George Washington, Katniss Everdeen, John McClane – what do they all have in common?
Did these people or characters face challenges and chaos (war, dangerous games, lots of explosions and mayhem)? I’d call those challenges. Did they come up with strategies for overcoming and, in some cases, completely annihilating those obstacles? Yep. Is there a formula for success? Well, not really. Each individual and situation differs. But each was a leader that emerged from chaotic situations.
That ties into the state of content marketing well. Right now, we’re in content chaos. But leaders are emerging. They show success is achievable. They come from different organizations and industries, and target unique audiences. Despite the differences, they have a lot in common.
Take a look at the graphic below to see what I mean.
Let’s dig deeper into these four elements, shall we?
Leaders align content with the sales cycle.
What actions do customers take before buying from you? What kind of content incites action? These are the questions content marketing leaders ask themselves and answer.
Take a look at the stages of your sales cycle. Identify the most common paths to purchase and content that guides buyers through each threshold. Questions differ from the top of the funnel (how can I solve this pain point?) to the bottom of the funnel (how can you help me solve this pain point?). Create multiple nurture tracks (see DocuSign’s success with this approach) mapped to the buyer’s process.
Leaders align content with buyer personas.
If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, how are you going to reach them? Strategy doesn’t depend on luck.
The best take time to research their customers and prospects, develop personas based on the criteria that matter most to their business, know the pain points each persona, then produce content aligned with those questions.
Leaders have the ability to track specific content performance.
This is where we see the largest discrepancy between leaders and followers (a 29% difference). If you don’t know what content works, you won’t improve your content or strategically manage your budget. For example, if you’re dumping money into video, but not actually paying attention to how well it converts, you have a problem.
Tracking content performance could lead to the end of content chaos. The chaos is often the result of investing in content without taking the time to test and evaluate which content types or topics influence the bottom line. Quantity over quality contributes to the noise without making a connection. If all marketers aligned content with key goals, we’d be looking at a lot less crap and a lot more useful information.
Leaders have the ability to capture metrics across all channels.
Without effective distribution, your content is kind of screwed. All that time aligning content to personas and the sales cycle is wasted if you don’t share it in right places.
Go to the audience. When it comes to channels, it might be Twitter, specialized LinkedIn groups, SlideShare, YouTube, Forbes, the Celebrity Impersonators Convention (this is a real thing)…Look where the best conversations on your target themes occur. Build a presence there. Set clear goals for each of these channels, and track effectiveness for engagement and conversions. Once you build up that data, you’ll be able to make smart decisions about where and how to share your content.