60% of your customers engage first with your content before anyone in your team. Content marketing is the foundation upon which your business operates. From the story told on your website, through to learning materials, you’re producing content. Still, majority of businesses neglect the importance that content plays in business success.
Strong content strategies empower your entire organization. From sales to human resources, great content has the ability to help with revenue generation, internal culture, external recruitment, and build positive sentiment not just with potential buyers, but anyone who comes across your brand.
Here’s 4 ways to meaningful bring understanding across the organization on what content marketing is and how it’s helping the business strategically:
Create a strategic plan tied that maps content efforts directly to business objectives.
Having a defined strategy for what you’re going to achieve, why, and a roadmap to get there encourages a collaborative approach to business success. Outside of the marketing team there’s often not a clear understanding of the eventual outcome your content is aiming to achieve. SEO, lead gen, optimization… What do they mean? In addition, if you were to ask, “what’s the goal of our content?” you’d probably get a blank stare. These questions create uncertainty around how content marketing is contributing specifically to business objective. To move content marketing from just a department within your organization to a strategic driving revenue force you have to move perceptions of marketing away from just the department that manages your brand.
These five questions are a great place to start to map content marketing to business goals:
- What business pains are we helping to eliminate and make a positive impact with each marketing campaign we have running?
- What opportunities do we have to add to our marketing plan to target our business goals more specifically?
- What role is marketing contributing to our business’ value proposition?
- What campaigns or initiatives can we execute on to “realize” success against our business targets?
- What contributions is our content making to our overall strategic business mission?
Once you’ve documented how content trickles from a medium to educate prospects through to converted revenue, share progress via bi-weekly updates on key projects that are making an impact on business success.
Create and share a list of common terms, projects, and ways you measure success.
Outside of the marketing team there’s often not a clear understanding of the outcome content is aiming to achieve. SEO, lead gen, optimization… What do they mean? If you were to ask, “what’s the goal of our content?” you’d get a blank stare. A simple, yet challenging question that most businesses rarely ask themselves. But, the answer is easy—to gain more customers and keep them.
Move perceptions of marketing away from just a department that manages brand. This will transform content from just a department to a revenue incubator. You’re in the business of content whether you like it or not. One way to rally everyone behind content marketing as a strategic function of the business is through creating a common language.
Document how content trickles throughout other business functions. Answer how not just the marketing team is going to leverage content to drive revenue, but opportunities for all team members to leverage content. Content marketing should be presented as a business opportunity to empower each department uniquely. The sales cycle, recruitment opportunities, loyalty campaigns… Conte isn’t just a bundle of marketing resources, but a serious revenue generator.
Creating a universally understood language means everyone can relate to what you’re saying. It’s also beneficial for new hires! Documentation helps those who join ramp up that much quicker.
Including your entire organization in content creation and distribution can lead to perspective sharing and new ideas that take your strategy to the next level.
This doesn’t mean that anyone should be able to freely publish content publicly, you should stick to your internal workflow structure to ensure your brand messaging and goals are aligned. However, every employee in your organization should be able to, and more importantly, encouraged to participate in the content creation process.
- Ask different team members from all departments to pitch a content brief. Have them join your weekly brainstorming session and present a topic of interest to them. Hold a lunch and learn to walk through filling out the brief and why each section is important to the content creation cycle.Having each department walk through the same creative process as the content team can also work to build empathy and help your organization understand the role content plays in business success. Team building and ROI win!
- Add a bi-weekly feedback session that’s open to your entire organization. Everyone in the team spends time with different customers, at differing amounts of time. Each team member can bring something to the table that is unique.If your team is continuously providing feedback directly from customer interactions, you’re making changes based on real-time data. Gain new perspective for content ideas while the collaborative environment can be great for team building.
- Create a culture where it’s okay for anyone to spend work time contributing to the content creation cycle. Setup your team for success by providing brand guidelines, a documented strategy, standards necessary for publishing, and who’s responsible for what in the event of a question.Don’t silo individuals into strict ares like “drafter” and “editor.” Doing repetitive tasks is a sure way for someone to lose their creative spark and get bored.
Define success of content initiatives in metrics that other departments are also using, such as revenue.
A new webinar, for example, will get the business 100 new leads in the short-term, boost brand awareness, and increase web traffic. Long-term, the same webinar contributed to the bottom-line of closing $100,000 new sales in the quarter. Each webinar created, marketed, and executed captures more leads, builds brand trust, which all feed a marketing funnel. Business track success in revenue growth. By continuously thinking of how your content impacts revenue, you can bring everyone on the same page when it comes to the impact of content on the bottom-line.
All these efforts work in various ways to help with conversion to revenue. But, how do you get started proving that connection and showing ROI? Think backwards.
Working backwards from strategic business goals insures you’re not creating content for the sake of it, but you’re focused on the right content to deliver on the bottom-line every time. Ask yourself what each campaign created is hoping to get you.
If your goal is to land $100,000 in new sales, think to the prerequisites needed to make a sale:
- Figure out which exact metric you need to increase. Do you have enough leads to convert to opportunities, or do you need to focus on lead generation? Based on previous quarters conversion rates, you may need to focus on lead generation, or perhaps you have buckets of leads, and need to focus on conversion nurturing).
- Identify a benchmark you’re working to improve. Look to last quarter’s conversion numbers to predict what areas specifically you can focus on increasing.
- Create a strategic plan that highlights what content activities will improve each metric. Some content activities such as webinars, newsletter signup optimizations, events, or content downloads will work to capture leads, while email marketing will nurture and aim to convert leads to opportunities.
In the list above, it’s clear what content activities are directly tied to the strategic bottom-line of increasing revenue. While the direct impact of blog X compared to blog Y might be difficult to prove, a documented strategic plan clearly highlights what metrics matter, what content is contributing to what metric, and provides a quantifiable foundation to benchmark against.
Being a data-driven comes to always insuring the following two questions get answered:
- What metrics does our business care about?
- What content mediums are most likely to help us deliver on that metric?
If you’re unsure, always default to asking, does the metric you’re using to identify success help you make decisions? Do you know what you need to do to execute and make it happen? If you don’t, you’re probably not linking content output to the right metric.
Remember, all of this is only possible if you have a centralized strategy: content data, brand guidelines, who you’re speaking to and why—all this information needs to be centralized across all departments. This ensures your brand story is cohesive. The benefits? Maximized content reach and increased revenue opportunities.