A Content Marketing Playbook is an area of digital marketing that keeps your company organized in the face of this ever-growing and fast-moving industry.
Knowing how to work with outside contributors, developing useful content, shooting quality video (and editing), creating compelling graphics – are all important tasks for those working on the business side of an effective content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is an essential part of any successful digital strategy; it drives organic traffic, engages your potential customers, and establishes you as a thought leader within your industry.
And yet, many people struggle to create a true content marketing program that will bring them success.
The challenge comes from two distinct directions: 1) knowing what form your content should take – blogging? social media posts videos? – and 2) making sure you have the right resources (and know how to get them) in place.
Step 1: Define Your Content Strategy
The first step in creating a successful content marketing program is figuring out what kind of content you need to produce and distribute. Three different types of content will make up your playbook ( Checklist ), each with its own set of goals and tactics.
Move beyond the basics like blogging, social networks, or email by employing all three forms of content into your game plan:
Blogging: Blog posts can deliver helpful information for leads looking for direction on topics outside your company’s core area of expertise. You want to be authoritative on these topics and plan to move people along the conversion path that leads them to become customers.
Blog posts can deliver customer-oriented information to your prospects, but avoid selling directly from this channel.
Social Media: Posting helpful content in places like Twitter or Facebook will help you nurture relationships with prospects over time by delivering interesting links or news items they might find valuable.
The post itself should focus on being useful – not pushing readers toward any particular action – and link back to the primary site where they can take action if interested.
Email: Using an email list is one of the best ways to grow your business because firstly, it keeps you top-of-mind with your subscribers, and secondly, it allows you to send out targeted, valuable content in a regular format that your customers look forward to.
As with all content, you want your email program to focus on value instead of simply trying to gain clicks or move people down the sales cycle. This means having a robust segmentation approach where subscribers are separated into different types based on their needs and interests – for example:
- Product enthusiasts who love problem-solving
- Solution seekers who need help with an issue that’s holding them back
Step 2: Know Your Audience
Who is responsible? Once you know what kind of content you need, the next step is figuring out who in your organization should be working on it. Is this something your marketing department should handle, or could this function be outsourced to freelance professionals?
Should there be one person overseeing all three pieces of content (blogging, social media, and email), or should each be handled separately?
Start by dividing up responsibilities. As you tackle each piece of content ( Checklist ), consider the following questions:
- Who will be responsible for creating this content?
- Who will approve it before publishing it?
- Do you have a budget for this?
Understanding your buyer persona is crucial.
Step 3: Gather Expertise And Resources
In order to create useful, valuable content, you’ll need to be able to draw from experts and resources both inside and outside of your company. Here are some examples of how companies are leveraging the people, assets, and platforms available to them in order to create a successful content marketing program.
Internal People: You need the right kind of expertise to drive your company’s message. If you don’t have an expert on staff who is capable of creating helpful content for your target audience, then consider hiring an outside source or assigning this role as part of another employee’s responsibilities.
External Resources: Today, there are more places than ever where you can find experts on topics that align with your customers’ needs. Consider joining organizations such as Quora, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, etc., where you can learn from industry leaders and other experts in your field. Identify and join these communities that will help you share information back with prospects down the line.
Internal Assets: If you can’t have a specialized resource on your staff, then use the assets you already own. Photos or graphics that represent your products, blog post examples from other sources, videos pulled off YouTube — anything that’s used as part of your marketing materials should be considered an asset. Leverage what you already have and avoid paying high fees to outside firms.
Step 4: Measure Your Results
Measuring and understanding the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts will help you determine what is working and what isn’t. This is where most companies falter, as they aren’t tracking their performance correctly.
The problem with vanity metrics like page views or unique visitors is that they can be skewed.
Instead, focus on measuring things like how many click-throughs you get to your sales funnel pages or even direct business results from specific pieces of content.
Below are some examples of measurement strategies:
A/B testing: split test similar pieces of content in order to see which one is most effective in terms of driving results
Monitoring social media traffic: looking for a spike in mentions, as well as positive sentiment around your content/brand
Tracking email clicks: if you have a newsletter or an email list that is regularly updated with blog posts and other company information, track the number of people who click through to your website. (This can be especially useful when paired with Google Analytics.)
Understanding why customers are engaging with you, what content they like better than others, and how it all contributes to new business will help you make adjustments along the way.
If one type of medium is leading to more sales, then focus on creating more of that particular type of content; if another channel isn’t working out so well, redirect your efforts.
Here’s the thing about content marketing: it is harder than it seems.
You need to be able to write – and write well. You need to understand your audience and how they will consume your messages from each of these channels.
Even if you have a team in place, there are still high costs associated with developing quality content that generates leads and sales.
Content is not something you can get right by sitting at a desk once a week — you’re going to have to spend time refining each piece so that it provides value for your customer or prospect down line.
It will likely take some trial-and-error along the way, but this process will also help you figure out what works best for your organization.
The bottom line is that a content marketing strategy requires a knowledgeable and dedicated team working with several different types of resources. However, the end result will be worth the hard work you put into it.