Content Marketing and the Digital Dialogue

To be respected and relevant in the digital world, you need content. Sounds simple, but the reality is actually quite complex. Marketing staff of both small and large businesses face challenges that include producing sufficient quantities of engaging content, lack of integration across marketing, budget restraints, resistance from executive management limited measurement capabilities, and skillset shortages.

To remain relevant and well thought of, marketers need to plan, produce and publish appealing content across multiple channels throughout the customer lifecycle. This means being able to analyze and identify a prospect or customer’s digital body language, and to align and deliver personalized content based on their persona, preferences and stage of the lifecycle, thus creating an ongoing and engaging digital dialogue with your customers. Remember, customers are fickle, and as soon as you lose relevance for them, they’ll look elsewhere for their needs to be met.

While this can be a difficult process, a systematic approach that involves four straightforward steps can get you on your way:

Step 1: Develop Your Strategy

Determine who your target audience is. Ask yourself who you are trying to reach, and how you want them to act as they work through each stage of the customer lifecycle. Document this. Create your list of ‘personas’ and their individual characteristics, chart them to the phases of the lifecycle, and then identify specific actions that you can track to determine the ROI of your program. Different types of businesses measure different metrics, but a few of the most common include reach, visit-to-lead ratio, lead or interest-to-customer ratio, average deal size and revenue.

Step 2: Recruit the Content Manager

An effective content marketing program requires a ‘director’, a person to lead the way to ensure all efforts are generating maximum impact and supporting your content strategy. Call that person a chief content officer, content strategist or content manager. Whatever title you bestow, it should be on someone with a solid track record of impressive story telling, who can portray your brand experience in a multitude of ways.

Leadership skills are equally important. You’ll want someone who is assertive with experience managing teams, and someone who is collaborative and capable of building consensus within organizations. Your content developers can come from all parts of the organization — your customers, as well as partners and thought leaders in the industry — so you’ll want someone that can bring these resources together in a well thought-out way.

Don’t trust this position to a junior staff member, and if you’re really serious about content marketing, you must hire an expert to help lead the way.

Step 3: Create Your Editorial Calendar

With your ‘personas’ now clearly mapped out, your metrics defined, and your content leader ready to get started, you need to build an editorial calendar of topics that are meant to engage with your defined personas in areas such as your corporate Blog, on your Facebook page, on your Company LinkedIn page, and on Twitter. Because you are creating a digital dialogue, knowing your target customer is key to developing the right content and to delivering it via the appropriate channel.

Your topics should include targeted keywords and long-tail terms. Build a six-month calendar based on a mix of keyword-driven topics along with a mix of purely creative ones that you believe customers will enjoy. As you review your analytics, refine your editorial calendar to deliver more of the content that appeals to your customers and less of the stuff that isn’t generating interest. Always see your editorial calendar as a work in progress that will need tweaking along the way.

Step 4: Change Your Content Philosophy

Talk to any marketer and they’ll all say the same thing — there is never enough content. It’s not necessarily the case. The problem lies in how most marketers view content; they see it as a whitepaper, e-book, webinar or long blog post. In fact, there are many occasions that call for smaller, more digestible pieces of content. This is particularly true when we start talking about social content for things such as Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates and Tweets.

In 2014, our customers and prospects are bombarded with tons of information — and most of it doesn’t pertain to them. To deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, you need more targeted content.

While a content marketing platform can help facilitate this, there are simple ways to create more relevant content — even if you only use a whiteboard or spreadsheet to manage your content process.

  • Interview your customers and colleagues for a short video and blog post
  • Brainstorm every FAQ you’ve been asked with your organization and answer each one
  • Have sales BCC marketing on emails answering customer or prospect questions to turn them into content
  • Ask every customer to share their experience after implementation or renewal
  • Assign questions and topics to employees and video each answer

Handing someone a blank sheet of paper and asking them to write is very different than having a conversation about their expertise and turning that into content. No matter your business, you have experts. There is content waiting to be revealed. Start pulling that out and encouraging a culture of content creation.

Conclusions

Once you’ve commandeered your way through Steps 1-4 of developing your Content Marketing Program, the big challenge is finding appropriate and widespread avenues for your content. These should include the various social networks that your customers congregate on, including the most popular outlets of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and if relevant to your business and your customers, on Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. It’s also crucial that this content be engaging enough that your customers will want to share this content. Therein lies the power of your social content, exponentially increasing the reach that your content has.

Digital Fuel can help bring your audiences and content together. We are well versed in leveraging your social content to prospect for new customers and also to retarget potential customers who have clicked or viewed adverts on other digital marketing channels. We work with our clients to align all of their marketing channels, so that the customer gets a consistent experience and a coherent message whether they are on Facebook, seeing a real time digital display advert, or reading an article online.

We have vast experience in utilizing large content discovery platforms such as Outbrain.com and Taboola.com for the benefit of our clients and affiliates. Paid content marketing is actually working effectively for these affiliates and brands, and we have the skills and ability to run campaigns for them via Outbrain and Taboola, resulting in the acquisition of more customers, increased brand awareness, and building an audience through content. We also pride ourselves in being able to help get your content promoted on the web’s largest and most respected media outlets, and to make sure it’s seen precisely when people will find it most interesting.

So, if you think your business can benefit from our expertise and paid content marketing strategies, get in touch with us. Find out more about how we can help your business develop your content strategy, and to maximize its impact with your customers throughout their lifecycle in the most engaging and powerful ways.

Author: Digital Fuel

Words by the Digital Fuel team members