With 2016 more than halfway finished, it might be a good time to revisit those content calendars finalized last year and see how things turned out.
Has your organization published the pieces that were planned?
Did the anticipated results become a reality?
If the answer to one or both of these questions is “no,” now might be the time to confirm if your organization’s content marketing is supporting your business goals.
One quick method to ensure your content marketing supports your business goals is to revisit five questions that should have been asked before your content strategy was finalized:
- Why are we creating content?
- Who are we hoping to connect with?
- How and when will we interact with them?
- What do we want them to do?
- How will we know we’ve achieved our goal?
This may seem like pretty basic stuff, but if the answers to these questions are not clear, it may be time to step back and make sure your content is meeting the following four expectations.
Your Content Connects
Whether it be B2B or B2C, effective content only delivers if it’s consumed. To connect, it must be easily found by your audience and it must resonate with them. For example, if you’re using
Facebook to win over teens, you may be wasting your time. (One 2015 study confirms Snapchat and Instagram are both outpacing Facebook as the go-to Social channel for the 12-24 year olds.)
Understand where your audience hangs out online, and plan your content amplification channels appropriately.
Your Content Offers Value
Content cannot support business goals if it fails to deliver on customer needs. Providing useful, relevant, timely information is vital: 78% of consumers perceive there is a relationship with a brand once the brand provides useful information, according to Demand Metric.
So, what information is your audience after? The answer to that question is likely at your fingertips. By combing through your own data, you can see what it consumers are looking for.
Start by perusing the following sources:
- Website usage and engagement data
- Onsite search queries
- Verbatim feedback submitted by customers
- Social media engagement and comments
- Customer surveys
- Usability feedback
- SEO keyword analysis
- Feedback from your sales team and other customer-facing colleagues
Analyzing this data will uncover trends, patterns, and dominant themes. It will also reveal any content gaps that need to filled.#Content cannot support business goals if it fails to deliver on customer needs. Click To Tweet
Your Content Is Measurable
Measurement is also essential, but each type of content has unique objectives. Although key performance indicators (KPIs) differ from one organization to the next, most center on the following:
- Traffic Volume – What are the number of click-throughs, downloads, etc.?
- Engagement – Do you know the amount of time a visitor stays on the page, watches the video, etc.?
- Top Pages – Which pages generate the most traffic?
- Resolving Audience Needs – Are frequent customer questions being addressed in the content?
- Lead Generation – Are you capturing your prospects’ contact information before they leave?
- Enhancing Brand Awareness – Are there upticks in brand recognition or other metrics that can be directly attributed to content?
KPIs should be factored into the creation of all future content.Ongoing engagement provides #content wizards with metrics by which success can be gauged and used to make strategic decisions. Click To Tweet
Your Content Inspires Action
Addressing customer needs is essential. Equally important is a clear “next step.” What is it you want your customers to do? Download a guide? Hand over some contact information? Watch a video? Whatever it is, the next step should be crystal clear.
In almost every case, ongoing engagement should be the goal; helping people transition from one step of the journey to the next. This helps ensure content remains focused on providing useful information. It also provides content wizards with metrics by which success can be gauged and used to make strategic decisions.
Testing for Alignment
To ensure your content is hitting the marks, take a fresh look at the content you’ve created so far for 2016. Compare it to the checklist below.
- Content was promoted to where your customers are hanging out online.
- Content offered a clear benefit to your customers, meeting their search intent.
- KPIs were factored into content creation and measurements were analyzed.
- Clear calls-to-action were included.
Formula for Success
There you have it: a brief checklist to ensure content goals are simpatico with business goals.
Looking for an even simpler formula for success? The proverbial elevator test? Try boiling down your content goals into one or two sentences. Something like: “We’re doing X so that we can Y. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when Z.” Kind of like these examples:
- We’re amplifying content on Facebook, so that we can reach our targeted customers. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when X% more website traffic comes from our Facebook page.
- We’re ratcheting up blog articles to build our contact database through blog subscribers. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when X% of email subscribers convert to paying customers.
- We’re nurturing our email leads so that we can increase customer retention and convert customers into influencers; success will be measured via shares, forwards, and click-through traffic.
In each example, definite customer conversions are the desired outcome. Content connects by giving customers what they need, when they need it. Boiling down content plans into a single declaration creates a clear indication of where content goals and business goals align.
Does your content support your business goals?
You can’t have an effective content strategy without a clear understanding of the business goals driving the strategy. Regardless of whether you want to reinforce the value of your brand, win over new customers, dominate online searches, or you are seeking some other outcomes, both the business objectives and what constitutes success must be clear.
By revisiting the original driver behind your content goals, you will eliminate the habit of “creating content just to create content.” Instead, every piece of content you produce will be customer-focused, delivering on their specific needs.