5 steps to a proper content marketing strategy

How to get maximum value from your content on LinkedIn

September 17, 2015

If your content marketing strategy is solely focused on publishing content then it isn’t really a strategy. On LinkedIn, we’ve seen that the most effective content-producing brands have a clear idea of what they’re trying to achieve and why. Their strategy runs through the type of content that they generate but also the frequency with which they publish it, the metrics they use to measure it, and the approach they take to putting it in front of a larger audience. Here are five questions that can help you to develop just such a strategy – and use it to gain full value from your activity on LinkedIn.

What are your objectives?

The best content marketing strategies are back-to-front, in the sense that they start by settling on the objective that they want content to achieve, and then work back from this to decide what they should be publishing, and how they should be promoting it. Most content marketing strategies are focused on one of two objectives: either building a brand, or generating leads. One is more focused on the top of the funnel, and building engagement amongst audiences who are not yet properly aware of you. The other focuses on turning prospects that already have some understanding of your business into qualified leads for sales.

It’s important to distinguish between these two objectives because you will need to present your content differently and prioritise different elements of it to get these two different results. And you’ll use very different metrics to measure how you are doing.

Which metrics will you use?

Once you’ve decided on the objective for your content, you can narrow down the metrics that provide the most meaningful measure of that objective.

For brand-building content on LinkedIn, you can track audience engagement through clicks, likes, shares, comments, company follows and downloads. The traffic content drives to your site and the amount of time that people spend there are other potentially important indicators. And you can integrate additional measures through brand lift and purchase intent surveys and engagement at the executive level.

If you’re focused on lead generation, then your most relevant metrics are likely to be quite different: the volume of quality leads driven, Cost per Lead (CPL), and conversions that were either sourced or influenced by marketing.

What type of content can move those metrics?

There are subtle and important differences between the style of content that’s best suited to building a brand – and the style that’s best suited to generating leads. In the first case, you’re seeking to start a conversation with new audiences – or enter into a conversation that they are already conducting on LinkedIn. In the second case, you’re conducting a transaction in which your prospects share information in exchange for value. And you need to communicate clearly the value of what you have to offer.

Thought-leadership content, which focuses on establishing a unique point of view or perspective, is ideally suited to building a brand. You need to establish why yours is a voice worth listening to, and leading with an interesting insight that your audience hasn’t heard before is a great way to start. In brand building mode, you’re pitching for a share of people’s attention, aiming to be one of the 10 pieces of content they will consume before making a buying decision – and so it’s vital to remove as many barriers as possible to accessing your content. That often means doing away with gating and data capture forms.

When you are seeking to turn a prospect into a qualified lead, the content transaction changes. You’ll be asking for information from your audience – and an acknowledgement that they are interested in speaking to you. And you need to establish what value they will be getting from your content in return. This is where ‘Big Rock’ content items built on original research and unique insights come into their own. Use blogs or infographics to give audiences a taste of what your most valuable content assets have to offer – so they know what they’re getting when you ask them to share their data.

Does your amplification strategy match your content objectives?

It’s not only your content that needs to be optimised around strategic objectives. The approach you take to amplifying your content through paid promotion needs to match them as well.

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates work on a second-price auction basis, which means that you bid for placements amongst your target audience, but only have to pay the amount offered by the second-highest bidder. If you’re aiming to drive leads (perhaps in exchange for downloading Big Rock content items) then bid on a Cost per Click (CPC) basis so that you are only paying for definite actions. If you are aiming to build awareness, Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) probably fits better with your strategy and will give you more exposure for your budget.

How should you structure the media plan?

Whatever your content objective, intelligent scheduling of your Sponsored Updates can help you to achieve it. Each campaign should have two posts as a minimum, to allow scope for optimisation. Aim to launch Sponsored Updates in weekly bursts of three or four posts. When you turn off the lowest performing posts at the end of each week, you’ll be left with a group of top-performers at the end of the month. This helps to focus your budget on the posts that are delivering against your objectives, and it can help your bids to secure better placements as well.

Our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn Sponsored Updates is free to download and absolutely packed with insights and ideas for planning and executing the right content strategy on LinkedIn. It’s also got great insights from brands like HSBC and Hupspot, who’ve generated best-in-class results from Sponsored Updates, and expert guidance from our content marketing partners.