Sadly this can lead to utter failure in content marketing.
I still read/hear far too often that great content would automatically (and magically) rise to the top.
How this is going to happen if no one knows about this great content is still a mystery to me.
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But even if it does – even if your great content will rise to the top, you can still end up with nothing because you lacked some of the other necessary elements of content marketing.
So here are the 5 things to consider for your content marketing success – besides creating great content:
1. Your Target group
You need more than basic knowledge about the people you want to target. You need to know what information they are looking for, what types of content they like. You need to be sure where your target group is looking for information, how they like to get it and how they consume content.
Really: Who do you want to reach with your marketing? How old are they? What Gender? What Family status? Where are they located? What job/profession do they have? Which interests do they have? What content consummation habits do they have? Where can you find your target audience? …
Once you figured out who your target audience is, you need to research the topics they are interested in.
For a quick research on what topics your target audience may be looking for, visit your favorite blogs from your niche, the online magazines or Facebook and LinkedIn Groups where your target audience is active in and see what they are talking about.
What do you want to achieve with your content marketing efforts? You need clear goals for your content marketing strategy. If you are not clear about where you are headed, you will most likely not get there.
Without goals you
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- cannot say if you are successful or in other words if you reached your goals
- cannot optimize your actions to get closer to achieving your goals
- will have a hard time focusing
While it is legitimate to formulate more than one goal, you should also decide on which goals are more important than others. Sometimes you cannot reach all goals at the same time and will have to make a decision.
Also, your goals will probably have to develop with time as your marketing matures and you already reached some success. There can also be intermediate goals, which you will have to focus on to gain enough insight into how your marketing is performing. As your marketing and your goals mature, your metrics need to develop as well.
While there might be some “soft” goals, you also need goals which you can measure in numbers. Be as precise as possible, so that you can analyze later if you reached your goals or not.
To want “more sales” is legitimate. As a goal in your Content Marketing, it is not sufficient. You will not know whether you reached your goal in time when you did not specify an amount and a timeframe when setting your goal.
Instead “double the sales of product x within three months” would be a goal, which allows you to measure exactly if you reached your goal or how far you missed it.
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Without a real distribution channel (at least one) your content stands a good chance of passing by entirely unnoticed. Some of the best content does never get the attention it deserves because the distribution is insufficient.
Finding the right distribution channel and building this channel or rather the reachable audience in this channel is one of the most important steps on the road to Content Marketing success. At the same time, it is one of the aspects most often undervalued and neglected aspects when people turn to content marketing.
There is a broad variety of distribution channels available, here are the most common:
- direct distribution
- postal mail
- social networks
- search engines
Most of these channels need to be built and nurtured. The channels cannot just be chosen and instantly reach a vast audience. You need time to grow (and earn) an audience in these channels – or buy the audience i.e. with paid ads.
Your distribution channel needs to match your audience and their communication habits, your chosen form of content – and your own communication preferences.
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4. Metrics or Key Performance Indicators
Metrics play a critical role in any marketing strategy. The problem is that metrics are changing for any project. They need to be derived from your goals and from hypothesizes, and they need to mature as your marketing develops.
A metric is a measurable indicator of progress. So when you begin to define your goals, you will need to come up with a way to measure that goal in the end. That way to measure progress and goals is your metric.
Measuring that would then mean you measure the metric “daily sales” after three months, right? Sadly things are almost never that simple. Instead, you would probably have to come up with several in between metrics.
This means that a realistic situation would be more like this:
You define your goal – double the sales within three months.
Then assume that you identified a new blog as the right content type and begin publishing articles.
You are pushing your blog post distribution through your social channels.
Then to reach your goal (daily sales) you can be fairly sure that you need to get social media followers, and you need the traffic to your blog, convert blog readers into sales leads and so on.
One of the first measurable metrics would then be web traffic – which would be answering the question: Do we get web traffic through Social Media? Is our web traffic growing? Are we reaching our target audience?
Once that has been confirmed – you now need to move on to the next metric, which could be whether your content is engaging. Metrics for this could be the number of comments on your blog, the number of social shares per post, etc.
Ok, now you are getting shares. Maybe this is the time where you can already begin to measure sales. If you can already measure an increase in sales, you got off easy, though. It is far more likely that you will have to implement a sales funnel via various other measures as well.
Each step in your marketing process from gaining followers to your sales funnel can be and needs to be measured and optimized. Until you will reach a point where you will measure your actual success (increase in daily sales) and progress towards your goal.
Optimization is one of the most important aspects of content marketing. Rarely will a Content Marketing process be set up and be instantly perfect. Most of the time first results will be rather disappointing. Usually, it is a learning process of making assumptions, trying things out, measuring success and optimizing.
Here are some ideas for optimization:
- The Title. This often also affects the predefined text in your social shares.
- The Topics. Maybe you chose some topics for your Content Marketing, which do not speak to your audience. If you cannot get a response from your target audience, you need to go back and research more and different topics to cover.
- The Social Share buttons. These should be prominent on the site and easy to use. Also, the predefined text should be so that people can just click share without having to come up with an own text.
- Depending on the chosen distribution channels, you should provide pictures in the right format for your most used social networks.
- Layout, Design. This seems too quickly forgotten. Your content should be visually appealing and easy to read/view.
- It does make sense to use the keywords people associate with a certain topic. Not only Google recognizes these keywords, but your audience will also be triggered by some keywords they associate with particular topics.
You need optimization because your audience does not always react to your efforts in the way you expect them to. This means to get optimal results you need to optimize what you are doing, and you need to base your optimization efforts on measurable outcomes.
For example, the title you think will gain the most shares or clicks does not necessarily be the one that gets the most shares or clicks. Monitoring your social shares and reactions for a few days can quickly answer this question and help you find a title that will respond much better to your audience.
These five aspects combined with great content that matches the interests of your target audience is the foundation for your content marketing success. All you need now is persistence and the will to keep going – even if results do not show after the first few pieces of content published and distributed.