Ask the question ‘what is the goal of content marketing’ and the answer might seem easy: generating more visibility, engagement and sales for your brand. But getting the kind of transformative results that matter starts with having a clearly defined goal that is specific to your business’ needs. To help you define your goal, let’s dig a little deeper…
What is the goal of content marketing?
Content marketing is the process of developing and distributing content online in order to build brand awareness, trust, and credibility with a targeted audience. At its heart, it can help generate leads or sales through consistently creating blog posts, social media posts, videos, ad campaigns and other digital marketing techniques such as e-newsletters.
So ubiquitous is it in our content-heavy (and hungry) world, that many people may come across content marketing without even thinking about it as marketing. For instance, 93% say they’ve been influenced by online reviews before purchasing a product – which have most likely been left as part of a content marketing strategy that had a goal of encouraging customers to post reviews.
Done well, digital content can be a stealthy but influential marketing technique that can generate results across your company, from your reputation to your bottom line.
We’ve already discussed the overarching aim, which is to generate more new or repeat custom. But if you unpack what that means for you, then you’ll realise the goal of content marketing goes much futher. It can also contribute to your brand and your audience in much richer ways. Here are some of those:
Improve the customer experience
Content marketing means providing relevant, engaging and shareable content that educates and entertains your audience. All of this contributes to enriching the customer experience – which in turn is key to inspiring loyalty.
When customers see you as a brand that is willing to put time and money into offering them tutorials, tips, information and entertainment – for free – they will be more inclined to buy from you again. That’s why 60% of consumers cite blog posts as influential in the early stages of their purchasing decision.
That doesn’t mean that content marketing has to be a one-way street. It’s about developing a relationship of giving and receiving between your business and your customers.
Perhaps you provide a free ebook when customers purchase your product in exchange for them signing up to your newsletter. Or you ask them to share their own experiences via a review or social media post (such as a hashtagged tweet or Instagram snap) to be entered into a competition.
Not only does this involve them in the conversation and your brand, helping them feel supported post-sale, but user-generated content can make your marketing team’s job easier.
Position you as an industry leader
People trust leaders, and through well-written and researched content marketing you can help establish yourself as a thought leader among your industry peers and those looking to do business with you.
You can do this by creating value-added content which informs and inspires rather than just sells; this will attract followers who are more likely to become customers. This approach requires consistent publishing of relevant material that has the potential to add real value to people’s lives and experiences with your product or service.
We’ve already mentioned this above, but when you go the extra mile to offer advice or comment on a certain topic, this will have an impact on how people see you. Not only will they trust your input but they may also recommend you to their friends and colleagues when the time comes for them to make a purchase.
Identify and showcase your values
Sharing or repurposing content that has been produced by another party is a good way to flesh out your content plan while also espousing your values. But it is important to give context about what’s behind the information and provide supplementary material where necessary. This helps people understand why you believe it is relevant and what it can do for them.
For instance, you might be sharing another company’s report or findings to showcase your own business’ specific values and ethics. You can subtly use this to align your brand with a cause while also educating your customer base.
Increase leads and repeat custom
Content marketing can have a specific purpose of bringing in more leads for your business, as it creates awareness and recognition of the company.
Consider what type of content you want to create: informational or promotional. Informational content might mean just providing general interest stories that link your business and your customer’s values to improve your brand awareness. Promotional content might have a specific call to action directing customers to a product line/page or your contact page.
You can post these types of articles on your blog and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to increase traffic, but also think about sending them out via email so they are seen by previous or potential customers who have opted in but might not be regular visitors to your blog.
You should also follow-up with existing customers who opt-in to receive your newsletters by having a carefully crafted email campaign. Encouraging repeat custom is vital because retention costs less to target as opposed to acquisition (finding new customers). As Forbes put it:
Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
The digital world moves fast and if you want to get recognised you need to be a part of it. That means posting content on your blog or social feeds often and being part of the conversation. That could be as trivial as the latest gossip from a reality TV show to your involvement in contributing to a more sustainable future – whatever your audience cares about.
Once you’ve posted a blog article or other piece of content online, stay active with future posts and make sure you’re aware of what’s going on in your customers’ world. 97% of bloggers promote their content via social media so if you’re not doing this you’re not competing. Simple really.
Create a conversation
Content marketing is increasingly interactive, especially if you’re posting on social media. Your customers are looking for a dialogue with you. They want to see that they’re being heard and responded to, so be prepared to respond in kind by following up on their comments and suggestions.
You’ll also need to have conversations outside of your social media feeds too – follow up with emails, blog posts or any other form of communication you have available (such as SMS or direct mail) to ensure you’re keeping in touch and putting your brand in the minds of your customers.
Understand your customer base
Content can generate a wealth of information for you about your customer base, such as the kind of content they want to see, the posts they interact with most, what headings the click on, their dwell time, where they go after reading your content and the times when they are active. You can use this information to improve your future campaigns and adjust them accordingly.
Ask yourself what your customers like and dislike, what they care about and what they don’t, before drawing up a content strategy. Alternatively take the time to browse around competitor sites and social feeds to get an idea.
Finding your content marketing goal
Now that you understand some of the common goals and benefits of content marketing, you can tailor your strategy by asking yourself some key questions:
- What do you want your content to achieve? To increase the number of visitors on your website? To get customers to buy a product or service?
- How do you want your brand to be viewed?
- How do you want to interact with your audience…and how do they want to be interacted with?
- What are the pain points of your audience and how can you remedy these through your content?
- Are you looking to rebrand, expand or enter a new market? If so how do you want content marketing to play a role in generating this awareness?
Knowing the answers to these questions, it becomes easier to create successful content marketing plans and measure their results. You know how much time and effort each tactic requires, so you can put together a content plan with the best chance of success and estimate your ROI before getting started. This means not just producing engaging content but also distributing it in the right places for maximum impact.