Year after year, research shows that online information sources are the dominant “go to” for technical buyers researching a solution for a business purchase. Knowing this, many marketers get caught in the cycle of trying to produce large volumes of content to make sure whatever they think their target audiences are looking for exists on their website. These marketers often spend so much time on content development that there is no time left to develop a holistic content marketing strategy or evaluate the performance of existing content to see what is resonating with their target audiences.
Creating content for the sake of having content available is not a winning strategy. Having too much content can make it more difficult for your audiences to find the information they need. To avoid getting caught in the high-volume trap, equal weight should be placed on each of the three stages of the content creation process: content planning, content development and content evaluation.
In this article, I’ll offer four tips for creating a more balanced content marketing strategy that helps you stay focused on educating prospects and ultimately compels them to continue their purchasing journey with your company.
Tip #1: Create content with a purpose.
The high-level goal of any content marketing program is to have the right mix of content available that resonates with your target audiences at the different stages of their purchasing journey. But this is easier said than done, especially if your organization is fortunate enough to have subject matter experts (SMEs) that are excited about creating content and want to generate multiple pieces per year for their area of expertise.
As a content marketer, the last thing you want to do is squash an SME’s excitement by asking them to stop creating content. However, if content creation silos exist throughout your organization, it will become increasingly difficult for prospects to find the information they need to support their purchasing decisions.
To alleviate this issue and proactively focus your SMEs’ content development efforts, dedicate time to performing regular content planning. Through the content planning process, establish the goals and objectives for your content as well as the content themes, or topic clusters, your organization will focus on during that marketing cycle. Together, this key information will dictate the type of content your organization needs and help eliminate the “random acts of content creation” happening throughout your organization. Through the planning process, you also can be sure each piece of content you create is truly a purposeful piece that fills a need, tells a story and educates a customer or prospect in some way.
Tip #2: Let data drive your decisions.
Answer honestly: Does your organization have a process in place for regularly reviewing content metrics? Or do your content creators feel too busy creating content to dedicate time to reviewing metrics? If you answered yes to that last question, you are not alone. To ensure your content can help meet the strategic objectives you set through the planning process, you need a way to evaluate content performance. As part of your planning process, develop a content scorecard for each of your marketing campaigns that outlines the key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to track. The scorecard should also establish where you are (your baseline) and where you would like to be (your target).
By evaluating the right data on a quarterly basis, you can know what is working, and, perhaps more importantly, what is not working, to make data-driven adjustments to your content plan.
Tip #3: Ensure your content continues to meet your KPIs.
Unlike many other marketing activities, such as search advertising that ends when you stop paying for a campaign, your content can live on your site indefinitely. However, not all content should be immortal. Your business and solutions will evolve over time, and market trends and technologies change, which may eventually make previously top-performing content irrelevant. To elevate popular content and eliminate irrelevant or subpar content from your website, use a content life cycle management process to evaluate existing content on at least an annual basis.
An established content life cycle process will eventually make it systematic for your team to continually evaluate and optimize your content and ensure your top content shines.
Tip #4: Make it manageable.
Making content development manageable is not just about tempering volume. To have a truly sustainable content program that fuels your marketing plan, you need to take a hard look at the resources and tools at your disposal and evaluate any challenges your organization has had with content development in the past. For example, is it difficult to get SME time for sourcing sessions and even more impossible to get feedback during reviews? Or are you a solo marketer wearing many marketing hats for your organization that finds it difficult to dedicate time to content creation?
To keep these scenarios from impeding your efforts, as part of your planning process, you need to be sure you are resourced to execute your plan. For example, if you are looking for ways to engage your SMEs in content development, you could work with the appropriate management staff to see if performance measures can be tied to content development as needed. Or, if you find it difficult to dedicate marketing resources to content development and evaluation efforts, you could plan to form a partnership with a marketing agency focused on content development in your space.
Putting All the Marketing Pieces Together With Your Content Marketing Strategy
To effectively fuel growth, a thoughtful and dynamic content strategy must be at the heart of your marketing plan. When all the content you create has a purpose, and that purpose is continually solidified through regular evaluation, it will be easier for your audiences to find what they are looking for. The content you generate as a result of a focused content marketing strategy rather than many one-off efforts will be much more likely to drive traffic, generate leads and create qualified opportunities for sales.
This article was originally published by Forbes, which you can find through this link.
This post has been updated since its original publication in Q2 2022.