How do you implement a content marketing campaign? What steps should you take?
Like any strategic marketing initiative, content marketing needs to be performed in a methodical and systematic fashion. While spontaneous bursts of creativity and originality certainly helps in creating great buzz-generating content, keeping to a schedule helps ensure long-term success.
To help you along, I have developed a brief set of questions which you can use as a checklist. Hopefully, this will provide a useful guide to you before launching your next content marketing campaign.
Content Marketing Objective
First and foremost, you need to understand why you are considering content marketing. Having clarity on your content marketing objective is a vital step in increasing the likelihood of success.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why are we embarking on content marketing? Are there other strategic options?
- What marketing problem are we trying to solve? Brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition, or sales?
- What are our short, medium and long term content marketing goals?
- How do we define success?
Form Content Marketing Team
Next, and very importantly, consider who you have on board the content marketing train. It is useful here to identify the following:
- Organisational set-up and reporting structure.
- Resources (manpower, money, time) available to staff the content marketing function. Are they full or part timers?
- Competencies required. Do we have somebody who can write? Shoot photos? Design infographics? Record and mix podcasts?
- Insourcing versus outsourcing. What should we do inhouse? Which areas are better done by external parties?
- Training and development.
Target the Right Customers
Customers are the reason for any organisation’s existence. The same certainly applies in content marketing.
Create customer or buyer personas by zooming in on the following:
- What are the demographic attributes of our customers? In other words, age, sex, education, income, housing type, and other basic qualities.
- More importantly, what are their psychographic qualities? How do our customers see themselves, behave or act? What are their values and beliefs?
- How are buying decisions made – collectively as a group or individually? What could trigger these decisions?
- Do we have existing knowledge of our customers? What are their common complaints or feedback? Have they shared any suggestions on how we can improve?
Craft Enchanting Brand Stories
Now that we’ve narrowed down who our customers are, we should author our content brand story. Anwering the “Whys” is important here. Craft your brand story with the following in mind:
- Mission, vision, values and long-term goals. What do you believe in? What is your dent in the universe?
- Why should customers care about what you do? What if your brand promise to them?
- Brand heritage, including founder stories and that “eureka” moment leading to the product being created.
- Develop a story bank of possible organisational stories – ones that exemplify your brand values.
For more hints, check out the 7 Rules of Social Storytelling.
Content Hub, Spokes and Influencers
In content marketing, your “hub” frequently refers to an online platform like a website or blog. In digital marketing lingo, we call this an “owned” platform (see From Integrated Marcoms to Content Marketing).
Spokes are the marketing and social media channels which you use to promote and share your content. They could include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, or content aggregation websites like Reddit or Stumbleupon.
Beyond this, you should also look at working with influencers (see ABCs of Influencer Marketing) to get your content out there.
Develop a Content Calendar
OK, you’ve got your website and social media channels all ready. Before we start on our masterpieces, we need to develop a publishing schedule via a content calendar with the following elements:
- Dates, timings and authors of posts.
- Frequency of posts. Generally speaking, blog posts are more infrequent (once or twice a week), while posts on social media channels could range from 3 to 5 times per week.
- Formats of content, eg a blog article on the website, Facebook status update, photo on Instagram, or 140 character Tweet.
- Headlines and short summaries of each item. For Facebook and Twitter, it can be the actual posts themselves.
- Images (thumbnails preferable) or links.
* Content Pro Tip: Keep your content mix to roughly 80% helpful content and 20% sales/promotional content.
Create Great Content
Now that you’ve fleshed out your calendar, it is time to dive into the meat of content marketing. There are lots of online resources on writing (eg How To Write For Your Audiences), photography, design, videography, and creating of podcasts.
Here are some useful tips to consider:
- Effort versus utility. Reserve your best content work for special occasions.
- Use a consistent brand voice. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are not good content marketers!
- Make it personal, authentic, and human. Robots need not apply.
- Occasionally, crowdsource customer content and feature them. They will love you for it!
Acquire, Convert and Relate
OK, so you’ve enchanted your audiences and online communities with breathtaking content. What next?
The show is not over yet – you need to convert them to paying customers!
Consider the following:
- Introduce an opt-in email subscription mechanism to encourage readers and followers to be a member.
- Create a regular newsletter to prime them on what’s happening. You may use the newsletter to also promote or market your products or services with member specials.
- Once in a while, include a marketing message in your content to promote your products or services. However, don’t do this too often.
- Gate your best content behind a name and email sign up. This could be extremely valuable stuff like an eBook, webinar, instructional video, or research report. Michael Stelzner calls these “nuclear content” (see Launching Your Business with Social Media).
- Organise meet-ups and face-to-face events to engage your communities. Trust me, nothing beats meeting each other in the flesh.
Measure Content Marketing Performance
Last, but certainly not least, you need to track and measure how well your content marketing campaigns perform. Once again, there is a list of things that you should do:
- What are your yardsticks of success? Number of views and visitors to your website? Sign ups for your email list? Conversion of leads to paying customers?
- Have you incorporated a tracking code on your website or blog? Google Analytics is a great tool for this, but there could be others too.
- How frequently do you measure success? Introduce a weekly and monthly review mechanism to see what worked and what doesn’t.
- Is there a feedback mechanism to learn from successes and mistakes?
Naturally, it is impossible to cover the entire breadth and depth of content marketing with a single blog post. However, I hope that this gives you a good idea of what it encompasses.
Check out the convenient infographic below summarising the 9 steps involved in creating a content marketing campaign checklist. Feel free to share it as long as you attribute it with a link back to this article. 🙂
Need more detailed help in crafting and implementing your content marketing strategy? Drop me a comment or leave your particulars and message in our contact form.