The idea that brands invest the time and energy into crafting high-quality, engaging content for their communities is powerful. Equally as powerful is the idea that brands could actually capture new leads, move product and close sales with a single well-written blog post.
This compels many marketers to take the courageous leap into content marketing. The truth is, however, that making money with content is hard -- really hard -- and 99 out of 100 times, readers do not magically appear when a blog post is published.
Content marketers today have the great responsibility of a newsroom editor, but without the newsroom, or the audience to support them. The terms of engagement are not fair, and it’s a double standard that many marketers don’t anticipate at the outset. It’s a bring-your-own-audience (BYOA) world, and they have to live in it.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. There are tactics that can build strong communities around a brand. Below are three solutions for engaging -- and ultimately monetizing -- your audience.
Provide value, not volume. Real-time marketing has become the latest trend to dominate the content marketing industry. The oft-cited “Oreo” example is the one that brands aspired to in this year’s Super Bowl ads and social media conversations. But while we saw a huge flood of content deployed as quickly as possible, we didn’t see any memorable “Oreo moments” this year.
That’s because real-time content marketing isn’t a strategy. It’s spaghetti on the wall. When you win, you win big, but it’s not predictable or replicable.
And the truth is, we don’t all need to be real time. Instead of setting content marketing standards based on how much content a brand develops or how quickly, we should be measuring our content marketing campaigns by the value they present to the reader.
Content should be something that makes your brand’s blog a destination, instead of a distraction. It should be sought after.
Get professional help. Not all brands have the kind of marketing budgets that Anthropologie or Williams Sonoma have. These brands struggle to become publishers, when they should be focusing their limited resources on moving product. They know, of course, that great discourse moves product. That’s why they got into content marketing. But they have their hands full.
Related: The 7 Secrets to Shareable Content
There’s truth in the law of comparative advantage. When writers write and when brands move product, more net value is created. Brands that don’t have the internal resources to do content marketing well should be seeking opportunities to partner with professional writers or bloggers.
There are a variety of ways that content marketers can do this, either by inviting bloggers as guest contributors to their blogs, licensing blogger content for their own website, or hiring a freelancer to write original stories and newsroom-worthy articles. We all fare better when we focus on what we do best.
Set goals and track. For content marketing to move the needle, brands have to take a measured, strategic approach to their content marketing strategy. It’s about setting very specific marketing goals and then optimizing your content marketing campaign to achieve those goals.
This may require content marketers to think outside of content development as their sole deliverable, consider things such as launching a user forum to catalyze audience engagement, create compelling calls to action or turn product data into a blog post.
Not only that, but once the content marketing campaign is conceptualized and implemented, marketers have to be smarter about measuring the success of the campaign, optimizing it for performance and experimenting for best results against their set KPIs.
Google Analytics is wonderful, but it will only get marketers so far. Marketers need to let tools help them reach their goals. Optimizely, for example, is great for A/B testing of headlines, website copy and call to actions.
Content marketing can and should be an important part of every online marketing strategy. Brand advocates and loyalists expect to hear from their favorite brands, and they want to actively engage with them to shape their future as much as possible. It doesn't have to be hard; it just has to be done right -- and with purpose.