In the lab, scientists create meaningful experiments and measure results. When working to create a content marketing campaign, science-marketers follow a similar approach. Strategists create content and share it with an audience (the experiment), then hope for a desired outcome (the result).
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior”. The approach is gaining ground, with 93 percent of business-to-business marketers saying they use content marketing in one form or another, the Institute reports.
But despite its many benefits — audience engagement, establishing thought leadership, nurturing leads — content marketing hides a secret many marketers are afraid to admit: It’s scary.
Why? For starters, content marketing requires a certain level of soul searching. To develop information that your audience will willingly consume, remember, and share, you must be authentic with your brand story and provide information that readers will value. This takes work.
But perhaps even scarier is the fact that results of content marketing are notoriously hard to quantify. With a banner advertisement, for example, results are based on clicks. But measuring the success of a blog or whitepaper? That’s more difficult to evaluate.
For the science marketer, many of whom have science backgrounds, the ambiguity of content marketing can be unsettling. Many marketers often make the mistake of creating content in hopes of achieving a result, without first knowing what that result should even be. Just as no experiment can be successful without a hypothesis, no piece of content can thrive without purpose.
The best way to quantify your content marketing efforts is to start with the result. Before you consider content marketing as a strategy, think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Here, we provide three top-line content marketing goals and vehicles that can help you achieve them.
Goal #1: Gather Leads
Content marketing helps businesses determine who is interested in what they have to say. If someone takes the time to read your blog, tune into a webinar or watch one of your videos, there’s a good chance they’re interested in your products and services as well.
Some strategies for gathering business leads include:
· Gating your content: Does someone really want to read your whitepaper or watch your webinar? Use an online form to trade contact information for knowledge.
· Asking for comments: Great blogs spark conversation. Solicit comments after each blog to find potential leads.
· Get social: Want to know who’s interested in your recent product press release? Tweet it and see who responds.
Goal #2: Establish Thought Leadership
If scientists can trust you, they’ll be more likely to buy from you. Thought leadership turns your audience into brand-loyal customers. When establishing yourself as a thought leader, ask: What does my company do better than the rest? Then develop content that leverages your specialty and benefits.
Here are sample thought leadership metrics to track:
· Webinar views or whitepaper downloads: More readers or viewers means a more deeply penetrated message.
· Social followers: Large social followings are built, not obtained. Track followers over time to see if your thought leadership strategy is leading to a larger social audience.
· Circulation statistics: Nowhere are thought leadership pieces more potent than credible publications. Gather circulation numbers from publications that feature your content to measure your reach.
Goal #3: Nurture Your Existing Audience
Your most valuable sources of new business are the customers you already have. After you’ve built an audience and gained their trust, solidify your brand by nurturing your existing audience.
Here are some measurable ways content marketing can contribute to nurturing your audience:
· Create product tutorials: Let your audience know you care about their brand experience. Track views or downloads to spot common difficulties with your products or services.
· Reward customers with exclusive content: Is there content you wouldn’t give away for free? Reward your customers with exclusive access to valuable content.
· Highlight brand evangelists with customer case studies: Case studies are a win for both marketer and customer. Consistently seek out customers who could make for interesting case studies.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Even with catchy headlines and expertly crafted sentences, content without purpose is just content for content’s sake. The key to success in content marketing is developing a goal-oriented strategy. Staying focused on your overall marketing goals will keep your content marketing on target, on message — and most importantly — fear-free.
What goals have you set for your content marketing? Please share with the community in the comments section.Keywords: content marketing, Custom Content, Digital Strategies, Lead Generation, nurture campaigns, thought leadership