How To Drive Reputation, Relationships And Revenue With A Connected Content Marketing Strategy
As content marketing continues to be an investment for marketing and PR teams, a misconception is emerging. Creating great content is not content marketing. Every brand wants to publish stories that appeal, but that doesn’t mean you’re content marketing.
This article is about creating a full-funnel content marketing strategy that addresses every stage of your target buyer’s journey to purchase. By taking advantage of more tools in today’s marketing arsenal, you can pull your target audiences from one stage of that journey to the next — deliberately, measurably and creatively. That’s what it means to have a “connected” strategy, and it’s one of the most overlooked elements of effective content marketing.
The best part is you can build a strategy like this in five steps:
Step 1: Map The Journey
Start by mapping the key stages of your ideal customer’s path to purchase. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But it does have to be an accurate representation of what each customer persona is typically thinking at each stage. This will help you understand what they need to think, believe or do to move to the next step.
Step 2: Divvy Up The Funnel
One of the biggest roadblocks to connected content marketing emerges when different teams or departments are responsible for different parts of the buyer journey. For example, the PR team might publish content to drive reputation and build relationships (top of the funnel), while the marketing team publishes content to build relationships and drive revenue (middle-to-bottom of the funnel). Their approach to content and metrics will reflect these important differences. This is the enemy of connected content marketing, but these overlapping objectives could combine virtuously with a unified strategy. Agree early on who will be responsible for content marketing at every stage of the buyer journey and plan to collaborate.
Step 3: Map The Strategy
Once you’ve mapped the buyer journey and agreed on who is responsible for each stage, you’re ready to start building your strategy. There are five elements that must be mapped at each stageof your buyer journey:
• Content Topics: What topics would most appeal to your buyer at each stage? In the first stage of most buyer journeys, you’ll be vying for their attention, so prepare to share stories that entertain, inspire or surprise. In later stages, they’re seeking more information and you can offer more decision-oriented content (e.g., checklists, comparison charts). Start with the heart, then move to the mind.
• Content Formats: Which vehicles make the most sense for your users at each stage? Is the story best told through video or a downloadable checklist? What device are they likely using? Mobile-first thinking is critical these days, but depending on the audience, industry and content stage, they may be more likely to consume on desktop.
• Distribution Channels: Content is useless if your audience doesn’t see it. Map the distribution channels — paid, earned, owned and social — you will use to get your content in front of your targets at each stage. This could affect format. For example, if you’re planning to use Spotify video ads, consider how many Spotify users aren’t looking at their smartphones when they’re playing music and make sure your video creative also works as a radio spot.
• CTAs: Have a clear idea of what you want users to do after consuming a piece of content. By mapping your buyer journey, you should know exactly where you want them to go once they’ve consumed a certain blog post, video or social post. Plan to send them there with a clear call to action and an easy next step (ideally one click). Give them more than one option to improve your chances of moving them down the funnel.
• KPIs: These metrics should tie directly to the CTAs at each stage. At Stage 1, you’ll likely focus on engagement metrics. Further down the funnel, you’ll shift to conversion metrics.
Once you’ve agreed on these five elements for each stage of the buyer journey, you have built a full-funnel content marketing strategy. This is a moment to celebrate — almost. There’s still another layer to pull it all together before launch.
Step 4: Plan Your Retargeting Tactics
This step is the essence of building a “connected” strategy. Search, display and social retargeting options act as an accelerant from one stage of the buyer journey to the next. After all, the people most likely to enter the second stage of your buyer journey are those engaging with your content in the first stage, and so on.
We’ve all been chased around the internet by the shoes we didn’t buy, so if you don’t want to be like the stalker shoes, put yourself in your user’s shoes. What invitation would you need to re-engage with that product or brand? Be creative and intentional. Prepare to test several approaches.
Step 5: Implement, Measure And Optimize
If you’ve completed the four steps above, you’re in the top half of content marketers, if not the top 10%. But none of that matters until you start creating content and putting it out there.
You already mapped out your KPIs, but before you launch, make sure you’ve got the technical infrastructure in place to measure performance against each one. For example, are your Facebook or LinkedIn pixels installed in the right places on your website to track conversions and retarget those who don’t convert? Is your email nurture platform integrated into your CRM so you can track how many of those whitepaper downloads turned into sales? You don’t want to find out after the campaign is running that you’re not getting the data you need to understand what’s working and what’s not.
Finally, plan to track and report performance on a regular basis so you can course-correct and optimize. Don’t just let the engine run when you can fine-tune as you go.
These five steps are designed to prompt a series of simple decisions to craft a strategy as modest or sophisticated as you need, with better collaboration across teams and better results in the end.
Article written by: Randall Kirsch0