The Content Marketing Institute showed in a study in 2018 that 91% of all marketing experts who work in the B2B area use content marketing to reach their prospects and customers. However, while the number of those who conduct content marketing is high, the number of those who pursue a strategic approach is very small: only a little more than a third of the companies that use content marketing document the development and track numbers and statistics. This shows that there is obviously a discrepancy between using content marketing and pursuing a specific content marketing strategy.
But how do you start with strategic content marketing? Which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are useful and should be measured, and how can content be used to accompany prospective customers during the individual steps of the customer journey?
Step 1: set goals
Before defining a content marketing strategy, it is particularly important to define the strategic goals that are to be achieved first, such as:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Customer service
- Employer branding
Defining goals is very important as they form the basis for any content that the company produces. Content that aims to acquire new leads, for example, is fundamentally different from content that should help to increase brand awareness. Once you have created and defined your goals, the next step follows.
Step 2: define the KPIs
As the use of different technologies in marketing increases, so does the amount of data and statistics available, and there seem to be endless ways to track KPIs.
First, you should be able to distinguish between trivial and significant key figures.
Trivial indicators are e.g. the number of Facebook fans or page views of a blog article. These numbers are trivial in the sense that they show how many people can be reached, but they say nothing about how your content is perceived - e.g. whether someone has actually read your Facebook post or blog article.
KPIs that provide information about the number of interactions are significantly more significant. They help to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing and provide information on whether the recipients really dealt with your content. In the case of a Facebook post, the number of likes or comments is a good indicator of the level of awareness, for a blog article these are the social shares or comments.
However, perception is not everything that counts: if you really want to evaluate the monetary value of your content marketing, you must start measuring the ROI (return on investment) of the various marketing channels. One should take a closer look at KPIs such as generated leads, sales or costs per interaction.
With the help of the right tools, activities in different channels can be easily measured. Websites and SEO key figures can be tracked with tools such as Google Analytics, MOZ or Searchmetrics. Media monitoring tools help you follow discussions in social media and create reports about your visibility. Social media indicators can usually be viewed in the platforms themselves (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube), since all these channels provide extensive data on user behavior.
In addition to these tools, classic methods - such as customer surveys – offer the opportunity to create an accurate picture of how your company and your services are perceived.
Step 3: know your target groups
A good way to get to know your customers better is to develop so-called buyer personas, which should be created based on existing data (e.g. from the CRM system), as well as based on contact requests and information obtained from the sales team or customer service.
Step 4: accompany your customers on their journey
Different types of content have different goals. If you adapt your content to the different phases of the customer journey, you will get an idea of what different types of content you should and must create.
A distinction can usually be made between:
- Explore Content, which is content that should generate attention and is typically found in blog articles and social media posts such as instructions or short tutorials.
- Evaluate Content, that helps with the purchase decision and provides in-depth knowledge, such as guides, white papers, courses or webinars.
- Engage Content that focuses on the customer relationship (Engage Content).with surveys and feedback questionnaires, video tutorials and webinars.
Step 5: organize content creation
The basis for your content marketing strategy has now been laid, but how is the content creation process organized in everyday work?
A content calendar is a great way to organize your content creation and to meet deadlines, and should include the following points:
- the deadline and the publication date
- the author
- the planned topic or title
- a brief description of the content
- the most important keywords
- the buyer persona to be addressed
- the phase of the customer journey
Depending on the size of your team, the amount of content to be produced and the company structure, a simple Excel table may be enough. You can also use an editorial or project management tool.
Now that you've created a content marketing strategy, you can start to put it into practice. Taking a strategic approach to content marketing takes some effort, but it's worth it. Once the strategy is in place, your company will benefit, and you have a better overview of exactly what you are doing and why.
Keep in mind that marketing strategies are never set in stone - adapt your KPIs and content to your customer groups, and continuously develop and refine your strategy.