As a marketing leader, how do you successfully explore new marketing mediums – both content type and channel – to improve your digital marketing program effectiveness? This is an ongoing challenge for marketing teams looking to improve engagement rates, customer experience, brand strength and more.

It’s no secret that good content drives higher engagement, whether it’s highly informative whitepapers, entertaining and interesting videos, or interactive blog posts. Good content doesn’t just require good writing; it also requires crafting your message in a format and channel that’s interesting and appealing to your target audience.

(Source: rawpixel via Unsplash)

(Source: rawpixel via Unsplash)

When your content effectively grabs your readers attention, it keeps them engaged. Engaging content also establishes you or your company as a voice of authority on particular topics, transitioning frequent readers to potential buyers for your company.

But, how do you figure out which forms of content and channels will bring improved ROI and drive your business outcomes?

To get started, you need to have a defined (and effective) content marketing strategy in place – clear goals defined; prioritized personas, journey stages, and storylines; and defined budget and ROI expectations. If you are beginning a brand new content marketing effort or need to retool an existing program that’s failing to meet expectations, you can use Six Elements of a Results-Driven Content Marketing Strategy (Gartner subscription required) to quickly define your content marketing strategy. To continuously improve your content marketing program, use Gartner’s Maturity Model for Content Marketing to pinpoint skills, processes, and tools that need to be improved.

With your content marketing strategy in place, use your personas and storylines to identify new opportunities for new content formats. Once you have identified your personas and defined which stages of their buyer journeys are relevant for your content marketing model, the natural next question is: How do they prefer to consume content? And which channels will they use?

No single type of content or channel will appeal to every persona and stage. That’s why it makes sense to vary your content across the buyer journey. The content formats listed below will help you think about what formats would be best aligned for each persona – stage pair.

–       Animations –       Live Video –       Quizzes and Polls
–       Blog Posts –       Long Form Articles –       Reports
–       Case Studies –       Newsletters –       Video
–       Ebooks –       Original Research –       Video Podcasts
–       Images –       Podcasts –       Webinars
–       Infographics –       Presentations –       Whitepapers

You will also want to associate content distribution channels to each stage. That way, you’ll define “where” in addition to “what” content is consumed. Keep in mind, you have several channels to leverage in the digital, media, and event channels:

  • Digital (website, mobile, email, social, digital ads, paid search, …)
  • Media (TV, print, radio, in-store, out-of-home)
  • Event (conferences, tradeshows, meet-ups)

A few tips for each stage:

  • Awareness stage: Focus content on buyers’ pain points and issues – not your product or brand. Educational and inspirational content like blog posts, guides, and industry reports are going to be critical. Also, prioritize SEO.
  • Interest stage: When creating content for this stage, I recommend that B2B brands speak the language of the C-suite. This is the stage where executives will need to approve business cases and budget. The amount of time B2C buyers will spend in this stage will vary, depending on the business. Some products, like packaged food or inexpensive clothing, require little consideration. Others, like cars and pricey vacations, demand more time. Either way, B2C brands can benefit on nurturing consumers with engaging content.
  • Convert stage: It’s time to get brand-specific with your content: solution details, features and demos, customer testimonials. Also, you might want to simplify payment methods for prospects ready to buy.

For new multichannel marketers, mobile has “graduated” from an emerging to dominant channel. Marketers now view mobile as one of the most effective channels at each stage of the buying journey, second only to social marketing, and closely followed by digital advertising. More established digital channels such as the website and email marketing round out the top five spots. For a complete view of channel trends, see Multichannel Marketing Effectiveness Survey 2017: Marketers Are on a Mission to Advance Multichannel Marketing Results (Gartner subscription required).

A few additional tips to keep in mind. Be consistent with your messaging and content over time. Don’t over complicate your message per persona – simple and focused will drive better results. And be diligent with your content audits and measurements, verifying assumptions and making changes along the way to optimize your ROI. Finally, if you are wondering how to effectively measure the business value of all this new content, see How to Evaluate the Business Value of Content Marketing in the Post-Text Era (Gartner subscription required).

If you and your team are happy with your multichannel results, think about using Atomic Content to Access the Power of Dynamic Content Marketing (Gartner subscription required.).

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