Over the past two weeks, we've done Twitter chats that have given us a chance to talk about the importance of content marketing. As important, they have also given us some valuable insight from people actively involved with content marketing or exploring the idea of embracing it as a way to provide value to potential and existing customers.
The "conversations" have put some key concepts into the spotlight so we thought it would be a good idea to share them.
1. It's not just about creating content; it's about creating content that delivers value. Unlike marketing, which tends to be about you, content marketing is about providing potential and existing customers with information that engages, educates and entertains. The goal is developing relationships, communities and trust to drive your strategic objectives.
2. Establish goals about what you want to achieve. Successful marketing programs are grounded in strategic and tactical plans with clear objectives and definitions about success. It is important to keep in mind that every company will have different success metrics. For some companies, it's about leads or sales. For other companies, it's about customer retention or building a stronger brand.
3. Identify your target audiences, how they consume content and what kind of content resonates with them. For content marketing to be successful, it needs to resonate and meet the needs of target audiences. An important issue is having a strong idea about how they consume content and the type of content they like. The options could include videos, case studies, newsletters, whitepapers or Webinars. If many potential and existing customers are really into case studies, then give them case studies.
4. Social media services are tools and delivery mechanisms that let you leverage the content being created. The specific social media services used depend on how best to reach your target audiences. It makes no sense to use Facebook if potential and existing customers aren't into Facebook. It's like throwing a party without any guests.
5. Measure, measure, measure. To assess the effectiveness of content marketing, you need to measure on a regular basis based on the pre-established metrics. The metrics could include Web site traffic, click-throughs, retweets, Like, downloads, leads or sales. Whatever metrics are chosen, there needs to be a regular program to determine whether the goals are being reached and, if not, what changes need to happen to be more successful.
The reality about content marketing is it requires a consistent effort to make it happen successfully. It's not an exercise in which you can bear down for a month or so, and then take a break for a few weeks.
It's also an activity that needs to have the right strategy and tactical execution. As much as it's create to have a well-defined editorial calendar, the content creation needs to reflect the needs of target audiences.
As we head in 2012 (aka "the year of content"), there is exciting potential for content marketing but anyone who goes into it without knowing what they want to get out of it could find themselves not getting the results they want.