With the rise and increasing popularity of marketing automation systems, it’s never been easier to push out tons of content. But if it doesn’t connect with your audience, you’ll find yourself playing a glorified game of whack-a-mole, churning out content assets in hopes of making any sort of connection.
But here’s the kicker: all the content in the world can’t make up for a lack of strategy.
A documented content marketing strategy doesn’t just make content creation and targeting easier, it also impacts effectiveness: 53% of the most effective marketers have a documented content marketing strategy 40% of the least effective marketers have no strategy at all, according to CMI’s 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks and Trends.
It makes sense. Without a strategic foundation, you’re essentially collecting leads without any real idea of who they are or what to do with them.
That can be a problem since raw lead numbers mean nothing if they don’t convert. Today’s marketing is not that kind of game. Having a more contact records in your database than your competitor won’t win you any blue ribbons.
With this type of approach, you’re playing saboteur to your own conversion rates every time you push out new content.
Take a good hard look inside for a moment. If your gut tells you that you’re not getting the right leads, you’re probably not. And what are good are leads if your sales team can’t sell to them? That do nothing more than take up space in your CRM?
If you found yourself nodding along, it’s time to do a little spring cleaning to your content strategy.
Check your buyer personas for cobwebs
Remember, every rock-solid content strategy begins with the research and development of targeted buyer personas. These are profiles of the “typical” person who demonstrates a need for your content and therefore has a high chance of engaging with it.
If you’ve developed personas previously, take some time to give them a fresh look to make sure they’re still accurate. Take a deep breath, distance yourself and give them an objective look. Decide if they are still specific enough to guide your content moving forward. The game changes constantly. Goals for one quarter may be a distant memory in the next. Or, maybe you have some killer new data that can take your personas to the next level. Consider your personas a living, breathing thing that should be cared for often.
That said, if you’re a newbie to the game and haven’t created personas all, welcome to your first step.
To get started, answer the following questions:
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- What kind of content do they tend to engage with?
- What is their lifestyle like?
If you work in B2B, consider:
- What are their work demands?
- What is the buying cycle like?
- What are the decision-making triggers?
This information is a ticket to the gravy train for today’s marketer. To get the clearest picture, use a combination of current customer interviews and existing research.
Don’t neglect one of the most important assets in persona creation: Your team! They’re on the front-lines with customers on a daily basis and can provide tons of insights that you’d never be able to glean on your own. Bring them to the table.
Once you have that data, use it to craft individual profiles of your ideal customers. Use as many specifics as possible. While there’s no “perfect” number of personas, generally between three and five is a good range.
With your personas set, you’ll find it way easier to develop a content strategy because you know exactly whom you’re trying to reach and what information is most likely to help them.
Scrub your existing content
With your personas updated, it’s time to measure your existing content against them. The idea here is to be sure a given piece of content is speaking to at least one persona. Odds are, you’ll find some content that isn’t speaking to anyone at all, so feel free to take it down or give it a fresh coat of paint to make it more relevant. Pro-tip: don’t forget to also remove anything that promotes it, like landing pages and email blasts. Broken links make even the savviest marketing team look like like the rookie squad.
Make no mistake – this can be a tough process. But it’s essential.
Air-tight messaging will help weed out those janky, unqualified leads and attract more people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say. Sure, your overall lead numbers may go down, but the quality of those leads – and consequent conversion rates – will go up, making both your marketing and sales team jump for joy.
Give your strategy the white-glove treatment
Having a “MOAR IS BETTER” mindset will never get you the conversions and revenue numbers you desire. It seems a bit counterintuitive, but more content is not necessarily better than less content. Especially if you’re trying to reach a wide, integrated swath of people. Instead, you need to take a hard look at the relevance of your content.
Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (source: Jupiter Research), and personalized emails improve conversion rates by 10 percent (source: Aberdeen Group).
If you’re in a manager or director position, make sure you’re not measuring your employees against raw numbers, either. Marketing should be measured by the value and revenue potential of its results. An eBook with 10,000 downloads means nothing if not a single lead converts into a customer.
Keep your data clean
You don’t have to do this often, but take a close look at your contacts maybe a couple times a year (depending on the size of your business). Some industries have federal regulations about how long they must keep certain data, so make sure you take these into account when creating the parameters for your purge. You won’t be able to create much content behind bars.
It helps to consider things like: the length of time the contact has been in your system without purchasing anything, how often they engage with your content, the date of their last response to a communication from you, and other criteria. The specifics are really whatever make the most sense for your business. But the results will be the same: your metrics will highlight who still has some life in them and who’s destined for Deadsville.
Of course marketing is a numbers game. But it’s critical to pay attention to the right numbers, or you’ll miss the real story driving your bottom line.
Adjust your content, evaluate, then adjust some more. It’s a never-ending process, but as long as you make it part of your strategy, you’ll get the best results and something that every marketer is searching for – content that attracts leads that turn into customers. What’s better than that?