CEO and co-founder of CoSchedule
From pop-ups and banner ads to high-budget prime-time television commercials, traditional advertising methods are struggling to be effective. Audiences are tuned out, and with so much data available for marketers to segment, consumers demand that their attention is earned. But there's hope. Content marketing is one method that has seen enormous growth in the past few years.
According to PointVisible's "The State of Content Marketing in 2017" infographic, 70 percent of B2B and 73 percent of B2C brands planned to create more content this year.
Many brands approach the realm of content marketing eager for a quick win. But with that mindset, many are in for a rude awakening. The infographic also reported that only 22 percent of B2B and 25 percent of B2C brands felt like they were achieving success in their content marketing efforts. Such statistics can make you question whether there is a secret Holy Grail for content marketing success and whether only a select few are lucky enough to find it.
Content marketing takes a significant amount of effort, so just crossing your fingers for quick successes is far from a sustainable way to put a new marketing strategy into motion. When it comes to creating content to ramp up your ROI, let the following tenets be your guide:
1. Lend a helping hand.
Let's start with some wise words from Jay Baer: “Smart marketing is about help, not hype.” Some people inherently think marketers are liars who are constantly trying to part fools from their money. Instead, content marketing turns that notion on its head by putting prospects' needs before marketers' selfish desires to sell.
Psychology tells us that you forge better connections with customers if you help them solve problems on their own. By providing advice that’s free, transparent, comprehensive and useful, you position your brand as an authority in the industry that customers will seek out whenever a need arises.
The Home Depot and Kraft are great examples of brands leveraging the power of useful content. Kraft features an extensive list of delicious recipes that consumers can easily make at home. They probably call for Kraft products, but no doubt any similar pasta will do.
In addition, The Home Depot has an entire section of its website devoted to helping people tackle DIY projects, which is a little counter intuitive because the retailer also employs teams of contractors. What’s important, though, is that customers who look to The Home Depot for answers on the web are more likely to visit The Home Depot when they need paint, tools or appliances. Giving customers what they need to complete a successful job is a recipe for creating loyalty that far surpasses an initial purchase.
2. Tell a compelling story.
The human brain is wired to appreciate a good story, so make sure you’re incorporating storytelling into your content marketing. Tech startup Groove does a tremendous job of storytelling. Over the years, the company blog has featured subjects from leadership advice to near-death experiences to even an explanation of how the company mastered content marketing.
If you’re thinking Groove spilled the beans on its own ploy, you’re missing the mark. Getting personal makes content more powerful -- shining a light on your own embarrassing mistakes humanizes your company and makes it more trustworthy. Just be sure to include how you learned and grew along the way.
3. Measure and iterate.
Producing high-quality content is laudable, but it’s never the end goal. Instead, adjust to focus on producing content that generates results. On a recent podcast, my company’s head of marketing demand generation explained that every asset should be the best piece of content on the internet; otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.
What makes something the best piece of content on the internet, you ask? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Once you know how to measure success, you’ll be better able to tell whether the asset produced the intended results. For instance, a common goal for publishing content is to increase web traffic. A tool such as Google Analytics can provide metrics including page views, link clicks and purchases that you can then use to determine how much traffic is worth.
Then, take what works and repeat it. If a certain author gets positive feedback time and again, ask this rock star to create more content. If how-to articles stoke the appetite of your audience, keep them coming. If infographics are getting downloaded like hotcakes, you’ve found your company’s content calling.
As a strategy, content marketing is anything but quick -- but that doesn’t mean you can’t see small ROI improvements early on. Figure out the goal of your campaign; then, experiment with different asset types. When you find the one that performs the best, run with it. To really reap the long-term benefits of content marketing, try to produce evergreen assets that will stay relevant for years instead of days. Over time, it will start to become clear why almost everyone is giving content marketing a whirl.