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There’s no form of marketing quite as odd as content marketing — objectives can often seem tenuous and ephemeral, and it can often be extremely unclear what the point of it all is.
After all, advertising and other forms of traditional marketing are pretty straightforward. You spend some money, you get some customers. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?
Not so much. Traditional advertising has been declining over the years in effectiveness, requiring marketers and business owners to find new and creative ways to get the most of out their marketing dollars.
Content Marketing Does What Advertising Can’t
What makes content marketing so attractive is that it isn’t advertising at all (not if you do it right, that is). 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 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. Sorry Charlie, but 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 radio or watching TV like they once did.
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 is only slowing the decline.
This is where content marketing comes into play.
Content marketing allows us to circumvent the traditional interruptive nature of marketing and advertising. People are simply tired of being interrupted.
The majority of folks today are web-focused
They don’t care about the ad that’s interrupting their YouTube video, their Facebook feed, their shows and content — you’ve already annoyed them simply by getting in the way of what they were enjoying.
And that can hurt your brand.
Content Marketing — Helping Your Clients
Content marketing, on the other hand, 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.
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 more clear
- A sound clip that gives a solution to a common problem
- An excel spreadsheet that’s been preformatted for a specific need
- A checklist that helps a decision maker to decide between two similar things
You get the idea. The point is this — content marketing is something people want. No one wants an advertisement. They might want the product or service that’s offered, but they don’t want the advertisement itself.
The primary objective of content marketing is to create (basically) a piece of advertising that customers want — to get the customer to consume your content for the content itself.
Content Marketing Is the New Norm
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.
No one wants an advertisement
But creating content that people love is only one objective of content marketing. For most businesses, there are clear goals that content marketing can help them achieve.
Let’s jump into the list of 12 content marketing objectives and why achieving those objectives can be so beneficial for your business. I’ll switch back and forth between objectives for your business that can be achieved through content marketing, and objectives for the content itself.
Content Marketing Objectives — #1 — Create Content That’s Useful and Valuable
This should be one of your primary content marketing objectives, if not the only objective of content marketing. The foundation of content marketing is (you guessed it) the content itself.
Content marketing is a very different method of marketing to your audience. Your goal isn’t to quickly and succinctly describe benefits and then attempt to rope people in and convince them 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 (with clear paths from the free stuff to the paid stuff) or hide it behind a form and give it away in exchange for contact information.
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
Generally speaking, it’s usually a mixture of the above.
If your content doesn’t provide them what they’re looking for, if they come across the content and say “Well, this is worthless!” then your content has failed.
Create something that really helps someone
Your content must have 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 dang book.
Entertainment is valuable in and of itself.
Your primary objective with your content marketing, always always ALWAYS should be to provide value.
Because, 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.”
(I mean, no one literally thinks that, but you get the gist….)
Content Marketing Objectives — #2 — Build an Audience Online
Businesses need customers, and today, your customers are online.
Many businesses struggle in the early days just to get people in the door, and this is generally considered normal. It’s just not easy to convince people to trust a new business (unless someone famous starts it, but that’s a whole different story).
The same is true online.
People 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 do exactly that: to get people on your website.
But that’s just traffic. Traffic ≠ Audience ≠ Sales. Correlated, but not necessarily causal.
Building an audience goes beyond just getting traffic to your website, and even a dedicated audience isn’t always going to buy.
Traffic isn’t necessarily going to result in anything other than a server working a little bit harder. Traffic does not always equal sales or even leads. In fact, the majority of the traffic to your website will never come back.
An audience, on the other hand, 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.
And suddenly 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. When you produce pieces of content, your audience gets to know you (just like you’re getting to know us right now).
You’re building credibility and authority, and isn’t that a sweet thing?
Content Marketing Objectives — #3 — Establish Authority
Another important goal of content marketing is to establish yourself as an authority on a subject. I’ll give you an example:
Suppose I know a whole heck of a lot about patio furniture (I totally don’t, but play pretend with me).
Suppose, in fact, that I know more about patio furniture than most so-called patio-furniture experts (posers!).
Suppose that nobody knows this except some customers and friends. Outside of my small sphere of influence, I’m relatively unknown.
Suppose I want to change that.
Suppose now that I 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.
Suppose all that sweet patio-furniture content I produce is optimized for SEO and starts to show up in search results.
Suppose I’m sharing it on social media.
Suppose I even spend some money to advertise some of these pieces, to spread the brand around.
Suddenly, I 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.
Content Marketing Objectives — #4 — Brand Awareness and Brand Building
Building authority is building your brand in a way, but you have to be really careful not to simply build your own brand without building your company’s brand as well.
Getting other members of the team to create pieces of content (or at least putting their name on some pieces of content) helps to build your brand.
But content marketing can take you much further. All of these pieces of content marketing that I’ve listed above, those items, if they’re distributed properly, spread awareness of your brand.
Take our intrepid 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?
(Not sure who to target with your awesome content? Get the Ultimate Customer Persona Template and nail down your target market.)
Content Marketing Objectives — #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 because you’re 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.
Great content also does something that’s beautiful (from an SEO perspective) — it creates the potential for backlink generation.
Content Marketing Objectives — #6 — Attract Backlinks
Backlinks are simply links from other websites back to your website. One of the ways that search engines decide how to rank your content is to look at the links from other websites to your content.
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.
It’s still best practice to solicit backlinks, but the content is the base — you can’t get people to link to crappy content.
If our patio furniture fiend 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, and 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.
Content Marketing Objectives — #7 — Generate Traffic
How do you get traffic to your website? Content marketing, ma’ boy! Content marketing!
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, it can even be a place to send email subscribers.
All of these scenarios result in traffic.
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 or what have you)
- 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.
Content Marketing Objectives — #8 — Answer Frequently Asked Customer Questions
Pesky customers and their dang questions! In all seriousness, 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 when trying to allay a customer’s fears.
And certainly we can go beyond questions directly related to your products/services.
Use content as a sales tool
Any question that your customers might have that you have the expertise to answer is fair game.
An FAQ can also give you an extremely deep list of topics for content going forward.
Content Marketing Objectives — #9 — Create Lead Magnets
Lead magnets are simply pieces of content so enticing that readers are more than happy to fill out a form and give away their precious contact info in order to download the item in question. It should be a huge content marketing objective for any company who wants to really increase their presence online to generate a variety of lead magnets.
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, giving you both a backlink and traffic from a new location
- 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
Content Marketing Objectives — #10 — Create Tools for the Sales Team
I mentioned earlier that pieces of content can be used as tools for the sales team, and that’s entirely true — frequently asked questions that are easily visible on a website can save salespeople a lot of time.
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
Again, the list can probably go on, but you get the point.
Content should support your sales team
Every piece of content I mentioned in that little list above could be featured on your website, either hidden behind a form or freely available to the public (depending on your goals for the content).
Content Marketing Objectives — #11 — Create Content That’s Shareable on Social
Viral campaigns are the holy grail of modern-day digital marketers.
Nothing brings a marketer more joy than going viral, but it’s not 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.
Viral campaigns are the holy grail of modern-day digital marketers
To make content shareable, you really 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?
Content Marketing Objectives — #12 — Create Content That Supports Other Content
Another one of your objectives with your content should be to support the rest of your 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 actual HTML 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 with 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 weeks, months, years, and decades ahead.
Content marketing helps bring people into the funnel, pushes them farther down the funnel, and tosses them into yet more funnels.
All Great Content Starts With Your Customer
Before you can map out your content marketing objectives, you need a clear understanding of your audience — who they are, what they do, what they need, how you can help them, and oh so much more.
The Ultimate Customer Persona Template can help you do exactly that.
Click the button to learn more.
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