How to make content marketing generate results for your business by focusing on 5 success factors
Traditional marketing is self-centered. More often than not, it offers little more than a seductive image or a brief statement of your product’s qualities. On top of that, after decades of similar campaigns, consumers have grown adept at tuning out the noise.
Content marketing offers something different from traditional advertising. It requires marketers to step outside of their self-centered mindset and think about consumers’ needs. Content breaks through the marketing noise to create a relationship, offering knowledge and substance instead of fluff. It’s one of the reasons why content marketing is three times more effective than digital marketing in generating sales.
Where most ads are disposable, content is an asset that pays long-term dividends. Once an ad is gone, so is the opportunity. Content typically has a much longer shelf life. There’s certainly a cost associated with creating content assets, but once you’ve established a bank of great content, it will become the gift that keeps on giving.
Consistency Is Key
However, if you want to reap the benefits of an effective content bank, you’ll have to keep your output consistent. And I’m not just talking about maintaining the frequency of your posts. Here are five areas of consistency that will help you not only build a great bank of assets, but also build your audience:
- Strategy: Everyone involved in your company needs to understand the mission and the specific objectives behind your content. When everybody is singing a different tune, things get chaotic. It’s especially important to have a coherent, consistent plan in the world of social media.
- Message: Just like with your strategy, when you have multiple teams working in multiple markets and using multiple platforms, the message has to stay consistent.IBM is a great example of this. As an enormous company, it has numerous blogs posts on a range of topics. Yet the message remains consistent across the board, providing technical know-how that’s trusted by millions.
- Tone: With so many people producing content, you need to ensure the tone and voice are consistent.Virgin Atlantic’s blog is a good example of this. Its bloggers routinely post collections of photographs taken from Instagram that show the different sides of world — from Tokyo to Montreal. Different writers craft each piece, but the tone and format are almost identical. It’s through posts like these that Virgin Atlantic positions itself as a leading option for business and recreational travel.
- Reporting: On the Virgin Atlantic blog, see those subheadings that list the “Tags” and “Topics” of the post? That metadata serves many purposes.
Inconsistency in metadata can create a real mess. Let’s say your team is creating content for specific geographic markets. Some team members are tagging content for “UK” while others tag “United Kingdom.” Then, your boss comes along and wants to know how much content has been created in the past six months for the U.K. This small inconsistency could add up to a big problem.
When your team stays consistent with taxonomies and metadata, reporting gets easier and more accurate. That accuracy is a vital part of understanding what content is working and what isn’t.
- Publishing frequency: It’s no use publishing new content if it’s a rarity, but you shouldn’t bombard your Twitter followers with a tweet every 30 seconds, either. Find a balance, and stick to it. Two blog posts a week could be ideal, or you could aim for greater frequency. ShoreTel Sky publishes one article a day in the 200- to 400-word range and longer content on a monthly basis. It’s important to find the frequency that helps you maintain consistent quality.
How Do You Get the Whole Team on Board?
Adopting new approaches can be challenging, but it’s important to help your team embrace the power of content. Start small. Prove the process and its benefits with a low-cost experiment, or think about investing in content marketing tools to smooth out the process.
If you’re still struggling to get everybody on board with the new approach, it might be time to offer incentives. These can be tough; different employees have different values, after all. If you put out a general incentive, it likely won’t be a universal win. Here are some options to explore:
- Money: This may be obvious, but it will work well with small teams where people with different jobs create a good portion of the content. Pick a dollar amount, and offer it for each piece of content produced. Gift cards are an alternative.
- A promotion: Frame the change as a step up the ladder. Let the excellent content producers move up and be a part of the new innovative process.
- Profit sharing: Offer employees a chunk of the profits accrued from the new content marketing strategy. Rather than guarantee them a set amount for simply producing new content, push them to produce the best content they can. It’s good for both morale and business.Southwest Airlines runs a profit-sharing scheme, and it is the only airline to make a profit every year since its founding, is ranked by Fortune magazine as the second-best company to work for in America, and has the fewest customer complaints of any airline in the nation.
- Skills: If you’re really committed to the transformation, some marketing positions may focus solely on content production. If hiring internally, employees will have to evolve to keep up with the company’s direction. Even if they don’t stick around, these are the same skills they’ll need to find work elsewhere.
Get the Most Out of Your Content Marketing
With consistent, motivated employees, you’re more than halfway to maximizing your content marketing potential. The next step is knowing your audience. If you don’t know whom you’re talking to, all you’ll do is create more noise.
Go through a persona development exercise. This will lay the foundation for your content moving forward. For Birchbox, it’s clear that its audience consists of people who are interested in beauty, while Virgin Atlantic’s audience is composed of world travelers.
You should aim to create a number of personas with clear pictures of what they care about and how you’ll communicate with them. This will inform the channels you use for your content marketing to maximize value.
It really does pay to have a dedicated team with a clear strategic focus, but how do you measure your efforts? How will you justify your activities, and how will you report value? Make sure you identify metrics and key performance indicators that will show the success of each initiative.
With a consistent approach, a motivated team, and a clear target audience, I promise you’ll soon see big results