Content marketing has proven to be insanely effective, and can be integral to building the trust that inevitably leads to conversions. Stratabeat even found that “80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles, versus an advertisement.”
But, like most other digital-marketing techniques, content marketing isn’t something you want to jump into blindly.
Just as a football team doesn’t storm out onto the field without a thorough game plan, you don’t want to haphazardly produce content without first devising a strategy. In fact, research from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs found that, “Marketers who have a documented strategy are not only more effective but also less challenged with every aspect of content marketing.”
Here are five specific reasons why you need a content marketing strategy right now.
1. Ensure cohesiveness.
Most campaigns involve multi-channel distribution where content is spread out across a variety of mediums. For example, I’ve done everything from blog posts and and social media to webinars and guides. That’s the great thing about content marketing. There’s a lot of freedom, so you can reach your audience via a plethora of channels.
One issue, however, that I’ve seen marketers run into is a general lack of cohesiveness with their content. Often, it is all over the place and covering a myriad of topics, which can be confusing to an audience.
In my experience, you’re more likely to run into this problem without a formal strategy in place. But by developing a documented strategy, you can clearly chart your path.
This will ensure that you cover topics within your unique niche and create content that’s going to resonate with your audience and generally stay on course with your brand.
2. Establish a strong brand identity.
Effective branding has arguably never been more important than it is today. With so many markets now hyper-saturated and an endless number of rats chasing after a finite amount of cheese, you need to stand out in order to differentiate yourself from the masses.
I love content marketing for the simple fact that it’s the ideal outlet for letting my personality shine through and showing what I bring to the table. But in order to establish a strong brand identity, I’ve found that it’s essential to have a strategy in place.
Creating one will provide you with direction for choosing the style, tone and overall approach to take, as well as the specific mediums to utilize.
For example, maybe you’re looking to convey that your brand isn’t too rigid or uptight; what's more, you’ve got a sense of humor and you understand pop culture. You might piggyback, therefore, on the latest viral craze and create a well-timed video (e.g., the Harlem Shake, the Ice Bucket Challenge, even planking).
A content marketing strategy will help you steer the ship and ensure you’re going in the direction you need to.
3. Increase your content marketing productivity.
I’ve found that holding myself accountable is crucial for making any tangible progress. Without a strategy outlining how much content needs to be produced, where it needs to be posted and when, you may find it all too easy to flounder.
If you’re the type of person who needs a little nudge to get you going, a formal strategy is essential. Maybe your goal is to create two blog posts a week, update Twitter five times a week, update Facebook twice a week, create one infographic a month and so on.
When you have a strategy, all of this becomes much easier, and achieving your goals is much more realistic.
4. Analyze patterns.
Another thing I’ve learned about being successful with content marketing is that it requires perpetual tinkering and tweaking. Some techniques will work brilliantly, while others will be dismal failures. That's just part of the process.
By obtaining written documentation of what you’re doing you'll find it much easier to track your progress and determine what’s working and what’s not.
You’ll also know which metrics to focus on to get a better sense of how your campaign is going as a whole. This should make it clear when a particular area needs some revamping.
As you accumulate more and more data, you can eventually turn your campaign into a well-oiled machine and operate with ruthless efficiency.
5. Maximize your ROI.
Did you know that “content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads?” In my opinion, content marketing may be pound-for-pound the most effective marketing strategy of all time.
Content marketing really levels the playing field, and small companies can often compete with much larger ones, as long as they’ve got a smart, well-thought-out campaign.
By carefully charting your course and developing a comprehensive strategy, you're almost guaranteed to lead to a favorable outcome.
With higher productivity and less wasted motion, this should ultimately help you see a higher return on your investment. In turn, you can generate a larger number of leads and get more conversions while spending less time and money.
Understanding the whys and hows is crucial to determine the direction of your content marketing plan. That’s why I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to develop a unique strategy for your brand. This will save you a lot of time and frustration later on, and enable you to get tangible results within a reasonable period of time.
If you’re not sure how to proceed, check out this previous post about starting a content marketing plan from scratch. It should point you in the right direction.