Stop Creating Content Just Because You're Supposed to Create Content
There are a lot of marketing firms out there that are telling you that you've got to be consistently creating content, and they're partially right. We believe that you should put out new content on a regular basis, but only if it's worth reading. Creating content just because someone told you to keep putting crap out isn't going to help your brand, in fact it may hurt your rankings in the long run.
To cultivate an effective marketing campaign, every business owner needs to have clearly defined goals, or they’re not going to make much headway with their content strategy. Some owners aimlessly meander through the content creation process, creating content and posting it without reason.
But here’s the catch: without clearly defined goals, how will you ever know if your content strategy is paying off?
And no, I’m not talking about setting a goal like “increase sales by x number of dollars.” While setting forecasts and goals for the remainder of the year is a smart strategy, your content does a lot more than improve your bottom line. There are a lot of ancillary benefits that people often forget about.
So, let’s take a look at the goals that serve as the foundation of a content strategy.
Goal 1: Improve Your Brand Awareness
Your brand needs to be firmly planted within the brains of your audience members, and it’s one of the top goals for any marketing campaign. Simply put, organizations want users to be constantly engaged with their content, so their audience will follow them in the future.
Brand awareness isn't some form of hocus-pocus that doesn’t do anything to bolster your bottom line - it's smart strategy and creates trust and authority.
In fact, Oracle and Aberdeen revealed a report that showed 74% of CMOs thought brand awareness was one of their top priorities.
Great content shows the audience that you know what you’re talking about, and that you’re the go-source for authoritative information in a given industry or niche. And after repeatedly showing an audience that you know your stuff, they’re going to start wondering who you are.
Just think of IFLScience, which grew an explosive following by constantly posting content on the latest developments in different sections of science-related fields.
We also publish two podcasts purely for brand recognition - Sink or Swim and Digi Know. Both of these podcasts are full of good information for business owners, and have little (if any) sales talk in them. But we do identify who we are and our company name in each one!
So how can you track whether or not you’re improving your brand awareness? Simple, just use website metrics such as traffic and demographic analytics, surveys, and how people are accessing your site (for example, direct links include bookmarks and people typing the URL directly into their search bay).
It's also important to see how people are interacting with your website. We love Hotjar (aff) for this data - you can see where people are clicking (or not clicking!), run surveys and even record visits as if you were standing over their shoulder.
Goal 2: Increase Your Website Traffic by Diversifying Sources
Naturally, the amount of traffic a website gets is one of the things business owners are frequently concerned with, and it’s no wonder why. The more good quality visitors you get to your site, the more eyeballs your products and services are exposed to.
Even though brand awareness should be a top priority, it’s really a very broad and open goal to have. On the other hand, traffic goals are much narrower, and the first step is making sure you are driving a desired amount of good traffic through the first stage of your sales funnel.
Ideally, you want to create content that solves a user’s problem, build a relationship with that user through your content and calls to action, and move them from a cold lead to a warm lead and send them through the following stages of your marketing funnel.
Types of content that help achieve this goal include:
- Content that’s posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.
We use several automations to get this done, including feedly, sniply and buffer. Read more about how we do our social media here. (and don't forget to download our free social media guide at the bottom of that article!)
- Videos that include links to landing pages
Every video description should start with a full link to a page on your site that gives the viewer more info. Make sure you use the http:// and all, so the system (like YouTube or Vimeo) knows it's a link. You can also create great videos with Animoto. And don't forget to upload your video to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Calls to action contained in content that send the visitors to a landing page
Your video needs to start with your brand/logo and should end with a call to action to a page on your site. If your URL is long, use a service like bitly to create a customized shorter version.
Goal 3: Increase the Amount of Sales/Leads You Generate Each Month
This one's a no-brainer. If you sell more stuff, you'll make more money.
But wait a second, isn’t anyone who visits your site a lead? Well, not exactly, and note that there are many different types of sales leads that are classified by how well they know your product and how inclined they are to take action.
The idea is to take all of your hard-earned traffic and start converting them into leads as they progress through your sales funnel. Typically, this is the stage of the process where visitors give you their email address for something in exchange. But in order to encourage them to take action, you need to give them something of value in return.
Common tools used to help generate sales leads include the following:
- Free ebooks, white papers, and case studies
Check out Beacon, a cool, quick tool for making ebooks. We used it to make the free 39-article ebook on SEO in the call to action box below this list.
- Product and service demonstrations
Many people want to learn more about your product without having to deal with a salesperson. Product demo and how-to videos are a great way for them to learn more about your company. Plus, there's the additional benefit of reinforcing goal #1 - brand awareness.
- Other types of free tools such as educational content or checklists
Free trials are a great way to get people 'in the door' without much risk. Checklists (with your logo and contact info, of course) are terrific downloads as well.
By the way, we call these lead magnets for obvious reasons. A lead magnet is something that's compelling enough, interesting enough and short enough that someone will gladly trade you their email address for the information therein. In fact, you probably see a few of our lead magnets on this page if you look closely. =)
Goal 4: Encourage More Leads to Take Action to Become Customers
This is perhaps the greatest goal of any business owner: converting their leads into actual sales. Now that your content has attracted visitors and some of those visitors have become leads, it’s time to make a sales proposition. We like to refer to this as a tripwire offer - something that (again) provides great value for a price. It may be just a few dollars, but the act of a lead giving you money in exchange for high value produces a positive psychological thought in that lead's brain.
I know that if I give Company X money, I'll get something of great value in return - worth more than what I paid!
There are a number of tools at your disposal during this part of the sales funnel as follows:
- Paid trial offers
Whether it's $1 or $29 - the idea is to lower that barrier of entry
- Demonstration videos / webinars
We prefer the word 'training' as 'webinar' tends to turn off those that are technology shy
- Retargeting Ads
One of our favorite weapons!
We wrote more about these great images here
- Case studies
These can be easy one or two page documents that show a before and after scenario. Here's one of ours.
You’ll also want to track and measure performance as you did for the previous steps. And the math is pretty darn simple. Just look at the ratio of people who made it to the last step of your sales funnel versus those that actually took action and made a purchase. You can use tools like Google's free URL builder and Google Analytics to see how people moved through your sales funnel.
Also read: 6 Tips for Better Conversions
Goal 5: Set Retention and Upsell Goals
Too often, business owners forget that they shouldn’t ignore a past customer. After a customer has made a purchase, you should do everything in your power to protect the relationship between your business and the customer. Not only do you want to retain customers so that they make more similar purchases in the future, but you also want to upsell them on new products or services.
Having a large audience of happy customers helps out tremendously when launching a new product or service. Plus, it should always be a goal to reduce churn as much as possible.
You can improve customer retention with the following types of content:
- Blog posts focused on industry news and new developments
If they've already raised their hands and told you they're interested in what you build/sell, make sure you tell them!
- Direct email marketing that contains exclusive offers and promotions
We've helped one client create a series of email automations that follow up at the customer's 6-month and 1-year purchase "birthday", offering them an additional discount promo code to come back and buy again.
- How-to videos for new products
Again, if you don't tell them, they won't know.
- Exclusive or first-to-receive content & offers
Get your new product or service a great launch by offering it to those that you're already doing business with - and of course giving them a discounted rate. This is a terrific way to 'seed' the way to a great launch.
Write Them Down!
Years ago we realized the importance of not only making goals, but writing them down. And while these 5 goals aren't the end-all of marketing tricks, they'll definitely give you a leg up on your competition.
Planning ahead, knowing your audience, and tracking the conversions through your sales funnel will ultimately lead to a healthier bottom line - doesn't that sound good to you?