(Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes)
Content marketing! Ah, yes, cool. I'll just create some awesome content and everyone will share it on social media and then hordes of people will come to my website and buy what I'm selling and I'll be overjoyed, and my boss will be elated, and we'll high five and ...
Sorry I simply had to put a stop to that. It may have sounded a little OTT but often the way content marketing is positioned in articles can create unrealistic expectations. Considering the success of content marketing relies so heavily on managing the expectations, I thought I'd take a moment to set the record straight.
One of the primary drivers of success (or failure) when it comes to content marketing is a well-constructed and documented strategy. We’ve seen this point raised time and time again in industry reports. A CMI study revealed that 66% of highly effective content marketers had a documented content marketing strategy, while in the least effective camp this dropped to a paltry 11%. In addition to being able to see their content marketing working well for them, marketers with a documented strategy rate themselves more effective across several tactics and social media channels, feel less challenged by content marketing and are able to justify higher budgets for content marketing.
While the appeal to ‘jump right in’ is great, taking the time to formulate and document your strategy will help keep you and your team on track in the journey to content marketing greatness and ensure that a little down the road you aren’t sitting back wondering why this ‘content thing’ isn’t working for you.
If you’re looking for results by tomorrow morning, content marketing is not going to deliver. But by starting the cogs on your content marketing machine today you are essentially making an investment in the future success of your business.
There is plenty – and I mean PLENTY – that goes into building the foundation to run your programme. You’re starting from scratch. You’re going to have to get your blog off the ground and publish at least 50 posts before you see incremental traffic growth. You’ll need to create marketing offers for each of your buyer personas, for each stage of the buying cycle, and if you have a couple of different personas that’s a ton of research, writing, editing and design. You’re going to have to set up the lead nurturing processes to be able to deliver those offers to the right leads at the right time, making sure your marketing automation is integrated with your CRM to be able track and measure results effectively. The list goes on and on …
But please don’t let this scare you off. Even those companies that you put on a content marketing pedestal had to start somewhere! Once your foundation is in place and you’re into the swing of a regular content production cycle you’ll see the momentum takes over. The more you feed it, the bigger the impact.
Yes, once your content marketing programme is well established and you’re generating traffic and leads and closing customers based on organic rankings and social media shares, your cost per acquisition is going to be significantly lower than traditional marketing methods, but (see above) that takes time. And time is money!
There is a substantial resource investment that goes into building out your content strategy before considerable results are realised. This is often cited as a challenge for companies wanting to embrace or starting out with content marketing. The lack of internal resources of people and skills often throttles their effectiveness, or worse, their ability to even get going. Look to either hire in experienced staff or outsource your content marketing to an agency because in the long run the investment will pay for itself exponentially.
Please don't misunderstand me. I am a firm advocate of content marketing. I know it works and works well, if the expectations are realistic and managed. If you're in the early stages of content marketing and not achieving the results you had hoped for, remember my words above. Whatever you do ... don't give up! You're probably at that exact point where your efforts are just about to start paying off. (Believe me - we've all been there, done that and then blogged about it!)