Take a look back over the past few months and try to pinpoint where your content marketing strategy may have gone awry. Often, you can attribute bumps in the road to poor planning. To help you avoid making the same mistakes this quarter as in the last, we’ll take a look at the basic prerequisites of a successful marketing program.
We will also look into our crystal ball – with assistance from a recent Curata infographic on 2016 content marketing trends – and begin to understand where optimized marketing programs are headed.
Before you can even think about taking advantage of these trends, however, consider whether your organization is poised to act on growth opportunities. If not, your brand may eventually suffer, since trends are spurred by the positive revenue growth they engender.
Case in point: The infographic features various marketing insights, including one from Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion, who says that marketing departments are beginning to take the lead in actual sales, ahead of sales teams. Is this something your organization is ready to embrace?
To help you answer this question, we list several conditions below that must exist within your organization before you can gain any benefit from this trend:
- Your sales and marketing departments’ differences are resolved, their strategies are aligned, and their efforts are coordinated. Together, these business units have crafted a clear strategy for going to market.
- Marketing delivers qualified leads to sales at regular intervals. Otherwise, the bottom line suffers, the sales-marketing alignment crumbles, and morale takes a dive.
- Pricing and product features are transparent to buyers. This is critical because today’s buyers complete nearly 60 percent of the sales cycle before talking to a rep. This helps buyers qualify your solution and reach out only if there is a fit, leading to higher-quality leads.
- Short sales cycles are the norm. Data-driven agile campaigns have replaced year-long marketing plans, allowing for quick adaptation based on sales feedback.
- Marketing stays involved in the entire sales process, helping sales reps tackle prospects’ concerns and move them down the sales funnel.
The infographic also shows that organizations are digging into their coffers to support content marketing, which has been cited as a major driver for sales-ready leads. Again, however, several pieces of the content marketing puzzle must be in place before your company can be assured of a solid return on investment from content marketing efforts. Some of these pieces are:
- You’ve collected data to determine which channels to leverage in your campaigns. You’ve also established goals for your marketing plan and the metrics you’ll use to measure outcomes.
- Your brand voice and presence is consistent across multiple channels. Your brand has achieved the same look and feel on every outreach platform you use so that the customer experience is consistent from your website to social media to print ads.
- You know your customer inside and out, and you’ve verified a market fit for your products and services based on research. This means you’ve developed buyer personas to target your customer base, and you’re familiar with the problems your key audience is trying to solve.
- A documented content marketing plan is in place that includes all major stakeholders. Everyone from your creative people to your IT staff has been sold on the effectiveness of the plan.
- If you lack the internal resources to implement your content marketing strategy, you have outsourced the content creation process to a content marketing vendor.
Once you have the basics covered, consider ways to take advantage of other trends mentioned in the infographic. For example, try diversifying your content into categories, such as video and interactive content, to drive greater engagement with your brand. Ian Cleary, founder of Razor Social, says, “Interactive content will play an important role in content marketing as we strive for greater engagement and to keep visitors on our site.”
Also think about using earned and paid media to lure consumers to your sites – another 2016 trend. As cited in the Curata infographic, Pam Didner of Global Content Marketing claims “brands will integrate content more efficiently in paid, earned, and owned channels to deliver better user experiences.”
While the infographic draws a map to the future of content marketing for those who want to get ahead, have all your ducks in a row before attempting to scale these new heights.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi