Updated April 15, 2021
Have you ever heard a sales leader or business executive decry content marketing as an “art and craft” or wondered about its business value? You are not the first.
The myth that content marketing is a fancy, pleasant, unmeasured thing is often recounted.
The business purpose of content marketing is literally written in the definition its :
Content marketing is a strategic marketing practice that focuses on creating and distributing consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately drive beneficial customer action. row.
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Segmented by uncommon language
We content marketers can blame ourselves if we don’t set (and achieve) the goals that business leaders care about.
But the terms Marketers don’t always play nice with terms business leaders expect to hear (CMI’s Ann Gynn recently wrote about mismatched expectations vs. profit” in return on investment .)
Take a look at this goal chart from our B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, Budget and Trends Insights 2021 report.
One goal that almost everyone claims to have achieved is brand awareness (87%). Among B2C marketers , brand awareness response was also the top response (81%). We see similar results year after year.
Brand awareness It’s a well-deserved and well-deserved effort. But if that’s your only goal, you might have a hard time explaining how results-related perceptions are of interest to business leaders.
This is the truth. Simply saying, “Our content marketing increases brand awareness,” won’t cut it when it comes to securing, maintaining or increase funding .
How to Align Content Marketing and Business Goals
Instead of setting something like brand awareness as a goal, think of it as a step towards a business goal.
And what is the business goal of content marketing? To promote beneficial action.
Boom. Defined goal. My work here is done.
Except… you might have questions. What is considered a beneficial action? Let’s explore together.
To be useful (and measurable), content marketing goals must be specific — and aligned with the meaningful business goals your company is working toward.
CMI founder Joe Pulizzi wants to say that businesses care about three things:
Choose goals that support one of those three, and you should have no problem communicating how content marketing contributes to business goals.
Here are some business-related possibilities to consider when setting your content marketing goals.
Building a subscribed audience is the basis of content marketing. Subscribers allow you to communicate with them regularly. And that allows you to subtly market to them while giving them value beyond your company’s products or services. In fact, CMI Chief Strategic Advisor Robert Rose says the business asset created by content marketing is not the content, but the audience.
When it makes sense: Set subscriber-related goals when your business wants to enter a new market, compete with a well-known market leader, or Start your content marketing journey .
Beneficial actions to follow: Measure progress in terms of owned channel subscribers (email newsletters, blog announcements, magazines, podcasts, etc.) or subscriber conversion rate versus overall audience conversion rate.
To dig deeper into the audience registered as a target, see:
Great content can incentivize consumers to become leads by signing up to see a demo, signing up for an event, or requesting access to a resource center. (In some organizations, a lead can be defined as a contact.) Unlike subscribers, leads provide more than one email address. They exchange more information about themselves because they see the value of provide content .
Note: Some leads are not actually leads. These contacts may want the piece of content, but they may not want to hear from your brand again or aren’t interested in your product or service now. Consider bringing in these unreal leads opt-in as subscribers as they can become more valuable over time.
When it makes sense: Focus on lead-related goals if your business sees content marketing as a tool for sales team – to help find or qualify new leads or to help nurture leads through the funnel.
Beneficial actions to follow: Measure the impact of content by form and Landing page conversion rates, downloads, and the percentage of marketing and sales qualified leads.
For a deeper dive into lead generation tracking, see:
Supporting sales with content often involves creating pieces that provide evidence points to help customers decide to choose (or justify choosing) your product or service. Think testimonials and case study shows that similar companies have solved the problem.
Profitable actions to track: Measure your sales support through lead conversion rate, in effect the time it takes to acquire new customers and generate revenue.
For a deeper dive into tailoring content to sales, see:
Customer Support and Loyalty
While many people think of content marketing as a top-of-the-line game, content can work to reinforce a customer’s decision after a sale. Doing and active content can help ensure customers get value from their purchase – and are likely to buy again.
When it makes sense: Focus on ntent . customer support co when reducing support costs is a priority (i.e. high volume of support calls), when it is difficult for a business to secure repeat business, or when product options and add-ons are prioritized .
Beneficial actions to follow: Measure impact by percentage of existing customers using content, decrease in support calls, number of repeat customers, revenue from upselling, customer retention, turnover -in-churn rate.
Don’t hide your goal under a crate (or in a PowerPoint slide)
Most of us know SMART (specific, measurable, actionable/achievable, realistic and time-bound) for goal setting. Author of a article from MIT Sloan argues that it ignores key factors — regular discussions and transparency — that can help weed out surprises in the quarter or year-end.
Suggested articles FAST as an acronym and better framework:
- Frequently discussed so that the team stays focused on the right things and can change/correct course if needed
- Ambitious for them to promote innovative ideas
- Specifically so they include milestones and metrics
- transparent for teams to understand and coordinate each other’s needs and goals
The frameworks seem to complement each other and can easily be a blend (SMART-FAST, FARMS-STAT?) for planning to achieve your content marketing goals.
Whichever framework you choose, support your content marketing program. Set ambitious goals tied to business results . And after that talk about those goals in a way that interests your business leaders.
As usual, Joe did his nails what is at stake?:
Most content marketing programs don’t stop for lack of results. They don’t stop because they’re inactive… They stop because the people with the purses – the people who control the budgets – don’t understand content marketing, why you would do it, and what impact it could have and should create by the organization.
What goals are you aiming for? How do you ensure that wallet holders understand what content marketing is contributing to the business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute