Before choosing from an array of different marketing strategies, document your content marketing goals. Best-in-class content marketers focus on acquiring, retaining and upselling customers. However, there is also a set of prerequisite goals for content marketing which include consumption, retention, sharing, engagement, conversion and onboarding.
Content Marketing Goals – Consumption
Individuals must consume an organization’s content before they can form a positive or negative opinion.
In content marketing, it is all about patience and re-engineering from the desired outcome to determine the optimized path to the final goal. For example, companies that initiate conversations about relevant business problems, challenges or opportunities appeal to a larger audience. This is because high-quality, purposeful content is more meaningful and relevant to people. After several of these types of conversations, a relationship will begin to form as these conversations help one’s company demonstrate expertise.
Finding the target audience is sometimes accomplished by:
- Developing a rich database of contacts in the target market via outbound marketing.
- Designing a comprehensive SEO/SEM program to draw people into the content.
- Partnering with an organization or person with an existing relationship with the desired target audience.
Content Marketing Goals – Retention
While seeing, reading, watching, interacting and talking about content are all good things, doing them does not necessarily mean that an individual has retained that information.
Everyone has a preferred learning style as well as learning pace. It’s critical to understand what needs to be communicated, how best to communicate that information and make sure one is communicating across all channels. Customers look to an organization to answer their questions because the organization is perceived as the expert resource. Organizations are expected to know how to effectively transfer knowledge to each customer so that he or she feels they have derived the value promised at the time of the sale.
One of the challenges for content marketing is figuring out the right content format. This is because people all learn differently. For example, expressive extroverts are typically more comfortable interacting with groups of people and talking about topics. Analytical introverts tend to gravitate to gathering lots of data and reviewing that data alone in a quiet place.
To complicate matters further, content marketing is not a “one and done” event. Content marketing is a continuous living thing, so it’s not enough to have one positive interaction with an individual. While a good start, one exchange is typically not enough to establish a firm, positive impression in an individual’s mind. And, just because one format worked once does not mean that it is the only content format that will resonate with the individual.
Fresh content also helps the sale with people one already knows. They’ll keep coming to the organization’s site to read the latest, and they’ll stay there longer because of the outstanding and ever-changing content.
Content Marketing Goals – Sharing
Of course, one of the objectives of marketing is to deliver relevant content but it is rather pointless to serve up content if no one ever sees or engages with it. The key is to create content that people:
- Are wowed by
- Learn from (How to, Stats)
- Become pleased with
- Find humorous
- Get angry
The Social Media Platforms that organizations can leverage are plentiful with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, SlideShare, Pinterest, Quora and all the rest. The difficulty is to understand one’s target audience in order to know which social platforms they prefer, when they hang out there and what is the right time (time of day, day of week) to best connect with them.
The website platforms that organizations can leverage for content sharing include the company website, blog, microsites, PPC, SEO, and RSS, to name a few. Again, the format of the content will determine the optimal website platforms. To decide on the format means not only knowing the various personas, but understanding people’s different learning styles to make it easy for them to find and access the content.
It’s also important to encourage people to share their thoughts. For example, on blog posts include “leave a reply” or “share your thoughts.” Including social media icons on all content is a must, as is proactively managing the social media and website platforms. Remember, in order to get a customer to respond it requires engagement with them.
Content Marketing Goals – Engagement
Publishing a post, white paper, e-book, tweet or YouTube video and then responding to comments or questions is a great way to connect with the target audience. This type of engagement “humanizes” one’s organization by introducing an actual person who provides an opinion by sharing experiences and insights. Customers buy from people, not a logo, and the earlier a connection is made on topics -not products- the greater the potential for a strong relationship to form. Providing knowledge, insights and opinions establishes credibility, trust and authority in one’s market.
By sharing viewpoints and demonstrating knowledge and expertise on topics of interest to the target audience, one is established as a trusted advisor. In addition, customers expect an organization to have all the answers to their questions. In today’s world of big data and social media, how can an organization not know answers to fulfilling their brand promise? Yes, it’s impossible for an organization to think of everything, and customers realize that. However, it is possible for an organization to be responsive to what it doesn’t know, and try to minimize those knowledge gaps–that’s what customers expect.
On average, it will require from five to ten interactions (email, online, phone or physical) to start a relationship plus many more to solidify it.
Content Marketing Goals – Conversion
Conversion is all about advancing someone through the customer buying or sales process. It’s important to identify each stage with clear definitions and metrics by tracking, monitoring and managing each metric in order to increase conversions and velocity.
Conversion is very sales-focused, and a basic sales premise is that “you give to get.” The best-in-class content marketing plans provide content in exchange for something. This does not mean that on the first interaction with a prospect a one-page form with 20 fields for the prospect to complete is introduced. It does mean that there is an opportunity to learn something on each prospect interaction, whether transactional, demographic, psychographic or behavioral. Great marketers create a framework of relevant information that they use to populate their target account profile, qualification matrix and scoring model.
The guiding light for conversion is to understand the buying process. Know the different personas involved in the buying process and the corresponding value drivers for each persona. Then, serve the right information, at the right time and in the right format to engage with one’s audience.
Content Marketing Goals – Onboarding
Onboarding is all about delivering the value promised when the sale was made. An effective use of content marketing during the onboarding process goes well beyond providing an invoice, user manual, and website FAQs.
The question organizations need to ask and answer is how to efficiently and effectively onboard customers so that they are successful—i.e. they believe they received value from the purchase. Customer onboarding is part of the product lifecycle and it requires the involvement of more than marketing. It requires development, sales, support, operations, etc. Customer onboarding is a nurture path (or onboarding path) that is created from the perspective of what a customer needs to be successful with one’s product. Then, the team needs to create those assets in an effective format easily accessed in an organized and integrated manner.
The ultimate goal is to turn customers into passionate advocates who share the organization’s success stories. It cannot be emphasized enough how important this is because low customer satisfaction rates cost an organization up to five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Set your content marketing effort up for success by creating a content marketing plan and that will drive your marketing action plan.