This article is part of a series on The 8 Steps of an Effective Content Marketing System for Your Business. A FREE e-book is also available to download.
If you’re using content to market a business, you need a strategic framework so you can get the most out of your time and effort. To make content marketing work, you need to understand your marketing and business goals. Your blog posts, email marketing, white papers, videos, e-books, podcasts, advertising, etc., all need to fit into a larger picture. The best way to keep visitors engaged with your site and company is to set business goals and then create content that helps you meet them. With your goals in place, you can create content that serves those goals.
Four of the top business goals that drive content marketing:
Build Trust and Rapport with Your Audience
This is the most obvious use of content marketing, and it’s a good one. When you create useful, interesting, and valuable content, your audience learns they can trust you. They see that you know your topic. They get a sense of your personality and what it would be like to work with you. Lack of trust kills conversion. An abundance of valuable content builds trust like nothing else.
Attract New Prospects to Your Marketing System
Your content has to be compelling enough that it attracts links, social media sharing, and conversation. Why? Because that’s how new people find you. No matter how wonderful your existing customers are, you need a steady stream of new prospects to keep your business healthy. Remarkable content that gets shared around the web will find your best new prospects for you, and lead them back to everything you have to offer.
Move them through the Buying Cycle to Purchase
The fact is, most enduring businesses thrive because they solve problems. When you understand your prospect’s buying process and problems they are trying to solve, you understand how to help them, and you have the core of your marketing message.
Build Your Reputation with Search Engines
Lots of content creators think this is the No. 1 reason to create content — but if you put this priority in the wrong place, you’ll probably struggle with SEO. That’s because search engines find you valuable when readers find you valuable. Search engines are looking for content that is valuable to their users. If you create that type of content, your SEO battle is three-fourths of the way done. By focusing on the first three content marketing goals first, the fourth becomes a matter of relatively simple SEO optimization.
Know what you want your content to do and then create the content that makes it happen.
Create a Set of Relevant Metrics.
You know what your content is supposed to do, but how do you know it’s doing it? Metrics.
Now that you’ve identified your goals, it’s important to set-up a tracking system to measure your content marketing efforts and results. You know what your content is supposed to do, but how do you know it’s doing it?
One reason content marketing is more successful than traditional marketing strategies is because it’s so much easier to measure response rates, conversion rates, and many other aspects. The metrics you measure will depend on the goals you set. However, there are several key metrics that should be monitored on a regular basis.
- How many visitors or readers does your website have? Think in terms of unique visitors and returning visitors. This is a good measure of the volume of exposure for your content.
- Where did the visitors come from (organic search, social media networks, etc.)
- How many fans, friends, followers, connections, and email subscribers does your business have? How are these numbers changing over time?
- How wide is the influence of your fans and followers?
Actions / Engagement
- How many times was the content viewed or downloaded?
- How much time was spent viewing the content? What portion of it was read or viewed?
- Did readers take another action towards engaging with your firm? This includes email newsletter registration, blog subscriptions, contact request forms, white paper downloads, etc.
- Did readers share content with their colleagues via social sharing including Facebook and Twitter? If so, how many?
- Did readers go further into your content or website by following links to related articles and/or products? Did they put products in a shopping cart or contact you?
- How many purchases did the content marketing drive? It’s important to have a call-to-action and links to appropriate product pages to make this easier to monitor.
- What is the average order size, both in terms of the number of products and dollar amount?
- What are the revenues per reader?
- What is the conversion rate? How many of the people who took some of the actions earlier in the process actually made a purchase?
- What did it cost us to drive these sales? Consider all of the aspects of the marketing such as content creation, technical support and media.
This list is a starting point for your content marketing tracking. Don’t get intimidated by it. Instead start small and monitor as much as you can while working to expand your analysis.