Content is now seen as an expense by many C-levels. In order to be seen as an investment that will yield positive returns, it must be developed, managed, and measured effectively.
So you have invested heavily in content marketing and aren't seeing gains? Or are you and your team considering a large-scale content marketing program but don't know where to start? Perhaps you have been doing content marketing for a while with reasonable resources, but your chief executive doesn't see the return on investment (ROI).
No need to worry. I have put together, with the help of some awesome data, my own content marketing client experience, and an interview I did with an impressive start-up technology in the content space, a five-step content marketing success guide:
1. Start with a well-thought-out content marketing plan and related strategy.
A 2014 study on content marketing by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends-North America, shows that B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective, at a rate of 66 percent vs. 11 percent.
Your content plan must include some standard items, such as:
On why companies succeed or fail in content marketing, Boaz Grinvald, chief executive (CEO) of BrightInfo, a software which increases content engagement and conversion for a business with anonymous visitors with an in-site content recommendation solution, shared this with me:
"Content marketing success requires a structured methodology. Content marketing being a relatively new area is not well defined. A small business that blogs regularly and distributes the blog posts over social channels such as Facebook and Twitter is considered to use content marketing while a Fortune 100 that blogs, generates custom content such as webinars, videos, and white papers, and uses sophisticated (and sometimes paid) distribution tools is also considered to practice content marketing. Businesses who follow a structured methodology that includes on top of content generation and distribution maximizing engagement with the anonymous visitors who come to consume the content will increase conversion and ROI."
2. Think about how your organization can create the experience your audience is seeking. For content to engage it must go beyond the simple how-tos. For B2B organizations, this can mean creating compelling video with case studies, shooting live at event or on location, delivering custom motion graphics that bring the user inside the organization, and so on.
3. Look at your partners as potential content co-creators. Envision your vendor-partners as actors on your stage that can help bring your play to life and engage a mass target audience with educational content. A simple example is participation in or production of webinars or Google+ Hangouts with partners on a strong industry target topic.
4. Always align your content with your overall digital marketing strategy. Your content needs to align well with all channels of online marketing, such as your top business-driving keywords in your SEO program, your annual calendar of PR events, your e-mail marketing program, and your online media campaigns.
5. Know how to measure your content marketing success. This is the big one. CEOs do not want to invest in marketing activities that aren't showing a clear ROI to delivering qualified leads that covert into sales.
When I asked Grinvald what he felt were the key elements of success in driving conversions via content, here is what he had to say:
"With more than 90 percent of visitors to business websites staying anonymous, and with 57 percent of the buyers' decisions being made before contacting potential vendors by doing online research, the next step in conversion optimization must include better engagement with those anonymous visitors. If you manage to build a relationship with those visitors who are more than 90 percent of your readership you will eventually get more of them to sign up for your content and for your business. So the key elements to success are to know your anonymous audience, be able to profile their anonymous buyer journey, and offer the right content for them while they are still anonymous."
Remember that content now is seen as an expense by many C-levels. To see it as an investment that will yield positive returns, it must be developed, managed, and measured effectively. Start with and carefully follow a targeted strategy while employing professional resources that care about your brand and position and you will realize your own content marketing success.
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Jasmine Sandler is a veteran in online marketing and CEO and founder of Agent-cy Online Marketing, an online branding agency. She has more than 15 years' experience in helping companies use the Web to develop and grow business. Sandler has provided interactive solutions for such clients as Citibank, ISO, Diamonds International, Doublerock Corporation, Loews Hotels, and CityLights Cruises.
Sandler has expertise in the areas of using LinkedIn to grow business, B2B social media marketing strategy, search marketing strategies for sustainable online visibility, website effectiveness for user engagement, and digital strategies for small businesses. She is a published author of Branding & Sales: The LinkedIn Way.
She is a frequent speaker for The Association of Strategic Marketing, The Association of Ghostwriters, ClickZ Live, Small Business Technology, and New York Business Expo and is a contributing writer for ClickZ.com, The New York Enterprise Report, and LinkedIn Original Content.
Sandler holds a dual MBA in Marketing and Technology from the University of Miami and is a very active supporter of LinkedIn and runs several business owner groups on the site. She was previously director of managed data networking sales at IBM Global Services for seven years.
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