Without a doubt, content marketing is an amazingly useful tool in today’s digital world. Creating content allows for higher levels of engagement, trust, and relationships between consumers and creators.
However, when it comes to business, content marketing strategies and programs can’t be all fun and games. There need to be some properly defined goals and outcomes of your content marketing strategy to strive for.
Without creating a list of your content marketing objectives, you’ll be forced to wander the world of content and digital marketing without ever understanding how consumers interact with your brand or follow the funnel process to conversion.
Ultimately, what this means is that you aren’t actively measuring your content marketing efforts. And as we know, what isn’t measured, isn’t improved. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can create the best content marketing objectives for your business, and how you can fit and mold those objectives into your content marketing strategies!
Before we dive in, let’s discover some tell-tale signs that your content marketing program will display that show a need for direction and aid from having solid objectives.
Common Issues in Content Marketing Programs that Need Objectives
The following issues are those that you will notice in a dying and poorly managed content strategy. Likely, this strategy will have been separated from actual data and analytics, and suffer from some of the following symptoms:
No Value Can Be Found or Communicated:
A content marketing strategy that does not employ objectives of some kind is doomed to have a difficult time quantifying and communicating its own value. The key here is quantifying.
It’s easy to say, “Hey if we made a video, the consumers will come running!” however, without objectives of any kind, it will be difficult to measure and relate any type of success to actual results.
This is why it is so difficult to quantify value without taking measurements. Without the data, all “success” or results can be chalked up to opinions and hearsay.
Only content marketing strategies that provide inarguable value will be kept for long. All others that can’t communicate their own effectiveness will immediately be terminated, defunded, or other things equally bad.
In any business setting, the most effective organizations are one’s that can measure and prove the relative value of their efforts to the business itself.
Nobody Understands the Conversion Process:
The conversion process is the way in which you guide your consumers away from doubt and towards a buying decision. More specifically, the way in which you transform consumers who don’t know you, trust you, or recognize you, into customers who do.
Content marketing can be amazingly useful during the conversion process. It allows you a chance to provide value, show expertise, and offer a small CTA with which your audience can engage with you.
Without purposely designing and crafting a funnel for engagement, you will be shooting blindly into the air without realizing there is a target to be aimed for. To understand the conversion process means to break down each step of the funnel and relate the prospect’s own thoughts, feelings, and rationale for engaging with your brand.
Sales funnels are basic but logical. You need to follow the change process between audience and consumer by ADKAR: Creating Awareness of your offer, Desire to fix a problem, Knowledge of how you can help, the Ability to engage with your offer, and Reinforcement of the value.
Content Marketing is Defunded:
I all honesty, this is more of a symptom of the previous points. There is no use in funding a system or marketing effort that fails to even present their own value to the business, whether there is value or not.
The good thing is that content marketing is valuable to almost all organizations, but only if it is properly managed. Without proper management and measurement in the ways we’ve discussed just previously, there may just be no hope.
Content marketing, and the results thereof, follow a compound curve (exponential curve) if you are not actively promoting. This is because it takes time to establish an online audience before you start to see amazing results.
Another reason this occurs is because, if your content marketing strategy is newly established, it will take you time to learn and employ the best practices among all f your other content in the future. Therefore, the beginning is often slow going.
However, if a content marketing program has produced no actionable results over a set length of time (usually months), it isn’t looking good.
There is NO ENGAGEMENT:
Probably the absolute EASIEST way to determine if your content marketing program is having trouble is if your engagement is low. Engagement is directly related to the interest that your audience finds in your content, brand, message, or offer.
Now, engagement is tied to many different things. However, the most common issue when it comes to lacking consumer engagement is the online competition for keywords.
Ask yourself, is your content good enough to beat the, already established, keyword dominators or competition online. If not, your titles, descriptions, tags, and content is going to have to niche itself down a little more.
For example, the keyword score on one of my youtube videos titled The Change Management Dilemma scored “good.” However, the score on the same video content with the title The Change Management Dilemma: Executive leadership scored “excellent.”
A little more focus is a good thing in the saturated world that is the internet. And overall, people want to feel as though you are speaking directly to them, and not to the masses.
Defining Content Marketing Objectives
Alright! Now we can get into the meat and potatoes of the article. More specifically, how you can choose the best objectives for your own content marketing efforts.
There are a lot of considerations to be had here, so I’m going to separate the objectives and give a brief synopsis of the benefits and disadvantages of employing those objectives based on some key criteria.
Quick example: you wouldn’t expect groundbreaking results from a strategy you only just implemented last week, would you? And similarly, if your strategy has been in place a long time with no results, you may want to switch it up. Therefore, timing is a consideration.
Let’s dive in to some of the content marketing objectives you can set for your business, and the good and bad of each!
Improving Customer Experience:
At the end of the day, being a successful organization is about realizing that “products” don’t exist in the way we think they do. After all, a “product” only ever boils down to the consumer experience in some way.
If your objective is to improve the customer experience, here are a few things to consider: How does your customer gather awareness of your brand? Is the message defined enough to create desire in that customer to buy and solve his/her problem?
Are you also providing adequate reinforcement and follow-through to ensure that your product or service actually meets the consumer’s needs? Many companies provide custom messages, thank you notes, or other interactions that ensure the customer, by no uncertain means, that if they are dissatisfied, the company will do anything they can to make it right.
An easy way to do this is to follow the entire customer process. Take an hour or two and imagine you are your ideal customer. Google the same things your customer would. Research the same products, services, and whatnot. Decide to “purchase” and try your OWN product and determine what the entire engagement of your product or service looks like.
Is there any point at which you’d consider the experience tiring, annoying, boring, or anything else? If so, how can you make it NOT that way?
For example, if searching for the correct product (competitive analysis) and your own product is lost in the sea of competition, how can you stand out more? How can you define your niche more?
It’s these little considerations and a “CANI” (constant and never-ending improvement) mindset that makes the difference between the best of the best and simply adequate. And I WON’T STAND FOR ADEQUATE.
Here’s how you can quantify customer experience. Determine how many REPEAT customers you have. If it’s a competitive environment, you’ll know if you are retaining customer support and interaction, but don’t delude yourself from improvement. Just because you have repeat customers doesn’t mean your customer experience is godly. It could just mean that you’re slightly better than all the competition.
Utilize your content marketing to provide more information, value, or communication to your consumers.
This one is pretty obvious: Both in its importance and in the ways you can measure it.
If your content marketing objective was to generate revenue, There are many ways you can go about quantifying this. One extremely simple way is to take your pre-established revenue-per-lead (or average purchase) amount and multiply it by all the funneled leads that your content is providing you.
You can also make passive income off of many content platforms due to affiliate marketing, ad revenue, among other things like direct sales and/or consulting.
Here is the thing to keep in mind if your business objective is revenue (and let’s face it, your objective IS revenue at the end of the day): Content marketing naturally has a long-cycle ROI. Meaning there is generally a lot of investment and time that must go into it before you start to see great returns.
This is why I say that content marketing follows a compounded curve.
If you are only just now creating a content marketing strategy where you had none before, revenue generation is going to be an unrealistic and disappointing goal. However, if you have a pre-established audience, this may be closer to reality than you think.
The problem is, revenue is directly linked to the size of your audience. Therefore, no audience means bad revenue. And it takes a good amount of time and effort to build an online audience nowadays.
Now, if you already have media followings on separate platforms, you can build a quick audience by “sharing” your consumers from one platform to all the platforms you manage. For example, people who follow me on Facebook generally also follow my youtube account and so on.
The point of innovation in content marketing is not to directly compete with your already-established competitors. The point of innovation is to extend your sphere of awareness and influence beyond the competition. That’s defined by the nature of innovation to provide NEW things and not repackaged OLD things.
In terms of quantifying your content marketing innovation efforts, you need to be able to calculate how effective something is at creating awareness. Obviously, because innovation means that things are NEW, you must start from the beginning to create awareness and desire of the value before you can hope to convert customers.
Due to this consideration, the amount of engagement, the number of views/clicks, and the number of shares are going to directly relate to your content marketing ability to create sufficient awareness around your innovative offer. That’s how you should begin to quantify innovation.
Companies that establish themselves upon the paradigm of innovation are constantly looking for the newest and most far-reaching ways to provide value and resolve customer problems.
Take Apple Co. for example. They’ve based their entire brand message on “disrupting the status quo” and whenever they follow that paradigm, they enter a new realm of competition and lead the desires of the marketplace.
Although there are a litany of other objectives you may desire for your business, I’ve found that the above suggestions fit 99% of businesses out there. Although your content marketing journey may be long, it is becoming an increasingly important skill to be able to create and manage content on multiple platforms for your organization.
In a world where most media is consumed online, why WOULDN’T you want a piece of that audience interaction and potential revenue stream? Of course you would!
By determining what your content marketing goals are at the beginning, you can begin to take the proper actions and steps necessary to measure, improve, and quantify your results along the way. This will allow you to adequately communicate your marketing efforts to shareholders, executives, managers, or anyone else who direct funding.
For more awesome reading on digital marketing strategies, check out the link HERE!
Thanks for reading!
Work With Austin
-Austin Denison is a management consultant and coach from Southern California and founder/CEO of Denison Success Systems LLC. He is the author of The Essential Change Management Guidebook: Master The Art of Organizational Change as well as The Potential Dichotomy: The Philosophy of a Fulfilling Life.