Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Content marketing is not just about creating content and distributing it across different channels. And neither is content marketing about throwing in budget and wishing something would happen. Content Marketing is a combination of creativity and data. When done correctly, it can effectively and accurately help you estimate the budget you need to achieve the goal you desire.
Here are the 7 things you need to ask yourself to see if you are doing content marketing properly and what you can do today to change for the better:
i) Is "buy me!" the only message conveyed in your content?
If you are not adding any value to your audiences through your content, you are not doing any content marketing; you're merely distributing ads disguised as content on social media platforms.
Though BOFU, or down funnel content, should exist in your content marketing plan, it should never be the centerpiece. Your target audience should firstly be attracted by value-adding content, then informed with different follow-ups such as influencer marketing or target audience hooks. Retarget them and push them down the funnel with unique content offers such as testimonials before ever attacking them with product-driven CTAs.
The whole concept of content marketing is to attract and lead your target audiences down the funnel. If they ever felt pushed or disrupted, especially on social media platforms meant for socializing and entertainment, your content would not perform.
If you realize you are doing this, the first thing to do is step away from your product and start thinking about your brand. What industry are you in? What pain points do you cater to? What insights can you provide? What value propositions do you offer? What belief do you represent? Think outside the obvious elements and dig deeper. Learn to create content that may appear distant from your product but close to your brand.
ii) Are you achieving >1% engagement rates?
Notice I'm not talking about the number of followers here. The real indicator of content marketing is when your followers are interacting with your content. The higher the engagement rate, the likelier they trust you, and the higher chance for conversion. Content marketing is not about having millions of followers but a tiny conversion rate; it's about attracting those that matter and nurturing them into actual customers.
Start by going through your owned channels, take the total number of interactions your content receives, divide that by your total number of followers, and then multiply by 100%. See which channel is achieving the best and the worst engagement rates. Chances are, if you're running on the same content for all platforms, both platforms will not be performing that well. Behaviors on different platforms are different, and posting the same content jeopardizes your chance of truly connecting with your target audiences.
If you realize your engagement rate is <1%, start by focusing on improving one platform first. If you have been using the same content across different platforms, stop doing that. Look at your competitors and see what they are posting on the same platform. Only focus on their best engaging content. What is the difference between their content and yours? Look at every fine detail, including the visual style, topic, hashtags used (if applicable), copy, copy length, people's comments. Now, go back to your account and start exploring the new potentials. The most important thing here is not to be afraid to create something completely new. Remember, if what was created does not work, there's no point trying to stay consistent with the old style.
iii) Does all of your content look the same?
Looking the same is different from being consistent. If you open your feed and every visual is of your product, or every visual is a top shot, you have a problem. Of course, content marketing is all about scaling what works well and recognizing the best type of content execution for the brand. But content marketing is also about answering to target audience's pain point and desires with content. There is no way you can constantly attract and fulfill your target audience's needs with the same content.
Usually, a comprehensive content strategy will include 3 to 5 pillars, opened to many different executions. Even if your target audience is only interested in product specifications, there should be a billion ways to present the information to your target audience.
If you realize all your content looks the same, focus on one of the subject matters and come up with a list of ways to present the information. Explore outside of photographs and videos, and think about other formats that can initiate engagement and spark interest. Would an infographic make the subject matter easier to understand? Would an AR filter better showcase your product's ability? Would an interview with an industry expert better highlight your product's unique selling point? The opportunities are endless.
iv) Do you know what content works well?
Not just for organic content but paid content as well. Do you know what visuals, what hook, what length of body text, and what particular details in the execution result in a higher-performing post for you? If you have no clue and have been stuck in the testing-but-no-learning phase for a long time, you are not doing content marketing.
Like mentioned, content marketing is the combination of creativity and data. Therefore, your executions should be informed by data, and you should constantly spot content patterns. This is how you can utilize, scale, and replicate successful content to drive continuous performance.
If you realize you have no clue what content is working well for you, it's time to learn how to analyze your data. Select one of your owned platforms and go into the backend. Look at all of the reach and engagement metrics for your content in the previous month. For video content, log the average viewed time. From there, rank your posts and look at the top and bottom three posts. What do the top three posts have in common, and what do the bottom three posts have in common? Identify their commonalities and try to replicate the top three posts next month. You should start to know what your top-performing posts are and how they should look.
v) Do you know the objective for each piece of content?
Is there a clear goal for your content? If not, how are you justifying the effort, time, and money invested? If you have a content strategy, each content's objective should be natural to see. Each of your content pillars answers to a specific target audience pain point, and they each have their best-fitted execution format. The execution format plays a distinctive role in your funnel, and you would be able to tell if your content is to drive clicks, drive reach, drive subscription, or whatnot.
If you're merely creating posts as the idea comes along, and you do not have a framework nor a funnel, you would not know the objective of each piece. This results in a high tendency of wasted time and effort. If you purchase content templates off the web, that further stops you from identifying objectives. Unless you can allocate them into your tailored funnel, they are nothing but a bunch of text only.
If you realize you do not know the objective for each piece of content, you must go back and create your content strategy. There's no other way around it. You shouldn't just be putting content into a certain bucket subjectively. Everything should stem from target audience research.
vi) Do you know what your hot leads see versus what your cold leads see?
If you're serving both hot and cold leads the same content, chances are none of them will remember you. Hot leads require in-depth information that gives them a nudge to want to reach out to you. Cold leads, on the other hand, need you to attack their pain points to attract them. If you don't have a systematic approach to creating appropriate content, you will never enjoy the full potentials that content marketing can bring.
If you realize you do not have a different set of content for different leads, you must start building your funnel. Again, there's no way around this. This requires a full picture of your target audience journey, what channels you own, where your paid efforts come to play, and how your customer information is stored (CRM system).
vii) Can you estimate your marketing budget based on the number of leads you wish to acquire?
This does not mean how much budget you have available - it means you know the exact cost per lead and the conversion rate between consideration to decision. You know how much it costs and where to drive the reach you need into your funnel to have enough leads travel down to BOFU. All of these should be indicated through tested and proven metrics, not some random guess. If you do not have these numbers, you're not doing proper content marketing.
Many people do not know about this at all. They end up making marketing and business decisions based on unproven assumptions and mere frontend observations. This is also why people do not have confidence in content marketing when they really should.
If you realize you can't estimate your marketing budget, you must go back to your TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU channels. The simplest way is to gather the landing statistics. How many people have landed on your websites and then made a purchase? How many of those people were directed by social media? You should end up with three big numbers. Calculate the percentage between these numbers. If you are not achieving the number of purchases you want, increase it to the number you desire and back engineer it with your percentage between each stage to find out how much reach you need. If you have been buying top-funnel ads, you can multiply your CPR by the number of reach you need, and you'll end up with the amount of budget you need to invest to achieve those numbers.
No one ever said content marketing is easy, but that's why it is so effective. The system can cover all stages in the funnel. Once aced and done right, it can churn leads on its own so you can save your time, money, and effort on something else.
If you're interested in learning more or need help, don't hesitate to reach out to me and schedule a time below.