Content marketing isn’t just a buzzword or a trend that needs to be kept up with today, it is also one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of developing and maintaining relationships with existing as well as possible customers.
When executed right, content marketing efforts yield the best of results – increased website and blog traffic, increased social following and a boost in brand awareness in the target market. However, there are only a few marketers out there who can say that they are satisfied with their existing content marketing strategy’s results.
The reason being, missing out on an important element while hustling to hit the target market.
Like in chemistry, inbound marketers too should follow a periodic table to develop and execute an effective content marketing strategy.
But what are the key elements that an inbound marketer needs to focus on before starting the execution of a plan?
7 elements of a successful content marketing strategy
1. Well defined customer persona
The first and foremost element that a marketer needs to take into consideration, is the customer persona.
Before executing any aspect of your inbound strategy, it is important to determine who your business wants to address from the target market. A few things to include while defining a customer persona are the current market trends, the general demographics you want to address, what kind of solutions your product/service offers, who is most likely to engage with it, who has the resources to afford it and how they can be nudged towards a conversion – their sales triggers.
Having a defined persona helps you understand the audience’s interests, values and challenges better. This, in turn, helps you craft a custom marketing strategy that addresses their concerns and at the same time promotes your business in a tailored manner.
But since market needs change as quickly as digital trends, it is also important to consistently update the customer persona. Conducting research or survey are time-consuming tactics that might result in missing out on a possible market opportunity. This is where marketers must learn how to leverage from the latest technologies available to them. Companies like Wigzo offer digital marketers machine learning tools that enable them to tap into behavioral analytics of their target market and define their customer persona better.
2. A fully developed content strategy
The next strategic step that a marketer needs to take, defines the content strategy in totality. And no, this does not include starting a blog and becoming active at social sharing – though they do form a part of it.
Creating a well defined content marketing strategy, includes market research, determining the type of content you can create or curate, the type of content your target audience is engaging in, identifying the best platforms to share and promote it, and making sure that the content pieces are able to add value to the overall business marketing objectives.
Most marketers make the mistake of segregating their content strategy from social media, advertising, and offline business strategies. But the key to success is creating a strategy that when executed, complements the other efforts that are being made by the business.
3. High quality and consistent content
After defining your content strategy, the very next element is to obviously start executing the same. A successful content marketing strategy takes commitment and consistent efforts over a defined period of time.
Most marketers, in their zeal to execute their content strategy, compromise on the quality of the content pieces they create. But the truth is, the hyper-informed generation of today only wants to consume information that they are either not aware of already or something that adds value to their daily life.
This means that the marketer should not only be able to complete the set targets in a month but also deliver consistent ‘quality’ content. It needs to be informative, interesting, entertaining, relevant and contextual at the same time or you’ll lose a prospect to possible market competition.
While churning out and promoting content, it is important to ensure that all aspects of the content marketing strategy – blogs, social sharing, newsletters, email marketing campaigns, and other marketing collaterals created, should be in sync with what your business wants to be perceived as and the interests of your target market.
4. Analytics and reporting
A lot many marketers make the mistake of not measuring how their content pieces are performing on the various digital channels their strategy lists. This results in them having absolutely no idea about what’s ‘actually working’ and where they need to cut down on their resources.
Measuring your audience’s response to every aspect of the content marketing strategy is an important element that digital marketers must not skip. Using tools such as Google Analytics can help you understand the various metrics your content is generating – the number of page visits, the source of traffic, the bounce rate, the devices used to access the content, inbound links generated, repeat and new traffic, on-site behavior and a lot more.
You could alternatively look for other analytics tools that suit your need better. But it is important to first list down the key metrics for your content strategy – what are the possible results you’re looking for, what kind of audience and traffic you are expecting and how do you want the user to interact with the same.
Knowing what metrics you need to measure keeps you focused on the results. Analytics tools often offer way too much data, that tends to confuse the marketers when it comes to pulling out insightful and actionable information from it.
5. Consistent optimization
When it comes to digital marketing, businesses dedicate a considerable amount of resources in defining and then re-defining the strategies to fit the current market needs. On the other hand, most content marketing strategies are not optimized – they are created and sacked if they don’t perform. And in some cases, content marketing is completely ruled out of their business strategy.
The truth is, like every other marketing effort, content marketing requires consistent monitoring and optimizing to achieve the desired results. Instead of working on a strategy from scratch every time or abandoning it altogether, marketers need to learn how to use their existing data alongside the current market data to improvise on their strategies.
This doesn’t just help save time but also helps manage other resources including marketing budgets in a more efficient manner.
6. Customers’ Journey Map
Different customers are at different stages of their journey and hence need to be presented with different content for their specific needs because all the content you create cannot have the same effect on your target customers. It is from their (customers’) perspective you should be drawing a journey map with a story arc for each of the potential customers as they progress at different stages in their respective journey with your brand.
Adding overlays and new dimensions to the traditional marketing funnel, the classic path-to-purchase-model, and customer journey maps are not necessarily linear. Based on a number of factors a customer can jump from one stage to another and thus interacting with some of your channels and touchpoints while completely skipping the others.
Your journey map should be tailored to your specific customer profile and how you reach and interact with them. This way you shall not only solve their problem but also convert them to loyal customers.
7. Brand Story
Behind every problem and solution there lays a story and that is what is responsible for forming connections between your brand and your customers. Playing a vital role in every piece of content you create having a brand story is highly important. It is also of great importance to keep in mind that your stories should be formed from the perspective of our customers rather than yours.
Basically, your story needs to address the things your customer value and the problems they face.
Your brand story needs to be pervasive and you can’t just craft a single blog post with your brand story and forget about it. Your brand story should be such that can be exhibited in all pieces of your business content.
A good content strategy defines strict timelines to achieving defined objectives for the business. It includes reviewing what is working and what efforts need to change direction, at regular intervals. Basically, an effective marketing strategy is one that is flexible and can be improvised on to cater to the current market trends.
What do you think is an important element of a successful content marketing strategy? Feel free to drop your viewpoint in the comment section below!
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on Apr 5, 2016, and has been updated regularly since then for relevance and comprehensiveness.