Information comes thick and fast in the modern age, with the average person seeing up to 5,000 advertisements each day. According to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy report, the average U.S. consumer reads 207 articles and visits 398 websites per month. That represents over 20 opportunities for content marketing engagement per day. That kind of volume has the potential for desensitization at best (and annoyance at worst). It’s spawned an entire industry of ad blockers to cut down on the daily noise. How do you make sure the right people hear your company message? You need a content marketing system.
By providing content that helps and enriches someone’s life, you create incentives for customers to seek you rather than block you. Developing a solid content marketing system is an essential step in gaining the recognition your company deserves in a crowded marketplace.
What Is a Content Marketing System?
Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing. It encourages leads to come to you, rather than you attempting to grab their attention. It’s a powerful strategy that has the potential to cut through the noise of modern advertising and drive traffic directly where you want it to go. But with countless other companies vying for the same market share, it takes much more than the occasional well-written article posted on your blog. A content marketing system isn’t a computer program or a way of automating campaign processes — it’s a plan of action, a series of guidelines, and a set of aspirations. You build your system by:
- Establishing your requirements
- Defining your target audience
- Understanding the value you add to a customer’s life
- Generating the best content for a given situation
- Working efficiently
- Structuring criteria for success
- Evaluating the return on your investment
A good content marketing system guides your marketing strategy, and provides the tools to support your marketing team.
Creating Your Content Marketing System
Your content marketing system helps you to maintain a focused approach for hitting key demographics, providing up-to-date content, and evaluating performance. To help you create your own system, consider the following steps.
Define Your Goals
It may sound obvious, but the first step in creating a successful system is defining the terms of that success. When you create new content, what is your primary goal? Do you want to sell a product, improve visibility in search engines, or generate long-term relationships with new customers? With a clear understanding of your goals, it’s possible to develop metrics for measuring success, such as viewer retention, actions generated as a result of the content, or the number of new customers.
Focus On Your Market
You know what you want to do, but how do you do it? Keep in mind that, unlike traditional advertising, content marketing first and foremost serves to enrich and reward your customers by helping them solve problems. You can’t create compelling content until you know who you’re pitching the content at, and what problem they’re trying to solve.
Develop a customer persona by looking for trends among existing customers.
- Are your buyers generally middle-aged?
- Are they business people or students?
- Male or female?
- Married or single?
Identify the common threads that tie your customers together, and extrapolate the information to create a persona that informs your marketing campaigns. As part of this process, identify the common problems your customers face, and how your service or product resolves those problems. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes to get a better understanding of what kind of content is the most helpful. Once you know what information your customers are searching for, it’s possible to reinforce your position as a source of viable solutions. As part of this process, it’s a good idea to develop a mission statement that underpins every marketing campaign, creating a rigid ideology that you keep referring to as a means of ensuring you stay on course.
Make a Plan
Creating a structure for the release of content is an important part of your marketing system. By planning the frequency of releases and determining content type in advance, it’s possible to ensure a constant feed of valuable information to maintain engagement with customers and drive new business. For each piece, consider the following aspects:
- Format: It is a blog or video?
- Topic: What problem are you solving, and why should a customer use your company?
- Target audience: Which customer persona are you targeting?
- Creators: Are you using freelancers? Do you need a graphic designer?
- Distribution method: Are you publishing on social media or a company website?
- Deadline: What is the deadline for editing, and the final publication date?
- Building your audience: Are you using an opt-in model to build relationships?
- Goal: How are you evaluating the success of the piece?
Create Your Content
Having set your goals, defined your audience, and scheduled production, it’s time to create some content. If you run a small operation, you may do the writing yourself. But to make the most engaging content, it often pays to pass the work off to a professional writer. If you’re running a tight schedule and want plenty of fresh material to cycle through, you may need to outsource to freelancers to keep on top of production. Hiring freelancers is much easier if you have a detailed content plan to accurately communicate your requirements.
Evaluate Your Success
It isn’t enough to release your content into the wild — you also need some way to identify how successful it’s been. As part of defining your goals, you’ve already settled on a metric for measuring success. Monitor the response to your campaigns and identify trends regarding what has worked well for you. Fold this information back into your content marketing system, using it to re-evaluate your approach and maximize the return on your investment.
Getting It Out of Your System
Your content marketing system is a blueprint for success — a framework on which to hang your campaigns. Defining the system is a good business practice that helps to keep your company goal-focused. But a system is only ever as good as its implementation. Think about gathering the right group of marketing professionals, such as analysts, content creators, and editors, and constantly review your system, taking into account shifts in marketing trends and developments in social media. Evolve and enhance your system, and make sure every piece of content you generate hits the mark.