Erin Everhart / Digital Marketing / April 3rd, 2014

Developing a Content Strategy and Proving The ROI of Content

Everyone knows content is king, but that phrase lost a lot of its meaning after the trillionth time it was said. What does killer content actually look like? And more importantly, how do we measure it?

Yesterday at ClickZ Live in New York, I had the privilege to speak on this very topic, but if you couldn’t make the trek, or (gasp!) chose another session to attend, don’t fret: here are the high points.

Develop Buyer Personas

You probably have a lot of different buyer types. Develop a persona for each  .
You probably have many different buyer types. Develop a persona for each.

Before you dive into brainstorming content types,  you have to know your audience. What do they like? How do they shop for your product or service? What problems do they have that made them start looking for your product or service?

If you don’t have any context to understand your users, any content you create is just white noise. No one will listen to it. No one will engage with it. No one will convert from it.

Head over to Search Engine Watch where I dove into more detail about how to develop buyer personas.

Write the Content

I’m going to let you in on a little secret when it comes to content marketing. Are you read for this?

You don’t have to create a lot of content.

Shocking, I know.
Shocking, I know.

Content marketing isn’t creating as much content as possible in the hopes that some of it will engage with a user. It’s using the content you already have as effective as possible. And that means repurposing your content for different mediums. Buyer A isn’t going to absorb your content the same way Buyer B does.

Instead of ending your content’s life at one blog post, repackage for different mediums so you can reach all types of your buyers and so you can get the most mileage out of one piece. This means your blog post can be:

  • Broken down to bite-sized pieces
  • Expanded into a whitepaper or an ebook
  • Turned into a Webinar or a Google Hangout

The biggest roadblock for many companies testing the waters with content marketing is that no one wants to hear about how great you are in the content you provide. If you’re promoting yourself, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, focus on the benefits you provide your buyers. Personalize it for them so they trust you. They’ll keep coming back for more, and they’ll come back to lead-generating pages where you can promote yourself all you want.

Track the ROI

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker is known as the father of modern advertising, and half a century after he said these words, we’re still having the same trouble. Except today, we all have access to the tools that actually measure the effectiveness of our marketing and our content. And that doesn’t come from ranking reports or traffic.

Visits isn’t your most important metric because many of these people are just window shopping. Are they in your target audience? Do you even want them to covert? They don’t tell you anything because they’re unnamed visitors.

Anyone can drive traffic. It takes a real marketer to drive conversions and sales.

To do that, you have to track everything. Adding URL parameters is tedious and painstaking, but you have to add them to every single link because it’s the only way to attribute what piece of content or what promotion channel is working for you. It’s the only way to attribute leads and conversions to your marketing tactic.

Second, you have to have a strong marketing software synced into your CRM so you can start adding names to these anonymous visitors on your site. Tie your most extensive content — whitepapers, buying guides, ebooks, webinars — behind a name and email capture form so you can get these people into your marketing funnel and start seeing which type of content brings the most qualified leads and sale.

Marketing automation software attributes leads to your marketing activities so you know what works.
Marketing automation software attributes leads to your marketing activities so you know what works.

That way, you know what’s working and can add resources to developing more of that type content instead of using your time on something that may or may not work.

Where To Start?

Fresh StartOK, I get it: That’s a lot to do, and you’re probably wondering where to begin, and it starts with you. You have to make sure your website has a strong foundation because if not, then you’re just going to be driving traffic and possible leads to a website that isn’t going to convert them anyway.

To do that, do a full UX, marketing and content audit of your existing website to know where your users are getting hung up, what content you already have and how your site is optimized for search engines.  We developed a Website Audit Guide to help you get started.

Image credit: Simon Cunningham