Your content plan starts with a goal. Well, every plan starts with a goal, and given that you have both plans and goals let’s cut out the rigmarole about why goals are important and talk about what sensible goals for content can look like, where to start if this is your first content rodeo, and what goals you can measure.
Let’s start with the big one: everyone wants more traffic. More click-throughs, more social media shares, more hits on the website. All that great stuff. We want it. You want it. The whole damn internet wants it. But this needs to be said: your main goal for your content should not simply be ‘traffic’. If your only content writing strategy is “let’s get more clicks” then your content will become spam, stuffed with SEO, clickbait, or tabloid garbage. In this respect, content is a bit like middle school: try to act popular, and you come off as fake. Mainly because if you act popular, you will be fake.
This isn’t to say that traffic shouldn’t form a part of your goals. Some specific traffic targets are essential to your content marketing plan. But said targets should not be your only goal. Let’s repeat that: specific traffic targets, such as “We’d like to increase our Facebook likes by at least 25% amongst the 18 – 35 demographic” or “We’d like to lower bounce rate from 85% to 75% on the main page”, are excellent goals, but they should under no circumstances be your only goals.
The face of your company will be the content you produce. That used to be advertising’s job. Frankly, we think that the shift to content is good, because you can say a lot more with content.
Creating valuable, interesting, sharable content will help gain the trust of customers. Trust is a valuable thing and people frequently don’t have it for advertisers. When’s the last time you said “Well, I wasn’t sure about that product, but I know that Major Advertise Company represents them, I can trust that!” Exactly. That’s one of the reasons that content marketing is excellent for building trust. You’re saying to potential customers, “Hey, we’re not trying to pitch you or sell to you right now. We’re just passing along this content because it’s interesting/funny/worth your time.”
Content is an opportunity to showcase your personality, your values, and your expertise. All these things help create an atmosphere of trust.
Build Social Responsibility
Your business needs to address social responsibility. That’s just part of being a business in the twenty-first century. Customers make purchases based on social responsibility. The news media highlights business based on their social responsibility. And perhaps most importantly, a businesses commitment to social responsibility—or lack thereof—attracts social media attention. Fortunately, content marketing is excellent at fostering actual social responsibility.
Your company may already have some kind of social responsibility program—planting trees, supporting a local shelter, giving money to a national cancer charity. Or lots of those programs. You can use content marketing to make your customers aware of your philanthropy.
Here’s an even better use of content marketing: create some kind of public service announcement. Did you just fall asleep when you read the phrase ‘public service announcement’? Then you haven’t seen a good one.
Of course, potential customers can’t trust you if they don’t know you. Another possible goal for your content is to create a little brand awareness.
We say ‘little’ brand awareness because, obviously, regular content marketing rules apply. Building brand with content takes time. The content marketer who wants awareness doesn’t stoop to writing advertorial. Rather, said content marketer writes content that is so interesting, useful, or shareable that their audience’s curiosity about the content creator is piqued and they decide to look into it. This is a particularly useful goal for companies that make boring products. It’s tough to get excited about a bank or a home appliance manufacturer, so those companies should put their name on something exciting. It’s the next best thing and builds brand awareness.
Wait, what? Did we just say “sell”. Well, yes, yes we did. Believe it or not, it’s possible for branded content help close the sale. Notice we said “help”. Just as brand advertising is a long game (see previous point), so is selling with content marketing.
If you’re looking to directly attribute sales to content using last click attribution, then please move along: Your content marketing program will most surely fail. But if you’re will to take a holistic view of your buyer’s path to purchase, and look back on, and credit, interactions with your content that happen along the way, then you are destined to become a truly enlightened content marketer.