The good news is that 94% of marketers now use content marketing as an essential part of the marketing mix.
The disheartening figure uncovered is that 55% of marketing professionals believe it is having zero impact. Leaving only 45% of marketers with confidence that this method works. Why the difference? Why is content working for some and not for others?
The reason is sadly obvious, with a bit more digging. Those who are having trouble getting an ROI from content marketing don’t have a plan. They are producing content, publishing it, then sitting back and wondering why it isn’t have an impact. Or at least not the sort of impact they were hoping for. With nearly half of content marketers operating without a plan, is it hardly a surprise that confidence is low?
What’s more, shouldn’t those operating without a plan be trying to figure how to turn things around?
We at Attentive.ly have studied how organizations can get more from their content marketing, using data from our friends at ActionSprout, who have been implementing a more content-centric focused strategy recently and have been using our system to generate a higher ROI from every word published.
The process of deciding a better approach starts with knowing as much as possible about your audience.
The Small Data Advantage
It is easy to pretend that ‘big data’ will solve everything. It isn’t the silver bullet, certainly not the way most organizations are using it. The real advantage of any data collection activities – which should start with a CRM and pull in data from social media, in order to make your email list more useful – is around knowing your customer better. Once you have this information you should aim to put it to use in the content you craft.
Update The Content Calendar
The problem with most content calendars is they are often set months in advance of the time when anything will be produced and published. They are normally based on what was done last year, and the year before that – back to when the idea to use content was first thrown into the mix. Generally that doesn’t help keep the copy fresh, which is one reason for customers not reading your newsletter or blogs with enthusiasm.
Hence the low ROI from content marketing campaigns.
Analyzing the numbers from your last 10-15 email marketing or newsletters will help show which articles were the most popular with your audience. That will help give you about 5 to 10 decent ideas for articles. Follow up that research with an analysis of what’s popular in industry blogs and media publications, which will likely yield a further 10 – 15 ideas for articles.
Check Your Audiences Interest Before You Write Anything
The real advantage of a social media listening tool, like Attentive.ly, is the fact that once you have a list of potential topics you can find out what your audience actually wants to read about, before you start crafting any content. Saving you a huge amount of time and potentially wasted effort.
In the case of ActionSprout they found this list on behalf of a fashion retailer client who was having difficulty with their content:
Table 1: Content Interest Matrix
Shoes 77 High Handbags 88 High
David Yurman 34 Medium
Trish McEvoy 47 Low
Skin Type 51 Low
Dry Skin 74 Low
Vacation 92 High
SPF 71 Medium
Humidity 64 Medium
Swimsuit 67 High
A combination of high frequency and numerical relevance is your content sweet spot. This is what you then need to focus on for the next few months. That’s what your audience wants to read about.
This analysis will need to be refreshed every few months, in order to stay current, but it has proven to be a great help to the strategies ActionSprout are now implementing for customers.
This is all about uncovering your audience’s needs, motivations, emotions, and frustrations. There are certainly more sophisticated approaches like developing full data warehouses. But this simple exercise is a first step in bringing to life your brand’s content aligned with current social behavior.
Attentive.ly is a social behavior platform for modern marketing teams. We help brands and organizations predict how customers and supporters will behave – even what they might do or buy – from social data. It has been used by over 100 companies and organizations to improve thousands of email marketing and social media campaigns.