“What I love about content is it has the power to change people’s lives for a second or for a day or forever. Great content creates space for people to pause and reflect, and that space is where transformation happens.” — Jolie Miller
Content marketing is and has to be, a cornerstone of the successful digital media marketing strategy. Without content, the digital marketing strategy cannot and will not be as successful as it could be with the inclusion of a content marketing strategy.
Therefore, the question that must be asked and answered is: “What comprises an effective content marketing strategy?”
Content: What, Why, and How
Before we look at an answer to this question, let’s consider a definition of each the following terms:
According to Wikipedia.com, content is the “information and experiences that are directed toward an end-user or audience.” And, it is generally expressed via one or media such as an online blog, speech, magazines, and books.
The quotation mentioned above by Jolie Miller, highlights the fact that, while not all content can be considered good, exceptional content provides the occasion for its target audience to pause and reflect on the points made and opinions offered. And, this opportunity presents the reader with the opportunity for the transformation of viewpoints, ideas, and outlooks on life.
Content marketing and the content marketing strategy
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Therefore, based on this definition, the first step, and primary purpose, of developing a content marketing strategy is to determine measurable outcomes. Once these quantifiable outcomes have been identified, the next step is to plan the details of how to achieve these outcomes. This detail usually includes a list of target keywords, article topics, and target blogs or sites where these articles can be posted.
Thirdly, a vital part of a successful content marketing strategy is to analyse each article’s performance in the light of these measurable outcomes. And, if necessary, the strategy details need to be changed to ensure that the strategic goals are met.
Content Marketing: The 4 Imperatives
Now that we have an understanding of what content, content marketing, and a content marketing strategy comprises, let’s look at the four key elements that, when followed, will ensure increased sales and business success.
Measuring content marketing ROI
As highlighted above, content marketing performance or Return on Investment (ROI) must be accurately measured.
Michael Brenner, in his article “How to define and measure the ROI of content marketing” notes that in 2019, about a third of the total marketing budget was spent on content. And the overall global content marketing spend in 2019 was $300 billion (USD). This figure has doubled in less than four years. Thus, the content marketing spend in 2015/2016 was circa $150 billion (USD).
Thus, in layman’s terms, you need to ensure that your content marketing spend adds value to the brand that the content is promoting. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time, money, and energy.
Michael Brenner again provides a concise answer. He notes that content marketing “typically generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs as much as 62 percent less.”
Therefore, in summary, and based on the figures mentioned above, it is clear to see that content and content marketing works as a foundational part of a successful digital marketing strategy.
Finally, it is also worth noting that it’s not just content that is part of a successful marketing strategy. It is content over time that is the most successful. Thus, it is vital to plan your strategy for three to six months in advance.
Determine your brand’s target audience
Developing brand personas to define your target audience is a critical part of the overall content marketing strategy.
At this juncture, the following two questions might very well be: What is a brand persona, and why do you need to develop at least one persona for your brand?
Carrie Cousins, in her article titled, “What is a brand persona, and why do I need one?” provides the best answers to these questions. In summary, she notes that brand communications in all forms, press releases, social media posts, and long-form articles, are designed to describe your business, its ethos and values.
In other words, when communicating with your target audience, you are explaining how your brand can add value to your target audience’s lives.
And, to ensure that you reach the right consumer grouping, it is a valuable exercise to spend the time developing a brand persona for each of your brand’s target audience segment.
Therefore, the question that needs to be asked at this juncture is what a persona is.
Succinctly stated, the answer to this question is that a brand persona is a group of character traits, beliefs, emotions, and values that will benefit from purchasing your brand.
Furthermore, the second question, “why do you need to develop at least one persona for your brand?” is answered by considering this statement from the usability.gov website on the topic.
“The purpose of personas is to create reliable and realistic representations of your key audience segments for reference. These representations should be based on qualitative and some quantitative user research and web analytics.”
Finally, it is critical to ensure that the personas are authentic as they are the mechanism is used to build a relationship between the brand and its target audience, resulting in product sales. This statement is especially relevant for online businesses, especially eCommerce sites.
Personalise your content to suit each persona type
It is vital not to underestimate the creation of individual target audience personas. These personas allow the content marketing strategist to design and develop individualised marketing strategies for each persona type. This will attract all of the different persona types to the brand.
Otherwise, your marketing strategy will not attract all of the individual groupings within the brand’s target audience, and that will cost the company in missed sales. This, in turn, will reduce the marketing spend ROI.
Adopt a unified digital marketing approach
The bulk of this article has been devoted to describing the value of content and content marketing as a core element of a successful digital marketing strategy. And, even though it would seem as though there is a direct contradiction between the need for individualised content plus the need for an integrated approach, both are essential parts of the digital marketing strategy. And, both parts should work together, not in opposition to each other.
In other words, the individual parts of the content marketing cannot, and must not, be treated as a separate unit or silo. It is vital to address the various aspects of the overall digital marketing strategy as a combined whole.
By way of expanding on the previous paragraph, it is essential to note that the content marketing strategy consists of several components like email marketing, long-form articles, blog posts, and social media marketing. It is crucial to treat all of these elements both as a unified whole and as individual components.
Therefore, when planning your content marketing strategy, it is necessary to ensure that the keyword plan and theme is carried across all of the different elements. This is to ensure that the brand’s target audience experiences the brand marketing efforts as one voice, not as several competing voices.
Finally, all that remains to be said is that any content produced much to be useful. Additionally, any content written and published must also be well-structured, well-written, and grammatically correct. However, only content that adds value to the brand by attracting its target audience will drive sales, convert visitors into returning customers, increase the ROI on the marketing spend, and add to the company’s bottom line.
Thus, the primary aim and raison d’etre of the content marketing strategy should be to increase the brand’s value proposition to ensure that the company marketing the brand should not only stay in business but should grow from strength to strength.