When it comes to content marketing, it’s easy to overthink what goes into content creation and how it delivers value, chasing the newest shiny object in the world of marketing trends.
If you always think of content marketing in terms of “what sells right now” and “let’s try everything,” you miss out on the ability to deliver consistent value from your content strategy and align it with concrete business goals and expectations.
You may also get hung up on the outcomes and become overwhelmed by all the moving parts that go into a successful content strategy.
In reality, there’s no reason to get bogged down by the process of building a content marketing plan for your organization. Here’s everything you need to know about content marketing and how it can deliver value to your audience.
What Is Content Marketing?
Meeting your content marketing goals is a methodical, measurable, and repeatable process.
With proper planning and the right strategy, you can deliver content that meets your audience where they are, answers their pressing questions, and delivers a value proposition you’re uniquely positioned to provide.
When we focus too much on the idea of marketing and not enough on building valuable content, we get lost. This is where random acts of marketing happen.
In the internet age, there’s no getting around the fact that people consume a lot of content. This may lead us to think the solution is simply to create a lot more.
Take podcasts for example.
Podcasts are a hot medium right now. In some cases, starting a podcast makes sense to grow your brand visibility and demonstrate thought leadership to your audience.
But there are also a host of reasons not to start one. Podcasts require lots of resources and energy to maintain. They require planning, promotion, a constant pipeline of ideas, and there’s a learning curve when it comes to keeping pace with competing podcasts.
In the end, a podcast may not even be the right tool for growing your brand, and it’ll come off as opportunistic or inauthentic if it misses the target for your audience and message.
The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg once said the Supreme Court “ought not be affected by the weather of the day, but by the climate of the era.”
This truth is equally applicable to content marketing.
As marketers, we may be tempted to jump on the next shiny object, be it ChatGTP or the latest TikTok trends, but without a content marketing plan that gives customers value they care about, you’re on a road without a destination.
The “Attention-Value Matrix” of Content Marketing
Have you ever viewed a piece of content and thought, “So what? What was the point?” Chances are, we’ve all come across content that buries the value proposition in a lousy on-page user experience—or worse, shows such a poor understanding of their audience’s specific needs and motivations that there’s little to no value present.
Essentially, if you’re asking for your audience’s attention, you’d better be offering them a clear value that’s worth their time and effort. If not, they’ll quickly click away to a competitor who offers them more.
All content fits somewhere within this matrix depending on how well it hits the mark and offers people a solution they’re willing to seek out. Most companies will present content that requires a level of attention from their audience that’s higher than the value they’re offering. But the real game changers flip that on its head, making the user experience seamless and easy to navigate while offering maximum value.
Different types of content may require more or less attention but should still offer as much value as possible. For instance, top-funnel content like a blog is low on attention required and high on perceived value, whereas bottom-funnel content like a case study, ebook, or white paper might be high on attention required but still offer enough value to keep your audience interested.
Take care of this responsibility and this power, as it’s the main thing that either drives people down the sales funnel or drives them away from your brand and into the arms of a competitor.
Remember, the value of the content you produce is determined not by you but by what clients perceive as valuable.
Building on the example from earlier, a podcast can be good or bad content. What really matters is where it fits in the attention-value matrix for your content marketing plan.
The goal with any content type is to move your audience from problem to solution, and ROI for inbound marketing can be attributed to content generation that achieves this goal.
Content Multiple Ways
Good content marketing plans use content effectively in multiple ways. In other words, the same content can be distributed across different channels based on what is most effective for each.
For example, a blog may have a tidbit that can be pulled as a block quote and put on a graphic for social distribution.
The subject and content of a webinar can be utilized as a blog, a podcast, etc.
It’s all about content parsing, or spreading one event across multiple pieces. This helps alleviate the pressure on your team to constantly produce all new content for every piece you create, giving you the most utility and reach possible on a given topic that your audience wants to engage with.
Content Marketing Deliverable Types
It’s important for marketers to use different content types strategically to provide touchpoints for the audience as they move down the sales funnel. The efficacy of different deliverable types depends on whether someone is in the awareness stage or ready to buy.
Let’s compare three examples of different content types and look at how to plot them effectively.
Search-engine-optimized blogs are one of the most common types of content used to generating organic inbound MQLs and conversions. They’re generally short-form content that informs or educates on a topic for which your audience seeks answers. Blogs are usually top-funnel content, informing someone and building their awareness about a solution to a problem they have. Blogs need to provide maximum value with the minimum required attention.
Testimonials are bottom-funnel content that tells your audience why they should choose you over your competitors based on the experience of current customers. They may require more attention from users but still provide maximum value when making a buying decision.
eBooks are generally long-form content that offer a deeper dive into a topic for consumers in the middle funnel. This is when someone is in the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey. For instance, someone may encounter a blog as an early touchpoint in their journey and then discover a downloadable eBook that gives them more information if they click a link and fill out a form.
eBooks require more attention than a blog, but they provide enough value to keep someone interested enough to convert. A consumer will usually engage with this type of content when they know they want a solution, but they’re trying to choose the right one. They’re motivated to offer extra attention to consume the longer content because it contains the answers they’re looking for.
Why So Many Blogs?
When measuring progress on your content marketing goals and planning how to target your audience with different types of content, blogs act as a “Basic Unit of Measurement” (B.U.M.). Blogs are low-cost, easy to produce and consume, and the content lives on your site.
They also provide immediate metrics such as:
- Number of page visits – This measures the total visits to a webpage, which shows you a page’s reach.
- Average time on page – This shows how much attention on average users are willing to invest in a piece of content by giving you the average time someone spends on a page.
- Bounce rate – A percentage of total visitors who leave a page without finding it valuable enough to perform an action such as click a link, fill out a form, or make a purchase.
- Social shares – Social shares are a way to measure organic growth of brand awareness when users share your content with their social media contact groups.
- Backlinks – When other authoritative sources create backlinks to your content, this is one of several metrics to measure your growing domain authority and SERP rankings for content that lives on your site.
- Conversions/lead generation – Conversions measure the percentage of people who view your content and then take a desired action that moves them down the marketing funnel toward becoming a lead.
Blogs springboard to other types of content like testimonials, white papers, eBooks, case studies, and webinars to move your target audience down the funnel.
Content Marketing Distribution
Once you create the right content for your target audience, you must choose the channels to publish your content where it’s most likely to reach your audience. You can produce top-notch content, but if your audience never sees it, you won’t drive conversions.
A few common content distribution channels include:
- Social – Social media provides access to a broad audience where you can link to content, share videos or other media, and communicate directly with your audience. You can bring content to your audience on the social channels where they spend most of their time.
- Email – Email lets you send content directly to your target audience to drive new leads and conversions. You can send newsletters and other content you’ve produced, start a drip campaign, or link to landing pages to move people down the funnel.
- Advertising – This includes Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads on Google, paid social ads, or other types of paid content used to boost conversions.
- Search engines – Since the advent of search engines, Google has become the largest referring website and the most effective distribution channel for your quality content to drive organic traffic and conversions.
Why does the channel your content lives on matter?
Content doesn’t end with its creation. Its purpose is to help your brand connect with its audience—and that means putting it out there in the world.
Content is only effective when it’s shared for others to see. Your team should be the most enthusiastic when it comes to sharing your content, promoting it, and liking and interacting with it on social media.
Remember, content marketing is a team effort.
When we think of the content marketing journey, we know the point is to reach our destination—people. But having a map (content marketing plan) isn’t enough on its own. We need to drive our content to its destination.
You’re the driver behind the wheel. Your content is the passenger in your car. Distribution is the vehicle you use to drive your content home.
Cadence is the pattern of content you deploy through different distribution channels. This includes the volume of each type of content you’re producing, the frequency and timing of publishing the content, and the measurable engagement it’s having with your audience.
A good cadence is all about knowing your audience.
When setting the right cadence to meet your content marketing goals, ask yourself the following questions:
- How well can my team produce regular, consistent, quality content?
- What personas are we targeting with this content?
- How does this content act as a touchpoint in a buyer’s journey?
Different types of content will act as marketing “touchpoints” as your prospects move down the funnel from awareness to conversion. Not every type of buyer will experience the same touchpoints in the same way, but there are similarities between how these touchpoints provide value and impact a buying decision.
For instance, a potential customer might come across your brand by clicking on a link to a blog you shared on social media, while another might click on a paid ad that leads to a landing page.
Those in the consideration stage may be more likely to fill out a form, join your email list, or download a white paper or eBook.
When prospects are ready to buy, a marketing touchpoint may be a product comparison or testimonial that encourages someone to try a free trial or demo, connect with the sales team, or make a purchase.
Yet not all buyers will follow a linear pattern down the funnel, and not all content will provide the same value to the same person at the same point in the buyer’s journey, so it’s important to rely on your personas and message mapping to understand how and when these touchpoints are most effective in producing new leads.
A single touchpoint like a blog isn’t going to convince someone to buy your product. Yet a blog can be a critical touchpoint among many that ultimately lead to a sale.
What drives success for your content is a collective strategy that deploys multiple touchpoints and distribution avenues with regularity based on the channels your audience use.
Publishing fresh content on a regular cadence shows your audience you have their back. The value you provide is dynamic and meets them where they are. As we said above, this doesn’t always need to be new content. We should be parsing our ideas into easily consumable chunks.
How a Copywriting Agency Can Help
Let’s be honest. Consistently creating amazing content that converts requires a lot of time and resources.
Many organizations and businesses set big content marketing goals only to realize they’ve underestimated the workload—from building a basic content strategy to creating, publishing, and tracking the efficacy of your content. It’s a full-time job, not a hat you should have to constantly put on and take off, juggling content creation with other responsibilities.
Copywriting agencies conduct all the steps of content marketing for you, from strategic planning to execution. We create content that drives measurable business outcomes while freeing up your resources to place them where they’re most needed.
Want to up your content marketing game? Reach out to us via the chatbot at the bottom of the page. We’d love to hear from you.