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'Content marketing's just touchy feely nonsense. How does it make me money?' Does this sound familiar?
Whether you're a marketing agency contending with a view like this or you have a slightly more receptive client (or boss), you need to make a solid business case for your content marketing plan and use the pitch to show how it will grow your business. The 'everyone else is doing it' defence won't fly.
Sure, content marketing is not as showy and in-your-face as traditional marketing techniques; it's not about immediate wins and it does take planning and hard work, but that doesn't stop it from being the most cost-effective method to boost traffic, drive conversions and increase sales. You just need to prove it.
The top business benefits of content marketing
Start with the general benefits of content marketing:
1. It all adds up.
Anything outbound can do, inbound can do better, and there are a host of stats to back it up. For example, inbound marketing costs 61 percent less per lead than traditional outbound techniques. And, per dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as conventional marketing.
2. The long game. The beauty of content marketing is that once you've created the content, you own it. So, while you might not reap the benefits immediately, you're building a repository of high quality, persona-driven content that will boost your SEO and continue to attract visitors and convert leads long after publishing. You can also repurpose any of your own content, turning a series of blog posts into an eBook or tweeting little snippets of older content, to further extend its shelf life.
3. Thinking ahead. Over time, content marketing helps you position your company as a thought leader and industry expert. By creating a wealth of interesting, useful content, you earn a position of trust with your customer and can become a respected influence in their research and evaluation process (meaning they're more likely to do business with you).
4. Tuning in. Unlike traditional marketing techniques, the ROI and success of content marketing can be quantified. By tracking visitor behaviour and sign up and conversion rates, you can assess the impact of each channel and piece of content you use. Analysing your marketing efforts and using A/B testing to improve them, allows you to fine tine your marketing strategy so you're not blowing effort and money on costly dead ends. Ultimately, content marketing gives you much more control over your spending.
Building a sound content marketing plan
Next, you need to weave these general business benefits into a content marketing plan that will help you reach your particular business goals.
Start by asking yourself the following questions: What are your goals? Who are you targeting? And what do you hope the content will drive them to do?
This means looking at the current performance of your company's marketing to identify the weaknesses content marketing could address. You may want to reduce the cost per lead or better target a particular segment of your market.
You need to pinpoint your audience with some buyer personas to understand who your content will need to resonate with and how.
With these goals and personas in hand, you can start to brainstorm content ideas and map out a rough editorial calendar, focusing on keywords and pain points that will not only attract your ideal customers but also prompt them to travel further down your sales funnel.
You should use the calendar to layout how much and what sort of content you'll be publishing week to week, establish where the responsibility lies – what percentage will you create in house and how much will you outsource to freelancers and agencies – and ensure that you're mapping content to your sales funnel. You might have lots of content to attract visitors to your website, but what about the more in-depth content to nudge leads and close deals?
Armed with the tangible benefits of content marketing and a solid content marketing plan, you're not only ready to show your boss how content marketing will work for your business, but you're also ready to hit the ground running when your boss gives you the go ahead.
Hat tip to Ed Schipul for the photo