While content marketing can be traced all the way back to 1732 (when Benjamin Franklin first published the Poor Richard’s Almanac to promote his printing business), it has never been more prolifically used than today. Everyone’s doing it – but not everyone knows why.

Without the ‘why’, the power of content marketing can easily be lost, leaving you with content that’s flabby, unfocused, and not as effective as it should be.

It’s a bit like running a race – if you don’t know how long it is or where it ends, how can you know how far you are from the finish? And how can you feel motivated enough to continue? You need a starting line and something to aim for.

Once you’ve clarified your main objective, you can move on to building a step-by-step strategy – one which is focussed and driven.

So, with 2018 on the horizon, it’s time to say goodbye to shooting in the dark and get crystal clear about why you’re engaging with content marketing…

Goal 1: Generate inbound leads

If generating inbound leads is your main objective, you need to be realistic about time frames. You can’t get there overnight so be methodical and focus on the long game. If you’re starting from scratch and need to grow your site traffic, make 2018 the year you work on publishing regularly and generating lead magnets – this will create a solid foundation for you to build on.

Top tips:

  • Set up Google Analytics: You can use it to monitor site visitors, how long they stay and what they’re they looking at. This will allow you to measure the ongoing impact of your content.
  • Do your research: By finding out what type of content interests your target audience, you give yourself a better chance of creating something they’ll actually want to read.
  • Clean your database: Decluttering provides clarity and efficiency, so get rid of duplicates, junk contacts and inactive leads.
  • Keep publishing: Set yourself a target of blogging at least once a week – and stick to it. Remember, it’s likely to take at least six months to see a significant rise in visitors, so make sure you stay disciplined and keep your eyes on the prize.
  • Make sure your blog post is visible on your homepage. This makes it easy to find and gets more eyes on your content.
  • Stay social: We don’t need to tell you about the powers of social media. Use it to let people know about everything, including new content. Host video content on YouTube, tweet about your latest blog, post links to your LinkedIn profile – keep the conversation going.
  • Create a newsletter: Newsletters are one of the most effective ways to stay in contact with your customer base. Establish one and offer multiple ways for people to subscribe. Try website pop-ups, light boxes, social media teasers and incentives for signing up.
  • Write case studies: Don’t tell, show. Give your customers the opportunity to see how you do what you do and why it works.
  • Produce downloadable lead magnets: Create something people want to see and they’ll be much more likely to give you their email address. White papers, ebooks and reports all add value and help you create more focussed content.

Goal 2: Business development

Content marketing has a huge part to play in business development. If this is your main goal, you can afford to get more targeted by focussing on the concerns of leads in your pipeline and tailoring your content to meet their needs. You should also start to think of content as a strategic part of your sales effort – used correctly, content can be a highly effective way to build relationships and shorten your sales cycle.

Top tips

  • Use your sales pipeline: Revisit where each lead came from and what their key issues or questions were. You can use this information to write targeted content for a specific lead – it’s a simple case of identifying their problems and using your content to solve them.
  • Send it out: You need them to read it, so send the tailored content directly to the lead in question. This can be the perfect way to break the ice.
  • Create physical content: Digital is great, but paper is better. Many studies have shown that people retain less information when reading ebooks, compared to paper. And they’re more likely to be re-read, so get your content in print and send it out to the relevant people.

Goal 3: Improving conversion

Maybe you’re not getting enough traffic to your site, or maybe you’re getting plenty but the quality’s poor and your visibility isn’t translating to much. Either way, if improving conversion is your main objective, you need to get down to the nitty gritty – there’s a very fine line between someone simply bookmarking your page or signing up for your newsletter or a free trial.

Top tips:

  • Be clear and beneficial: This is the ‘show me the money’ bit. Speak directly to your reader and explain how what you’re saying will benefit them. Don’t just give them something that’s nice to read or informative – you need to show them what you can do for them.
  • Become a thought leader: By positioning yourself as an expert in your field, you can set yourself apart from the competition. To do this effectively, your content has to be authoritative and commanding – and, most importantly, backed up by solid facts and data.
  • Perfect your call to action: Far from being a token line at the end of your article, using the right call to action can make a real difference to your conversion rates. Send people to your e-book, ask them to subscribe to your newsletter or tell them to give you a call and book a meeting.

Goal 4: Data collection

If data collection is your aim, it’s all about driving traffic to your site and creating as many opportunities for data entry as possible. Someone might want to read your ebook, but someone else might be interested in your webinars. Keep your content diverse and plentiful to optimise your numbers.

Top tips:

  • Create content for multiple channels: In order to broaden your appeal, don’t just stick to your blog or website. Post content to a variety of social media channels and always think of your audience – there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Take the time to produce the right content for the right stream to create more effective engagement. If they connect with it, they’re more likely to visit your site and subscribe or download.
  • Get magnetic: They’re called lead magnets for a reason. Invest in ebooks, webinars and whitepapers. The more types of downloadable content you can offer, the higher your chances of collecting more data.
  • Create a smooth landing page: This is your big chance to convince your reader to hand over their details, so you need to get it right. Make sure it’s clear, attractive and accessible from all devices.

 

The key to effective content is clarity of purpose. Before you do anything else, make sure you ask yourself why you’re engaging with content marketing – because if you don’t know where you want to go, you could end up going nowhere.

 

Our content goal for 2018 is inbound leads. As such, if you enjoyed this article, you should go and read our case study on app developers Calvium. We’ve helped them generate real business results with a tailored content strategy. From there, you should sign up to our newsletter, then get in touch.

 

The following two tabs change content below.

Bita Taghavi

Bita is a freelance writer who recently followed everyone else and moved from London to Bristol. When she’s not reading, writing or cooking she likes to go to the gym and dreams of one day becoming a female Geoff Capes (ideally without the beard).