The 4 key principles that make your content marketing sing

Stephen Hobbs

Strategy & Planning Director

Content Marketing

Steps to effective content marketing

Content marketing isn't just about creating well-written blog posts and great-looking social videos. The key to effective content marketing is making sure every piece has a clear and defined purpose; it needs to make core audiences do something.

Make your content marketing more effective by following these four simple rules.

1. Know your audience

Delivering compelling, valuable content relies on understanding your audience - what they need, the challenges they face and, crucially, where they are on their journey to selecting your brand. This allows you to serve the right content at the right time, adding true value and propelling customers seamlessly from awareness, through to that all important final conversion.

Working with high end hi-fi specialits, Dali, we are able to micro-target consumers who engaged with a particular piece of content on social media.

We then presented them with a series of targeted messages. The campaign prompted a 569% increase in DALI KATCH searches and a 128% increase in ecommerce visits. Its success was all down to understanding exactly what our audiences needed to make their next purchase decision. By being genuinely useful to them, our content was able to help shape the next click they made.

The first step to truly understanding your audience is creating accurate personas of the ideal customers you want to reach. These semi-fictional characters are based on a combination of research, data and intuition, and enable you to create highly-relevant content with your customer clearly in mind.

Buyer personas can also be used to help analyse user behaviour, using each segment to understand how people interact with your website, what content they consume, how they navigate the site, and what actions they take — as well as at which points they drop off. By fully understanding different audience segments, their preferences and behaviours you can ultimately personalise content to users, convincing them of your value and usefulness.

2. Get to grips with platforms and journeys

There are myriad platforms on which to share content, coupled with the fact that today’s consumers take fragmented and circuitous purchase journeys that encompass multiple sites (and devices), and which are far from linear. Brands need to think carefully about the platforms they post content on, and what role each one plays in the customer journey.

For example, you might know that a certain segment of your audience is more likely to buy after visiting from Instagram, or via a particular search term on Google. Or you might know that another segment engages on Facebook content before coming to your website.

Understanding your customers’ journeys and how they behave on certain sites (for example, expectations for content on Twitter are different to content on a brand’s YouTube channel) should inform what content is created for which channel, and this should be matched to the user’s stage in the journey. What do they need from you and when?

3. Deliver content that wows

Once you know your audience and your platforms, think content. You will now understand exactly what your customers want and need, where they expect to find it, and how they want it delivered. Remember, inspiring content creates product desire…

For a sports footwear brand this might range from a general ‘awareness’ blog post on a football website, looking at the importance of wearing the right trainers or football boots, to a technical ‘how the footwear technology works’ video on its branded YouTube channel, delivering what a certain customer segment needs to make the final purchase decision.

Ensure content is shareable too — challenge, invite or even incentivise users to share the added value with friends.

Knowing who, when, how and why should inform every piece of your content creation.

4. Measure success

You need to know whether your hard work is paying off, so you need clear metrics in place to measure against. What does success look like? For different brands, goals might vary from generating traffic to conversion or engagement, for example. Being clear about your goals from the outset will allow you to identify which content is best performing and which is failing to deliver, allowing you to tweak and improve.

Campaign data might also reveal unexpected opportunities, such as a previously untapped audience that's responding to your content, or unexpected demand/engagement for more technical videos on YouTube, or for more entertaining content on Facebook. Brands must continually test, track, learn, and adjust to optimise their content marketing.

Without aligning your content with your customers’ purchase journey, and putting the right attribution and measurement in place, all your effort will be wasted.

How advanced is your company in its content marketing strategy. Is there opportunity to optimise your efforts and, importantly, maximise return?

Want to improve the effectiveness of your content marketing?

Talk with iCrossing’s content marketing specialists to see how prepared you are…

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