Let’s play a game. Go to your kitchen and grab some eggs, flour, sugar and a chicken. Throw them in the sink for an hour and come back when you’re finished. We’ll wait.
Did you end up with a cake? Probably not. If you wanted to bake a cake you’d:
If it’s a really good cake, you might even save the recipe.
When it comes to content marketing, too many businesses throw ingredients together, put them out there and hope for the best. It’s a recipe for failure in a giant grocery store of opportunity.
Getting the results you hear people brag about takes more than just being active. In fact, it takes three things; none of which are much good without the others:
Follow along to learn how each of these impacts the others and how putting them all together in just the right way puts the icing on your conversion cake.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
Every business needs a digital-media presence. It’s hard to argue against that. But, just having a presence and aimlessly distributing content doesn’t help your business or its stakeholders. It’s a hit-or-miss strategy that, at best, produces mixed results.
At worst? It’s a complete waste of your time.
“Content marketing is not a box to check, but a public declaration of your mission — to tie what you stand for to what you’re selling,” says Dennis Yu, chief technology officer at BlitzMetrics and well-known marketing expert.
Setting goals, both in the broad sense and at the campaign level, helps determine the content you need and the metrics to use for evaluating success.
Start by identifying broad goals. How do you go about doing that?
“Easily,” says Yu. “Ask yourself: What drives you? What are your dreams? What is the thing that pushes you forward and makes you wake up excited and ready to leap out of bed in the morning? What defines you and what do you wish to contribute to the world?”
Some common broad goals include:
Figure out why you do whatever it is you do. But remember, goals are targets; they should be reasonably attainable, measurable and specific. How much money do you want to make and in what time frame?
Once you’ve identified goals, determine ways that content marketing helps you reach them. As a business, you’ve likely got goals that include increasing brand awareness, driving traffic to your website and growing revenue or conversions. It makes sense.
In fact, most of your goals will likely fit into three categories:
All too often, businesses try to accomplish each of these goals in every content piece they create — or they skip the first two altogether. This is a mistake for several reasons, not the least of which is our ever-decreasing attention span.
Repeat after me. I will not try to sell my product in every piece of content that I create. It’s a common error born from old-school advertising techniques that don’t apply to content marketing.
Your campaigns should have components individually designed to accomplish specific goals within each of those three categories, as determined by your broad business goals.
Now you’re ready to set actionable goals. Chances are you’re trying to take over the world through some combination of search ads, social media marketing and retargeting.
So, maybe you’re thinking “I’ll write about some recent legislation and share it on Facebook,” or “I’ll post some videos with open-house tips for FSBOs on YouTube.” If that’s where you’re at, it’s a good start, but you’ve skipped a step.
To set campaign-specific goals, you first have to determine which broad goal you’re working on. Identifying your desired outcome helps you develop a strategy and set campaign-specific goals. It also tells you which metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) to use to measure your success.
Work backward from your broad goal to set campaign-specific goals. For example, let’s say you want to increase online conversions by 20 percent compared to the prior year. OK, we can do that. To measure, we’ll need to determine your conversion rate from the prior year.
At its most basic level, it’s simple: divide the number of conversions by the number of visitors. That gives you a conversion rate. If you had 100 conversions from 10,000 visitors, then your conversion rate is 0.01 or 1 percent.
Your first thought might be to increase your site traffic by 20 percent, and sometimes it is that simple. Start creating interesting and relevant blog posts and videos, throw some coupons and offers up on social media, develop strong landing pages and watch metrics like:
If you can increase the 10,000 visits to 12,000 and your conversion rate holds true, you’ll reach 120 conversions and attain your goal. Fantastic!
But, maybe you’re already getting strong traffic. Perhaps your opportunity lies in engaging your current traffic. Improving that conversion rate to 1.2 percent would give you a 20 percent increase in conversions without traffic growth. This requires a different strategy and different KPIs.
In this example, setting two goals might be the way to go. Increasing site traffic by 10 percent and improving your conversion rate by 10 percent nets a 22 percent gain in total conversions.
Of course, this is all very basic. There are far more detailed metrics to help you monitor your progress, but the point remains: you must know exactly what you want to accomplish before you choose the tools for the job.
Set specific goals!
Content is the fun part. Content allows you to give your existing and potential customers exactly what they need when they need it — and you get to be creative.
This section will cover the different types of content and how you should use them. But before we get into that, let’s set a couple of ground rules.
You can’t create content that makes everyone happy. You can’t create content that works with everyone. Fortunately, you don’t need to.
Imagine your perfect client. They absolutely LOVE your service and everything about it. They’re interested in what you do and how you do it. They’re loyal and they value the benefit you bring to their lives. This is the only person you care about when you’re creating content.
You may have more than one type of perfect client, and that’s OK. Find out everything you can about these people:
Uncovering this information helps you develop a buyer persona that you’ll find useful for both content creation and targeting. Knowing your buyer persona is like knowing the combination to your safe. It’s important.
Create all of your content for that one imaginary perfect client.
Create content in a way that resonates with them. If your clients frequently comment on your sense of humor or attention to detail, then use that in your content. It’s a strength.
Test content to find out what works and what doesn’t. When you figure out what works, use it and make more. If it isn’t working, improve it or try another approach. You’re building automation here, don’t hold on to underperforming content.
This applies to all content, and especially to written content. Be careful.
Even little mistakes chip away at credibility: the more you have, the less credible your business appears.
You don’t have to create a masterpiece; in fact, avoid the commercial look. Your content doesn’t need to be professionally made; videos made with your phone are fine. But, take the time to make sure your work is as mistake-free as possible.
Content is shareable media like:
Remember the three funnel stages discussed earlier? They were awareness, consideration and conversion. As it turns out, some content is better than others at delivering results in each stage.
Many businesses tend to stick to their comfort zone. Everyone has a blog — and that’s a good thing. Blogs are great awareness and consideration content, and they can pitch in with some conversions here and there, too.
But there’s other content that appeals to customers in the top (awareness) and middle (consideration) of your funnel, and there are much better options for the bottom (conversion).
If you remember anything from this section, let it be this: don’t sell your product in awareness content. It’s like proposing on the first date; it’s rarely well received.
“This is the second most common reason businesses fail, especially small ones,” Yu cautions. “They don’t have the content, or their content is only conversion content as opposed to nurturing content, which is necessary to generate the lead.”
Awareness content helps introduce you to potential customers. These customers don’t know you, don’t care about you and don’t want to hear your pitch. Your best option is to entertain or educate them.
Allow new customers to humanize your business, and maybe they’ll start to like you. It’s a lot easier for someone to trust a person they like. Getting someone to like you, even if they didn’t think about your product, is a big win.
Awareness content helps to keep the top of your funnel filled with fresh visitors.
Best content types for the awareness stage:
Local businesses can benefit by giving their company a face and personal story. Show the human side of your business here: tell stories, be funny, teach people how to do things. Share industry-relevant content.
If your awareness content is doing its job, people will think positively of you. They’ll like you.
Consideration content works to build trust and convert visitors into leads. You’re still not selling here, though; you’re showcasing. Consideration content builds trust by educating and helping your visitors.
Show them how to do things themselves and do it well. You want them to consider you the expert once they need one. What problems do you solve and how do you solve them? Document it, in writing or video and share it.
Remember, there are reasons people pay you: they don’t want to do it themselves, or they don’t know how. Help those who want to try. The information is already out there; it might as well come from you.
Best content for the consideration stage:
If you’ve done well with awareness and consideration content, you’ll notice an uptick in your session duration, view-through rate and page-event or engagement metrics. Some of your visitors are interested in what you’re doing.
This is where conversion content goes to work. Conversion content leads to one thing: the close.
Focus on your product and its features and benefits. Try different sales techniques and test them against each other to see what works better. You may find that some techniques work well with traffic from a specific source, but not others.
Pay attention to these details and be aware of them when creating new content.
Best content for the conversion stage:
Effective content starts with clearly defined goals and in-depth knowledge of your ideal customer. Now, you only need to put it in front of the right eyes.
Facebook and Google are the champions of social media and search advertising, respectively. It’s not even close. Facebook boasts 1.5 billion active daily users and Google a holds a nearly three-quarters share of the global search market.
Both offer a variety of methods to deliver your content organically or through paid channels. For as little as a dollar per day, you can target people similar to your clients.
Facebook and Google allow you to narrow audiences in many ways including:
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With improved tracking and AI, you can even target users who show intent, or inferred intent, to buy. For example, a person searching for mortgage rates, location-specific school ratings and local job-market data shows strong inferred signals that a move might be in their future.
A savvy realtor in that area might do well to direct their content to that searcher.
“Consider behavioral targets, too, which are more powerful than static personas,” advises Yu. “Dynamic, intent-based targeting is way better than general demographics and psychographics.”
Facebook lets you create custom audiences that you can build with your current clients and followers. It analyzes their profiles and finds other people with similar traits and interests. If they’re just like the people that love your service, they might enjoy your service, too.
“Custom audiences are the best targets, especially if we’re building sequential, remarketing audiences down each stage of the funnel,” says Yu.
If you’re going to take a shot at content marketing, or you want to improve what you’re currently doing, draft a plan that includes:
Employ this fundamental strategy to all of your future campaigns, measure the results, A/B test different content and make adjustments. Over time, you’ll build an automated marketing system customized to your business.
Jump in! If you run into any trouble, Custom Creatives is just a click away. Got questions? Ask me now.