Content is central to all of your marketing efforts. Treat it with the same care you give the design and delivery of any of your products or services. Content marketing takes content a step further to create targeted, valuable, relevant content for your audiences.
Good content marketing creates interest, answers questions, solves problems, builds trust—and turns leads into customers. Successful content marketing is just (pre-)customer service.
All things digital marketing
For a comprehensive review of your digital marketing strategies, check out “A complete guide to digital marketing audits”.
Who are you creating content for?
The first question to ask is this: Is the content ultimately about my customer or is it about my organization? If you’re speaking to your customers about their problems and interests, you’re doing it right. Are you just talking about your organization and how great you are? Try again.
You really have to be able to empathize with your customers. To get a firm grasp on who your customers are and what they care about, develop avatars or personas for each of your customer types. What do your customers care about as it relates to your business? What sorts of questions are they asking? The answers to those questions will help you create original, useful content for them. A great way to get started is to talk directly to your customers and your sales team.
Once you’ve developed your audience personas, you can align your content strategy with their journeys.
Download the checklist
Check out our Content Marketing Audit Checklist to be sure your content resonates with your audience.
The purpose of your content
After you’ve completed customer research, it’s time to develop a content roadmap. A roadmap defines how to use content to meet your business goals. Because different types of content can be used in various ways to serve different purposes and audiences, a roadmap can be broken down into four content strategy areas:
Effective organic lead generation drives the right prospective customers to your website through organic search results. By developing content around relevant search terms and user questions, you make yourself a more trusted partner to prospective customers who don’t know you yet.
Help drive organic traffic by improving your on-page SEO and E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). Consider also that content marketing may be done outside your website – on LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, and with partners. Determine what content types and topics will play well in those channels.
Prospective customers want to make connections with your brand. Treat them as humans, not personas or customers. Talk to your customers about their concerns in a direct and empathetic manner to make real connections. Customer testimonials, case studies, and profiles of your employees all give a human face to your brand.
All content experiences are customer experiences – from webinars to emails, CTAs, web copy, and product pages. Each is an opportunity to help your prospects to better understand you and how you can help solve their problem. Be sure your content is always helpful.
For sure, not all your prospective customers are the same. What moves one will bore another. As much as possible, understand what each of your personas craves, fear, and care about. Think about what they need help with. Be an expert in each of their unique problems. Create content that speaks to each persona as if they were the only person you’re talking to.
As you’re evaluating existing content or planning new content, break content into three areas:
Challenge: Define a problem – your organization’s or your audience’s – you would like to address.
Solution: Articulate an overarching approach or philosophy to addressing this problem. What will it take to achieve this goal or solve this problem?
Opportunities: List actionable ideas based on content types, tactics, and topics. Think about what each piece will be about (topic), what form it will take (type), and on which channels it will be published and promoted (tactics).
None of these categories should be viewed in isolation. There are natural overlaps and dependencies occurring as expected in a healthy content ecosystem. By following this roadmap you’ll be able to successfully execute a coordinated, structured content marketing strategy.
How the success of your content is measured
While assessing your content marketing strategy can be a subjective endeavor in many ways, let data be your guide. For each piece of content, set up and review key performance indicators (KPIs), such as traffic, downloads, views, shares, lead generation, conversions/sales, etc. If you create an eBook with the goal of generating new C-suite leads, for instance, you’ll want a way to track that metric. If the piece isn’t performing well, try to figure out what you can do to fix it, or remove it from your content ecosystem.
Before you begin to develop each new piece of content, be sure you know:
Who you’re creating it for
Why you’re creating it
What makes it different from your competition’s
Where it will be published
How its success will be measured
Let the data guide each of your content marketing initiatives, but don’t be afraid to trust your domain expertise, your understanding of your customers, and your intuition. when it comes to creating compelling and converting content-driven customer experiences.
In the coming weeks, we'll be publishing blog posts that detail how to perform digital marketing audits in other key marketing channels:
Be sure to download our Content Marketing Audit Checklist and share it with others!