Your business is a small to medium enterprise and you want grow it. To grow the business, you need to grow your customer base – but that’s easier said than done.
What’s holding you back?
How to develop a content marketing strategy with a measurable impact
It could be that you are not supporting your sales and marketing efforts with a sound content marketing strategy. According to the
According to the Content Marketing Institute, businesses should be treating their content as an asset – an asset which if used in the right way can generate a return on investment.
So what kind of content should you be developing for your business? That will depend on the type of sector you are operating in and what social media channels you are using.
If your business focuses on B2B, you should have a Company page on LinkedIn and a Twitter Profile for your business.
You may also consider supplementing your website with a company blog. You may wish to share new product news on your LinkedIn page/company blog, useful tips for using your product, videos of product demonstrations etc. You could consider sharing tips one tweet at a time on your Twitter profile.
It is important that you do not focus exclusively on sharing your own content, this could kill off interest from your audience.
Consider sharing industry news, interesting stories from other (non-competitive) sectors or interviews with industry experts in your field which you have identified from the web. When posting updates, other than your own, always curate the content i.e. add in a comment of your own with the link to the article/interview etc. explaining why you think it is worth sharing.
If your business focuses on B2C, you may wish to consider having a Facebook page, Twitter profile, Google+ profile and, Pinterest/Instagram profile and again you may wish to consider supplementing your website with a company blog.
Again the same rules apply, share content of value to your customer base – useful content from other sources as well as your own.
Bear in mind, however, that some social media commentators like Social Quant suggest that businesses (particularly SME’s) should focus on no more than 2 social media platforms for optimum results, from a productivity point of view.
So first and foremost, base your decision about which social media platforms you are going to use, on a realistic assessment of the resources that are available to you to manage them.
For both B2B and B2C marketing, when it comes to your content marketing strategy, your aim should be to become a ‘thought leader’ in your field, the ‘go-to’ source of information in relation to your industry whether it be for other business professionals or for consumers.
Set SMART Goals
As with any business process, it is important to set objectives for content marketing.
Unless you set clear, specific and measurable objectives for content marketing, you could run the risk of churning out content with very little return. Any objectives you set for your content marketing should be SMART:
- Time-based – i.e. occur within a particular time frame
If content is so valuable, then its contribution to the business bottom line needs to be measured – just like with any other asset. Brian Sutter writing in Forbes notes that it can be difficult to quantify the business impact of a like or a share on social media.
A like or a share, however, should not be taken in isolation but should be considered in the context of the customer journey. Brian states that
“The website traffic and Facebook likes generate the email subscribers.
The email subscribers, whom you can communicate with directly and regularly, generate the leads. The leads or orders convert into actual business revenue.”
Act on learnings from metrics
The Content Marketing Institute also warns of the danger of collecting masses of data when measuring your content marketing effectiveness but failing to do anything with it.
It is important to measure content marketing to determine what needs to be improved, tweaked slightly or dispensed with altogether.
Understanding the customer journey is essential if you are to develop a content marketing strategy.
It is important that you identify each significant touchpoint your customers have with your business and develop content to support those touch points.
For example, if you own a hotel, a customer who is planning their wedding may see an advertisement for weddings at your hotel on their Facebook page. They visit your hotel website and they check out your weddings page.
To incentivise them further about the professionalism of your hotel, you have provided a free guide to planning your wedding on your weddings page – in return for signing up to your email newsletter. The customer signs up to your email newsletter and begins to receive regular updates from you about all the things there are to see and do at your hotel.
They also check out your Facebook page and see that you post wedding photos of couples that have been newly married at your hotel and a message of congratulations. They decide to set up a meeting with your wedding coordinator and return to your website to make an appointment. There is a photograph and bio of your wedding coordinator, highlighting her years of experience in dealing with weddings, on the ‘request an appointment’ page. The customer emails the wedding coordinator to set up a meeting.
For each touchpoint in the customer journey in the above example, content has been provided to reassure the customer of the professionalism of the hotel they are dealing with and of their friendly, approachable manner. This instills confidence that the hotel will handle the customer’s wedding appropriately.
Of course for any business, they will not just have one particular type of customer to deal with it.
The hotel above could also be dealing with, family breaks, seniors’ breaks, mother/daughter breaks, romantic getaways, as well as wedding clientele. For each defined customer profile, it is a good idea to develop a customer persona with a detailed description of their likes/dislikes, needs and wants, income, education, relationship status, lifestyle etc.
Once you have developed these customer personas, plot them against the customer journey to determine which touch points they are most likely to interact with you from.
Will they start the customer journey from your Twitter profile or your Pinterest page? Or will your blog incentivise them to check out your product offering?
“You need to think about what path your customer personas will follow from the first point at which they come across your business to the point when they actually arrive on your ecommerce page/booking engine.”
Part of this process could involve developing content models, showing the relationship between different types of content to each other.
It can sometimes help make things a lot clearer if you can see a visual representation of what you are dealing with, laid out in front of you. It may help you discover where you need to tweak the existing relationships between sections of content to improve performance.
Automate the process
Content marketing may seem like a lot of work but as I have already mentioned, content is an asset and requires a certain investment in order to be successful.
Technology is at hand to help reduce some of the labour involved and tools like Buffer and Hootsuite can be invaluable in allowing you to bulk schedule content, so that your updates are appearing automatically 24/7.
However, as the Content Marketing Institute notes, technology is useless without talent and any automation needs to be set up with foresight and intelligence in order to be workable.
What do you think? How do you measure the impact of your content marketing campaigns?
Let me know in the comments below.