Strategy is key in all things. Those who have it are able to plan and achieve. Those who don’t often fly by the seat of their pants and lose their shirts while they’re at it. If I have to explain which you should want to be, then you must really like nudist colonies.
See: To attract, serve, and retain customers, you need to know what they need and when they need it. And to do that, you need to be ambitious with your content, fearless with your execution, and efficient with your standardization of what works well.
The top three concerns for digital marketing initiatives in the next few years focus around that.
Main Digital Marketing Initiatives
- 87% – Understanding customer buying journey
- 76% – Educating and influencing purchase by mapping right content assets and distribution channels to key stages in the customer buying journey
- 57% – Attributing and measuring performance of multiple channels that customers use in their buying journey
But it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be guesswork. You can deliver what your audience needs and what you want them to have by following four easy steps.*
*I mean, they’re easy concepts, but (like all things that give results) they require hard work.
1. Understand what content your audience needs at each level of the sales funnel.
A long-time brand advocate doesn’t need the same kind of attention as a first-time buyer. And that’s not necessarily arguing for more or less in either instance; each simply requires a different approach.
There are five levels to the (traditional) sales funnel, each requiring a slightly different content focus. To be fair, categories don’t have to be exclusively dedicated to only one of the levels; there can and should be overlap. (After all, things like blog posts and social posts never really go out of style.) But here you can see the evolution of expected involvement.
Filling Content Through the Sales Funnel
- Infographics, whitepapers, e-books
- Blog posts, social posts, online articles
- Webinars, demos, explainer videos
- Case studies, testimonials, free trials
- Newsletters, special offers, follow-up consultations
2. Create an editorial calendar.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could wake up with a great idea and all the available resources necessary to make that content happen perfectly all in the same day? It’s a luxury none of us have, which is why you’ll more than likely need to plan ahead with several people who aren’t yourself.
To create the content you want in time to release it on key dates exactly when you want it, you’ll need to determine your content deliverables. It can be done with a few ordered steps and questions. And before you know it, you’ll have created your editorial calendar.
- Study your content that has worked well in the past.
- What pieces of content were most successful?
- What platforms did they live on, and where were they promoted?
- On what day and time were they published?
- What made them work?
- What can you learn from this?
- Choose a posting frequency.
- What’s the right amount of content for your blog?
- What’s the right amount for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc?
- What kinds of posts do you want to see regularly, semi-regularly, and just every once in awhile?
- Schedule your content for publishing.
- How can you plot your publishing schedule by day, week, month, and quarter?
- Create the actual content.
- Do or do not. There is no try.
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new content types.
One of our five pillars for our work here is to “Experiment Often.” There’s a reason for that. If you’re rolling through readymade solutions, you aren’t thinking outside the box. You want to address problems as they come, not as they fit.
The marketing world is constantly evolving. Customers change year to year, whether it’s by a lot or a little. Just because something was the best fit for a different project in the past doesn’t make it a go-to solution in the future. Brainstorm with your immediate team (and maybe a few outsiders) to really get the ball rolling. Invite all ideas—big or small, crazy or rational—and evaluate them later. In marketing, few things are more powerful than a spirited brainstorm.
4. Establish a production process to maximize content creation efficiency.
An entire advertising agency’s workforce is rarely made up of just one highly productive person—we’re not talking Tiny Tim’s Big Bad Infographic Shop or Debbie Brighteyes: Local Saleswoman, Creative Director, Producer, Designer, Developer, Marketer, and Private Investigator Extraordinaire. In fact, if you encounter that agency: Run.
Successful agencies are filled with teams working together, which means it’s up everyone to be clear and direct with one another. Every given member of your team should be aware of their responsibilities and the point in the production process when they’ll be taking charge of the deliverable and handing it off.
You should never assume. As that saying goes, it makes a…right solid dummy outta ya. Ensure clarity among everyone involved by creating solid production process documentation to follow. Each individual on the team should know the skills they’re bringing to the table and what’s expected of them at any step.
Not only that, but your team should be aware of the project’s budget and timeline (with actual dates, not just general phases). There’s rarely a reason to hide information. Otherwise, what kind of business are you running? Are you cookin’ the books or something? Actually, don’t answer that. The less we know, the better.
Remember: The key to content success is knowing what the people want and when. Standardize the process, but think outside of the box.
We’re happy to share more insights into the lessons we’ve learned from the extensive experience we’ve had working on schedules and documented processes. Believe us, we’ve tried it all. Chat us up at firstname.lastname@example.org/.