First published on Marketo
According to Gartner, Content Marketing is among the Top 5 trends in the space of Digital Marketing in 2015. The ability to “build a content marketing supply chain and determine how to create, curate and cultivate content” is critical. The importance of the rise of big content means that “content is the most important thing that marketers do”
It is but obvious that every content marketer aspires to continuously and consistently publish “content that converts.”.
Your first thought might be “What exactly is content that converts?”. Well, simply put it is leveraging the power of content to achieve whatever content marketing objectives you set out with. These objectives can range from Brand Awareness to Lead generation to User / Customer engagement to Sales to Lead Nurturing to Social Advocacy to Professional Networking. The thing about objectives is that they are always specific to your context – whether you are an individual or a business.
As I look back at my own journey as a content marketer, I’m happy with the impact of B2B [Business to Business] content marketing initiatives. From global brand awareness and industry mind-share, to lead generation and social shares / engagement and advocacy, it has been a good innings.
“What were the key factors which made a difference in the journey?” is what everyone wants to know. I can distinctly see seven key points. I also clearly recognize that first-hand experience have taught me these lessons – mostly because of a willingness to learn, an eagerness to try and an openness to fail. However, it would have been wonderful if someone had shared these insights with me at the onset.
In this post, I am highlighting the most important points which I wish I’d known at the start, with the hope that it helps content marketers at different stages of phases of their content journey
Define your content conversion metrics
“What gets measured, gets managed” BY Peter Drucker
This is true for almost everything in life, including content. Hence the most important step in any content journey in defining your content conversion metrics. Content Conversion metrics are unique to your industry, nature of business, customer base, organization phase of growth and marketing budgets. Hence the metrics defined need to be unique and relevant to your specific context. Once the conversion metrics are finalized, it should be communicated with all key stakeholders.
For e.g: Conversion metrics could be 100 downloads for a whitepaper, or 25 e-mail registrations for a service, or 1000+ social shares, or 5 leads. Most important in metrics definition is that they should be SMART (Simple, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) and well communicated to all key stake-holders
Have a realistic Content Plan in place
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” BY Alan Lakein
A content plan which covers all aspects of the content life cycle is the key stepping stone for a successful content plan. Content Life cycle includes all phases from content ideation, creation, publishing, promotion, discovery, engagement, management and reporting.
Key to success in any content plan is to know
- Who is the reader of your content? The clearer you are in your description of the demographics of the content reader, the better. For e.g: Potential readers of this blog post could be digital marketers, CMO’s, content authors, editors, publishers, content strategists, social media managers, etc.
- What kind of content formats are popular with the target reader For e.g: Does your reader typically like visual communication like Infographics or photos; or prefers to read text in the form of blogs, white-papers or research articles?
- What channels / devices do they typically use to read content? For e.g: Does your potential reader prefer to read on smartphone, laptop, iPad? Or do they like to read print media?
- What content topics are trending / of value to them? For e.g.: Are new age digital marketers keen to know the latest product features of a new content automation tool or would they prefer to read about case studies on what marketing strategies worked for other competing brands in the industry ecosystem
- What are the key drivers to convert your reader to a potential buyer of your product / service / offering / solution. For e.g: Are they looking for an easy-to-use subscription based marketing automation solution, or would they prefer a comprehensive marketing technology suite for 3 years? Your content strategy and plan need to be aligned accordingly.
The content plan should include details on:
- The date on which a content piece will be published
- The content format (blog, video, infographic, etc.)
- The content topics / themes
- What needs to happen before it is published (in terms of the process for editing, reviews, approvals, SEO, etc.),
- Where will the content be published (corporate / personal site / blog / page) or a community / partner / analyst / media publishing forum?
- Which social channels will the content be promoted on? This should be based on your reader demographics
- How frequently should the content be shared?
- How to best articulate the social shares so it works for a specific social channel?
- What tools need to be leveraged for social sharing?
- Which individuals / enterprises need to be notified of the published content?
Execution makes the real difference
According to the “2015 Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends”, one of the key differentiating characteristic of great content marketers is that they follow a documented content marketing strategy on a consistent basis. So planning and execution are the two foundational pillars of effective content marketing. At the end of the day, how effective your content marketing is depends completely on what you actually do.
In my personal experience, to make content marketing happen – knowledge and skills are of paramount importance. Aspects of content around storytelling, creativity, design, visualization and articulation are what truly determine the impact of content initiatives.
Leverage the power of tools and technology
“Content and Technology are strange bed fellows. We are joined together. Sometimes we misunderstand each other. But isn’t that after all the definition of marriage?” BY Howard Stringer
The number of tools and technology available to make content marketing faster, easier, effective and simpler is amazing. From deciding what to write about to coming up with the most effective title for a content piece to determining who are the influencers for a particular topic – tools and technology are a powerful boon. The key is to know what technology and tools are relevant in your context, and to effectively use them.
Track and Report your Conversion Metrics
Constantly monitoring, tracking and reporting conversion metrics at regular intervals with all key stakeholders is the most important check-point in the content journey. With ample number of social media listening / analytics / monitoring tools, it becomes important to identify the right tools for your context, define a frequency for reporting and start using them. Key is to spend time analyzing the metrics to draw actionable insights.
As a case in point, your content metrics could read as below
Based on above metrics, you can identify that the time and effort required to create a blog is significantly lesser than an infographic/ blog. However, the infographics / videos might generate significantly more views. So as a content marketing team, you can decide on the content format mix for next month. This process is continuous, and based on how your content is being received by readers.
Review and Refine your content plan based on metrics
Based on the insights from your metrics, it is important to refine your content plan.
Simple rule of thumb is this | What is working, do more of it. What is not working | Do less of it.
Be patient ; Conversion based on content takes time
Conversion based on content takes time, and focused efforts. Patience, Persistence and a positive outlook yield results.
That’s my view. What do you think is the most important to create content that converts? Leave a comment to let me know…
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