Ever since the pandemic hit, even the businesses that didn't initially have a content market strategy had to immediately come up with one to stay connected with their customers amid the lockdowns and physical distancing restrictions. In contrast, those with content marketing strategies had to evolve theirs. In the middle of all that, competition inevitably grew.
Your content marketing strategy may be bringing you ROI, but it probably got impacted in 2020 and its unprecedented events, and you're unlikely to want that to keep up in 2021. You may even not have a strategy to begin with. So, as we enter 2021, it's time to tweak your strategy – building on its strong suits and working on the shortcomings. Or, maybe even build one from scratch?
Either way, we're here to help! Below, we'll introduce you to some resolutions for your content marketing strategy – in the form of 5 content marketing goals – for better results in 2021. Let's prepare for the unexpected!
Why Is Content Strategy Important?
Before anything else, how about going over the fundamentals? You're about to create a content strategy for your business, so you need first to understand what content marketing is all about.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."
Many businesses were initially hesitant about the idea of a strategy and just played around with content; you know, posting a blog post from time to time, scheduling a social media post on major holidays like Christmas, and similar – just sort of playing it by ear.
Even now, many businesses are creating their strategies just because everyone is doing it rather than understanding the reasons. So, why is content strategy important? Well, it's simple: higher ROI.
When you contemplate every content piece you share on your platforms before putting it out there, you'll better be able to maintain content consistency and relevancy to your customers, which in turn enhances your brand perception, and you gain the trust of your customers.
If you're wondering how it works, it all boils down to knowing who your audience is. Who are your different buyer personas? When you know your customers, you'll learn how to best speak to them, what type of content would engage them, which channels you're likely to find them on, and most importantly, what content they would want to see and what questions they have in mind.
Is it just for the audience, then? Of course not. Your strategy is the framework by which you achieve your business goals. It's a blueprint for success! In fact, that's the very first step of getting your strategy ready – knowing your goals. Do you want more sales? Or do you want higher brand awareness? Or is it search engine optimization?
Depending on your goals, you'll be able to provide the right content that targets that aim while simultaneously appealing to customers and their needs. So, when we said higher ROI, we meant ROI in its different forms, depending on your specific marketing goals!
Now, it'll make sense when we tell you that the Content Marketing Institute defines the content marketing strategy as the "why" of your content.
What Should a Content Marketing Strategy Include?
Great, now we know why content strategies are a big deal; how do we establish them and achieve our goals through content? By asking yourself the right questions, your strategy will become a piece of cake. Practically, a content strategy should lay out how you're going to create content, distribute it, and measure its success (or performance).
And speaking of measurement, that doesn't entail skimming basic KPIs; the KPIs need to be indicative of the goals you publish the content for. For instance, if you're looking for more website traffic and lead generation, you should look at the unique website visitors.
Predominantly, here's what your strategy should include.
As we discussed, you need to be very clear about what you're looking to achieve from your content marketing efforts. If you don't have a goal (or goals), then it's all in vain. How will you measure success if you don't have a definition for it right?
Not to mention, it's not just about the measurement. When you decide on your goals, you'll easily eliminate the content that doesn't fit your purpose and focus on the content that'll make a difference. For instance, if you're looking to make a buzz on social media for higher brand awareness, you wouldn't spend months producing an eBook, correct?
The key is to narrow down your goals to around 2-3, and that'll be the cornerstone for the rest of your strategy. Also, for the content marketing strategy to be effective, don't be tempted into wanting everything at once because you'll end up with absolutely nothing.
Who are you targeting? One of the major traps businesses can fall into is to try to target everyone with their content, which has proven time and time again to be ineffective. Teenagers would want to see different content than their parents, females would want different content than males, and the list goes on.
So, at the end of the day, who are the people that are likely to consume your products or services? Today, with digital marketing, you can easily target your potential customers by being very specific about who they are. That includes their gender, age, job, motivations, challenges and pain points, geographic location, and more.
Try to create around 3-5 buyer personas for your customers (and potential ones), and make sure they're distinct and that there's no overlap between them except on minor occasions. Remember, the ultimate goal is to understand how, why, and when your target audience will interact with you and purchase or acquire your product or service.
What are they seeking out of engaging with your business? Is it a buy-one-get-one-free offer, and that you offer affordable products? Or do you give them a remarkable, premium experience that makes them feel superior? Or do you offer a convenient service that saves their time? Or is it quality?
When you understand your customers and their journey with your business, you'll better be able to provide them with the types of content they need – be that blog posts, social media posts, an e-book, or other. Ultimately, their needs will inspire your entire content marketing plan!
To know where you stand in the market, you need to conduct a competitor analysis. Take a peek at your competitors' performance and what kind of user experience they're providing their customers – what seems to be working? And what doesn't look like it?
Get inspired by content on their blogs, on-page, how they showcase their products, their social media presence, and so on. Remember not to copy-paste, though; it all comes down to your positioning. Do you both target the exact same audience and have the same business goals? Probably not.
Just be aware of what their marketers are doing and keep updated with your industry's latest content marketing news. While you're at it, you could also use online tools to analyze your competitors' content and check the keywords they're ranking for to cross-reference that information for your own site later.
This process will enable you to understand your current brand positioning versus what you aspire to be. Identifying that gap (if it exists) is the first step to eliminating it. Depending on how you want to present your business to the market, you'll better be able to make your customers see your business the way you want it to be seen.
Tip: If you come across a competitor that targets your same audience, pay particular attention to the voice and tone they're using in their content messages. You also want to be honest with yourself about the quality of the current content you're creating. That's the first step towards improving your business and its content!
Now that you know your goals, identified your buyer personas, and understood your current brand positioning versus where you're headed, the next step is to determine how frequently you'll create content, what content type you'll create, and which channels you'll use to distribute the latest content you have on hand.
Your options are quite many; blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, infographics, case studies, podcasts, videos, and eBooks are among the popular content types that businesses rely on for their content marketing plans. However, it ultimately boils down to your current offerings as well as the preferences of your audience. You need to provide valuable, high-quality content.
As for the distribution channels, your choices should be made based on insights and data. You want to know where your target audience is most active, when, and for what purposes. Based on that, you'll know whether your content marketing team should be placing the chunk of their focus on creating blog posts for your site, for example, or whether social media marketing will be the way to go.
As we said in the beginning, it's not just about the customers. Always check the channels that sustain you the highest ROI while not trading off the customers' satisfaction. For instance, blog posts are almost always a win-win if they provide valuable and relevant content for the readers. You establish your domain authority, rank higher on search engine pages, and satisfy your audience members.
The result of creating content that your target audience wants? Lead generation and higher conversion rates!
Therefore, try to find the perfect sweet spot that's both profitable for you as a business and satisfactory for customers who resort to you for a remarkable user experience. That way, you'll be on the right track!
The key here is to be data-driven – don't base your content marketing strategy on dreams and aspirations but rather on statistics, past historical data, and your future goals. You want to create great content that inspires action, after all, so you need to be sure you're basing it on the right information. Using content marketing strategies right means being informed on the data.
What Are the 5 Common Goals of Content Marketing?
As a content marketer or business owner, every piece of content you create should have a purpose, and you need to define that purpose from the beginning, as we've discussed. So, for every piece of content, think, "what do I want my client to do after seeing or reading this?". Is it subscribing to a newsletter, applying to a job, making a purchase, or something totally different?
When each piece of content has a purpose, your overall content marketing strategy will work as it should and reap you the benefits that make content king until this very day. If you're unsure of what your content marketing strategy can provide you, here are the 5 common content marketing goals that businesses focus on:
Content marketers usually want to showcase their clients and give them the exposure they deserve. You want your audience to pause and think, "aha!" or "wow, that's insightful", or "who wrote this?" (in a good way). The more valuable your content is, the more domain authority you build, and accordingly, the more you establish your positioning as a top-notch brand.
Of course, that naturally leads to an endless cycle of website visitors and new customers, social media traffic, and increased brand awareness. Plus, you start ranking higher on search engines thanks to your content being relevant and credible, so the loop is ongoing.
Well, now customers know about you. Then what? You're aiming for a higher conversion rate, just like any other company, right?
To achieve that, the ingredients are consistent, relevant, and high-quality content. You don't trust a friend at first sight, right? They have to prove to you time and time again that they're worth that trust, and the same works for businesses.
However, with your company, you build that trust by proving yourself as a thought leader with authentic experience in the industry through the creation of valuable content – not just "another" company trying to sell its products as part of its content marketing efforts and content marketing program.
That way, readers and audiences will actually be enthusiastic about seeing your content and even anticipate it since you're not explicitly trying to sell them a service or product. Instead, you're genuinely providing them with valuable content regardless of your offerings, so they grow to like you, and that's what customer engagement is all about.
Since you're now the subject matter expert in your industry, your audience will think of you when it's time to make a purchase. After all, who's better than the expert, no? That's exactly the goal you should have all along; you need to understand your customers and tailor your marketing efforts to their needs so that when it's time to purchase, great content comes in handy!
3. Customer Engagement
Among the prevalent content marketing goals is increasing customer engagement. Content marketers know how awful it feels when content marketing efforts just go to vain – they publish content, and then ... everything is quiet as a graveyard. In contrast, nothing feels better than a viral post with shares, likes, and comments.
With the right types of content, the goal of customer engagement doesn't become that hard anymore. Publish the right blog post, and you'll find your customers interacting on it, asking questions, sharing their experiences, and more! That's your opportunity to connect with them, and it adds a humane element to your brand that consumers most certainly appreciate.
4. Talent Acquisition
Believe it or not, talent acquisition and recruitment are one of the widespread content marketing goals. Using content, you can showcase your company's internal culture. You can even have your marketers or content marketing team highlight your core values and code of conduct, exhibiting what it means to be working at your company office and being a part of your team.
They'll be the sales team of your business, but to attract employees!
5. Sales Support
We saved the best for last, although this is the most common one. Content marketing is a sales tool for many businesses, employed to increase sales and open up new revenue streams. That works by creating content that serves as "proof" of why a customer should be making their purchase or acquiring their service from you, in particular.
Testimonials, reviews, and case studies are examples of content types that serve this purpose, enforcing the idea that you're a leader in the industry.
While the content doesn't necessarily translate into sales immediately, at the bare minimum, it'll generate leads. When you offer great content, potential customers will sign up for your newsletter, try a demo, register for an event, send an email, or take any other form of contact, leaving room for you to target them better through your efforts.
What About Search Engine Optimization and Traffic?
You may have expected to see increased website traffic and search engine optimization on the list of content marketing goals, but the truth is, that shouldn't be your "goal". In fact, you can get increased traffic to your site and rank higher on search engine results without needing to have those as precise goals.
When you do your content marketing right, better search engine performance and traffic to your website become inevitable – they're a byproduct of your content marketing efforts. However, deciding from the beginning to just focus on such a goal will make you lose sight of what's really important, and that's the customers.
Remember, you don't want to come off as spammy, so filling your content with keywords and trying "too hard" for your business website to rank instead of educating customers and providing them with content of value will only take away from the effectiveness of your content, and ultimately, harm your business perception. That's the last thing you'd want to happen!
And that's not to say that you and your team shouldn't exert any effort into ranking higher on search engines – you should, but it just shouldn't occupy the lion's share of your goals. So, make sure you don't lose track; you just don't want to become an extension of your office sales team!
Boost Your 2021 Content Marketing Strategy!
When it really comes down to it, your content marketing goals for the year should be the blueprint for the critical business goals you want to achieve while keeping the needs of your customers front and center. Be as detailed as possible with your aspirations because that's the only way you'll be able to create a roadmap for your steps moving forward.
And remember, with content, there are no universal templates. Your content marketing plan and strategy have to be tailored to your own business so that you're able to stand out from the crowd, especially in today's fierce competition.
Last but not least, your content goals are a significant contributor to the success of your business, so tweak them as you go, and let them be the guiding force that you follow with confidence that content will get you there!
When you do, you'll open up the door for new audiences, increased leads, higher conversion rates, better search engine rankings, and the sky is the limit! Never forget, though, authenticity and being genuine are vital to building trust with your audience, so make sure you build it on solid grounds and be consistent.
Now that you have the full picture of how to share your plan and got the inspiration for the goals that companies have, you're all set to go. Ready to excel?