Marketing has come a long way since the early 2000s when the truism “content is king” ruled supreme. These days content marketing is considered essential, maybe even taken for granted. If you are putting effort into content development without seeing results, you’re not alone.
A 2020 study by Content Marketing Institute found that 29% of B2C marketers rated their organization’s overall level of content marketing success as “extremely or very successful” — leaving 71% of marketers seeing less-than-stellar results for their effort.
From social posts to emails, video to webinars, the objective of content marketing is to bring value and relevance to your audience which in turn increases affinity, consideration, and ultimately conversion. But as most marketers know, developing effective content is easier said than done.
If your results are falling flat, check out these tips that can help you reach your goals faster.
1. Your Content Marketing Lacks Strategy
The word “strategy” gets thrown around a lot these days, so as a reminder, strategy is defined as “developing a plan of action designed to achieve a goal.” If you’re not establishing goals upfront, you’re also lacking strategy. “Let’s see what happens” doesn’t count.
Determine what your goal is with your content marketing. Make it measurable. Examples of goals can include increasing traffic to your website by 14%, generating six new leads every week, or beating industry benchmarks with each email deployed.
Note that these are goals that can be realistically impacted by content. They aren’t top-line business objectives like increasing total customer spend or raising profitability. Content marketing on its own can’t do that for you. But it can measurably increase the time a prospect spends thinking about or engaging with your brand, which will work in concert with other strategies for a big payoff.
To that end, make your goal clear to readers and easy to achieve. Tell them that you want them to read more, sign up, or contact you.
2. The Power of Understanding Your Audience
So now we have defined our goals and can measure whether or not our content marketing strategy is effective. But what actually makes content effective? At its core, good content relies on two things: Demonstrating that you understand your audience’s challenges, and providing some assistance with those challenges.
This is why content marketing strategy and persona development often go hand in hand. Persona development characteristics typically include age, sex, occupation, and household income, but most importantly, what it is they want.
The more you understand your customers’ distinctive needs, the better you can tailor your content. In time, they will come to see you as a trusted source for help when they need it.
3. Your Audience Does Not Find Your Content Valuable
Next time you come up with an idea for a new piece of content, ask yourself — who cares? There are nearly infinite things competing for your customers’ attention each day, so to stand out you need to think first about what your customer wants – then what you want them to know.
In addition to the needs you identified through personas, you can use Google Trends to show keywords your prospects are searching for. This allows you to take insights about your customers and dial in on what’s top of mind right now.
Let’s say you manage an online wine membership club and you’re struggling to generate valuable content. Through persona development, you know your customers are price sensitive. Through Google Trends, you see your demographic is searching words terms like “natural wine” and “organic vs biodynamic.”
With this information, you can hit your audience with a one-two punch: “Curious about natural wine? Try these ten bottles under $20.”
4. Finding Your Environmental “Sweet Spot”
Savvy marketers understand where their audience likes to hang out, and how their receptiveness differs across platforms. Whether it’s email or social media, it depends on various factors like the industry of your business and audience.
For example, if you post a link to your blog on Facebook your audience might resist clicking away to read the whole thing on your website. But if you put that article, or even a teaser, into a dedicated email they may be much more inclined to go straight to your CTA or forward that email to a friend.
Other factors to consider include the day of the week you deploy your content (Fun Fact: Tuesdays have the highest email open rates), the time of day, or even the layout of your content. If you are seeing more of your readers using a desktop (a surprising but true trend), you may need to spend extra care on how your blog appears across browser clients or massive iMac displays.
As you continue to learn more about your audience, their needs, pain points, and habits, you can leverage that data to sharpen your content marketing to become more effective. The more you optimize, the better you’ll understand your audience, and the more prospects and customers will engage with your content marketing.
While no two businesses are exactly alike, these fundamental principles can help generate more effective marketing altogether.