“What’s the best way to push content marketing to drive results?”
A marketer at Vanguard asked this question in our content marketing workshop: “What’s the best way to push content marketing to drive results, on our own site with traffic drivers vs. with publishers?”
It’s one of the Top 100 Questions on content marketing.
To find the best way to push content and drive results, answer these 3 questions:
- Where is your audience going for information today, based on research?
- How can you create content so valuable that people would pay for it?
- How can you incent audiences to subscribe to your owned content?
Find out where your audience seeks content today
The best content marketing is customer-centric. Successful marketers begin with buyer persona research, a series of one-on-one interviews with buyers and prospects.
Buyer persona research correlates with success in content marketing, Content Marketing Institute research found.
In fact, 3 out of 4 of the most successful marketers use buyer personas for content marketing. Only 1 out of 3 of the least successful marketers perform buyer persona research.
Why does buyer persona research help you succeed?
Because you get to know the audience, their information needs and habits, the obstacles they encounter, and what they need at each step in the buyers’ journey. You get to see what customers are doing when they’re offstage and out of sight.
Buyer persona research pays off in other ways too, as numerous studies have shown. It:
- Doubles lead conversion rates
- Increases click-throughs
- Drives more content adoption
- Speeds close rates.
Once you find out your audience’s information habits, your job is to place content where they go now, and over time, lure them to your owned content.
If they’re using paid media such as social media ads or sponsored content, meet them there at first. Over time, give them reasons to check out your owned media channels such as your website, blog, and email – with a free offer, a quiz, a coupon, a lead magnet, or a similar device.
Your goal is to borrow and steal audiences from other media to build the audience for your owned media. Make sure that all your paid and earned media point back to your owned media like this:
The biggest overlooked, undervalued type of content is usually earned content. Too often, that’s because the public relations (PR) or corporate communications department is a separate organization, a rival to Marketing rather than a partner.
Since PR brings you a skill set from journalism, it can help you build an audience faster. Smart marketers figure out how to work closely with PR to ring up content marketing success stories.
Create content so valuable, people willingly pay for it
Now that you know where to find your audience and what they want, identify topics that your customers most want to know about. What are their Top 100 questions? What needs do they have that you can anticipate?
Then create valuable free content. The best content marketing is so valuable, it’s worth paying for, like:
- The Red Bulletin, a magazine from Red Bull.
- The Michelin Guide, which started out as a free publication back in 1900.
- The Home Depot’s series of books on home improvement for do-it-yourselfers.
This type of content brings buyers in because you offer the best information in your category. And you’re building your most important content asset, your content base.
A content base is one content type, on one main platform, consistently delivered for a long period of time. Like John Deere’s magazine, The Furrow, the world’s biggest magazine for farmers.
Your content base needs to be absolutely relevant by doing a job that customers need or want to do, such as finding answers to their Top 100 Questions.
Here’s how to identify the open space to build your content base. A great content base brilliantly wins customers’ attention and overshadows competitors in your market landscape.
Capture your owned media audience
Once you know your audience and give them what they want, focus on building subscribers to your owned content. From buyer persona research, you discovered which media your customers prefer at each stage in the buyer’s journey.
To turn buyers into subscribers takes two steps:
- Make sure your content, your editorial product, is truly competitive. An outside-in content audit shows what competitors offer so you can make your content stand out.
- Market subscriptions effectively.
One way to win subscriptions is by offering a valuable lead magnet, such as:
- Original research or a white paper, e-book, or report
- A free assessment or quiz that provides insights or amusement
- Insider information, such as access to your deep content library
- Subscriptions and tickets to live and virtual events.
- A valuable blog, newsletter, or magazine.
Make it easy for people to sign up for your blog — with tools such as “forward to a friend,” easy blog sign-ups, and pop-ups. Also, solicit subscriptions at virtual and live events.
Make “subscribers gained” one of your key metrics for content marketing. That’s how you’ll get the most out of your owned content — websites, apps, print, and email. Here are 4 ideas to help you win more subscribers.
Be patient. Make sure you give owned content enough time to work. That means, measure over quarters or years, not days and weeks.
Content is not fast food like advertising. It’s the slow food of marketing. The upside is that customers who like it will stick around for years to come.
“What’s the best way to push content marketing to drive results, on our own site with traffic drivers vs. with publishers?” is one of the Top 100 Questions on content marketing. Here are the answers.