Every B2B and CPG company creates content. Whether it’s great, engaging content or a little on the “bleh” side, the competition for consumer attention is exponential.
The content enterprise has changed a lot over the years, evolving from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have with full buy-in from senior leadership as a proven way to generate business. As such, you can’t afford to just sit on your strategy without checking-in continuously or quarterly to evaluate its success.
So, do you have a content marketing formula?
It may be difficult to define the perfect formula for success, as that varies by company, industry and circumstance. However, there are 5 main factors to keep top of mind as you start mixing (or remixing) your special sauce regardless of your company’s focus.
1. Start with the right foundation
The 4 P’s of content marketing (Plan, Produce, Promote and Perfect) talk about the overall strategy, but before we even get to that, there are another 4 Ps that you need to consider in order to create a solid foundation on which to build that strategy:
Point or Pillars. This one might seem like a given, but as your overall business strategy evolves, so does your key messaging. Outlining your content pillars, key points that you’re trying to communicate and goals will help to keep you on track and aligned as business goals evolve. As Jay Baer, President of Convince and Convert explains, “you have to have the right topic and you have to actually produce content that people care about and want to be entertained by in the right format.”
People. Everyone can produce content, but not everyone can produce ground-breaking content or a series of “hits.” Subject matter experts may be great at what they do and excellent thought leaders, but they may not be the best at writing a blog post, starring in a video, or developing a podcast series. This is where the content professionals come in to save the day, taking things from just “OK” to really awesome!
Process. Content marketers face many challenges like scale, consistency, and resources. That’s why when it comes to project management and content operations, the process should ideally run like a well-oiled machine. Or, you could just pull your hair out and have a melt-down upon every approaching deadline. Either way.
Platform. Marketing automation platforms, project management tools and other content software exist to help marketers with process, increase efficiency and to drive a greater impact across their company.
2. Test and Test again.
How do you determine what the best format is for your audience? You can test an overarching topic in various formats like long-form text, a video, a listicle, a podcast or a webinar to see what appeals the most to your audience. A/B test everything, from headlines to creative. Test to see what days of the week your audience is most engaged and what channels work the best. Most importantly, keep on top of the trends, understand consumer behavior and how your audience might be consuming media and content.
Kissmetrics provides some really great insight into how you can go about split testing.
3. Pay attention to winning companies.
As Jay puts it, “Even the greatest music producer in the world doesn’t turn out a hit every single time, but [perhaps] more than their contemporaries.”
“Content success is much more about crafting hits – big hits – home runs…having that breakout, breakthrough podcast, breakout video, eBook or webinar.” – Jay Baer.
Brands like GE, Boeing, Wayfair, Rue-La-La and InVision are invested in and excel in their content marketing initiatives. Find the companies in your space that motivate you and explore all the reasons you like what they do and what keeps you engaged. And to whoever said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…well, that’s debatable. Reinvent, don’t copy.
4. Never underestimate email.
Email is more important than ever and essential to your content marketing strategy. A major consideration in content marketing is not just the content itself, but how you amplify it or get people to know that your content exists. Some marketers use email every day to engage with opted-in subscribers, making it a vital amplification engine. Email also provides insight via performance metrics into what interests your subscribers, and what doesn’t.
5. Leverage CRM data.
The more you know about your customers and understand CRM data, the more relevant your content initiatives. Sophisticated CRM strategies allow you to segment your audience by their stage in the funnel and subsequently, build and improve relationships to keep consumers engaged and extend their lifetime value.
For more on data-driven content marketing, listen to this Everything Email Podcast with our hosts Ali and Kerel and content marketing king, Jay Baer.