Content marketing is on the minds of many savvy business owners and entrepreneurs. However, it is impossible to have a winning content marketing strategy without four critical things. Your content marketing strategy should include an understanding of your target audience, the type of content that is of interest to your audience, the audience’s preferred mode for receiving content and metrics to evaluate your effectiveness.
Let’s look at these four categories more closely.
When developing a content marketing strategy, first develop a clear idea of your target audience and its needs and wants. You can’t possibly share useful information without having a sense of your audience’s needs. For instance, if you are communicating with experienced communications professionals, your content will be drastically different than if you’re communicating with small business owners who have little to no communications experience. Once you identify your audience, you can go about the important work of meeting your audience’s needs by offering content that speaks to the challenges these individuals face or the interests they have. You can also make educated decisions about the best format for sharing content. For instance, if your target audience is millennials, you’ll want to communicate using social media platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, and texting tools such as Hustle. If your target audience is Generation X, communicating via email, Facebook or Twitter (as well as some of the other tools mentioned above) may suffice.
After you’ve narrowed your audience, give thought to the type of content that would be helpful. For some audiences, white papers, reports, published articles and essays may be of interest. Others may prefer shareable graphics and memes. A variety of modes – such as videos, Storify, photos, online tutorials, webinars, e-newsletters, podcasts and blog posts – allow you to share content. Your content marketing strategy should include the content you’d like to distribute as well as the best vehicle for sharing content.
Not every style or mode of communication is suitable for every audience. Your communication style should be based, in part, on your audience. There’s a reason the online news site BuzzFeed and The Wall Street Journal have drastically different styles. BuzzFeed caters to younger readers who are seeking traditional news along with pop culture. The site is filled with listicles, memes and graphics. The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, caters to executives, small business owners and fiscally conservative audiences, who probably skew older. The Wall Street Journal is straight news along with information on the stock market.
Metrics enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. You’ll want to know how many unique and repeat visitors come to your website, share your content and open your emails. You’ll want to know how long visitors stay on your site and which pages or articles are of interest. You can gauge this by click rates. You could also commission a digital media analysis to compare your website visitors, the length of time they spend on your site, the reach of social media posts and social media impressions compare with others in your industry. You could also regularly survey your visitors and clients to find out which content is of interest and why. And since the purpose of content marketing is to highlight services that might be of interest to your audience, conversion rates will help you determine whether your content and strategy are meeting the mark.
The whole point of content marketing is to offer tangible services that are of interest to your audience. Since people know when they’re being marketed to, and seldom appreciate it, content marketing is a way to give them what they need without being too pushy or direct. The main takeaway, however, is that before launching into content marketing, you need to develop a comprehensive strategy that includes identifying your target audience’s needs, the best mode of communication to reach the audience, i.e., preferred format, and metrics to evaluate your contents’ effectiveness.