Successful content marketing can be assessed on three core metrics:
- how relevant your content is to your target audience;
- how engaging is your content; and
- how many readers/viewers/customers respond to your call-to-action.
The aim of content marketing is to elicit a response to your call-to-action. But note how each element is dependent on the one before it. You won’t inspire click-through if you don’t engage your audience’s emotions, which you won’t evoke if your content isn’t on point.
So how can you make sure your content marketing strategy drives results? To drive results, you must make sure each element is fully developed and leads logically into the next. That means paying attention to research, content and style, formatting and presentation, and outreach and promotion. You also need a real passion for your product or service. You can’t fake a good content marketing campaign. Try if you want; and watch your audience drift away in droves.
All successful content marketing requires you to know as much as possible about your target audience. Until you know who you’re writing for, how can you know what to write, how to present your material, or where to go to promote your content? Time spent building a profile of your target audience is always an investment.
You need to know the sex, age group, education level, income bracket, and employment of your target readers. Which newspaper, magazines, or websites and blogs do they read? What are their pastimes and hobbies, political opinions, or shopping habits? Which social media do they use? Ask yourself who the ideal customer for your product or service would be. Define that person in as much detail as possible. Then produce targeted content of interest to that person.
2. Content and Style
Once you know who you’re writing for, you’ll understand what content will interest them and the writing style they prefer. A campaign targeted at a 19-year-old female college student is unlikely to appeal to a 50-year-old male CEO of an international corporation and vice versa. Tailor each campaign for its audience.
You know from your research what your target’s interests are, which social media and forums they use, which newspaper, blog, and website content they already consume. Study that material. Read their online conversations.
Look to understand the mindset of your target audience. Search for problems they face and questions they ask. Content which solves those problems and answers those issues will be the bedrock of a successful campaign which drives results.
3. Formatting and Presentation
No matter how well-crafted and targeted your content, no-one will read it if the format and presentation don’t meet market expectations. How does your target audience prefer to consume their content? Do they read long-form articles or short and snappy blog posts? Is their preferred content formatted with bullet points, lists, and summary boxes? Do they watch slideshows, videos, or download infographics and eBooks? Are they more likely to listen to a podcast or other audio presentation?
If you’ve done your research, you’ll know the answers to these questions. You should also make sure you format and present your content in line with your target audience’s preferences and expectations.
You know who you’re targeting. You’ve created compelling, information-rich, useful content styled, formatted, and presented to appeal to your audience. Now you want the consumer to respond to your call-to-action, whether that’s clicking through to a sales page, downloading your info-product, signing up for your newsletter, or donating to your crowdfunding campaign.
What makes an irresistible call-to-action? A successful CTA leads on from the content and promises to fulfil a reader’s needs, offer more information, give them something, or solve a problem. Powerful calls-to-action are short, often visual, include numbers, tell your audience what to do, and suggest a sense of urgency. Need some example ATA’s?
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Have only one call-to-action. Place it at the end of your content. Make it irresistible, useful, easy to do, and the logical next-step for your reader to take. There should be nothing else to click in the visible area of the page.
5. Outreach and Promotion
Once you’ve done your research and created high-quality content which answers your target audience’s needs and then presented it in a way which appeals to them and leads them to a compelling call-to-action, you need to let them know it’s there. This is a crucial and often neglected step. While well-researched content will get excellent search engine visibility over time, you shouldn’t rely on that alone. You need to go to your audience and let them know about your content.
Once again, your research is the starting point. Whether you engage in conversations on social media, use pay-per-click advertising or any other means, you should know where to go to find your audience. Promote your content on social media, forums, and through advertising by following the same principles used to create your content.
6. Campaign Monitoring
By now you should have a robust content marketing campaign which drives results. But don’t stop there. Monitor the responses; study how much traffic you’re getting, where it comes from, what percentage of your audience from each source clicks through on your CTA. Use that knowledge to refine your approach and increase your return on investment (ROI) by focusing on the outreach which pulls in traffic and ditching whatever doesn’t work.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and content marketing takes time and effort to research, create, and monitor. But the time is well-spent. If you follow this advice, with experience you’ll develop a “rinse-and-repeat” system to deploy for each new campaign guaranteed to be successful and drive results.