One of the most common mistakes that I see when it comes to content marketing is lack of strategy. Most companies know that they need a plan for their content marketing, from content ideas to an editorial calendar to their voice/tone. But this is not the same thing as having a strategy.
A content marketing strategy should always begin with the question, “why”?
Why are you investing in content marketing in the first place?
And what are you hoping to accomplish that will help to grow your startup?
This is the foundation for your strategy, or the overarching business objective that you’re hoping to achieve. It might be sales, sign ups, lead generation or something else that’s tied to revenue and growth.
Too often, companies approach content marketing without first defining their ultimate business objective.
In this case, they usually measure and chase the wrong metrics. They may be clocking pageviews as a measure of success, but not linking those pageviews and that content to any larger goal that actually helps grow the business.
This is how so many companies end up focusing on vanity metrics rather than the numbers that truly matter.
Align your strategy with your business goals
In order to align your content marketing strategy with your business goals, you need to start with these goals and work backward. So, start by choosing which high-level business goals you want to achieve, such as:
- Generate more leads
- Drive sales
- Grow brand awareness
The only way to make sure that your content marketing strategy achieves the goals that you care about is to measure the right metrics that give you an understanding into what parts of your strategy are working.
So, how will you measure whether you are achieving your specific goals?
These are your metrics, which stem from the specific goals that you’re trying to measure. If you want to know how well you’re generating leads with content, then you might measure the number of leads generated from your website. Or, you may get even more specific and measure the number of leads that come from organic search or the blog.
But, the point here is that the metrics are the link between your goals and your tactics.
As they say, “what gets measured gets managed.” This is true here, too. If you’re measuring metrics that tell you about your success at meeting your high-level business goals, then you will pursue tactics that work the best at driving those metrics.
We can define all three pieces like this:
|Business Goals||Generate sales leads|
|Metrics||Number of leads generated from blog content|
|Tactics||Calls to action on the blog
Content upgrades, eBooks, white papers, etc.
By walking through each stage, we have linked the ultimate business goal with the specific tactics that will become part of the strategy.
This means that rather than measuring an arbitrary metric like pageviews, we will be able to develop a clear plan for what we want to accomplish, how we will pursue it, and which metrics will be used to define success.
Thinking beyond the pageview
As you can see, the tactics that you identify in this process will go beyond just focusing on creating content. The types of content and other tactics that you deploy need to stem from your ultimate goals in order to be closely aligned with those objectives.
And most strategies require tactics that involve thinking beyond just measuring page views and instead focusing on how the content is creating value for the business.
“Next steps” for improving engagement
One way to measure your performance may be engagement, page depth or dwell time. In order to increase engagement for each visit, you’ll want to use tactics like providing a clear “next step” for readers from each post.
This may seem like a simplistic tactic, but the art is in understanding the audience and intent on each post on your site and then curating a specific next step that makes the most sense for the most visitors.
Lead generation for sales/leads
One common goal for content marketing is to generate leads or inquiries.
This can be executed and measured with offers for content upgrades, eBooks/white papers, strategy/consulting sessions, or overt sales offers attached to relevant content pieces.
These tactics should be executed carefully, as they’re not always appropriate and can drive users away rather than generating the desired results. Any such offer should be carefully placed and only shown where relevant.
Organic visibility for improving brand awareness
Another common goal is to raise brand awareness through content marketing. This is generally for brands that have a difficult time identifying or quantifying a specific action that links traffic to revenue.
There are a number of metrics that can be used to measure this, including branded search traffic, overall organic search traffic, or number of page-one search appearances.
While this may seem like a straightforward goal, it’s important to keep in mind that improving organic visibility can be broken down into specific tactics that involve generating backlinks, targeting relevant keywords and more.
Many content marketing strategies overlap with SEO and it’s important to bake that into your strategy from the start.
No matter what your specific goals may be for content marketing, it’s important to focus on those goals and define tactics that will help you reach them.
Pageviews aren’t worth much if they don’t grow your startup.