HostingCon: When I heard I was going, I was excited. A week in New Orleans networking, learning, and yes, experiencing the finest in Creole cuisine — how could I not be over the moon? Then I heard I was presenting. What? I’m going to stand up in front of industry CEOs, directors, and managers and tell them why they are failing to create successful content marketing campaigns or develop strategic marketing plans? Surely not.
Marketing rule number one: know your audience. If people were signing up for this presentation, they had to recognize there was something lacking in their marketing efforts. They wanted to be there, and I wanted to help them. Deep breath. Get up on that stage and start talking.
Conveniently, I didn’t have to start onstage. Our session included lunch, and my colleagues and I were able to get acquainted with attendees over plates of delicious food. As people polished off their beignets, we began asking what our audience hoped to gain from this workshop. A number of responses focused on the desire to use content marketing to increase website traffic. Gold! These were questions I could help answer.
What Makes a Successful Marketing Campaign?
It’s easy to recognize successful content marketing campaigns. We connect with good content because it engages, entertains, and educates us. But it’s crafted so carefully it’s nearly impossible to see the work that went into it — the man behind the curtain, so to speak — making it somewhat challenging to replicate successful content marketing campaigns.
3 Components of Successful Content Marketing Campaigns
To remove some of the mystery from content marketing and help our workshop attendees create content that would convert, we discussed the three most important components of a successful marketing campaign:
1. Understand Who You’re Marketing To
There’s a temptation in business to imagine your audience broadly, and include anyone and everyone who might have the remotest interest in what you have to offer. After all, why limit yourself? You don’t want to exclude potential customers, right?
Actually, you do. By being specific about exactly who your audience is, yes, you will exclude some groups from your marketing efforts. But far more important is who you will include. Identifying the buyer personas who can benefit most from your offering and targeting your marketing to them changes your message from “Our product is pretty good,” to “Our product is exactly what you need right now.”
Telling one person you can solve all their problems is infinitely more effective than telling 10 people they might like what you’ve got.
The first critical component of content marketing is to identify your buyer personas. Understand customer needs and expectations. Do some research. Look at data from current customers and speak to people you’d like to sell to. Put all the information together to build a comprehensive picture of who you’re trying to reach:
- What do they like or dislike?
- What are their chief pain points?
- Where do they look for information on solutions?
- What motivates them to make a decision?
Having this knowledge at your disposal is like having a cheat code for your marketing efforts. When you can predict where your customer will look for information and what they need to move them towards a purchase, you can position yourself to provide the answers they’re looking for.
2. Recognize Where Customers Are in Their Journey
Even if you’ve narrowed your market down so carefully that you’ve perfectly targeted a single persona for your audience, you’re still not done. Not all content you create will be effective for all leads who fit your picture of the ideal customer.
Q. Why do two people who match the same persona need different content?
A. Because they’re in different stages of the buyer journey.
The second component of a successful content marketing campaign is to develop content for all three stages of your buyer’s journey:
- Awareness – They recognize symptoms that are causing them pain
- Consideration – They identify the cause and start looking for solutions
- Decision – They identify solutions and choose the one that’s right for them
Here’s an example of how two people who match the same persona can need different content:
- Lead One is Lisa. She’s a small business owner who is struggling with out-of-control IT expenses. She’s recognized that it’s hurting her bottom line, but her business can’t do without IT, so she’s not sure what to do.
- Lead Two is Larry. Larry is also a small business owner trying to manage rising IT spend. But Larry has determined that the cause of his troubles is the cost of increasingly frequent upgrades and training his IT staff to stay current. His research suggests that outsourcing some or all of his IT might help, and he’s looking at his options.
Lisa needs to understand that you have the solution to rising IT costs, while Larry needs details and pricing on the services you offer. You can’t provide what both are looking for in a single piece of content.
3. Refine Your Strategy
Probably the most important — and most neglected — component of successful content marketing campaigns is to measure the value of your content and adjust based on your findings. Changing tactics that aren’t working is not a mark of failure; it’s the only way to succeed.
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
John Wanamaker, merchant and marketing pioneer
There are a number of ways to measure what’s working and what’s not in your content marketing strategy, and they include both internal and external metrics:
- The health of your production cycle: Campaigns that are struggling to meet production goals within time and financial constraints are not likely to be sustainable.
- How much does it cost you to get content out for your prospects to see?
- Are you meeting deadlines or consistently running behind?
- Does your content provide adequate coverage for all your personas and all stages of the buyer journey?
- Internal and external reach: Understand who is viewing your content, where they’re finding it, and what type of content your prospects gravitate to.
- Is your sales team consuming and sharing your content?
- What pieces are prospects engaging with most? On what channels?
- Which personas or journey stages are responsible for the most content interactions?
- ROI: To determine what type of content is proving most effective in your market, rank blog posts, white papers, webinars, and more with content scoring.
- Which pieces of content are attracting the most new leads?
- Which pieces prompt the most conversions?
By monitoring the effectiveness of your content and its ROI, you can refine your tactics to improve your reach and ability to nurture leads as they move through the stages of their journey.
Content Marketing for Cloud Providers and MSPs
Our goal at HostingCon (and my goal here) was to equip Cloud providers and MSPs with the tools needed to create successful content marketing campaigns. To that end, our team at Total Product Marketing has put together an eBook on how to use marketing to take your business to the next level. If you’d like to learn more about how content marketing can help you better connect with your audience, click here to download your free copy of our eBook, or get in touch with us today.