How to Choose the Right Foundation for your Content Marketing

content marketingLots of marketers think that great content marketing just “happens;” that “if you build it, they will come” – if you just set up a blog or make some podcasts or publish some articles, the sales leads will inevitably follow. The truth is that even though it’s easier and cheaper than ever before to create and publish content, it’s also become more difficult to break through the clutter and attract the right audience that’s really going to make a difference for your business. The best content marketing comes from careful planning and a focused strategy.

Before you start investing time and resources in content marketing, you need to decide what the foundation for your content marketing is going to be. You need to give some consideration to where and how you want to build your audience. You need to figure out what your content marketing is supposed to accomplish. The world of content marketing is a vast online stage – and you need to figure out how and where you want to try to step into the spotlight.

Here are a few key strategic questions to ask as you build a foundation for your content marketing:

1. What is the overall “mission” and focus of your content marketing? Simply put: Why do you want to do content marketing? What is your company’s unique voice and value proposition that you can offer as a content marketer? For example, maybe you want to offer a forward-thinking analysis of your industry. Maybe you want to offer pithy commentary about the biggest mistakes and opportunities and lessons you’ve learned in business. Maybe you want to share the success stories of your customers. There’s more than one “right answer” to this question, but you need to know (before you start creating content) exactly “why” you want to add your voice to the online content arena.

2. What do you do best? What can you and your company rightfully consider itself to be an “expert” in? And how does this expertise translate to content marketing? How can you translate your technical expertise into good stories and helpful advice?

3. What do your customers want to know about? Some of the best content marketing is a sort of “reverse engineering” where you seek out the questions and problems that your customers are asking about, and then find ways to answer those questions and solve those problems via content – even if it’s not directly related to what you sell. For example, you might discover that people are finding your website by entering certain questions or search terms into Google. Just by targeting these keywords and writing blog articles to “answer” the questions being posed to the search engines, you can start to attract a bigger audience and cultivate a reputation for expertise in these specific niche areas.

4. How can you make your content entertaining? One of the underappreciated aspects of content marketing, especially in the B2B marketing realm, is that content doesn’t have to be boring and technical – in fact, it’s often to your advantage if your content is a bit edgier and amusing. This doesn’t mean you need to abandon your sense of professionalism – but don’t be afraid to use some humor, some color, some authentic human personality, and creativity as part of your B2B content marketing. Look for inspiration from pop culture, sports or entertainment – for example, I’m working on an article right now (for another publication) called “Lead Generation Lessons from ‘Better Call Saul.’” There are many ways to think creatively and come up with some content that’s actually fun to read. Ask yourself: Would people miss seeing your content if it were gone? How can you build a relationship with your audience where people actively seek out your content?

Before you start creating content, give some thought to these strategic questions that will help guide the direction of your overall content marketing approach. Ideally you will be able to build a solid foundation for your content marketing.

Gregg SchwartzGregg Schwartz is the Vice President of Sales at Strategic Sales & Marketing, one of the industry-founding lead generation companies. His company helps technology companies and various startups and small-to-mid-size businesses in the B2B sales category generate sales leads and improve their sales processes.

How To Use Analytics To Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

Have you heard? – Content is King!

Of course, you’ve heard – it’s what all the experts tell us. “More content” may even be what your visitors are clamoring for. For a small business where initial awareness is key, creating great content allows you to earn search visibility, build trust with potential customers and to establish yourself as the in-market leader and go-to resource to answer your prospects questions.

IF you’re creating the right content – content your audience wants to read and will find useful. Before you invest more money into content, use your analytics to improve your content marketing strategy by providing insight into what you should be writing.

Meet Your Audience

You can’t create content your audience will love if you don’t know who is consuming your content. Who are they, what are they interested in and what do they do when they land on your site? If you don’t know, your analytics can tell you.

The Audience Reports within Google Analytics provide insight into important characteristics of your audience, looking at five different dimensions:

  • Age identifies users by six categories: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+.
  • Gender identifies users as either male or female.
  • Affinity Categories identifies users in terms of lifestyle; for example, Technophiles, Sports Fans, and Cooking Enthusiasts. These categories are defined to be similar to TV audiences.
  • In-Market Segments identifies users in terms of their product-purchase interests.
  • Other Categories provides the most specific, focused view of your users. For example, while Affinity Categories includes the category Foodies, Other Categories includes the category Recipes/Cuisines/East Asian.

You can access this information by going toAudience > Demographics or Audience > Interests.

affinityUse this information to refine content ideas, messaging and even the images you use to accompany your content marketing.

If you know that the majority of your users identify as Movie Lovers or as being interested in Employment, then you can start experimenting with themes or visuals they’ll find interesting.

Identify Your Best Content

You know who your audience is; now uncover what it is they like. The Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report provides overall engagement metrics for the most popular pages on your site to give a clear insight into what your audience is most interested in.

dt1For example, in the screenshot below we see that much of the most popular content on this site relates to vegan recipes or posts about overall wellness. This is a good sign these topics are of high interest to our audience. Looking further, we can also see that many of the most popular posts were video content and had high Avg. Time on Site numbers – with users often spending 4-5 minutes on each post. They’re not only landing on the page, they’re spending time there consuming the content. This is a great indication that our audience really enjoys watching video, and we should produce more of this.

Another way to identify what your audience wants to read is to look at your top pages and your top keywords. While Google has removed much of our keyword data (thanks, “not provided”), we can still use the keyword information found in Webmaster Tools data, AdWords search queries and internal site searches to understand what visitors are searching for.

[By linking your Google Analytics account with Webmaster Tools and/or Adwords, you can get these reports directly in your analytics.]

For example, after linking to Webmaster Tools, to see the keyword data, look under Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries.

Below, you can see that we are getting a high number of clicks for “iron rich foods,” “best juicer” and “alkaline diet.”

This is great information to know as we build out our next editorial calendar.

Identify Your Worst Content

It’s important to know what content your audience loves, but it’s equally important to know which content they wish you’d stop producing.

To identify the site content your audience is less than impressed with, revisit the All Pages report and look for pages with an unusually high bounce rate. While a high bounce rate isn’t always something to be alarmed at (if a user lands on your site, finds what they need and then immediately leaves – that’s good), it can raise a flag that this is a page you should examine further.

For example, maybe our health site above finds they see a lot of traffic for “best workout techniques,” but that visitors aren’t sticking around to learn about them or to watch our video. We can examine this page and see if additional content is needed or if we can improve upon this content in an upcoming post.

Identify Your Money Pages

Sure, it’s nice to know which pages on your site attract visitors, but you really want to know which pages earn you money. Did you know you can easily find this information in your analytics?

The Page Value metric in Google Analytics is perfect for e-commerce sites looking to understand which pages on their site drive the most revenue. Google calculates Page Value by adding up all revenue from the sessions in which that page was viewed prior to a purchase or goal conversion, and then dividing it by the number of unique pageviews. For values to show up here, you must have set up a conversion that includes a Goal value or have ecommerce tracking on the site.

To find this information, go to Site Content > All Pages, then click the Page Value column to sort highest to lowest. To find pages with low page views, click advanced and specify “exclude,” “page views,” “greater than X.”

moneymetricsOne way to use Page Value is to identify current content receives a low volume of traffic but has a high Page Value. This is a good indication that if you were able to create new content to drive people to this page, you could directly increase revenue.

Creating Better Content

Successful content marketing is about giving your audience the information and the resources they need to help them be better and to solve their problem. But you can’t do that without understanding who your audience is and what they’re already engaging with. The reports outlined above will give you the consumer insights you need to create a more successful content marketing strategy.

lisa baroneLisa Barone is VP of Strategy at Overit, an integrated digital marketing agency specializing in content marketing, social media, video production and other aspects of digital marketing. You can connect with her on Twitter at @lisabarone or by following @Overit.