Is Your Content Marketing Effective?

5 Proven Steps To Improve Content Marketing Effectiveness

5 Proven steps to content marketing effectivessIs your business creating and distributing useful, non-promotional information?

Is your content targeted at a well-defined audience to persuade them to take action?

Is your business able to measure results that prove your content yields profitable results associated with your business goals.

Your answers to these 3 questions reveal whether you’re providing quality content marketing that’s effective for your company.

88% of North American B2B marketers use content marketing as part of their marketing activities according to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’s 2016 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.

The fact that most B2B marketers use content marketing underscores that content marketing continues to mature as an effective form of marketing.

Want more proof?

Attendance at Content Marketing World, the major conference focused on this topic, has increased sevenfold in the last 5 years, from 500 participants in 2011 to 3,500 in 2015!

The current state of content marketing effectiveness

Let’s examine what content marketing effectiveness looks like in 2016 and how it’s evolved based on Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’s 2016 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.5 Proven steps to content marketing effectivess

Before diving into the survey results, note that 20% (or one fifth) of survey respondents were in the marketing and advertising vertical and half of survey respondents worked for firm with less than 100 employees.

Translation: These marketers are focused on the latest trends. They tend to work for small businesses that by their nature and resources need to be nimble. They don’t need to deal with complex organizational challenges. 

30% of marketers rate their content marketing as effective. Effective is defined as “meeting your overall goals”.

Content marketing effectiveness-2016_B2B_Report-2

Content marketing effectiveness improved based on the following 5 factors:

1. Experience

This intuitively makes sense; the more you do, the better you get at something. This is why athletes and musicians practice continually.

For content marketers, the caveat is that you must assess which content efforts yield the best results and continually try to improve your effectiveness through testing.

The research revealed that content marketing experience broke into 3 major categories: Beginner, Intermediate and Mature. (Note: The infographic shows a more refined breakout into the following categories; the top two, sophisticated and mature, are experienced. )

Content marketing effectiveness increases with experience

2. Documented content marketing strategy

It’s obvious you can’t construct a building by just dumping a pile of materials on a site and telling your contractors to create a house. The same holds true for your content marketing.

32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

This proportion has remained relatively consistent despite research that’s proves that a documented content strategy yields better results.

Have a content strategy-2016_B2B_Report-Chart-1Without a documented content strategy, how do you know what content efforts you need to continue doing because they’re effective at delivering better business results and what content efforts should you stopping doing because they’re not providing sufficient results?

At Content Marketing World 2015, Brain Traffic’s Kristina Halvorson stated, “The reason we’re not more effective with content marketing is because we’re not starting with the ‘why?’”

3. Documented editorial mission statement

28% of marketers have a documented editorial mission statement.

Joe Pulizzi started preaching about editorial mission statements in his book, Epic Content.

Take a page from mattress company Casper. They hired experienced editors and journalists to create VanWinkle’s their publication. Here’s their editorial policy:

Van Winkle_s Editorial Policy

“We have a long-term vision for Casper to become the dedicated brand for all things sleep, and part of owning that category is owning the best content related to it,” said Casper CEO Philip Krim.

To create your own editorial mission statement use NewsCred’s Michael Brenner’s Mad Lib version by filling in the words in brackets as they apply to your business.

Become a destination for [target audience] interested in [topics] to help them [customer value].

Once you’ve developed your editorial content mission statement, distribute it to everyone in your organization and explain to them what it means and why it’s important to your business’s future.

4. Know what content marketing success looks like

55% of marketers are NOT sure what content marketing success looks like. YIKES!

Content marketing success-2016_B2B_Report

This represents a big challenge for content marketers. How can you create effective, quality content if you don’t know what it is?

Content marketing isn’t about great content for content’s sake or industry awards. Your content must grow an audience that eventually takes actions resulting in achieving your business goals. 

To create effective content you must ask:

“How can my content marketing actively build an audience that drives overall business performance?” 

If this question stumps you, assess how other forms of your marketing are achieving business success. Examining your other marketing efforts should highlight what topics resonate with your target audience. It should also yield insights regarding that audience.

Still not sure about what content resonates with your audience?

Then talk to your target audience, either directly or through those areas that engage with them such as sales and customer service.

Don’t just copy the content you think is working for your competitors. Based on my experience working with private equity firms seeking to purchase companies, what you think from the outside isn’t necessarily what’s happening on the inside.

5. Hold regular content meetings

44% of marketers have weekly or daily content marketing meetings.

These aren’t your traditional business meetings that consume lots of time and yield limited results. These content meetings are laser focused on key content topics to determine what content is needed and why it’s important to their audience, and where and when to publish it.

Content marketing effectiveness bottom line:

Content marketing is maturing and will continue to do so at a more rapid rate. 

Effective content marketers act like a traditional media entities to achieve their business objectives. They’ve got a documented content marketing strategy and are building content teams and expertise.

How do you measure content marketing effectiveness? What have you done to improve your firm’s content marketing effectiveness?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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