Content Marketing As Strategy™

Content marketing is a marketing strategy fueled by the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined target audiences. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering valuable, non-interruptive content on a consistent basis can lead to consumer action, establish your brand as a thought leader, drive new leads, increase direct sales, and improve customer retention. Content marketing has become the cornerstone of online marketing and is widely used across all industries in today’s marketplace.

Our 7 Step Content Marketing Lifecycle™ methodology has been developed with a focus on defining repeatable processes that are proven to drive measurable results in social media and content marketing.

Applying each step of the Content Marketing Lifecycle™ to specific business goals results in content planning and publishing processes that ensure you are creating and distributing content that your online audience wants and needs. Ultimately optimized content, produces higher quality inbound leads and more active engagement with your content and social profiles.

Why Focus On Content?

  • 78% start buying process on web search (DemandBase)

  • Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands in social media (Content+)

  • Social media sites and blogs reach 8 out of 10 U.S. Internet users (Content Marketing Institute)

  • Content creation is ranked as the single most effective SEO technique (Marketing Sherpa 2013)

  • 78% of consumers believe that businesses providing custom content are interested in building good relationships (TMG Custom Media)

Content Marketing Lifecycle™ Defined

Cadence9® believes that an effective content marketing strategy has seven definable steps: Goals, Strategy, Calendar, Produce, Publish, Engage and Measure

Producing, publishing and distributing original content to create real value for any audience steps well beyond trendy social media marketing tactics or simple status postings. Effective content marketing is strategic, deliberate and intentional.

Cadence9® is pleased to be a resource for insights into emerging best practices in content marketing and technology to improve efficiency in your content marketing strategy and workflow management – contact us today!
Goals are statements of what your business wants to accomplish. Goals should be specific and measurable so you can see progress toward your goals and know when the goals have been met or when change may be required. Content marketing ultimately feeds both search and social behavior so the types of goals possible can generally be grouped into three key outcomes:
  • Visibility and Brand Awareness – being known and recognized
  • Engagement – two-way communication, relationship building
  • Inbound Opportunities – generating leads, conversion to sales
Measurable elements of these areas could include number of visits to your website, friends on Facebook, likes, retweets, shares, newsletter or email signups, blog comments, website downloads of information, customer service contacts, qualified leads, and completed sales. Progress can be monitored by having Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place for those areas you want to track.
Once you have goals in place, you now need to determine the who, what, when and where of your content. Defining your target audience/s and their so-called buyers’ journey is essential. All content planning and production will revolve around what you determine here.

Who you are talking to and what would they like to read, see and hear. What media channels do your customers use? What are their main points and questions, how do they search, and so on. Where does your target customer spend the most of their time in Social Media? Mixed into this are considerations for any paid activities, keywords, and other digital marketing initiatives to ensure a cohesive and synchronized effort.

This information translates into topics and content categories that will provide relevant information for your readers–exactly what you will talk about to engage your audience and develop relationships. A social media and content marketing implementation guide is an excellent outcome of this step.
Your editorial calendar is the tactical framework that will guide successful execution of content creation and publication. It allows you to map out your content ideas in advance, 3-6-9-12 months, to help visualize editorial topics and ideas. You can chart topics, audiences, media distribution channels, keywords and content format, as well as assign roles and responsibilities for content creation, approval, submission and publication.

With the calendar in place, you can tell, at a glance, when production is on schedule, where adjustments need to be made to accommodate additional topics or types of content, or which media channels are being under-utilized to reach your target audience and prospects.
There is no substitute for quality content. The content needs to be in lock-step with the work done in Step 2 – Strategies. Ensuring that the content produced is relevant, informational, and interesting to your audience will be vital to achieving the original goals defined.

Considerations that impact content creation include understanding the best content for the various channels used, who are the content creators and authors, supplemental resource requirements, and use of a prescribed style guide manual to control messaging, presentation and branding.

Organizing and maintaining control of content creation can be divided into three major roles or responsibilities:
  • Publisher-manager – qualify participating authors, assign and track task assignments, ensure distribution channels are active and ready for publishing, review and approve all content prior to publication
  • Author-contributor – writers, volunteers, sales people, executives, developers, etc. in your company who can contribute subject matter that aligns with stated goals for your content marketing
  • Asset creation-delivery supporters – provides content enhancement and branding assets such as collaterals, photographs, images, art, logos, slides, videos, etc.
When the burden of production is spread across a team of individuals, each can be responsible for specific tasks in a coordinated effort with no one working outside the framework.
Publishing is the ultimate purpose for all the hard work that’s gone into creating your content. Online distribution is your fastest way of delivering compelling and engaging content to your target audiences with the goal of driving online and offline behavior. A publishing plan that makes strategic reuse for all content created provides the most value across the organization.

The channels that will be part of your social media and content marketing distribution should be selected strategically. Choosing only as many channels as you can dominate should be the ultimate goal. You don’t have any reason to be creating content and publishing to a channel where you aren’t able to build and maintain an active following. Technology efficiency tools for planning and publishing will be your best path forward when you are distributing content at scale for a franchise organization.

Another part of publishing is being aware of governance, risk and compliance (GRC), concerning channel authentication and access, content review policies, publishing rights and engagement rights. This could come under the responsibility of the publisher-manager as defined in Step 4, Produce.
An engaged online audience is your goal for all content being produced. Content should be published with the expectation of engagement. Refining your content plan can be achieved by identifying types of content that capture your online audience’s imagination and interest. Content they share helps you begin to leverage their networks. Creating and distributing content that your audience believes is valuable and shareable is a true measure of success.

Sharable content creates brand evangelists working to promote your products and services without actually being part of your organization. When this is done well, organic growth can begin to be valued over paid content placement like PPC campaigns.

Being responsive to your active audience is critical to your long-term content marketing success. Having follow-up content ready to support your response effort is also important to keep the conversation moving forward and ultimately convert your prospects into sales.

Every communication presents an opportunity for your company, and how you handle each interaction is important to relationship building.
Measuring your results is definitely the most critical step in every Social Media and Content Marketing program. Data-driven decision making is facilitated by seeing real-world results. Data will always show the areas of opportunity and maybe more importantly, the areas where you should fold up the tent. Knowing which social and content platforms NOT to be participating in is just as important as determining where you should be.

Your editorial calendar planning and next steps should always be influenced by identifying top performing content and channels and streamlining your production procedures. The more efficiently you manage this area of your digital marketing strategy, the more return you will have for the investment of resources.

In addition to your own metrics, using advanced diagnostic tools to perform competitive analysis is just as valuable as understanding your own present status. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken and knowing what is working will guide your team to do more to perpetuate additional online success.

Measurement is the process of assessing the results of your content marketing strategy—did you reach your stated goals or are you at least making progress in the right direction?

You can become obsessed with traffic, statistics and tracking your competitor’s stats, but what is most important is to define and measure those data metrics that are critical to the success factors of your own organization. You want to focus on measurements that add the most value to your business and not get bogged down in mountains of extraneous information.

By evaluating data on a regular basis, you can see what goals are being met and where you may be missing the mark. This process provides the ongoing opportunity to adjust or restructure what you’re doing that isn’t working, as well as providing confirmation on what is moving you along in the right direction.