Content Marketing: Everyone Is Doing It, but Few Are Seeing ROI

Aug 18, 2017

Article ImageAre you seeing ROI for your content marketing? If not, getting that return could be easier than you think.  

In this article, I’ll walk you through how you can create content that delivers results—by always starting with your purpose and the who, why, and what.

Purpose -- What’s Your Endgame?

You would be surprised by how often content is written without a clear purpose in mind. As Zig Zigler would say, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

So start by asking yourself what you want to achieve through your content. What is its purpose?

You might want to educate, attract new customers, or simply stay engaged with existing ones. Perhaps you hope to spark a conversation on social media, increase brand awareness, encourage inbound links, or build high-converting, organic traffic.

You may have multiple goals. For example, my company recently posted an article discussing the changing U.S. labor laws and how small businesses could prepare for those changes. Our goal was first to educate and second to attract new customers who needed to accurately track employee hours for compliance with the new laws.

Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your own content, keep it in mind as you consider your who, why, and what; let it drive everything. Discuss it with your team to ensure you have internal alignment and everyone is on the same page. 

Who -- Define Your Audience

Who will care about or benefit from your content? And, if you’re lucky, who will share it with others?

The more specific you are in defining your audience, the more effective your content. If you have a client that comes to mind, for example, “Jane” with Superior Landscape Design, even better! Writing to a niche customer like Jane increases the likelihood your content will make an impact and spread. Who are your top three buyers? How are they unique? Write to them. Generic content for “anyone and everyone” just falls into an abyss of useless junk.

Why -- What Will Inspire Readers to Take Action?

Now that you know who your ideal reader is, you can establish the “why” of your content. Ask yourself, what will inspire readers to take action?

To be clear, this isn’t YOUR why; it’s your reader’s why—Jane’s why. In short, if you stay true to this, you’ll create something truly worthwhile. However, this requires you to know a little bit more about Jane. For example, who is Jane? What gets her excited? What is she truly passionate about? What are her motivations for reading the article and why is the topic important to her? Answering these questions will help you get to the underlying “why” of your content.

How do you find the answers to those questions? PICK UP THE PHONE and talk to Jane. In fact, talk to more than one of your “Janes” if possible! By simply talking to the people you are writing for, you will significantly increase your chances of writing something that will inspire her (and others like her) to take action.

What – Create Something Different

If you’re allocating time and budget to your content (which you are), then make sure you are doing something different than what has already been done before. Don't gloss over this tip. If you take anything away from this article, get this. Do something different.

Don’t just sit down and write; do some research first to know what’s out there, then create content that feels original. And if it’s not new or different, then make yours 10 times better than anything else out there: find a way to make a complicated subject easy to digest or offer a unique perspective on the subject.

It might sound obvious to make your content better than the competition. But the surplus of tired content out there shows that often the most obvious things get overlooked. In your content, do the extra work to set yourself apart.

Results – Test as You Go

It should be evident by now that defining your purpose as well as the who, why and what play a significant role in great content.The final step is knowing how to make a great piece of content get you what you were looking for . . . results!

To set yourself up for success, make checkpoints mandatory—refer back to your purpose over and over again throughout the writing process. This will keep all content creation tightly aligned with your goals. Nothing is worse than getting to the end of a project only to discover that you didn’t accomplish what you set out to achieve. Mandatory checkpoints—with your team— will keep you on track, making it more likely you’ll reach your content goals.

Another way to maximize your results is to build content in a lean way—think big and test as you go. This means making content decisions based on data. Start out by building content on a smaller-scale, then listen and respond accordingly. At my company, we’ll often write a blog post in advance of a white paper to test our message. If our audience doesn’t respond the way we thought they would, we pivot. Once we’re able to discover what works, we know we’re on the right track for great results on a larger scale.

Creating content that produces good ROI requires discipline. Always start with your purpose and take time to adequately define the who, why, and what.

What has your experience been in creating great content? Please share in the comments below.

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