on your website or support new content with online ads for a one-two punch. Getting attention for your content is the first step in getting customers and prospects to engage with and respond to it.

Did this article strike your fancy? See the entire list of articles from our 2015 Essential Guide to Content Marketing


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