If you build it, they will come.
It’s not just that familiar mantra from one of the greatest movies of all time. It’s also the mentality of many content marketers – in other words, if you put together a rockstar blog post, your audience will flock to your website to read it.
Unfortunately, things aren’t quite as easy in the real world as they are in Hollywood.
Content marketing is about much more than creating content, although that’s certainly part of it. As noted in Content Marketing Institute, successful marketers:
- Document their content marketing strategy
- Are realistic about what content marketing can achieve – and how long results will take
- Focus on content measurement
But, in order to be successful with any of the above, content marketers must outline and clearly define content marketing objectives before they ever get started with content execution.
The big question is: How?
It’s easy! Or, it can be easy, if you take the time to think through content goals at the onset of the program.
Let’s take a look at how to define content marketing objectives in 3 simple steps:
Think About What You Want Your Content to Actually Do
This may seem obvious. Except that it’s not, because it’s often overlooked.
When first starting out with a content marketing program, it’s easy to think in terms of content production. You have an editorial calendar you need to fill out, so you come up with a variety of topics that you can write about.
But creating content for the sake of creating content isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Sure, you’ll have a steady flow of content on your blog – but, if it’s not getting you results, then what’s the point?
To make sure you’re targeting the right content, you need to think through what you want your content to actually do for you.
Consider CMI’s definition of content marketing:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a well-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
That last part is key: The goal of content marketing should always be to get your target audience to do what you want them to do.
Are you trying to drive conversions? Organic traffic? Social shares?
Whatever it is, you need to make sure you’re creating the type of specific content that will lead to your desired customer action.
For example, for one of KoMarketing’s clients in particular, we recently did a content audit of blog performance for the program to date. During the analysis, we discovered that much of the content we had been writing about was not the content that was leading to traffic gains and conversions.
As a result, we modified our content strategy for the new year to focus specifically on topics we knew to be generating the types of results we were looking for.
Create a Well-Documented Plan of How to Achieve Your Content Objectives
Okay, so no one is arguing that content marketers are mind-readers. As we all know, there is a good degree of trial-and-error that comes with working in online marketing.
That said, a goal without a plan of action will remain a goal.
To keep the wheels in motion, it’s important to outline a content marketing strategy for how you will achieve your goals.
It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy, but it should document the strategies you’re putting in place to execute on those goals.
At KoMarketing, we typically put together a project roadmap for clients that outlines the scope of the program and the specific tactics being put in place. For content marketing in particular, this could mean anything from on-page content optimization to blog topic development and link building/third-party posting opportunities to blog repurposing recommendations.
The point is to get a plan in place – and hold yourself accountable to the goals you’d identified at the start of the program. It’s important to remember, of course, that any goals you’ve set out to achieve won’t happen overnight.
To keep track of your progress, it’s a good idea to go beyond monthly reporting and evaluate how your content is performing against your goals at regular intervals: 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc.
For one client at KoMarketing that is focused on organic traffic, we keep a shared Google Doc of organic visits to each specific blog post (month-to-month) so that we’re able to recommend blog post topics that we know drive the most organic traffic.
Develop a Fall-Back Plan for When Results Don’t Turn Out as Expected
It’s a fact in content marketing that even the best laid-out plan of attack won’t always yield the results you’re looking for. In fact, it’s to be expected.
The key to overcoming this type of certain uncertainty is to plan ahead for it. When working through the content marketing objectives of your program, you need to consider what you’ll do if – and when – you’re faced with less than ideal content performance.
It doesn’t have to be a documented strategy – after all, you won’t know exactly what you’re dealing with until you actually get into the program and start producing and measuring content results – but it does have to become part of your planning process.
An important point to keep in mind is that you need to give your content assets time to mature. In other words, you shouldn’t expect overnight results and, when you’re not seeing them, assume that you’ve failed. It can often take months (or even years) to see the types of results you’re looking for with your content.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t develop a plan for improving content results in the meantime.
For one of our clients whose blog content took a surprising dip in a recent month, we put together a series of recommendations for how to shore up additional, quality blog traffic, including increasing content production, providing keyword-based blog topic recommendations for what their team should write about, optimizing historically top-performing blog posts to give them a refresh, etc.
As writers, the inclination with content marketing is often to dive right in and start producing content that we’re certain will produce stellar results.
But, without taking the time to carefully consider content marketing objectives, it’s difficult to set a clear path forward. When done right, a well thought-out content marketing strategy can mean the difference between content success and failure.
How does your company define content marketing objectives? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.