Is your content marketing program just a bunch of “random acts of content creation” or a cohesive, effective strategy with customer centric themes and efficient publishing and tracking solutions?
At the end of last year I predicted that 2014 would be the year that companies stopped random acts of content creation. After attending Content Marketing World in Sydney recently, I'm not convinced that this is going to happen.
From conversations with other attendees it seems that the organisational changes required to get a content marketing program off the ground in it's simplest form, seem to be so overwhelming for companies, that putting together year-long, strategic programs with the customer at the core, could be just a pipe dream.
Robert Rose's session provided an example of an organisational structure that would support cohesive, brand story-telling, but actually implementing something like that, needs a very strong CMO to negiotate the political minefield of having an over-arching content team across an entire organisation. But that's the subject for a whole other post.
So, back to the job at hand, if you are going down the path of putting a content marketing program in place, these six steps will help you put together a content program that is well-structured and mapped out and with the customer at it's heart. So, first things first,
Step 1 - Document your buyer personas
You need to have a solid understanding of who you are talking to, what their concerns, needs and wants are. One of the best ways to start this process is to get all your customer-facing employees in a room, so not just the marketing team or the executives, but the people in sales and customer-service who are speaking to customers on a daily basis. Then run a workshop session to define and document who your best customer is, based on the knowledge in the room. The next step is to confirm those findings with interviews with existing customers. Once you've got those two pieces of information, then put a face and a name to this person, and it can be multiple people. By taking this last step, the person becomes "real" and is a much more easily identifiable touchstone to ratify marketing decisions. You may want to download the eBook -Defining Your Target Market Using Buyer Personas to help along the way.
Step 2 - Do a content audit
What content do you already have that can be used in the program? Do you have product brochures, presentations, or user training that could be re-used or re-written? What content assets do you sales people use in their jobs? Are there research reports, ROI tools, case studies? Which ones are more popular than others?
Step 3 - Map out your sales cycle
How long does it typically take your organisation to close a new sale? Is it 3 months or 18 months? What are the steps along the way? Is there a face to face meeting, do you have free-trial software, product demos, proposals? Map out the buying journey that your customers take.
Step 4 - Define which pieces of content are relevant for which persona and at what stage of the cycle
Now you need a template to map your content assets to your buyers journey. This will help you to flesh out your plan of attack and make sure that you are developing the right pieces of content.
Step 5 - Identify any gaps
Is your content mainly top of the funnel or bottom of the funnel? Are you missing crucial pieces of content along the buyers journey? If so, these are the areas that you need to action first. For example if you are getting a lot of people downloading a top of the funnel eBook and then disappearing, the type of content you should be creating next is more middle and bottom of funnel content, such as webinars, case studies, free assessments etc, rather than more eBooks.
Step 6 - Measure the performance of your content and refine, refine, refine
Now that you've got the elements in place and have created and published your content you need to measure the performance of each of your content assets. Which blog posts are the most popular and are driving the most traffic? Which eBooks are converting better than others. By answering these questions you will be able to make better decisions on the type of content that you need to continue to produce and the ones that need to stop. It's art + science.
Content has never been more important to the buying process. It’s time to stop wasting money creating content that doesn’t meet your buyers needs.
This is just one of the topics that will be discussed at the Sydney Hubspot User Group Event on 4th June. This panel discussion will help to dispel the myths about inbound marketing, what it is and what it isn't and is a perfect opportunity to raise any questions you have about the effectiveness of your strategies. Come and join me!