Unfortunately, many online businesses are winging it when it comes to their content marketing campaign. Most don’t have a defined strategy so they’re simply publishing content— frequently and infrequently, valuable and not—in the hopes that it achieves some sort of favorable result. Some hit the jackpot with bits of viral content here and there, while others aren’t so lucky.
The fact of the matter is that in order to have a solid plan your content marketing objectives must align with your overall business strategy. Clear objectives are detrimental to the use of the right media, development of the right message, and creation of the right dialogue. It’s a matter of moving along the path from being found to engaging and generating two-way conversations with your target audience who eventually become brand evangelists.
With this in mind, let’s look at some common objectives you should consider when building out your content marketing plan.
Improve SEO and Traffic
Implementing SEO tactics to gain maximum exposure in SERPs is important, but it probably shouldn’t be the key driver of your strategy. If your sole focus is on keywords, you potentially ignore the needs of your intended audience. SEO should certainly play a major role when planning your campaign, but organic traffic and links should be a by-product of the high quality content you produce. Make this an objective so that you benefit from targeted keywords and phrases, just don’t make it your primary one.
Raise Brand Awareness and Recognition
If you’re still in the early stages of service and product introduction, then generating awareness for your brand will most likely be one of your primary goals. One of the most effective ways to extend the recognition of your brand, business, idea, or cause is to share several content formats across multiple channels.
The objective here is to generate content that turns awareness into something more meaningful. The content needs to resonate with your readership and actively encourage connection, participation, and relationship building in an effort to enhance an individual’s experience with your brand.
Improve Brand Perception
Brand perceptions and experiences develop over time through many different sources, including content. The content, tone, and style of the message you deliver helps the market relate to it, helps shape the way in which consumers view your brand, and contributes to higher conversion rates. Relevant, creative, and interesting content is among the top reasons people choose to follow a brand, which makes it all that more important. One of the best way to deliver interesting content is to use primary research in your content marketing.
Content marketing is incredibly effective for lead generation. Understanding your audience, identifying the right content to create, and then sharing that content allows you to attract prospects who are willing to exchange their details for the content you have to offer.
After prospects provide their details and you have permission to market to them, you need to follow-up with meaningful and consistent dialogue. The objective here is to covert enquiries into qualified leads, and then convert those qualified leads into sales. Your aim is to build strong relationships and maintain mindshare with decision-makers.
When done correctly, content marketing ultimately increases sales. We’re not only talking about converting highly qualified leads into customers, but customers into repeat buyers. Your strategy helps you gain entry into a consumer’s decision process when they’re ready to purchase, and then proves to them that your solution is the best solution to meet their needs.
Improve Loyalty and Retention
If your goal is to turn customers into people who talk positively about your brand and pass on favorable word-of-mouth communications, then you need to focus on creating content in alignment with a solid customer retention strategy. A popular tactic includes the use of e-newsletters. However, you should fully explore the numerous options available before selecting the most appropriate tactics for your business.
Become a Thought Leader
Many B2B marketers see this objective as an area of significance since it differentiates them from competitors and establishes them as a trusted resource. If you choose to pursue this objective, you need to ensure you deliver exceptional value through fresh perspectives and game-changing insights.
Other key objectives you may want to consider include educating your market, creating greater brand affinity, generating referrals, raising marketplace visibility (globally and locally), influencing key stakeholders, increasing user generated content (e.g. reviews and fan sites), up-selling and cross-selling, and gaining competitive intelligence. In addition, you may want to increase the lifetime value of a customer, improve customer service (before and after the sale), build collaborative, deeper relationships with your online community, and create passionate brand advocates. Keep in mind that the objectives of a B2B company generally differs from that of a B2C company.
Ultimately, you need to figure out what a successful content marketing campaign looks like to your business. The only way you’ll be able to strategize an effective plan is if you know what you’re aiming to achieve. Consider your business strategy and then determine which objectives are most relevant to your strategy. You’ll then be able to pinpoint which metrics to measure and set benchmarks to establish the impact of your campaign.
Do you have clearly defined content marketing goals? Share your thoughts below.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He’s one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don’t even want to know what he calls pancakes.