Experiencing a content slump? Not sure what to do? The only answer is to re-evaluate your content marketing.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. – Content Marketing Institute
But if your strategy isn’t pulling together like it should, what can you do?
On its own, content marketing isn’t enough. It’s just one piece in an overall strategy jigsaw puzzle.
The value of content is essentially zero – we’re giving it away for free – so companies are paying people to read their free content via paid outreach. Content marketing’s role is to create valuable engagement with your target prospects. However, to do this you have to invest time, or budget, in creation of the content.
Your content might be valuable to you, and if made well, valuable to the right decision makers – however the content alone is often not enough to break through the noise and get found by those perfect prospects.
In some ways, this isn’t the most sustainable way of using that budget and so tactics such as email syndication – even at a cost per lead basis – could ensure that content works even harder.
You can see why some marketers are starting to worry when you consider:
Enter demand generation.
Demand generation captures the umbrella of marketing programs that get customers excited about your company’s product or services. Demand generation programs can help your organisation reach new markets, promote new product features, build consumer buzz, generate PR, and re-engage existing customers. – Hubspot
Content marketing and demand generation are not different strategies, they’re two sides of the same coin. Content marketing is just one component of the overall demand generation strategy and normally plays a key role.
So the secret to escaping your content slump is ensuring your demand generation strategy is on target and working effectively. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can ensure that happens:
1. Choose an objective
If you haven’t got a clear objective, then your strategy hasn’t got a purpose and is doomed to fail. You need to set a clear goal which you can push all efforts towards.
For many, it’s generating new leads that can be passed to the sales team, for others it’s about establishing themselves as a brand leader.
But whatever you do, don’t get the ball rolling by commissioning new content before you’re ready. It’s imperative that all your time and money is focused in the right direction, not just any direction.
2. Define audience
Now that you’ve defined your objective, it’s time to define the audience. Understanding your prospects will enable you to create highly customizable content that is likely to work.
The best way to understand your audience is to create. It’s more difficult but it will definitely pay off in the long run. The higher the level of detail, the more targeted and effective your content can be. The best way to incorporate detail is to base your personas on real life. Use data from your CRM or speak to sales about the people involved in making a purchasing decision and create realistic and relatable personas on these high value individuals.
3. Create content
This might be your favourite bit but without the work in steps one and two, your content will be wasted.
Good content is the lifeblood of any demand generation campaign but keeping it fresh, original and alive is the number one challenge for content marketers.
Tip: Constantly generate ideas, and aim to think of what your personas will be most interested in reading, or will find most useful in their day to day work. Look at the latest news and events to fuel the imagination. Keep on top of your competitors and put all your ideas in one place so you can choose the best.
4. Optimise distribution
Now that you’ve created great content, you need to get it in front of the ideal audience. Whether you decide to invest in a distribution channel or use a – financially – free one, it’s important you refer back to your buyer person and choose the right method. Some options include:
- Email marketing
- Landing page optimisation
- Social media
- Industry websites
Choosing to manage this in-house can be costly and not the best use of your resources, finding an external demand generation company can save you a lot of hassle and still deliver amazing – if not better – results. Some suppliers like ourselves even run campaigns on a cost per qualified lead basis, meaning you only pay for the audience you identified in stage two.
Tip: Analyse your engagement levels across the different channels and use this data to drive your content decisions.
5. Align lead nurturing
Nurturing your leads is almost as important as acquiring them in the first place. A popular lead nurturing tactic is to drip feed more content to your prospects over time, then record any engagement with a ‘score’. Scoring them is perhaps one of the best ways to nurture them and gain valuable insight on the performance of your campaign. And if you score your leads based on engagement or activity, it can help you to decide when to send them to sales to contact the lead. .
Identifying good leads earlier on can save time and resources in the long run by moving onto the next potential lead. Heavily engaged content users that fit your criteria will be ready to move into the next stage of the cycle and become a qualified lead.
6. Measure success
If you’re not seeing any ROI on your campaign then you’re either doing it wrong or measuring it wrong. Your return on investment can be tricky to measure.
Measuring the success of a demand generation campaign based on sales cycle can be a long, drawn-out process. It might take a single lead months or years before they make a purchase. You might find that some leads get over halfway down the sales funnel before becoming disengaged or there are some leads there that you didn’t even know about.
With so many variables the best way to measure success is via the hard metrics:
- Pipeline value
- Detailed data collection
- Traditional content soft metrics, such as clicks, reads, impressions etc.
When it comes to handling a content slump, it can be difficult to know where to begin and the idea that your whole strategy may need re-assessing can be a daunting task. By ensuring your demand generation is on point and working effectively, you can create a healthy cycle of ensuring your content is always on target and working to the best of its abilities.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide to help with your demand generation strategy, then check out our whitepaper: