Marketers have been talking about content marketing services for a few years. Smart agencies have staffed up in the editorial department, hiring a content marketer or a content marketing agency already, but 2014 appears to be the year that content marketing is going mainstream. Now, it’s not just agencies that are ahead of the game, but most agencies are offering content marketing packages, be it content strategy or content strategy and execution, as a part of their typical services.
Content marketing, also known as inbound marketing, is a discipline that increasingly in demand.
44.9% of B2B companies plan to hire for content marketing in 2014. - Kapost
What is Content Marketing
People use the internet for many purposes, but a primary use case is that of researching puchases. Simply put, content marketing gives brands the ability to provide that research and answer those questions.
89% of online consumers use search engines when making a purchase decision. - Fleishman Hillard
Obviously, the content marketers who can craft stories will be in great demand. But, the content marketers who can also anticipate the *right questions, those leading to revenue generation activities like purchases, are the ones who can demand the highest salaries.*
You can write great content, sure, but if you can also demonstrate the ability to increase revenue, then you have a strong value proposition. ~ Robyn
Inbound Marketing vs. PPC
Inbound Marketing (Content Marketing) is a strategy that relies on publishing frequent, valuable content to pull in search traffic. The content must be relevant to the key terms that someone would use to research the product or service in question. The content is the bait that attracts the potential customer to the website. Calls to Action (CTAs) are used to capture the lead so that a salesperson can follow up accordingly. Inbound Marketing relies on a steady stream of content that ranks well in search engines and is shared frequently across social media.
Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) is useful when building out your customer acquisition strategy. A typical inbound marketing strategy will rely heavily on PPC in the early months, ensuring reliable traffic and qualified leads during the time it will take for their inbound strategy to begin to resonate. As the inbound strategy gains traction, the PPC efforts are decreased, saving the client money that can be funneled back into inbound content creation, to increase qualified traffic and leads.
A Typical Content Strategy
When planning a content strategy for a brand, you must first look at your goals overall, then write a strategy that is both goal meeting and measurable. All goals must be measurable, specific and attainable. A goal must be graded with content analytics.
I like to tie as many goals as possible back to revenue generation. By doing this I am able to show that my work is valuable and necessary.
Rarely is the agency fired that can show direct revenue generation. ~ Robyn
Goal #1: Increase traffic
That’s a good one, but it needs definition to be actionable. I want you to specify these things:
Why? Why would this be good for the company?
How much? Set a number. (KPIs)
When? How long should the period be?
Revised Goal #1: Increase traffic by 10,000 visits in May.*
*Increased traffic should increase lead generation opportunities.
In this example, I’d likely make Goal #1 an attempt to increase leads, not traffic, but you prabably get my point.
Once you have your goals on paper, with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) assigned, you can set about creating the overall content strategy.
Creating a Comprehensive Plan
I’m not going to outline a comprehensive plan, as it varies so widely based on sector. However, I will outline one offer’s steps, and you can extrapolate from there. If you are interested in learning more about creating a comprehensive content strategy, please get in touch.
Creating a Lead Gen Offer
Let’s create a sample lead generation offer that will be one small part of your comprehensive content strategy. In our example, you are a professional services agency. You provide professional marketing services to small to medium sized businesses. You have met with your inbound agency and have a full content strategy, and one of your goals is to get more leads for your salesperson to follow up on.
Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.
Inbound leads cost 61% less… ~ Hubspot
In this case, your content marketing agency has created personas to outline your key customers. In this case, your content marketing agency has determined that your ideal customer will search for you on the Google search engine and will use keywords like “brand marketing”, “marketing agency” and the normal keywords, but they have highly prized these ‘bottom of the funnel’ keyword phrases: “hire marketing agency”, “compare marketing agency” and “marketing agency retainer costs”. Your agency has determined that these are more likely to give you more immediate revenue opportunities than the others.
Now, you want to rank well in search (SEO) for all of these keywords. Your keyword strategy likely includes more than 500 words and phrases, but your strategy will center around your top 50, with the revenue generators getting the bulk of the strategy.
Let’s create a Lead Gen offer for “hire marketing agency”.
- Set the Goal and the Measurement
For this example, let’s decide to focus on leads.
We want to bring in 4 leads per month with this one offer.
In this step, you also define how you’ll measure this goal. Are you going to use data from Hubspot? From Google Analytics? What else will you track? How do you define success? IE If you get 3 leads, rather than 4, is it still a successful content lead gen strategy?
- Define the Audience
The audience here will be one of your defined marketing personas. Let’s use the persona, Brandname Betty.
Betty works for a large brand. She manages a team of 3 product marketers, but has and uses a $500,000 budget for outside vendors and agencies. She has been in the industry long enough to understand that it’s easier to outsource some things to a marketing agency who excels at one thing, rather than either staffing up in that area or training one of her already frazzled product marketers.
Betty’s major sticking point is time, not price.
- Decide on the Offer
What does your target market usually like? What has worked in the past?
Betty would probably really appreciate a guideline doc to save her some time. A template or kit would be another great offer for Betty.
Create the content plan. This looks like a wireframe when we plan it out.
You’ll define not only the path a user will take, but you’ll also need to work this content into your current editorial calendar. How often should you mention it in blog posts? Should it end up in your email newsletter sidebar in the coming months. Will it be a part of your document resource center?
- Create the Marketing plan
Let’s design a plan to market to influencers, to locate co-marketing opportunities, and to promote via social, PPC and email marketing.
In this example, we’ll find a few content partners to co-market the offer. We’ll define what we’re going to do to promote this via social. How many sends, which accounts, what links to use, etc. We’ll define the emails that we’ll send to promote this offer. We’ll also define any advertising that we plan to do, either Twitter advertising, Facebook advertising or just plain old Google Advertising.
PPC/SEM, if used strategically, can really lift a good content offer like an eBook or guide. ~Robyn
And, don’t forget PR. Define that strategy here as well.
- Define the content strategy
Here’s the tough part… Writing!
In this step, you define and write the content offer and generate the associated content creatives. Create the landing page, using copy that converts clicks into leads, create a strong thank you page that delivers the offer and moves the prospect somewhere else in your website (hopefully closer to a sale). Create the images involved, CTA buttons, the editorial timeline, and the additional offers to point folks to after they download. Create tracking links. We’ll set up the language behind the 50 or more social media messages around marketing this offer. We’ll meet with the sales team to ask them which demographic information is most helpful to gather so our lead forms can be of the most value. In short, this is the ‘work’ step of the effort.
- Measuring Success
Now, you should have a good idea of how this went. Did you hit your goals? What did you learn? Is the offer ready to go into your content library now?
And, most importantly, would you repeat it?
We put together plans like this on a regular basis for our clients. They require a good deal of planning, so they are time consuming, but the benefits are seen within a few short months. You should expect to spend 15 hours creating a content strategy for the year. Content creation is in addition to that time.
Content marketing is very effective if your sales cycle is long. If you are in one of these sectors, you should have a content marketing strategy:
Talk to Robyn about whether or not content marketing is right for you.
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