It goes without saying — which is what everyone says before they say it anyway — that content marketing is a fundamental staple on the digital landscape, where articles, ebooks, infographics, social media messaging and other elements fly fast and furious.
However, the majority of businesses aren’t getting full (or sometimes any) ROI from their content marketing efforts. That’s tragic, but fixable. Here are 7 practical and proven ways to reach the content marketing promised land:
1. Create a Strategic Game Plan
Have a strategic content marketing game plan, complete with an editorial calendar and project management software. Merely pushing out content every now and then to “see what sticks” doesn’t work. It’s like getting healthy. Plan it right, then do it right.
2. Identify Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are segments that share a similar psychographic profile (for B2B these are typically rooted in their professional roles and responsibilities, and for B2C these are typically rooted in personal needs and subjective preferences). While it may not be practical for businesses to create content that targets each buyer persona — because there can be several — it’s essential to aim for the most important and influential groups.
3. Map and Align Content to the Buyer’s Journey
Customers move along a generally predictable process — a.k.a. the buyer’s journey. The first phase of this voyage is characterized by an interest high-level information gathering, the middle phase is characterized by an interest evaluating sellers/vendors/service providers, and the end phase is characterized by an interest overcoming purchase objectives (e.g. budget, risk, etc.). Businesses need to ensure that each piece of content they create — from blog posts to ebooks and so on — is mapped accordingly to each phase.
4. Push Content Out through Multiple Channels
Some businesses primarily use their social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn) to push out fresh content, while others focus on their blog, and still others use third party platforms such as industry or sector-specific websites (of which there are many).
The key to unlocking ROI is to leverage all channels vs. some of them; especially since the same prospective customer may access various touchpoints along their buyer’s journey. For example, a customer may start out by accessing a business’s Facebook page, then shift over to the blog, and then over to the YouTube Channel, and so on. While the same content doesn’t need to be (and usually shouldn’t) be at each touchpoint, all of the platforms should be active and regularly updated.
5. Intelligently Play the SEO Game
Most businesses are playing the SEO game to some degree, but most aren’t playing it intelligently — typically because they’re getting bad advice from (so-called) consultants who specialize in over-promising and under-delivering.
There are many factors and variables that go into intelligently playing — and ultimately winning — the SEO game. It’s beyond the scope of this article to drill into each one, and so here’s a quick rundown of what makes the difference:
- Use market research to generate the right keyword themes and concepts.
- Use enterprise-grade analytics tools (not the free apps you find online!) to hand-pick specific keywords, including long-tail and niche.
- Optimize all main website pages (remember that search engines rank web pages, not websites!), and turn the blog into an SEO machine by pushing out a steady stream of quality keyword-optimized content. FYI steady streams means 3-5 posts a week, and quality means professionally written and designed.
- Strategically use internal and external linking to share the SEO love, while enhancing visitor experience.
- Publish original, quality content to credible third-party websites (i.e. high domain authority and relevance) for legitimate backlinking.
- Cross-link all new content across social media to increase visibility and encourage sharing.
6. Analyze, Analyze and Analyze!
Using analytics to identify what’s working (and why) and what isn’t (and why not) is essential. However, most apps aren’t robust enough to tell the full story. For example, while Google Analytics is useful, most businesses — especially if they’re wisely running inbound marketing campaigns — need a much more sophisticated back-end analytics toolset, such as the one offered by HubSpot.
7. Stay In it to Win It
Some businesses lose patience with their content marketing investments, and pull the plug far too early; which undermines their chances of generating significant and sustainable ROI down the road.
The advice here (obviously) isn’t to spend money or waste time on campaigns or programs that clearly don’t work. Rather, it’s to understand that content marketing ROI is about playing the long game. Yes, there are short-term quantifiable results, such as increased web traffic and more conversions. But it’s usually not until a business has been strategically invested in content marketing for about half a year before the gains really start to skyrocket. Businesses have to stay in it to win it!
To learn more about boosting your content marketing ROI, contact our team today. Your consultation with us is free.
For more information on how to increase your business, download our FREE eBook to learn about inbound marketing best practices: