Content Marketing: a performance marketer’s secret weapon


One of the growing trends in digital marketing over the last decade has been content marketing.

But because content marketing can mean different things to different marketers, we want to define it for performance marketing. Content marketing is the creation and distribution of content through a range of channels and platforms. Content marketing brings prospects into your sales funnel and through the entire customer journey to the sale/conversion.

Start with a content marketing strategy

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The first step in content marketing is to define the content marketing strategy. According to research from Hubspot, 82% of marketers have a content marketing strategy.

So what should your content strategy include? Your method for the creation and distribution of content aimed at your business’s target audience.

In defining the content marketing strategy, performance marketers establish content goals and determine their target audiences.  From this, performance marketers analyze competitor content marketing, set their keywords, and select distribution channels which include desktop and mobile marketing solutions, and specific platforms. The final step is to set their content marketing editorial calendar.

According to Merkle Digital SEO Director Alexis Sanders, recommended tools for competitive research include Semrush and Ahrefs. For keyword tracking, Alexis recommends Advanced Web Ranking and BrightEdge.

Set the editorial content marketing calendar

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An editorial calendar, a term borrowed from the newspaper and magazine publishing industry, sets a schedule for when and through which channel each form of content will be distributed.
For example, a content marketing editorial calendar includes the following events:

  • Monday and Thursday afternoon - product newsletters are emailed targeting high-volume customers
  • Saturday morning - new product videos are released
  • The 2nd Tuesday of the month - product newsletters with a special coupon are emailed to low-volume customers
  • Friday afternoon - sneak-peak new product virtual events on Facebook Live
  • Wednesday morning - a weekly podcast from the chief product officer

The editorial calendar includes the content marketing schedule for the entire year, providing the content team sufficient time to prepare for seasons, holidays, product launches, etc.

Use research

One tactic which has been successful for many companies across a range of verticals is original research. Using original research enables establishing credibility among prospective customers. For companies that don’t have interesting internal research, running surveys is a fast and relatively inexpensive way to acquire research. And once the research data has been obtained, content marketers can distribute it in a range of formats including white papers, infographics, blog posts as well as via press releases and externally published thought leadership posts.

An interesting example of research-based content marketing is IBM’s annual Cost of a Data Breach Report.

Be social

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Content marketing is no time to be shy! Given the size and scope of social media sites and apps today, social media offers a cost-effective way to distribute content. First, make sure you’re distributing your content to relevant groups on social networks. Next, if you’re working with influencers, they’ll share the content they created about your products and services with their followers. Finally, don’t forget to offer ‘Share’ buttons on your content and use relevant hashtags when distributing content across social media.

Spoiler: Reverse engineer for successful content

When writing your content, one way to begin the process is with the desired end result and then work in reverse. For example, if you’re writing content aimed at user acquisition, start by looking at examples of marketing from your organization that were effective in generating profitable users.

Blogger Adam Connell recommends following the 80/20 rule for content creation. He believes that 80% of content will be based on already successful content. The remaining 20% will be original pieces.

Leading content marketing formats and channels

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To get a feel for what’s working in content marketing, we reviewed research from Semrush. So what are the leading content marketing formats? Data from Semrush indicates that the top-performing content type is video (37%), followed by blog posts (36%), success stories (22%), and case studies (16%). Semrush research also shows that the top channel for content distribution and promotion is organic social media (69%), followed by email marketing (48%), paid social media (48%), and organic search (44%).

Is there a content marketing – sales gap?

Everyone agrees that content marketing is important. But what happens when the sales team doesn’t know about it, uses it incorrectly, or at the wrong stage in the customer’s journey?

Research from the Content Marketing Institute and Vidyard indicates that only 39% of marketers/content marketers believe that salespeople use the right content according to the customer’s journey. This research highlights the importance of communications and collaboration between sales and marketing to ensure that the created content marketing is optimally used for increasing sales.

But is it working?

Via Google

Like anyone working in performance marketing, once you’re ready to start distributing content, it’s important to have a plan for analyzing performance to ensure achieving the content marketing strategy goals. Analyzing performance will undoubtedly result in changes to the editorial calendar to optimize performance, but that’s a good sign for improvement in strategy. Even the best-laid plans sometimes change. And the more content marketing you do, the smarter you and your team become at content marketing to your target audience.

SEO Strategist Kayle Larkin, owner of Larkin SEO recommends a pair of Google tools that help her optimize performance. She uses Google Analytics to examine which content types assist in conversions (and conversion rate). The Google Search Console helps Kayle examine click-through rate and backlink patterns.

According to a blog post from Hubspot, here are some content marketing analytics tools you should also be considering:

  • Buffer: for understanding channel performance
  • Hotjar: for tracking and visualizing sessions on your website with heat maps
  • Quintly: for improving social media planning by analyzing the success of social media marketing (with customizable metrics)
  • Kissmetrics: for discovering how your audience interacts with your website and apps, and understanding their behavior

At Creative Clicks, we practice what we preach. Here are two examples of our own content marketing.

Need help with your content marketing? Reach out to CC and let us show you how we can work together to improve the performance of your content marketing.

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