A recent survey of technology marketers found that the top three content marketing objectives are: Drive Sales and/or Leads; Engage Customers/Buyers/Influencers; Boost Brand Awareness, all of which are long-term objectives.
When paired with the top 5 content marketing challenges: Lack of Time/Bandwidth to Create Content (51%); Producing Enough Content Variety/Volume (50%); Producing Truly Engaging Content (42%); Measuring Content Effectiveness (38%); Developing Consistent Content Strategy (34%), (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community) it becomes clear why content marketing, or more precisely production of content, often trails off after an initial bout of activity and the subsequent results, or lack thereof.
In the real world the lack of instant results, and the gratification they bring, means content production often slips into the back seat, especially when other tasks such as client work are also on a content producers to-do list.
To me, the above stats show why content marketing must be considered as an ongoing project that requires constant attention and lots of (high-quality, relevant) content to be produced, both of which are highly time-consuming tasks. Hence why, unless you’re one of the lucky few who hits the jackpot with hundreds of thousands of engagements on every piece published right off the bat, it should be no surprise that a month, or even six, after launching a new content marketing approach the initial enthusiasm and confidence can begin to wain.
When starting out, assuming you have little in the way of past results to base estimates on, setting short-term goals around levels of engagement with content, rather than sales/leads, can help to demonstrate progress and importantly help to build an idea of what your audience is interested in. Knowing your audience is key to creating content that is relevant to their interests and is essential in achieving, and out-performing, objectives.
Audience interests often vary across channels, so you will want to tailor content, something that is significantly easier once you have a better idea of what works, for whom and where. Even small changes such as the title of a piece can have dramatic effects in terms of engagement across different audiences.
By reviewing content performance statistics, learning what does and doesn’t work in terms of traction and engagements, you can begin to build a detailed picture of your audience, developing more effective personas, and gaining confidence that the content you create is valuable to your audience.
In addition to setting short-term goals and reviewing results, consistency in the quality and amount of content produced is also key. It takes time to develop a really good piece of content, even more so a body of work that can stand alone and demonstrate who you are and what you stand for.
With the knowledge that long-form blog posts generate 9x more leads than short-form blog posts (Curata) it should be clear that time needs to be dedicated solely to content development to craft top-quality content. A content plan/calendar is the obvious tool to employ, but as with the content creation, it must be constantly updated, reviewed and developed to offer any real value and, it must be owned by someone who sees content as a priority.
This piece is focused on content marketing, but it has parallels with the majority of marketing campaigns and projects — demand and/or expectation of instant results can lead to disappointment all round and can easily be avoided by creating a set of short-term, realistic goals to sit under the main objectives. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.
Patience and persistence are required in equal measure if a content marketing strategy is to succeed. To recap, in addition to agreed overarching long-term objectives a content marketing campaign should:
- Set realistic, short-term goals based on content engagement levels; likes, shares, comments etc.
- Use results from point 1 to further understand your audience, revise content plan and topics based on past successes
- Publish frequently; in addition to new content share every piece at least 5 times
- Most importantly, be patient: keep reviewing, evaluating and refining all aspects of the campaign — don’t be afraid to try something new.
The goal is to develop a body of work and use the interactions and data gathered to improve and ultimately, better serve your audiences which in turn will help to achieve the longer-term objectives.