We know a little bit about you. You may have spent thousands of dollars to hear people like us speak about what it means to succeed with content marketing. We put up 20 or 30 slides for 45 minutes and tell you what you should be doing and get you psyched about all the possibilities. You leave with a general understanding of content marketing; you see a clear value in using content to generate more traffic, leads and sales for your business; you’re motivated – But what happens next?
There’s been a growing shift in the industry – most marketers know what content marketing is, but few are doing it correctly. More importantly, marketing departments are beginning to invest in these strategies, but end up becoming their own worst enemy by being impatient, noncooperative, or exasperated with the process.
The Emotional Journey of Content Marketing
We’ve seen this before. They’re most likely experiencing the emotional journey of content marketing, or entering what’s known as “Trough of Disillusionment”. It looks something like this:
Our team learned about this path by not only experiencing it ourselves, but by hearing about it from our own clients.
We’ve discovered that a large part of finding success with content marketing is establishing consistent collaboration between an agency and their client. Just as our company values reflect, we want our clients to:
- Be in it together
- Improve each day
- Embrace change
- Be helpful and insightful
- Do the right thing
So, what does a successful content marketing client look like? We asked some of our Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) around the office to find out what the ideal client looks like for them.
Defining an Ideal Content Marketing Client
“My ideal client isn’t in any particular industry or vertical, but is open to collaboration and willing to compromise. I’ve worked with a lot of clients in the past who were too afraid to post about “touchy” subjects, such as price and comparisons, but this is the type of information people are looking for – and if a business isn’t willing to provide the answers – they will lose out on a lot of traffic, and a lot of potential conversions.
The best clients are the ones who trust our recommendations and aren’t afraid of top-of-funnel content. I also love working with clients who are hands-on at the ideation and content development stages. We’re content marketing experts, but the clients are the ones with deep technical expertise and understanding of their industry. When clients are willing to collaborate with us, we’re able to come up with much better content that gets to the heart of who they are, what they do, and what their audience is searching for every day.”
Kate Gearin – Information Designer
“If you have a client that’s bought into design and the value of it, it makes my job a lot easier because I don’t have to get the client on board to the importance of my contribution. I don’t have to show conversion or lead data that provide evidentiary support to why design adds value (spoiler alert: it does). They get it. Which in turn allows me to focus on the goals of the project and their users. It loosens up the relationship. And that’s not even just executive. That’s everybody within a company, perhaps.
Designers, as a whole, are very much subject matter experts in what they do, so they should be treated like any other area within our industry. Yes, we like to make things visually appealing to the eye, but our goal is to make it useful (offer value), usable (provide easy access to value) and desirable (appeal to emotions). All good design has these three elements.”
Blake Pappas – Digital Strategist
“It’s tough to specifically describe an ideal client, but there are definitely some good traits and habits that stand out. An ideal coaching client is one that is fully bought in and embraces the concept of content marketing. In addition to that, they’re not a one-man operation. Creating content consistently and effectively is incredibly challenging and truly needs more than one person for it to work.
I’ve worked with companies who only have one or two people trying to do everything and it’s just not nearly as successful as those who have multiple contributors. Ideally, there are multiple people who are committed to creating content for the company and it’s part of their job description. When employees are trying to keep up with writing, editing, and publishing in their spare time, it usually gets pushed to the back-burner and doesn’t get done consistently.
An ideal client also doesn’t make excuses as to why content isn’t being published or made a bigger priority. They understand the importance from the start and find a way to get it done. They also make consistent communication a priority. Not showing up to calls, not responding to emails, and failing to follow up on important questions and action items leads to ineffective content strategies.
An ideal client also has the ability to amplify their content. Creating quality content is key and a great start, but in order to be competitive and see results, it’s imperative to put a little budget behind PPC, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. The clients who do not have this ability are missing out on huge opportunities.”
“In my mind, the ideal client is:
Always testing and trying new things: For a lot of businesses, this is difficult to do. The size of the business is not as big of a barrier as is bandwidth and company culture. Companies who are open to experiment always do better with content marketing.
Agile: Clients who move quickly will always perform better. Recommendations get rolled out more frequently, and there are few internal barriers to success. Google typically rewards websites that generate relevant, quality content on a regular basis. But Google also recognizes sites that work to improve their existing content as well. Being willing to change and adapt a site based on analytics data is a core component of a long-term SEO strategy. With changes like Google’s Mobile First update reportedly right around the corner, sites that are agile will be prepared when its rolled out. Sites not prepared to adapt will likely see a drop in traffic.
Focused on content and user experience, not keywords: Google’s artificial intelligence technology has forced SEOs to move away from basic keyword targeting. Google understands semantics and they understand intent. User experience and content that matches the searcher intent is far more valuable than keywords. Think about it. Most niches are super-competitive, and players in any given space are targeting the same keywords with very similar content. So, what sets them apart? The experience!”
How can you be successful with content marketing?
It’s interesting to read what an “ideal client” looks like to those that approach digital marketing from different areas of expertise. Some of the clear themes amongst each expert:
- Willingness to be involved in the process
- Team members must adopt the content marketing culture
- Take risks and try new strategies based on thorough analytics
- Focus on user-experience and be the expert for your audience
After 12 years of working in digital marketing, I can attest that continued collaboration is not only a critical factor in a productive working relationship, but moreover, it’s critical to the success of companies marketing efforts and business overall.
Build a Successful Digital Marketing Agency and Client Relationship
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