Content marketing is one of the most powerful forms of marketing in the modern world. Setting content marketing objectives is critical to success — content marketing on its own, with no clear plan, is often just a waste of time and money.
Advertising and other forms of traditional marketing are pretty straightforward. You spend some money, you get some customers. Easy, right?
Not so much. Traditional advertising has been declining over the years in effectiveness. Essentially, you get results for as long as you pay for them. Even digital advertising can be difficult to generate a positive ROI. Unless you are carefully executing ads, following every platform update and dedicating a significant budget to managing your campaigns, you will likely pay more and get less every year. And no matter how good you are at managing ads, when you stop paying, you stop getting results.
Think of content marketing as an investment — it has a long-term payoff that continues long after the initial investment (and after you stop paying for it). It also helps your digital advertising dollars to go further because it gives you content to point ad traffic to.
Content Marketing Does What Advertising Can’t
What makes content marketing so attractive is that it isn’t advertising at all. Content marketing is all about providing useful, valuable information to your customers first, and selling second.
Advertising, traditional or otherwise, is the opposite. Now to be fair, advertising still works, as does email marketing and other forms of interruptive marketing, but the effectiveness has waned over the years and decades.
We simply don’t live in the 50s anymore, or even the 90s. You just don’t have captive audiences the way you used to. Netflix and other streaming services have minimal advertising space for outside parties (if they have any at all), and people aren’t listening to the radio or watching TV like they once did.
Where are they spending their time? On social media and on the internet. That’s where you have to reach them. Content marketing is the way you do that. For example, if you create a blog post about a topic and it starts showing up on the first page of Google, you’re going to get traffic to your website that other forms of advertising just can’t generate.
And that traffic is essentially free. You create the content, publish, and let the search engines do their magic.
Traditional Advertising Isn’t Going to See a Resurgence
And it’s only going to get worse.
As the population ages and the Baby Boomers start to move out of the market, we’ll see the effectiveness of advertising decline further.
These are the folks who make up the majority of TV and radio fans after all (and you can throw newspapers in there, too). There will always be holdouts in younger generations, but the majority of folks today are web-focused, and they’re not as easily influenced by advertising.
In fact, many people in their 20s–40s have advertising blindness, and this applies to ads online just as much as it does to ads in traditional channels. Even highly personalized advertising and remarketing are only slowing the decline.
This is where content marketing comes into play.
Content Marketing — Helping Your Clients
Content marketing provides answers to questions that online searchers are looking for (among other things). It provides value from the very beginning of the relationship, and importantly, is information that people want to access, as opposed to advertisements, which are just annoyances.
Here are a few examples of what content marketing can look like:
- A blog post that teaches a skill in-depth
- A video that entertains and/or informs the watcher
- An ebook that provides valuable information not easily found elsewhere
- A template that makes a task easier or clearer
- A sound clip that gives a solution to a common problem
- An excel spreadsheet that’s been pre-formatted for a specific need
- A checklist that helps a decision-maker to decide between two similar things
What all these pieces of content have in common is that they’re something people want. No one wants an advertisement.
Basically, the biggest content marketing objective is to create content that people want.
Content Marketing Supplements Other Forms of Digital Advertising
The point is not to bother people with your advertising when they’re focused on other content, but to instead create the content itself that they want in the first place, that they actively seek out because it’s so useful and valuable.
Creating content that people love is only one content marketing objective. For most businesses, there are clear goals that content marketing can help them achieve.
Let’s jump into the list of the 12 most important content marketing objectives and why achieving those objectives can be so beneficial for your business.
#1 — Create Content That’s Useful and ValuableThis should be one of your primary content marketing objectives.
Content marketing is a very different method of marketing to your audience. Your goal isn’t to quickly and succinctly describe benefits and convince potential customers to learn more about your products/services.
Instead, your goal is to create something that really helps someone who could become your customer, to then to post it on your website and distribute it to the wide world for free or hide it behind a form and give it away in exchange for contact information (often called a lead magnet).
This means anyone who reads a piece of content that you’ve produced has come to that piece of content because they find it valuable in some way:
- It answers a question
- It teaches them a skill
- It entertains them
- It informs them
It’s usually a mixture of all of the above.
If your content doesn’t provide them with what they’re looking for, if they come across the content and say “Well, this is worthless!” then your content has failed.
Think in terms of value. A checklist is valuable because I might not know how to accurately compare two products. A template is valuable because it saves me from having to create my own and ensures I don’t leave anything important off my DIY version. A collection of resources is valuable because it saves me from having to do the collecting myself.
A blog post is valuable because it helps me understand a subject without having to buy a book.
Entertainment is valuable in and of itself.
If you do produce something valuable, your readers may look at the rest of your website and say “Hey… I wonder if their products/services might be for me.”
#2 — A Major Content Marketing Objective is to Build an Audience Online
However, potential customers aren’t just going to magically find your website, and even if you dedicate some ad spend to getting traffic to your site via ads, you’re still going to struggle to:
- Keep them on your website
- Get them to come back to your website
- Convince them to make a purchase or contact you while they’re on your website
One of the main objectives of content marketing is to get people on your website.
But that’s just traffic. Building an audience goes beyond just getting traffic to your website.
An audience is a group of people who are interested in you and what you’re doing no matter where they are and no matter how you get that content to them. A true audience often follows you on multiple channels, and even if they’re a silent audience, they’re often making purchases.
They’re your customers, and loyal ones too — content helps you show them not only that you’re generous (because you’re giving them all this free content), but also that you’re relatable. They make strong emotional bonds with your brand, and when you come out with new products and services, they’re the first in line.
The content shows them that you’re an expert in your industry. Who doesn’t want to work with an expert? When it’s time to buy, you’ll be at the top of their list of brands to approach.
#3 — Establish Authority
Suppose that you own a patio furniture business and know a whole heck of a lot about patio furniture. Maybe you know even more about patio furniture than most so-called patio-furniture experts.
However, nobody knows this except some customers and friends. Outside of your small sphere of influence, you’re relatively unknown.
So you start writing blog posts about patio furniture. Putting out videos. Interviewing other patio furniture experts and aficionados. Attending the yearly Great American Patio Furniture Trade Show with camera in tow.
You optimize that content for SEO, share it on social media, and even spend some money to advertise some of these pieces, to spread the brand around.
Suddenly, you have some authority. And authority online often translates to trust in a brand, purchases, and even authority offline.
Let’s talk a little more about that brand piece.
#4 — Brand Awareness and Brand Building
Take our patio builder from the previous example. As they share all this amazing patio-related info, they’re also spreading awareness of the brand itself.
Even if all the readers of this content don’t make a purchase upon the first, second, or third helping of awesome patio-furniture content, the name and the brand is getting into their head.
Guess where they’re going the next time they need some rockin’ patio furniture?
#5 — Keep Search Engines Happy
It’s no secret that the search engine gods prefer your website to have regular influxes of new content.
But content marketing doesn’t just keep the Google Gods happy by churning out new content — there’s more to it than that.
More content means more pages. Websites that are growing regularly catch the eye of search engines, but it also provides additional opportunities to rank for keywords.
Each page of new content that hits your website is a new opportunity for a search engine to crawl it, realize that the content answers certain queries, and start sending that content toward the top of search results.
This generates traffic to your website while simultaneously growing the presence of your brand online.
Great content also does something that’s beautiful from an SEO perspective — it creates the potential for backlink generation.
#6 — One of Your Main Content Marketing Objectives Should Be to Attract Backlinks
If your content is awesome, and if you’re regularly creating new pieces of content, you create the conditions necessary to inspire someone to link to your content.
Imagine if our patio furniture friend above writes an article about the best patio furniture for snowy climates, publishes the article on their website, and shares that on their social media accounts.
Then, someone reads it while writing an article about porches in snowy climates — they might just decide to link to the patio furniture content.
This keeps the search engines happy and increases rankings, but it does something else too — it introduces your content to a new audience and increases traffic to your website. In fact, this might be one of the biggest content marketing objectives of all. Creating website traffic builds a marketing funnel and starts the lead-generation process.
#7 — Generate Traffic
Content shows up in search results. It can be shared on social media. It can be a destination for people who click PPC ads. It can attract backlinks, and it can even be a place to send email subscribers.
All of these scenarios result in traffic to your website.
Traffic to your website doesn’t just come out of nowhere — you need two factors working together:
- Something that directs people to your website (the ad/share/link, etc)
- A reason for them to stay on your website (the content itself)
Good content gets people on your website.
Sure, you might have some products or services that a handful of people are interested in, but many more people than that are going to be interested in the content you’ve created.
If you rely on the product or service alone, along with ads, you’re probably only going to attract the deal seekers.
If you have awesome content that helps people, you’ll inspire quite a few of those people to browse your website, see what you have available, and maybe even become a customer.
#8 — Answer Frequently Asked Customer Questions
One excellent use of content is to create pre-prepared answers to the questions your customers most commonly ask. This can be done in a variety of ways, but it often looks like one or more of these options:
- A simple, search-optimized FAQ page
- A series of blog posts, each of which answers a single question and is optimized for search, all of which are then used to build a more concise FAQ page
- A split piece of content, with some of the answers to less common questions (or more in-depth answers to common questions) hidden behind a lead-generation form
What’s really great about pieces like this is that, when featured on your website, they can cut down on the questions you or your staff have to field personally, and may even lead to a purchase or inquiry online that might not have happened otherwise.
They can also be used as a sales tool, something your reps can use to help customers understand the value of what you offer. This is a simple content marketing objective that most businesses will want to achieve.
#9 — Create Lead Magnets
It should be a huge content marketing objective to generate a variety of lead magnets. The more you make, the more chances at getting a potential customer’s information.
This includes the following types of content:
- PDF worksheets
- Product spec sheets
- Long videos
There are many other types of long-form content, but the point is pretty simple: Make something really valuable and force users to give up contact info to get it.
Lead magnets can go in a variety of places on your website and can be used for a variety of purposes:
- A call to action on a blog post on your own website can direct users to fill out the form and grab the lead magnet
- A call to action on a guest blog post can point to a lead magnet on your website
- At the end of other pieces of smaller content — for instance, a short webinar that requires no signup can have a link at the end to a longer, more valuable webinar that requires signup
- In a resource center
- In the footer of a weekly/monthly email newsletter
- As a popup on a website
This is a major content marketing objective for most businesses — creating lead magnets.
#10 — Create Tools for the Sales Team
However, your sales team runs into many more problems than simple questions. Here are a few ways you can create content that supports your sales team and your business goals:
- Video of a product/service in action
- Case studies of how a product/service helped a previous client
- Deep explanations of product/service features
- Examples of successful uses of a product/service over the long term
- Training materials to onboard a client or prepare them to use a product/service
Every piece of content could be featured on your website, either hidden behind a form or freely available to the public (depending on your content marketing objectives).
#11 — A Major Content Marketing Objective Should Be to Create Content That’s Shareable on Social
Going viral isn’t an easy feat to achieve — it takes a deep understanding of target customers and the industry in which the marketing is taking place, but it also takes excellent content that’s built to be shared.
To make content shareable, you have to have a deep understanding of your market, the industry, and what can make a splash. Consider these questions:
- Is there a controversial topic that your company can safely make a powerful statement about?
- Is there a deep need in the community for a particular piece of content that you have the capacity to produce?
- Can you create an extremely comprehensive piece of content on a particular subject in your industry that requires extensive expertise to make and will impress community members?
- Is there something surprising or impressive that your company has done, something you can report or describe in a piece of content?
- Do any of these things inspire strong feelings in the community, and can you leverage the content to tap into those emotions?
#12 — Create Content That Supports Other Content
In fact, you should be creating content hierarchies and clear content paths (funnels) to get your readers from one piece of low-value, free content to some sort of conversion, followed by additional conversions down the line.
These are generally linked together through links and clear calls to action.
Here’s what that might look like:
- Blog post > longer blog post > video > longer video > paid webinar > product purchase > service contract
- Email > second email > third email > low-cost ebook > higher-cost ebook > paid course
- Video > free PDF > free ebook > product purchase > ongoing product purchases
- Free webinar > blog post 1 in series > blog post 2 in series > blog post 3 in series > service contract
- Blog post > email > video > paid webinar > additional paid webinars > top-tier subscription
All those examples show one thing: Just as in sales, you generally can’t just get people to commit off the bat to something big (unless they happen to be at that point in their customer journey). Generally speaking, you have to lead them slowly to that point and help them along the journey.
Content works the same.
Except, content is better: It’s a lead nurturing tool that you don’t have to actually spend much time on once you’ve set it in motion and structured it properly with clear calls to action.
Everything you see in those example content paths above is designed to meet a particular type of customer at a particular point in their journey.
Your customer may not always jump on the content train at the very beginning — they may get on halfway through.
A small percentage will just start with a purchase, but even then, your goal should be retention, to convince these folks to move past their initial purchase and to continue to make purchases over the years ahead.
Do You Have a Marketing Funnel? Well Then Ya Better Get One
One of the biggest problems many businesses run into is that they’re just putting content out there willy-nilly — they don’t have a content marketing funnel in place.
They’re not tying content generation to marketing goals.
We’ll create a marketing funnel that pulls together various marketing methods to streamline lead generation and get you more sales.