If you're using content marketing as a method to generate new business leads, there's every chance your strategy needs rethinking! Ever wondered why, despite your best efforts, the sales aren't materialising?
Skip back a few years and head to that murky refuge of the digital chancer and cyber fly-by-nighter, the SEO forum. If you were brave enough to poke your head through the virtual doors of one of these suspect establishments, you'd probably have heard some self-diagnosed "guru" proclaiming to anybody that would listen, "Content is King".
It is a mantra that has been echoed across the internet with the careless abandon of a bee-keeping naturist. So much so that it is has become something of a default soundbite for online marketers everywhere.
"But wait there one damn minute," I hear you cry. "Are you saying content isn't king?"
Not exactly. After all, who am I to dispute years of received wisdom? The problem lies in the fact that it's all too easy to go about content marketing in completely the wrong way.
Content marketing - the right way
For many, this tired mantra is enough. Because of misinformation gleaned from the internet or fed to them by their marketing agency, business owners think all they have to do is fill their website with content – or pay somebody else to do it – and the world and his uncle will form an orderly line, eager to part with their hard earned cash.
But this approach lacks:
- A clear content strategy
- Analysis of data
Blindly blogging on a series of untargeted and often unrelated topics is a waste of your time and money. Your content should have focus and a purpose for existing.
A clear content strategy provides the focus you're currently lacking. You should be offering answers to the questions that your potential customers are asking.
Analysis of data
Data analysis is an integral part of all marketing. In the case of content marketing, it provides the intelligence required to formulate both of the above.
Know your audience
Knowing your audience is the key to successful content marketing. It's all well and good saturating your website with content, but if all you are generating in return is unqualified traffic, the leads and sales are never going to materialise.
Take Sir Bruce of Forsyth (somebody, please). He may not know a lot about content marketing, but he could tell you a tale or two about the showbiz game. Ferreted away beneath that fine head of hair, alongside the Tarby and Corbett golfing anecdotes, is 73 years’ worth of knowledge gained in the field. And how has he lasted so long? By knowing his audience and, more importantly, knowing what it is they want: a badly delivered gag, a spot of half-baked dancing and a grim rendition of an old Sinatra number. Throw in a chicken-in-a-basket supper and everyone's a winner.
Through analysis of the data associated with your content, you can build an accurate picture of your audience, segmenting visitors, leads and existing customers, and allowing you to track:
- Which keywords, sources and referrals are driving traffic
- What content generates the highest quality leads
- What questions are being asked that your content provides the answers to
Once you have this wider understanding of how people are interacting with your site, you have the opportunity to structure your content to meet the needs of people at various stages of the buying process. You can then deliver a steady flow of relevant and engaging material, tailored so as to drive targeted traffic that converts into leads.
If you are serious about your marketing then you must accept that content and data are intrinsically linked. To approach the former while ignoring the latter is an exercise in pointlessness.
If you're going to do content marketing, you might as well do it right.
To find out more about content marketing, download our eGuide, ‘What Is Content Marketing? Your How-To Guide'.
Guest Post: Sookie Shuen is the community manager at Tomorrow People, a leading UK inbound marketing consultancy, who provides free advice and updates through a five step inbound marketing methodology. You can read more of Sookie's content on inbound marketing by subscribing to the Zoober Inbound Marketing blog. You can also find her on Google+ and Twitter.