If you’re not getting the results you want in content marketing, maybe it’s because you haven’t set the right goals. Every strategy, regardless of industry, should focus on what you can do to get a return on investment. If there’s one way to improve your chances of creating long-term investments from your content marketing efforts, it’s by setting the right goals.
It’s widely understood vanity metrics are useless for converting business. You can buy results quite easily – website traffic, fans and followers are all available for purchase – but it’s activity that’s deceiving to your bottom line. When you ask yourself how your content can put customers and prospects on the path to some sort of profitable action, you’re on the right track.
Two essential things should guide your content marketing strategy to ensure your efforts continue to deliver a long-term asset.
1. Build an audience
Content marketing lets you develop an audience and it’s not a chance you want to pass up. If people trust your content, they’ll look to you for expertise in a certain area. They might be current customers or people who decide to do business with you in the future. In other words, you can build desire in your prospects before they have a need. When you have a large database of interested parties who are happy to receive news from your business, updates about your services and education about hot topics in your industry, you’ll be able to build a subscriber list.
You’ll want to make sure you’re storing the details of this group in a repository you own and can manage, like an email database, a CRM, a mailing list or even an Excel spreadsheet. Don’t rely on social media or other software to maintain your networks. We have multiple proof points to show these platforms become costly once they hit critical mass. If you are an early adopter you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. What worked five years ago on Facebook doesn’t give you the same reach. It’s become costly to get the same results you used to experience free of charge. The bar is continually being raised and every social network is the same including LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ and Instagram is on its way.
2. Create content assets for your business
When content is created with strategic purpose, it allows you to create assets for your business that outlast the results produced by traditional advertising or marketing. Content assets might be a company blog, a series of case studies, a video series or a podcast, but they could be anything that you produce and your audience wants to consume. These assets can be reused, recycled or repurposed, extending your return on investment.
Think about this. A well-crafted blog post or article published on your website can continue to attract your target audience for weeks, months or even years. If you spend the same amount on advertising, your investment goes out with the newspaper, when the radio advert finishes or after the TV media buy expires. Why not create content assets you own and can reuse?
Keeping on strategy
Content marketing takes a while to start showing results. If you deliberately plan to cultivate an audience, you’re already ahead of the game. Those people have demonstrated interest in your company, making them ideal prospects for your marketing. When you continue to produce content to service this audience, in all likelihood it’s going to be useful beyond the time of publishing.
As long as your content is designed to move your subscriber base along the path to purchase, you’ll be able to measure your content marketing ROI with a fair bit of accuracy. Once you can measure, you have an opportunity to refine your strategy to make it even more accurate. Regardless of your conversion goals, being able to market to a highly targeted audience and creating content assets are two things you definitely want to consider in your content program.
If you have questions about developing a content marketing strategy to help you meet business goals and demonstrate a return on investment, give me a call. We have a team of strategists at Lush who can help.
Like what you’ve read? Sign up to the Lush newsletter for fortnightly advice to help you market your business better, tips from our video production gurus, and a podcast or two from our favourite podcasting team, Brand Newsroom. In the meantime, you might enjoy these:
7 Steps to a winning publication with content marketing
Brand Newsroom: The biggest trends in Australian content marketing [podcast with show notes]
Build trust with your audience using content marketing