We all know content marketers are working on too much, but some of our latest research puts this challenge into perspective.
When presented with a list of 28 initiatives, B2C marketers indicated they are working on an average of 13 initiatives now, and they’ll be working on an additional nine initiatives on average in the next 12 months. And, these initiatives aren’t easily achieved (i.e., better converting website visitors, creating higher-quality content, developing a better mobile strategy).
While there is validity in every single one of these initiatives, is tackling so much all at once really the best thing to do if you want to do it successfully? And, if you can’t do everything, what do you prioritize?
We were inspired to answer those questions after the conversation with our esteemed B2C research roundtable panel: David Germano, VP of Content Marketing for Magnetic Content Studios; Julie Fleischer, Director of Data + Content + Media at Kraft Foods Group; Todd Wheatland, Head of Strategy at King Content; Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping; and Brice Bay, Chairman and CEO at EnVeritas Group.
Of course, every organization will have different priorities based on what their goals are. However, these four things should be on your list. We take a look at those priorities and some common questions, then offer some answers, share tips, and discuss how CMI is tackling the initiative.
Understand your audience better
Spending time to understand your audience isn’t a nice-to-do, it’s a necessity. It’s core to everything.
Common question: How many different audiences should I have?
Answer: Our research shows that B2C marketers target four audiences or personas on average. To decide if you need a new persona, ask yourself if that audience’s informational needs differ from what you already support. If not, no need to segment your audience further. If yes, evaluate how critical this new persona is to your business goals.
One more idea: Does your editorial team support brands or personas? If your staff is not organized by audience, chances are you aren’t as focused on truly trying to understand your audience as much as you think you may be.
Lesson from CMI: Think about ways you can get to know your audience better. Here are a few things CMI has done in the past year to support this:
- We hired an audience development manager, Tracy Mallette, whose job is to understand our audience.
- We initiated a project to profile our email subscribers so they can tell us more about them and about what kind of topics they want to hear. (You can see the form – or update your profile.)
- We focused a recent #CMWorld Twitter chat on our community so we could learn more about the audience.
Develop a documented content marketing strategy
If you have followed our research this year at all, one thing is clear: a documented content marketing strategy separates effective marketers from their less effective peers. And, having a verbal strategy doesn’t do nearly enough. Before trying to tackle more, stop and get your strategy in writing so you can figure out what you even need.
Common question: What are the key elements in a documented content marketing strategy?
Answer: Check CMI’s The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer.
One more idea: Once your strategy is developed, your work doesn’t end. While some things like your goals and mission should be “sticky”, have a plan to re-evaluate regularly other aspects such as your channel plan, topics, and process. And, if you develop your strategy with the knowledge that you’ll revisit it, you won’t feel so paralyzed to create the perfect strategy.
Lesson from CMI: I’ll be honest: We didn’t take our own advice about actually documenting our strategy until about a year ago. But, when we did, it helped tremendously. It’s also a great document to share with new hires to get them up to speed.
Create a subscription model
Chances are, you want to build an audience, right? What’s surprising is that only 40% of B2C marketers are actively working to build a subscriber base. This is the one initiative that many of the roundtable participants focused their attention on during the conversation.
Common question: Why do I need to build a subscriber base when I have Facebook fans and Twitter followers?
Answer: An audience is worth much more to you if it’s on your platform (i.e. owned) – and you can reach out directly better than you could on another platform (i.e. rented). Of course, social platforms are a great way to find a new audience – and nurture ones you have – but think about how they can support your subscription goals.
One more idea: If you use SlideShare, you can secure subscribers by providing open access to your presentations but asking for contact information when someone downloads the PDF.
Lesson from CMI: We track which content performs best and share that list with the editorial and social teams. Because much of our content has an evergreen appeal, it makes sense for us to re-share posts that have converted well in an effort to build our subscriber base.
Understand what is effective
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Are you doing this with your content marketing? If you want to move the needle at your company, you need to know what’s working – and what isn’t. If you don’t have a way to do this, chances are you won’t even know if new initiatives you implement, such as creating visual content or marketing in real time, are helping the cause.
Common question: I have my KPIs mapped out. Is that all I need to do?
Answer: No. While understanding what specific impact you want your content to have is the first step, tracking won’t likely give you the insight you need to understand why the numbers are the way they are. You need to understand how each piece of content is impacting your goals so you can better decide what you need to create more (or less) of.
One more idea: If you are feeling overwhelmed with data, think about the one KPI that means the most to your business and track every piece of content against that.
Lesson from CMI: Here is a five-step template that we use at CMI to track how our content performs.
I’d love your thoughts: what other initiatives would you suggest marketers prioritize?
Want more expert advice on addressing content marketing’s biggest priorities? Check out all the fantastic CMW sessions that are available through our Video on Demand portal.
Cover image by CMI