Ask more of your content marketing

Businesses need to be planning, creating, and measuring constantly in order to succeed at content marketing, and yet, most continue to churn out content without any real consideration of how it performs.

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Around this time of year, people love to tell others about all the things they should and should not do during the year ahead – exercise more, be less lazy, stop producing loads of rubbish content, and so on. January is a time to reflect, review, and start afresh – or so we’re told.

In reality, people should be thinking about bettering themselves, or in this case, their content marketing output year-round, not just at convenient milestones. Businesses need to be planning, creating, and measuring constantly in order to succeed at content marketing, and yet, most continue to churn out content without any real consideration of how it performs.

A 2017 survey by Content Marketing Institute revealed some interesting insights into the current state of content marketing amongst UK businesses. For example, 87% of organisations actively engage in content marketing, and of that 74% rely on a single person or small team to manage it.

61% of organisations claim to be very or extremely committed to content marketing, however, less than half (46%) have a clear view on clear what an effective content marketing program actually looks like. What’s more, only a quarter think their overall content marketing approach is successful.

Most worryingly, only 40% of organisations have a documented content marketing strategy in place, and just 40% of those businesses say the strategy is effective. These findings lead us to believe that when it comes to content marketing, most businesses are firing in the dark; producing content for the sake of producing content.

In a sense, this is forgivable, given how much pressure the marketing industry puts on organisations to be expert content creators within their field. The saying ‘content is king’ gets thrown around a lot, leading many to believe that simply creating content is enough – it isn’t – content is just content, great content is king. So long as content marketing is seen as a box ticking exercise, businesses will continue to fail at it.

Ask more of your content

At the risk of turning this post into a ‘how to’ guide, listed below are five questions those responsible for content marketing within their organisation should be asking of themselves, in order to maximise efficiency and minimise wastage.

Why are we doing this?

There a million and one reasons to create content, but unless it’s created with some specific objectives in mind, it is unlikely to perform to its full potential. ‘Because everyone else is doing it’ is not a valid reason. To attract more leads/links/followers on the other hand, is.

Who is it for?

This may seem obvious, but unless you know exactly who you are looking to target, what their wants and needs are, and where they ‘hang out’, it is very difficult to create relevant content. A lot of businesses make the mistake of trying to cast the net too wide, and consequently wind up producing content that appeals to no one.

What does success look like?

Following on from the above, what does your content need to achieve to be considered a success? It might be a certain number of leads, it might just be one good lead, a certain number of shares, links or pieces of coverage – whatever it is, set targets and measure against them.

What can we learn from past efforts?

A successful content marketing strategy is built on good preparation… and maybe just a little bit of good fortune. Learning from past successes and mistakes is critical if you want to improve things moving forward. If something has worked, take that formula and build on it. If it hasn’t worked, look at why, and don’t make the same mistakes again.

Is this an effective use of my/my team’s time?

On average, UK businesses allocate 36% of their marketing budget to content marketing, a significant chunk by anyone’s standards. What’s more, over half of businesses said they planned to increase that spend in the future (through 2017/18). Considering the general uncertainty around the effectiveness of content marketing amongst businesses, this level of financial commitment is risky. Businesses need to up their game and make their investments in content worthwhile, or risk wasting even more of what precious budget they currently have.

Content marketing is not easy, and unfortunately, there is no exact recipe for getting it right, but by asking more questions businesses can expect to see better results.

All data sourced from Content Marketing Institute.

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