Content marketing is not just the cheapest and smartest way to get loads of organic traffic, conversions, and sales online. It is the only way!
It takes a bit of time to gain traction and momentum. But once the engine starts moving, there is nothing but success around every corner …
Marketers who don’t understand the value of content marketing need to know one thing: no other brand marketing method even has a glimmer of hope online. Content marketing is the only available method to get online business … because people come online for information, and if they start trusting the source of that information, then only do then buy from that source.
The whole content marketing movement began because people didn’t want to be sold to with crass, interruptive advertising. They wanted a way to do self-shopping at their own pace, armed with loads of decision-support information.
When buyers clearly want no hint of the seller lurking in the background to nudge them into buying this or that until they’re ready, content marketing is about the only way to give buyers every bit of information they need to absorb at their own speed and to make their own decisions.
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Content marketing is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as, “A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”
In short, the idea is to sell by not selling. Since the vast majority of people come online for information. the subtle way to sell is to offer content to the reader to showcase your brand’s expertise in a niche area. As you gain more and more trust as the best go-to expert for knowledge in your niche, people develop familiarity and comfort in buying what you sell.
Here are a few more definitions of content marketing by some of the best marketing gurus. The first one is from Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute.
This second definition of content marketing is by the ultimate marketing doyen, Seth Godin, best-selling author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker.
How did content marketing evolve? Well, one of the best early examples of content marketing is by the agricultural implements company John Deere. Instead of directly advertising their products, they chose to publish a magazine called The Furrow, which was full of farming-related articles (not necessarily only involving their products).
As The Furrow became highly popular among the farming community, the sales of John Deere’s equipment skyrocketed … simply because people saw from its magazine content that the company was a “total expert” on agriculture.
The moral of the story? Content marketing requires brand owners to become “magazine publishers” (ie., in these days, they need to be blog publishers). Their content needs to showcase them as thought leaders and experts in their niches. This sustained “content-led marketing” then will beget them a loyal community of readers, trust, and sales – in that order.
Research from Hubspot shows that content marketers prioritizing blogging see 13X positive ROI. Research from Kapost says businesses that engage in content marketing capture 7.8X more organic traffic than those that don’t. And research from Demand Metric says that content marketing generates 3X the leads but costs 62% less than other digital marketing channels.
If these figures don’t quite explain how powerful content marketing can be for brands online, here is more. Content marketing is, ultimately, “information” conveyance to target audiences. But it is information in diverse formats like blogs, website copy, emails, social media posts, infographics, slide decks, whitepapers, podcasts, videos, images … and so on.
It can therefore reach audiences wherever they are online, in an info-format they love to consume, from whichever device is their favorite. Not everyone loves to read long articles. Some do. Others prefer hearing podcasts. Yet some others prefer watching videos. Content marketing allows you a variety of ways to reach and touch potential consumers.
The beauty of content marketing is that you can subtly give the right information to the right people at the right time to help them make up their minds in favor of your brand as they take sequential steps in their buying journeys online. Why do people seek information? Because they want to achieve some end … maybe a solution to a problem … or a way to reach a coveted goal. Every journey towards an end needs some information (or content) to get a person from one stage to the next. Your brand must aim to be that trusted information purveyor.
1. Content marketing lets you display expertise and authority in your niche: Creating and sharing valuable and relevant content helps attract and engage your specific target audience. By consistently producing and distributing high-quality content that addresses the needs and interests of your audience, you can establish yourself as an authority and build trust with potential customers.
2. Content marketing can increase traffic to your site by opening up several gateways: By creating and sharing valuable content, you can attract organic traffic from search engines, social media, and other online platforms. Plus, by being consistent with content creation and distribution, you can build an audience that will regularly visit your website for new and relevant information.
3. Content marketing can help your brand open up a conversation with target audiences: Your brand can break the ice with your target audience by creating and sharing content that is relevant and valuable to them. By engaging with your audience through comments, social media, and email, you can learn more about their needs and interests and tailor your content to better meet those needs.
4. Content marketing can engage with, educate, and change audiences’ minds: By creating content that addresses common objections or misconceptions about your industry, you can help to change the minds of your audience and overcome any resistance they may have to your products or services. Further, by creating content that evokes emotions, you can increase engagement and build a stronger connection with your audience.
5. Content marketing can help build trust and long-term loyal relationships with audiences: By providing value and being consistent and transparent with your audience, you can build a relationship based on trust and mutual benefit over time. Strong relationships can help to increase brand loyalty, lead to repeat customers, and have positive word-of-mouth … to drive conversions and sales.
6. Content marketing can also help turn brand loyalists into brand advocates: Trusting customers can become your best brand advocates. They will actively promote your brand and products to their network, which can help to increase brand awareness. User-generated content or customer testimonials can further inspire public goodwill and interest in your brand.
One of the brands I love best for its content marketing is Patagonia. At its core, it’s a company that makes all kinds of clothing and gear for outdoors life. But it gradually changed from merely outfitting people for the outdoors life to a brand that started championing sustainability. But it didn’t do this in a preachy way. It started an ongoing campaign of enthralling storytelling with stunning videography.
Here’s just one of their amazing videos. (Psst … the monster in the closet is that ugly underbelly of the clothing industry … watch!)
Notice here that I have used the words “inbound content marketing.” Since online audiences favor content marketing because it is the antithesis of intrusive advertising, marketers have realized they need to “attract” target audiences towards their content and brand (i.e., make audiences inbound) as against spewing content at them by chasing them down (i.e., make content outbound).
Now, within content marketing, there are two distinct models. One model is where you know what products you want to sell. You gradually build up your blogging, brand authority, reader trust, and reader loyalty (by making people subscribe and stay on your mailing list). Then you can make your product or service attractive for them to buy.
There is another entirely different model, where you have no idea what to sell. You know what niche you want to be an expert in, so you start blogging prolifically and build up your brand authority, reader trust, and subscriber base in your mailing list. Then you listen to your audience’s needs and build products or services that you know they will find attractive.
Either way, whether you know what you want to sell or not, the basics of content marketing are the same … build trust and authority by blogging a lot and getting yourself seen everywhere by the audience you covet. Then, once trust and subscribers are built, nudge people to become aware of the products or services you may want to create and sell.
If you don’t want to sell your products, you could as easily market other people’s products to your loyal subscribers and fans and earn commissions by “affiliate marketing.” The money in content marketing is not in the products you sell; it’s really in the size of the mailing list of subscribers you manage to build into your community.
1. Set clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your content marketing. Do you want to build authority and trust first and then sell what you have in mind? Or do you want to build trust to elicit from your subscribers what products they’d like from you? What will you do to build brand awareness, increase website traffic, and generate leads?
2. Research your competitors: See what type of content marketing models they are using. Where are they getting their revenue from? Their own products? Affiliate products? Look at the types of content your competitors publish on their websites, including blog posts, videos, infographics, e-books, and more. Take note of the topics they cover, the tone and style of their content, and the frequency of their publishing schedule.
3. Choose the proper content format: Decide on the type of content that best suits your audience and goals. This can include blog posts, videos, infographics, e-books, and more. Make sure the format you choose is something that your audience will find interesting and engaging. Consider your resources. Make sure to choose a format within your budget and resource constraints.
4. Optimize for SEO: Use keywords and other SEO best practices to ensure your content is easily discoverable by search engines. Keep your content up-to-date and add fresh content regularly. Search engines prefer fresh and updated content over older and stale content. Make sure your content is optimized for mobile devices, as more and more people use mobile devices to access the internet.
5. Promote your content: Use a variety of channels to promote your content and drive traffic to your website. Ways to promote your content for greater reach and visibility include sharing on social media, email marketing, reaching out to influencers, guest posting, paid promotions, or content syndication. Also, participate in online communities related to your industry or host webinars.
6. Measure your success: Use industry-standard metrics to track the performance of your content and make data-driven decisions. Continuously improve. Try different types of content formats and see which ones perform best. Use feedback along with analytics to continuously improve your content and your inbound marketing strategy.
Resound Creative has a good YouTube video on how content marketing can help build more trust and sales, and they explain why they don’t see these objectives as conflicting goals. Their chosen content marketing weapon to create greater trust and sales is email marketing. Emails allow you to customize your messages and deliver just what is needed for each subscriber to overcome obstacles to trust.
Before you watch this video, read what Resound says about their principle: “Before we get going, I want to point out that, during changing times, we need to rest upon a firm foundation of values, no matter what’s going on in the world. For this reason, we’re focusing on the fundamentals: building trust through coherent branding and then developing that trust through a series of communications, via an email-based content strategy.”
For a lark, I decided to check out a few articles from marketing experts to see how fast they say content marketing works. Here are their answers:
Neil Patel: “You’ll probably start seeing content marketing results in 6-9 months.”
Michael Brenner: “It can take around four to five months to start seeing substantial results.”
Carol Ann Tan: “For a small to medium-sized business, a strong content marketing strategy generally takes between six and nine months to yield real results.”
Metric Marketing: “You need to stick with a content marketing strategy for about six to twelve months before seeing meaningful results.”
The range is between 4-12 months on average. That’s a rather broad range!
I don’t believe in numbers like these. I believe in one philosophy and one case study on the whole timing of success (not just in content marketing but for anything in life).
1. The philosophy of the Chinese Bamboo Tree. For the first four years after it is planted, the Chinese Bamboo shows no shoots at all. None. Zilch. Then suddenly, in the fifth year, it grows to a height of 90 feet in just 2 months. How? Because it’s been building its strong root structure (invisibly), to be able to sustain its eventual height.
2. The case study of Everywhereist. For two years, The Everywhereist, a travel blog, received nearly zero traffic. During the third year, a few articles went viral, which sustained 100,000+ visits each month thereafter. The blog still churns it out – it has reached 1,000 published posts after 4 ½ years (about two posts per week).
1. Creating highly valuable and relevant content: Address specific pain points or problems that your target audience is facing: This will help to attract and engage your audience, and increase the chances that they will share your content with others, leading to more visibility and traffic to your website.
2. Use analytics tools to track your website: Monitor traffic, engagement metrics, and conversions, and use this data to identify what’s working and what’s not. This will help you to understand your audience better and optimize your content marketing strategy to better meet their needs.
3. Build relationships with influencers, bloggers and other thought leaders in your industry: This can help you to expand your reach and increase visibility for your brand and content. You can reach out to influencers and offer them exclusive content, collaborate on content, or offer them incentives to share your content with their own followers.
4. Repurpose your existing content: Instead of creating new content from scratch every time, you can repurpose old content into different formats such as videos, infographics, and social media posts. This will help you to get more mileage out of your existing content and reach new audiences.
5. Focus on creating a consistent brand voice and visual identity: This will help you to establish your brand as a thought leader and authority in your industry. By consistently using the same tone of voice, messaging, and visual elements in your content, you will be able to create a stronger emotional connection with your audience and make it easier for them to recognize and remember your brand.
6. Make sure your content is easily shareable: By including social share buttons on your website, making it easy for your audience to share your content with their own followers and friends. Additionally, you can also create shareable images, quotes, and other types of content that are easy for people to post on social media.
My good friends from the Income School (notably Ricky Kesler) have this terrific video on how blogging more is the answer to spectacular results. No arguments! Everything else (including blog promotion, hunting for backlinks, spending time on social media to spread word-of-mouth, or reaching out to other bloggers) is a distraction from producing more blogs.
I liked the sound of that because, as a solopreneur, doing all that extraneous work is very tough for me. I am an avid fan of the Income School, and what they say is the gospel for me.
There are gazillion types of content you can create. The Big Four – or the minimum four – types of content you need at any time are your website, blog, social media, and email marketing. Aside from this, you could create many other types of content. The idea here is that different people like consuming different types of content, so you can increase your reach if you have more content floating around the Net.
Here is a list of just a few types from the top of my head:
Self-assessment quizzes/FAQs, short reports/edocs, video tutorials/screencasts, resource lists/tool kits, checklists/calculators, templates/worksheets, ebooks/whitepapers, online courses/certifications, membership sites/forums, mentoring/consulting services, webinars/seminars/masterclasses, group coaching/one-on-one tutoring, video or podcast learning series, email-based training sequences …
… guest posts on renowned websites, PowerPoint or skype presentations, interviews/case studies, guided do-it-yourself projects, done-for-you services, collaborative online events with other experts, online research assistance services, libraries of images, music or video clips, customized collated knowledge packs, developing your own app or tool, developing a jobs board in your niche … phew!
Most experts, though, ask content marketers to focus intensely on only one type of content, to begin with, like blogging. The idea is to saturate the topic of your niche in depth on one format before you begin sideways outreach through “repurposing” the same blog content into other formats like slide decks, webinars, podcasts, or videos.
1. Create different formats of the same information: For example, explore turning a blog post into a video, podcast, or infographic. This allows you to reach a wider audience and increase the chances of your content being shared and consumed by different people. You could also update the content with new information, statistics, or examples to keep it relevant and fresh.
2. Break a big piece of content down into smaller, more specific pieces: Take a long-form article and turn it into a series of shorter blog posts or social media updates. This allows you to target different keywords and topics and makes it easier for people to consume and share. You could also take a collection of blog posts or videos on a similar topic and turn them into an ebook or course.
3. Use the same content for different types of marketing campaigns: For example, if you have a whitepaper on a specific topic, you can use the information in it to create an email campaign, a webinar, or a presentation. You could also repurpose user-generated content, like testimonials or customer reviews, by sharing them on social media, adding them to your website, or incorporating them into your marketing materials.
4. Repurpose the same content for different languages: This can help you expand your reach to new audiences and help you connect with people who speak other languages. You can use machine translation tools to translate your content. Or hire professional translators to ensure that the translations are accurate and idiomatic.
5. Repurpose content by turning it into interactive formats: For example, you can create quizzes, polls, or surveys based on the information in your blog post, article, or video. This makes the content more engaging and allows you to gather valuable data and insights from your audience. Interactive content can increase user engagement and make the content more memorable.
6. Repurpose content to use it for different stages of the customer journey: For example, you can repurpose a blog post or whitepaper into an email series for lead nurturing or use a webinar recording to create a product demo video. This way, you can tailor your content to effectively guide them through the different stages of the buying process.
Column Five, the agency, has developed a brilliant idea to make just one major piece of content deliberately designed to be easily “breakable” into other forms of content. They say, “It’s an approach to content creation where you use a single asset to create multiple pieces. For example, you might break an e-book into a few articles, infographics, social microcontent, or even brand videos. Or you might use sections of an infographic to supplement a blog post or promote content on social.
You can use this approach when you’re going to create content from scratch, or you can use it to create fresh content from evergreen content. (You can even reverse engineer it; for example, you might turn an infographic and a series of blog posts into an e-book.).”
Unlike most of us who think of repurposing as an afterthought, this Divisible Content approach calls for strategic planning of content so that it can be put together or broken apart like pieces of a jigsaw. Here’s what their divisible content strategy looks like:
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After writing the first ten or twenty blog posts for their niche, content marketers typically ask, “What else can I write about? I have covered most of the important topics for my site?”
This question flies in the face of what we know about content marketing: the more fresh blogs or content pieces you create, the faster you get traffic, and the quicker you start selling products. And there is no such thing as having covered everything your buyer needs to know.
That’s why there is this concept of “hugging the buyer’s journey with content suitable for every stage of progress.” A typical buyer goes through many stages of the buying journey. Experts sometimes describe this journey to be like a “purchase funnel” and have four major stages: TOFU (Top Of Funnel), MOFU (Middle Of Funnel), BOFU (Bottom Of Funnel), and Loyalty & Advocacy (Final Stage of Funnel). At each stage, the buyer obviously needs different kinds of information.
If you were to outline a list of twenty-five questions a buyer may ask at each stage of the buying journey, you’d be ready with 100 answer blog posts that give just the right information for each stage. The secret lies in brainstorming the type of questions buyers may have at every stage. The more questions you can think of answering, the more blog post ideas you get that are bang on target for a buyer stuck at that point of the buying journey.
1. To match content to the buyer’s journey at the “TOFU” (Top Of Funnel): Create informational and educational content that addresses the buyer’s pain points and helps them understand their problem and the potential solutions available. This can include blog posts, ebooks, infographics, and webinars. By providing such information, you can establish yourself as a thought leader.
2. To match content to the buyer’s journey at the “MOFU” (Middle Of Funnel): Create content that compares your solution to others in the market and highlights its unique features and benefits. This can include case studies, product demos, comparison guides, and testimonials. Such content will help the buyers to understand how your solution can be differentiated.
3. To match content to the buyer’s journey at the “BOFU” (Bottom Of Funnel): Create content that addresses any remaining objections or concerns the buyer may have and make it easy for them to take the next step, whether that be scheduling a demo, requesting a free trial, or making a purchase. This can include ROI calculators, free trial offers, money-back guarantees, and detailed product specifications.
4. To match content to the buyer’s journey at the “Loyalty and Advocacy” stage: Create content that encourages customer retention, repeat business, and advocacy for your brand. This can include customer success stories, referral programs, loyalty rewards and incentives, and content that teaches customers how to get the most out of your product or service. Such content can strengthen the relationship with your customers.
5. To brainstorm customers’ questions at each stage of buying journey: Create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on accurate data and research. By creating buyer personas, you can better understand your target audience, their pain points, and the type of information they would be looking for at each stage of the buying journey. Put yourself in the persona’s shoes.
6. To improve content matching to buyer journey stages: Use tools such as Google Analytics and tracking to understand the performance of your content and adjust your strategy accordingly. You can track website visitor behavior, including which pages they visit, how long they spend on your site, and which calls-to-action they engage with. This information can help you understand which content resonates with your audience and which doesn’t.
Some marketers believe the purchase journey has only four or five stages. But I follow an eight-stage journey (which I imagine as a funnel) to serve customers at their crucial decision points better.
The top stages are clubbed together as Top Of The Funnel, or TOFU. This is where the target persona is TRIGGERED by a need or interest to CONSIDER looking for solutions.
The following two stages are clubbed together as Middle Of The Funnel or MOFU. Here the target persona CHOOSES to progress with or TRY out some possible solutions seen with me.
The following two stages are clubbed together as Bottom Of The Funnel or BOFU. This is where the target persona decides to bite into my proposition. The persona BUYS what I have to sell and EXPERIENCES my service.
The last two stages are about retaining customer LOYALTY. They happen after purchase when I cajole buyers to REPURCHASE more products from me or ADVOCATE my products to others.
I give customers the informational support they want at every stage. My aim is that my information should nurture and hand-hold the customer through the journey’s many decision stages.
There’s no rocket science involved in deciding what blog posts (or other content to create) and putting it down on an editorial calendar to follow diligently, right? But there’s some psychology involved here that you should know. Planning and calendaring your workload for content creation helps you achieve far greater productivity than otherwise.
For starters, it helps to have at least three months’ worth of blog post ideas to hand before you begin, so you are not waking every morning and facing that awful query, “What the hell do I write about today?” No more twiddling of thumbs and staring at blank screens. You have a plan, so stick to it.
Secondly, when you plan your blog posts, social posts, or other content, ensure you cover all the categories of information you want as part of your content strategy. Planning and giving rotational importance to all topics you want to cover is necessary to avoid overdoing content in one area and neglecting another.
Thirdly, when calendaring your plan and deciding when to write what, you may prefer to batch your work. You may be a person who prefers to do all the week’s research together at weekends, so you can then write a blog post per working day. Or you may like to outsource your proofing and editing and may have to sync your calendar with your freelance helper. Or you may like to create 25 social posts together and schedule them for release on different dates. Go with the flow of your energy patterns when filling your editorial calendar.
1. Plan out your content in advance: Schedule it for specific days and times. This will help ensure that you have a consistent flow of new content, and that you’re able to stay on top of your content creation schedule. Additionally, you can use a content calendar tool to help you keep track of your content and stay organized. (I’m not an affiliate, but CoSchedule is my favorite tool.)
2. Mix up the types of content you create: Instead of only creating text-based content, consider incorporating different formats, such as video, audio, or images, to keep things fresh and engaging for your audience. This will also help you to reach a wider audience and can help increase engagement. A lot of bloggers these days are also into podcasting as an extra content form.
3. Be aware of current events and trending topics: In addition to creating “evergreen” content (i.e., content that’s always relevant), by staying informed about what’s happening in the world, you’ll also be able to create content that is timely and newsworthy to your audience. This can help increase engagement and shares on your content.
4. Involve your audience in your content creation process: This can be done by soliciting feedback, running polls, or conducting surveys to understand what types of content your audience would like to see more of. By engaging with your audience in this way, you’ll be able to create content that is tailored to their interests and preferences.
5. Be consistent with your posting schedule: By consistently publishing new content on a regular basis, you’ll be able to keep your audience engaged and build a routine for them to follow. This can help increase the chances of your content being seen and shared. Additionally, ensure that you’re publishing new content at the optimal times for your audience.
6. Be flexible and adaptable with your content schedule: Sometimes, unexpected events or news can happen that may require you to shift your content strategy or adjust your posting schedule. Being able to pivot quickly and adapt your content can help you stay relevant and maintain engagement with your audience.
CoSchedule is a market leader in content calendars. They refer to it as a marketing calendar –because their idea is that you should use the editorial calendar idea not just to plan content creation and posting but also to note down your schedules for other marketing activities like promoting content, social postings, email sequence planning, and so forth.
I love this video they have that shows how to use calendars for optimum productivity in content marketing, but also for how clear their planning process is, which they show you.
It is vitally important that all content marketing we do must be capable of device-responsive rendering, i.e., the content must be readable, appropriate, and provide an aesthetic and user-friendly experience, whether it is consumed from a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile screen.
Most website and blog-building tools enable automatic device-friendly rendering or can be tweaked. But it’s not about dumping your entire content from laptops onto a mobile or tablet. It is far wiser to see which kind of content your audience tends to consume more on which type of device – and to plan your content distribution coherently for a multiscreen world.
There are two other pertinent points to note. Some experts say that despite the plethora of screens of all sizes becoming more available to consumers, the smartphone will remain the center of the multiscreen world. Therein lies the potential for coherence in the creation of cross-screen brand campaigns. The mobile screen may become the “remote control” of all the other screens in our lives.
Another set of experts emphasize that brands will have to ensure that information sets on different screens augment each other and do not replicate each other … and it’s not just about the devices the consumers are using, but where they’re using them from (at work, from home, or on commutes) that must be factored into content marketing planning.
1. Use device detection and redirection: You can use a script to detect the type of device a user is accessing content from and redirect to the appropriate version of the content optimized for that device. For example, if a user is accessing the content from a mobile device, they would be redirected to a mobile-optimized version of the content, while users accessing the content from a laptop or tablet would be directed to a version optimized for those devices.
2. Use Adaptive Content: You can create flexible content that can be rendered differently based on the device and context, providing the best user experience for each user. It involves creating modular content blocks that can be rearranged, hidden, or shown depending on the device or context. This way, the content is tailored to the specific device and screen size, ensuring the user gets the best experience possible.
3. Use Progressive Web App (PWA) technology: PWAs are web applications that can be accessed through a web browser, but have the functionality and feel of a native mobile app. They can be installed on the user’s device and work offline, providing a seamless user experience even without an internet connection. PWAs can be designed to adapt to different screen sizes and orientations.
4. Use App Streaming technology: This is a method of delivering an app to a user’s device without requiring them to download it first. Instead, the app is streamed to the user on demand, and the user can start using it right away. This can be especially useful for users with limited storage on their devices, as they can still use the app without having to take up space on their devices.
5. Use Multi-Channel Distribution: This method involves creating different versions of the content, each optimized for a specific device or platform, and then distributing the content through multiple channels, such as websites, mobile apps, social media, and email. This allows for the content to be delivered to the user in the most appropriate format for their device and enables the content to reach a wider audience.
6. Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) based content optimization: This method (relatively new) involves using AI and ML algorithms to analyze user behavior and preferences, and then dynamically adjusting the content to fit the user’s device and context best. For example, an AI-powered algorithm can track a user’s browsing habits and automatically adjust the layout, font size, and content language to best fit the user’s device and preferences.
An exciting brand, a small tour operator (an ongoing client I cannot name), came to me recently with a keen interest in exploiting three screens – laptop, tablet and mobile – with meaningful brand communication on each of them. Research showed us exactly how road travelers in our target segment used these three screens.
As part of our multiscreen strategy, you can see the chart below, which I developed, to segment information to the right devices that make the user experience most pleasurable and least painful for the brand’s consumers. (A contents section on all devices enabled cross-viewing, if desired … with suggestions on the best devices to view certain content from.)
A multiscreen marketing strategy has no one correct sequence for all brands. For every brand and every type of consumer activity, there is a pattern for screen usage that we can unearth via research. The moral? Know your customer better than ever if you want to be everywhere where his head turns with the right kind of information he requires.
There are four sets of metrics to measure to get a 360-degree view of your content’s performance. Semrush has spelled these out very clearly, so take a look at their infographic if you can. I use their system to track my own content and my clients’ content.
The first set of metrics to study deal with “user behavior.” These would include page views, users, new and returning users, average time on page, bounce rate, pages per session, and traffic sources.
The second set of metrics to study deal with “engagement.” These could include upvotes, likes, shares, comments, mentions, re-publications, incoming requests, and so on.
The third set of metrics to study deal with “SEO outcomes.” They include organic traffic, dwell time, backlinks, keyword rankings, etc.
The fourth set of metrics to study deal with “business revenues.” For example, conversions, existing leads nurtured, new leads generated, cost per acquisition, and content marketing ROI.
It’s not that you have to study all these metrics (unless the whole lot are germane to your goals). You may want to focus on a few metrics that are the top priority for your brand and business strategy. You need metrics not just to admire the numbers per se, but to see whether the targets you have set are being met – and whether your brand is taking an intended direction.
1. Use analytics tools (most notably Google Analytics): Analytics tools can provide detailed insights into how users are interacting with the content, such as how many users are viewing the content, how long they are spending on the content, and what actions they are taking (e.g., clicking on links, watching videos, etc.). This data can be used to identify areas of the content that are performing well and areas that may need improvement.
2. Track the performance of different versions of the content across different devices and channels: See which versions are most effective for each device and channel, and adjust the content accordingly. For example, you can track how many users visit your website from mobile devices, and see how the content performs on mobile devices. These days mobile usage is far outstripping laptop or tablet usage, so mobile metrics are vital.
3. Use user feedback and surveys: One way to gather user feedback is through in-app surveys or feedback forms. These can be embedded within the content and triggered based on specific actions or events, such as after a user completes a task or reaches a certain point in the content. These surveys can ask users about their satisfaction with the content, and their understanding of the information provided.
4. Focus more on engagement metrics: Engagement metrics are a set of measurements that indicate how users are interacting with the content, such as page views, time spent on the page, scroll depth, clicks, conversions, and bounce rate. These metrics can provide insights into how engaged users are with the content and how well the content is performing.
5. Use A/B testing: A/B testing is a method of comparing two or more versions of a webpage or piece of content to determine which one performs better. This can be done by randomly showing different versions of the content to different user groups and then comparing each group’s engagement and conversion rates. A/B testing can help you identify which elements of the content are most effective, such as the headline, layout, images, and call-to-action.
6. Use natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis: NLP and sentiment analysis can automatically analyze the content and evaluate the sentiment or tone of the text, allowing you to understand how users react to your content. Analyze user comments and reviews on social media platforms, forums, or other online platforms. You can identify patterns and trends in how users respond to the content.
Did you know that even if a person spends a lot of time on the last page he visits on your site in a session, the time spent on the page, according to Google Analytics, is taken as zero? I didn’t know that till I watched this video from Loves Data. There are some quirks to how Google calculates some of the most common metrics, but there is always a good reason behind the numbers they put out.
It sure helps to know how Google thinks, evaluates, and calculates the performance of your content, so you’ll know what the figures really mean when you look at reports from Google Analytics. There are many metrics we think we know (from what their names suggest), but we may not know the nuances hidden in the numbers. Watch this video …
1. Content marketing is the only form of marketing that works online. You shouldn’t aim to sell anything with your content. Instead, allow your content to be helpful to your target audiences, who then begin to trust you – and thereby develop a preference to buy from you.
2. Content marketing works only when it’s done consistently and with a definite strategy. Decide what your business goals are, plan your content to deliver on those goals, and calendarize your actions, so you stick to them till they deliver.
3. Feel free to use my list of 8 eminently do-able steps to build your content marketing. It’s a battle-tested plan I have used to grow my entrepreneurial venture that has hit high places quite satisfactorily.
People who write content often aren’t very good at number-crunching. But tracking and measuring your content performance does help you tweak your game plan smartly, so learn how to read Google Analytics numbers. What good is it if you end up writing reams of content, but don’t know if you’re on track or not?
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