Back in the day, marketers used to be able to say, “We know half of our marketing works…we just don’t know which half.” That was code for, “We’re just going to go with our best guess and hope for the best.”
In 2015, we still can’t measure everything, but times have changed. Content marketing is no longer just the blog run by someone off the corner of a desk. Content, broadly defined, includes ad copy, social media, marketing collateral, and yes, the blog. For many organizations, the total content marketing budget hits close to the six-figure mark.
Considering the level of investment and extreme measurability of digital marketing efforts, having a clear strategy behind this spending is vital. On every digital channel (search, paid, social, referral, and email), users who engage with content and convert into a sale (or not) leave digital breadcrumbs. These clues measure how many people did what on your website and at which stage of the buyer journey.
Regardless of what you did in 2014, you should take inventory of your content marketing efforts and analyze their performance. Dig into your content marketing analytics to get a sense of your reach, how efficiently your content converted new customers, and the changes you need to make in 2015.
Your Content Reality Check
To create high-performing content in 2015, here are some questions you need to ask:
- What are my business objectives for 2015? This is the foundational question you should base all content marketing decisions on moving forward. Without a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you won’t be able to make informed decisions about the direction your content marketing strategy should take you.
- Which of those objectives can I realistically impact with content? After you’ve set some clear business objectives, step back, and figure out which of those you can achieve with content marketing. (Remember, content won’t necessarily move the needle for every goal!) Determining which goals can be reached through content marketing from the outset will stop you from attempting to link areas that are not compatible.
- What are we actually going to do? Think through your specific tactics, target audience, and content themes, but don’t forget budget considerations. How much are certain activities going to cost you? How much are you willing to spend? These questions will help you prioritize your plans.
- Who is going to own and do this? Clearly, the work isn’t going to do itself. And unless you are both exceptional and have a lot of time on your hands, you’ll probably need a team to get it all done. You’ll have to define responsibilities and determine what you may need to outsource and who will lead the project.
- How are we defining success? Ultimately, this is the question that will shape your content marketing strategy. Once you’ve put all your plans into action, how will you know if all your hard work has paid off? What are you going to measure, and what are you hoping to see from this data?
If content is an important part of your marketing efforts, understanding how that impacts the business is paramount. Be realistic about past performance and where you should direct future efforts. Content marketing is a marathon — not a sprint — and gauging performance over time is the best way to succeed.