This month the Maven has published articles on content marketing. “Five Questions to Help Guide Your Content Marketing Plan” offered advice on your planning and strategy. “Eight Keys to Content Credibility” provides tips to help boost your company’s position as expert content marketers. Today we’ll pull it all together with advice on how to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.

Document your content marketing strategy
Once you develop a content marketing strategy, including your purpose, audience, goals and metrics, you should document that strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 83 percent of marketers have a content marketing strategy, but only 35 percent have documented it. Yet they’ve found that companies with a documented content marketing strategy are much more effective than companies without one.

A documented content marketing strategy serves as your guidepost for all of your efforts and initiatives. You can follow it closely. You can refer to it repeatedly when faced with decisions. Content marketing can get hectic. There’s content to produce, distribution channels to manage, integration with other marketing to handle, metrics to track. If what you’re doing at any given time doesn’t align with your strategy, you’re probably wasting time and hurting your effectiveness and efficiency.

Another point: a documented strategy is a good internal training and educational tool, and can be used to protect your content marketing budget at the executive level.

Adopt an editorial mindset
The advantage of thinking like an editor about your content marketing is that you will keep the needs of your audience top of mind. Many marketers struggle trying to balance content that your audience wants with content that the business wants. This struggle shouldn’t exist. The vast majority of your content should be focused on the needs of your audience and should be educational in nature. If you position your company as a valuable and relevant resource to your customers and prospects, then you earn the right to add some promotional content to the mix.

Editors also think in terms of calendars. It helps to plan out the year to prevent last-minute scrambling to come up with content. You might develop 12 monthly topics based on broad themes that are aligned with your content marketing objectives and are relevant to your audience. Add any major milestones to the calendar that may require intensive content, such as online events, webinars or key announcements or product launches. Then, once a quarter, flesh out each week with specific ideas, such as how-to videos, blog posts or white paper ideas. Keep a few content slots open because throughout the year unexpected opportunities or important topics will come up that you want to cover.

Re-purpose content across multiple channels
Every time you identify the need for a piece of content, think about how you can re-purpose that content into another effective format. For example, if you are planning a white paper for each quarter, how many other pieces of content can that white paper spawn? Perhaps a webinar, a series of technical data sheets, an article for publication or an infographic. Re-purposing content not only saves time, it helps you deliver a consistent message to your audience of technical professionals.

You should distribute re-purposed content across multiple channels. Your audience uses a variety of digital sources to search for and discover content, including search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs, industry directories, e-newsletters, social media platforms and more.

Create content that aligns with your customer’s buy cycle
Your audience needs different types of content at different stages of their buy cycle, from early needs awareness, to evaluation and consideration, and finally to a purchase decision.

Because many prospects don’t contact a supplier until they are close to making a buying decision, you need to publish robust, relevant content for the early buy cycle stages in order to be known and get on a potential customer’s short list for when they do decide to make contact. Engineers may be searching to find out what suppliers and products in the marketplace have a good reputation and can meet their needs. Thought leadership content such as articles, white papers, e-newsletters, webinars and online events are all sources of information for technical professionals in these early stages.

In the later stages of the buy cycle, after you’ve established a relationship and when customers are close to a buying decision, your branded and product-specific content becomes important: detailed specification sheets, ROI calculators, specific case studies and service and support information.

Focus on measurement and results
Technical professionals will likely interact with your content a number of times before reaching the point where they are ready to make purchase decision. Each one of those interactions and each piece of content they access contribute to the sale. Therefore, tracking your customers through their journey by capturing their interactions with your content is a smart way to demonstrate results. Page views, clicks, shares, downloads, conversions and more can all be counted and attributed to a specific prospect or piece of content. Marketing automation software can help track content as well as the processes of managing and publishing content. You’ll be able to see how your broader content strategy is working and spot trends showing what types of content most often contribute to a sale.

Consult with a media partner
To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your content marketing, and to target the optimal audience to achieve your goals, consider IHS Engineering360 Digital Media Solutions. We offer integrated content marketing services, from assistance in producing content, to getting your content noticed and into the hands of technical professionals, and providing metrics to analyze your results. Click here for more information.

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