By Craig Fitzgerald
Though content marketing is not a new concept, it’s now more important than ever for any company looking to build customer loyalty and drive deeper engagement with customers.
Even as content creation tools and social media have simplified the process, they’ve also changed the business landscape. Companies now need to embrace their new role as publishers and act accordingly.
So how can you address those challenges and implement a successful program? By following these four steps.
1. Set program goals
Before kicking off your content marketing program, set specific goals outlining what you’re hoping to achieve. Those goals will begin to shape the types of content you ultimately provide.
Now that you’ve identified your goals, you need to map the type of content to the goal, just as a publisher would. If prospect engagement is a top goal, think about the top five questions a prospect might ask you about your product, service, or company… and map the content to those topic areas.
2. Optimize content for multiple channels
Social media and blogs are two of the newer content marketing channels, offering additional touchpoints for engaging with customers and prospects. Just as a publisher would, you should put a strategy in place to address each channel—including blogs, social media, websites, and email newsletters—to take advantage of the strengths that each offers in engaging customers.
Just as you would not develop long-form content for an advertisement on an airplane banner, you should match the content and messages to the medium and audience.
In addition, be sure to spread out the timing of messages across channels. If people follow you across different channels, you don’t want to hit them at the same time with the same message. Instead, you want to provide them with something different to maintain their engagement across multiple touchpoints.
3. Execute your content marketing plan
To effectively execute your content marketing plan, develop an editorial calendar, which will serve as the base of your program. This schedule of topics and themes that will be addressed via your content helps to alleviate the pressures associated with producing a frequent supply of content.
The editorial calendar will also outline who will be responsible for each piece of content and the dates for publishing. Based on preferences, the calendar can be created for a three-month period or longer, broken down into weeks, with seasonality taken into account.
4. Measure program effectiveness
Once your program is under way, examine the goals you developed in the beginning to help identify success parameters to measure the effectiveness of a program. In addition to your own measurement, take advantage of the built-in measurement tools across channels to more effectively measure your success.
In the digital world, measurement is real-time and actionable. Google Analytics is a free tool that provides insight about website performance and the content driving traffic to a website. Twitter and Facebook both provide insights on followers and fans—where they live and the content that interests them. A comprehensive newsletter program will provide metrics on delivery statistics, open rates, when content items were read and by whom, and the return path readers took to a website.
Knowing what content was read will help future offers and content to be better tailored to specific customers and prospects.