Luck Has Nothing to Do with Your Content Marketing Success

March 17, 2017

Four Leaf Clover

B2B marketers across industries are taking to content marketing in droves. It’s smart to embrace what’s proven to be an effective technique for attracting, engaging, and converting a target audience. But today, with the ubiquitous nature of business content, gone are the days of beginner’s luck.

In a world where buyers have high expectations for a personalized, relevant experience, it takes a strategic approach to succeed at content marketing.

Here are six ways to boost the likelihood of success and reduce your reliance on luck.

1. Make it Official

Since 2010, the Content Marketing Institute has conducted annual research into content marketing budgets, benchmarks, and trends. One of the key findings in the most recent report is that the most effective content marketers document their strategy. It’s important not to develop this strategy in a vacuum – tie it to your company’s overall business strategy. Then capture your intent and plan on paper so you can more easily put it into action.

2. Do Your Homework

You’ll likely need to do some digging and research to pull together some elements of your strategy. The key is to zero in on the details that will help you develop content that resonates with your target audience and triggers them to take action.

The days of shoot first, aim later marketing are far behind us. Your prospective buyers are already inundated by content so they’re not necessarily looking for more of it – they’re looking for more relevant content. The following steps will help you connect with relevance.

  • Develop buyer personas. Understand each person on the buying committee – their main challenges, concerns, aspirations, information preferences, and sources…whatever you can glean about their process for making purchase decisions. 
  • Conduct keyword research. Figure out the words and phrases buyers use to describe their challenges, concerns, aspirations, and even potential solutions.
  • Surface new topics. Find out the questions that prospects ask during the purchase process. Poll your sales team, customer service department, partners, and any other customer-facing groups. You can also listen for top-of-mind topics via social listening.

3. Define Success

Every marketer knows the drill – you can’t reach your goal unless you know what you’re aiming for. Content marketing can impact every stage of the sales cycle: early, mid, and late. Map your marketing goals to each of these stages and determine what role content can play in helping you achieve those goals. Then decide how you will measure the performance of your content at each stage:

  • If your goal is to drive higher quality leads, maybe you should measure the change in funnel velocity or time to close.
  • If you are trying to raise your organization’s profile as a thought leader, perhaps you should track the number of speaking engagements and executive-level meetings you secure.

The key is to understand precisely what you are trying to achieve and then pair that with a relevant metric.

4. Create an Editorial Calendar

Getting started with content creation can feel like an overwhelming process. You can tame the chaos by building out an editorial calendar, which is a tool you use to map out content for the upcoming year. The calendar will show all the topics and content formats you plan to create (or curate) and distribute across the buying cycle for each key buyer persona. It will also help you publish content regularly so you stay top of mind with prospective buyers.

5. Get Your Content into Buyers’ Hands

Once your content is ready for consumption, it’s not enough to simply hit the publish button. A solid distribution plan is essential to getting your content in front of your target audience. That plan will likely include a combination of organic and paid.

Search engines are focused on serving quality (i.e., relevant) content. Creating content based on the homework you did in step two paves the way for getting seen in SERPs.

It’s equally important to be proactive by promoting your content to your target audience on LinkedIn. Post content to your Company Page. Once you see what content performs best (more on that below), you can amplify its reach with LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Don’t forget to take advantage of your colleagues’ reach – encourage them to share your content with their wider networks. You may be surprised by the impact of their sharing.

6. Measure and Do Better

To make the most of your content marketing effort and budget, you need to understand what content is working well – and what needs to be shelved. This is where the goals you defined in step three come into play. Use free tools like Google Analytics, LinkedIn Campaign Manager, and your LinkedIn Company Page analytics to measure the effectiveness of your content. In other words, how well is it helping you achieve your goals at each stage?

Assuming you’ve defined success, your most effective content will surface above the rest, making it clear which content resonates with your audience and triggers them to take action. With that understanding, you can focus on amplifying the reach and impact of that content, and retiring or revamping the content that isn’t proving effective.

With content playing such a major role in facilitating the purchase process, it doesn’t make sense to leave your content marketing success to chance. Do your homework, devise a plan, develop your content, publish and promote it, then measure the results and continually improve. Follow those steps and even a little back luck won’t stop you from driving content marketing results.

For more expert advice that can change your fortunes, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing: your pot of gold for all things content marketing.