Content marketing is constantly evolving, and there is a lot of confusion about what content marketing is—and what it isn’t. So whether you are new to content marketing or a seasoned pro, it never hurts to revisit your content marketing strategy.
Recently, I had the pleasure of brushing up on the basics of content marketing with Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, ahead of Content Marketing World. Talk about a Content Marketing Manager’s dream!
So why wait? Let’s dive into his content marketing tips….
Joe Pulizzi: Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and/or retain a clearly defined audience with the ultimate goal of driving a customer action.
The audience part is important because, for the most part, the “customer action” part usually doesn’t happen until they know, like, trust and ultimately subscribe to your content.
Q: And today, you have an almost endless array of ways to reach and engage your audience, but not long ago the only ways to communicate with a customer were fax, TV, phone, radio, billboard, or print. So in your opinion, how has our ever-expanding media landscape changed the way brands connect with customers today?
Joe Pulizzi: Yes…marketers now have many ways they can communicate with their target audiences…perhaps thousands or more. But what we know about content marketing distribution is that it is almost always better to start by being an expert in one means of distribution (for starters). That could be a blog, a video series, a podcast, a print magazine, etc. Once an audience is built leveraging that distribution option, then you can diversify into other options.
So many companies get this wrong…they try to create “must-see” channels everywhere, which is literally impossible to do unless you have unlimited resources. Start with one…do it incredibly well…develop an audience…then diversify.
Q: That’s great advice! And probably a few of our readers will be relieved to learn that they don’t have to be juggling a podcast, a blog, a newsletter and a video series at the same time. But, I’m curious, are there any content distribution channels in particular that you think marketers should be prioritizing today—and in the next 12 months?
Joe Pulizzi: The answer is…it always depends on the audience needs and the expertise of the content creator. That said, I think the biggest opportunities right now are in podcasts and print magazines because there is less competition in both channels.
Q: Alright, but even when you have found that one medium that seems to work for you and your audience, there are still a number of challenges involved with content marketing. So based on your years of experience speaking with brands, what are the biggest challenges facing content marketers? And how should they overcome them?
Joe Pulizzi: There are two main challenges. The first is consistency. Marketers fail the most because they do not deliver their content consistently. That means delivering the same time every day, week or month…for a year or more at minimum. It takes time to build a loyal audience.
The second challenge is that the content area is not niche enough. Marketers tend to pick a topic area that is too broad and has too much competition. It’s best to start extremely niche and become the leader in that area or topic.
We actually want to create the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of results (not just more content) #socialpowwow
— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) December 14, 2017
Q: And, unfortunately, for some marketers the challenges of content marketing can prove to be too great. Why do you believe most content marketing initiatives fail?
Joe Pulizzi: The two mistakes from above…they don’t deliver consistently and don’t cover a non-competitive area. And I’ll add one more…too many companies focus on their content and marketing KPIs but don’t focus on building an audience that actually subscribes to your content. I believe the key to content marketing success is about building the audience…not leads or clicks or views.
Q: Well, I’m glad you brought up the topic of marketing KPIs, because obviously there are several types of content marketing—and each one has their own metrics to monitor. What are the key metrics that you believe that marketers should look at in order to evaluate the success of their content marketing initiatives? (Hopefully, our audience is already familiar with measuring their social media ROI).
Joe Pulizzi: There are secondary indicators that can help you see if your content is working. Downloads, clicks, time spent with content, social shares…but when I talk to a marketer, I want to know two things: are we growing an audience and are we keeping the audience we have? In that case, the metrics are subscriptions (email, app, print, podcast) and watching your opt-outs.
Q: Well, obviously, one of the easiest ways to try to grow your audience is through Facebook advertising—or social media advertising in general—so what percentage of a marketing budget would you recommend marketers allocate toward their content marketing strategy?
Joe Pulizzi: There are so many variables to that question it’s impossible to answer. Some small companies, I would say 100%. Some large companies, I would say 2%. It all depends on what the company is trying to do and how many audiences they want to build relationships with.
Q: And lastly, if you were to give our readers looking to improve their content marketing strategy one piece of advice, what would it be?
Joe Pulizzi: Kill something you are doing. Most likely, you are doing too many mediocre content initiatives and not enough things that truly make an impact on an audience. If that is the case, kill as much as you need to to become great (or even the best) at one thing.
Building a successful content marketing program requires more than just a ton of content—it requires careful planning and deep audience insights. And, hopefully, the tips above can help you improve your content marketing strategy. Here’s a quick recap:
- Your audience’s needs come first!
- Building an audience is the true key to content marketing success.
- Make sure that you maintain a consistent cadence with your content marketing activities
- Focus on only one distribution channel at first—you can expand to more channels later on.
- And finally, always ensure that the content you are delivering adds value.
If you want to get more content marketing tips, check out Content Marketing World in September. With hundreds of knowledgeable speakers and thousands of attendees (including us!), the conference is a must-attend event for marketers. And, you can get $100 off any in-person package if you enter the promo code FALCON100.