So, you've got a content marketing strategy. High five! You've taken the first step towards using content to grow your sales. Ah, but it's out of date and you're not entirely confident that it's working any more. No problem, It's likely that you can salvage some of it and improve on the rest.
Analyse Your Data
First, you need to figure out what's not working. The great thing about any digital marketing is that you have access to all the data! There are six main areas to look at:
The number of visitors to your website
Use Google Analytics or a similar analytics tool like Clicky to see how many visitors are finding your site and how they get there. Look at the traffic sources to discover if most of them are coming form searches or another route. Monitor these month to month to see how they change. If you are not seeing any growth in traffic from search then that's an obvious area that needs attention.
Your search engine rankings
If you aren't getting much traffic from search engines it's a sign that your website is not visible enough, or in other words, it's not near enough the top of the rankings to get found.
How people are behaving once they reach your website
If you are managing to drive a steady stream of visitors to your site, the next thing to investigate is what happens when they get there. Which pages are they landing on, how long do they spend on the page, what do they do next? If you're not getting them to move through the site in the way you intended, then that is something to work on.
The number of leads
An obvious metric - how many enquiries are coming in from your website? If it's not enough, in relation to the number of visits, you can look at optimising your site for more conversions. Are your lead magnets (e-books, white papers etc) tired or outdated? Think creatively about what valuable content you can provide in order to persuade visitors to provide their contact details.
The quality of leads
Sometimes forgotten in the excitement of seeing lots of leads come in, you need to sanity check the quality of enquiries. If you are wasting loads of time following up with to the wrong people you need to revisit the messaging on your website to attract your ideal customers and put off the less-than-ideal ones.
The conversion rate of leads to customers
If everything else is working well, with a steady stream of the right kind of website visitors who are sending enquiries, but you are not getting the sales, then it's either your product/service that is not what people want, or the final part of your sales process is not working. Dig deeper to see where the problem is.
That's the first stage of improving your content strategy - you've identified the main challenges that you need to overcome.
Next you need to work out what the overall direction will be. That will depend on the challenge you have identified.
iIf you have identified that you want to get more visitors to your website, your overall strategy might be to improve rankings by writing targeted content twice a week.
If you want to increase the number of leads coming from visitors, then your overall strategy might be to improve the conversion rate by creating more enticing gated content.
Improve Your Content Marketing Plan
To go with your new strategy you now need to update your content marketing plan.
Before you leap in, be really clear about who you want to talk to. Your target market is NOT everybody! Focus on the people who will make you the most profit and create a clear picture of who they are and what content they need. The rest will be much easier once you have that clarity.
Next, you'll want a list of actions that need to be achieved, along with a clear deadline and agreement who is going to be responsible for each.
Plan out campaigns one at a time, thinking of each step that a visitor will go through. The journey will be different for each business, but here's an example:
How are you going to attract attention to your content?
Plan your SEO, social media, advertising.
How are you going to get them to do something else?
Create offers, forms, landing pages.
How will you show them that your products and services are right for them?
Create price lists, demos, explainer videos, email campaigns.
How are you going to convince them to choose you?
Gather reviews, testimonials and case studies.
How are you going to ensure they keep coming back?
Set up email newsletters, Facebook groups, customer service system.
That is a lot of content to produce! You're going to need a content calendar to help you keep it all under control. The trick to creating content for a campaign is to start at the end. For example, don't start advertising until your landing page is ready. Don't publish your landing page until your e-book is ready. Don't send your ebook until the follow up email is ready - you get the drift.
It sounds daunting but working though each step methodically will save you a lot of pain later.
So that's it. Improve your content marketing strategy by analysing the data to figure out what needs to improve most. Be clear about the direction you are going, plan each stage of your campaign and put a calendar in place to make sure it all happens in the right order.
The good news is, you're not on your own! We have plenty of resources to help you. To make sure you're covered all the bases, use our Inbound Marketing Checklist. If you want a little more support, then our free guide to creating a content strategy is your best friend.
And if you'd like to chat over your thoughts then we are always delighted to talk about content plans.