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Content marketing satisfies your prospect’s need for essential information and your organization’s desire to shine as a trusted source of subject-matter expertise – subtly sparking “love-at-first-sight” resonance, laying foundations for long-term relationships and leading to a sale, membership renewal or other conversion to profit.
In part 1, I reviewed how to create compelling and audience-focused content. We walked through pre-publication steps of the content development cycle and reviewed understanding your audience, finding your love-connection with customers, defining topics for content marketing, and writing engaging content.
In this post, we’ll cover how to effectively circulate, measure and adjust your content.
CIRCULATE: SHINING A LIGHT ON YOUR CONTENT
In the pre-publication stage, you defined persona-aligned content strategies and goals and constructed an editorial calendar. With these guides and your fully-proofed, audience-focused content in hand, you are ready to publish your content.
Your persona development efforts should help illuminate channels and formats through which your personas seek information. Organizations can also leverage customer behavior and demographic data from member/customer databases to best position content where and when audiences are most likely seeking information. Segment your email lists so that you can track preferences by persona. You may have a few extra lists (one per persona) for each mailing but the extra work on the front end will aid your intelligence gathering and analysis later.
Timing is Everything
Time your content circulation and promotion when your audience is most likely listening or seeking information. Your email marketing system should offer data on most frequent day and time messages are opened. Circulate your content when early-, mid- and final-cycle research are conducted by each of your personas. Again, if you don’t have these data, begin now to learn and track preferences from your current engagements with consumers. Your web analytics, email marketing system, and transactional customer database can provide a wealth of trend data and particularly if you analyze data by persona.
Consider ways to cross-market your print or electronic content in other forms of media. For example, include a blow-in card or advertisement in a print magazine, journal or newsletter for your suite of online educational webinars or electronic articles and whitepapers.
Semantics – Speaking the Same Language
Direct email promotion and online search continue to be the top two content discovery methods. Critical to being found, followed, “friended” and frequented is to use relevant language to link your content with each of your personas or targeted audiences.
Be sure to use language that resonates with your prospects, and including the variety of ways they may refer to the same thing. Carefully select key terms for your subject lines, first-view content, keywords, and throughout the body of your content.
Your content should be connected to a current and essential informational need of your prospects. As you circulate and promote your content, clearly state the relevancy and timeliness of the information and, if elegantly done, to the personas you seek to attract. Another effective method of proving relevancy is using “newsjacking” to link your content to a current event or news story.
Entice your Audience
As you cross-market content, use excerpts from your content or audio/video sound bites to drive readers to your online or print content.
MEASURE: TRACKING IMPACT AND AUDIENCE
The marketing forecasts for 2014 point to content marketing, end-user focused marketing and use of big data to drive marketing strategy in the coming year.
Meaningful Measurement Matters
In the pre-publication stage you should have defined meaningful and measurable goals for each content marketing campaign. The positive outcome of content marketing is growth in influence among your prospects, eventually leading to a trust-based transaction. It will take at least several quarters to see the results of your efforts. While it is tempting to use only immediate metrics of success such as likes and shares, these do not necessarily translate to sales and income later. Compare several quarters of “influence” metrics like number of followers, visitors, and readers with sales metrics over the same time period to measure your content marketing efforts. There is no perfect metric to use. Rather, determine what would signal that your audience values your content. Keep it simple. You can quickly overwhelm yourself by tracking too many data points. The Content Marketing Institute offers a list of ways to measure success in content marketing. Track your findings in your editorial calendar so that you can analyze your efforts over time and across multiple campaigns.
Tracking Your Admirers – Lead Retrieval is a Must!
While aggregate data is very helpful, you should also take the opportunity to learn who admires your content. Create a simple online registration form to encourage prospects to sign up for additional content or to provide suggestions. You can find many tools for lead retrieval. One I use and like is Wufoo.com, a simple inexpensive HTML form builder with extensive reporting and auto email generation features. You could also ask the prospect to identify their interest in the content or stage of the buying cycle. Lead generation through registration forms enables your organization to know who is interested in your content. This is particularly important if you offer print or online content where it would be difficult to know exactly who showed an interest in your content. You can return to this list for future content promotion and persona data gathering. Be clear about how registrants’ information will be used, shared or not shared with others, and ensure that everyone in the organization upholds these assertions.
ADJUST: TAKING RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
No content is perfect out of the gate. Like a romantic relationship, content marketers must check and recheck that their audience-oriented content is on the mark. Are we speaking the same language? Are we sharing content that our most desired prospects want and need? What can we learn from our successes and failures?
Failing Quickly and Adjusting
For content marketing, it’s a long season. There are, and should be, many chances to fail — as long as we fail quickly, learn, and adapt to the new surroundings. ~ Content Marketing Institute
I present the content development stages as an infinite cycle because there is no true end to the process. Intelligence gathered post-publication will feed in to revisions to existing content and into strategies for future content. You have a tremendous opportunity to realign your strategy based on feedback and data on whether and how you influence core audiences to read or listen to your content, share with others, and decide to make a purchase or to join your organization.
Evaluate both strategies that worked and those that didn’t work to expand your knowledge and adjust as you revise your content marketing strategies.
You will also gain important data after publishing your content that may help fill any gaps and deepen intelligence about your personas. Market data returned by monitoring audience interaction with your content provides an ongoing source of intelligence cycling back to future content strategies and as well as to your organization’s product and business development.
You can also have “heart-to-heart” conversation with a sampling of people in your persona groups to see how you are doing. Ask how you could improve the content to provide valuable education to them. Is there a better channel, format, or voice for this content?
With this knowledge, you begin the content development cycle again — CIRCULATE, MEASURE, ADJUST.