9 checkpoints to ensure that you are on the right track
“The purpose of collecting so much information can only be power.”
― Nick Drake
Gone are the days when you can grab your customers’ attention by TV ads or print media. The customers now make an informed choice by learning more about the product. Most of the customers when surveyed expressed strongly that they would like to know more product related information than watching TV ads which showcase the features. As stated in the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends research, 9 out of 10 B2B marketers use content marketing. Content marketing is an effective way to disseminate valuable information about their businesses and products via the blogs, websites and newsletters, etc. to increase awareness and engage customers. Many companies like P&G, John Deere use this form of marketing. A robust content marketing strategy can do wonders. Here are a few checkpoints which will help an organization in building that.
Is your strategy aligned with the business objectives?
A very common mistake made by the strategists while designing the content marketing strategy is to make content objectives. They forget that this is a marketing tool to boost sales and garner more customers. Thus, the core part of the strategy is to project the business objectives in a way that the customers can relate to it. The purpose is to reach out to customers and increase brand awareness.
Do you have a detailed plan?
According to many marketing professionals, content marketing is a buzzword now. It is here to stay as the number of people using the internet is going to increase. Hence, it is beneficial for a firm to formulate the content marketing strategy. This should not be the end of it. A detailed plan and execution make it successful. Hence, the team should lay out a plan covering everything from gathering information via primary and secondary research to exploring right channels to post the content.
Have you analysed the gap between customer needs and your content?
The whole point of content marketing is to keep the customers and target audience apprised of the information about the service or a product. However, the important part is to understand the needs of the customers. Are we really publishing what they want to read? As Theodor Levitt says, “businesses will earn more if they concentrate on meeting customer demands than selling products.” Writing useful content is paramount.
Are the employees involved in it?
The employees are the main contributors. The brand awareness should start within the organization. When it comes down to writing content for the blog or the website, employees are the greatest asset as they know the features of the products. They can guide content writers. They can answer the questions asked on the forums. Nowadays, content marketing is gaining momentum, and a separate management staff is required for the budgeting, maintenance and strategy formulation.
Moving forward, the organizations can increase the degree to which their employees contribute to the content marketing initiative. The organization can publish profiles of eminent employees. The social presence of high ranked employees on microblogging sites and other social media can be efficiently used.
Are you creating valuable content?
There is a huge gap between understanding something and conveying the same thing. Most of the organizations know what they want to say, but they can’t convey it in the way they want. To make this easier, I have developed a framework which aids in creating valuable content.
One of the biggest advantages of creating content is to facilitate web searches. It is possible only when the articles or blogs have key words. However, this should not be our only concern. The target audience, i.e. the customers would be thrilled to read about it. Hence, the content should be meaningful and not ambiguous. The design part also comes into play here. The display is also important. The readers should be able to read it easily. To shoot up the traffic or to cover larger audience, there should be a provision to share the content on other social media.
Does your strategy include interaction with customers?
Needs of the customers gain precedence over everything in creating content. This is necessary but not sufficient. The organizations should take a step further to involve customers in this campaign. Starbucks has set an example by launching My Starbucks Idea, a website where customers can share their new ideas. There are numerous other ways in which customers can be incorporated. E.g., testimonials, forums for questions and answers
Do you refine/recycle your content?
You can’t be successful just by posting 2/3 blogs or tweeting every day. This is a continuous phenomenon, and consistency is required. As I mentioned earlier, a detailed plan is a must. This plan should include the timeline for refining the content, adding new blogs each month, etc. Websites can also be partially revamped. The idea is to engage the customers. They should learn something new about the organization, the business or simply about the product.
Do you develop a targeted content for each stage of the buyer journey?
Every business faces competition. In the fast moving world, the firms have to work very hard to retain the customers they already have and generate new clientele. This process involves different stages. Some customers must be aware of the brand. Some must be using it. There would be a new set of people who have just come across the website. The content marketing strategy should include something for all types of customers. The following figure by Adido depicts different stages of the buyers/customers and suggests different media for marketing.
There are 5 stages and conquering customers in each stage by dedicated marketing plan will ensure the success. E.g. we can use social media at the stage of consideration research and emails, blogs at the loyalty stage.
Have you thought about exploring the right channels?
The essence of marketing is in the right way of communication. This holds true for any form of the marketing. If all the above things are taken care of and still your work did not bear fruit, then this might be the cause. There are innumerable number of channels through which content marketing is done. A few examples would be blogs, emails, tweets, white papers, webinars, testimonials and online news releases. Selecting a right channel for the company is a tough task. A strategist should take into account different parameters such as the nature of the business, the target audience, the likes and dislikes of the target audience, the places where they are mostly active online, the type of business the firm is in. A mix of a few combinations will put the firm on the winning trajectory.
Marketing in any form is a balancing act between creativity and reality. These checkpoints will come in handy to cover most of the bases. However, there is no-one –solution-fits all. Every business is different. Thus, a new perspective along with these measures will be a perfect recipe for success.