Your go-to guide on content marketing – 5 stages explained (with examples)

Your go-to guide on content marketing – 5 stages explained (with examples)

There are around 12 million to 24 million eCommerce websites as of date. And, new are spawning almost every minute. Over 70 million blog posts are published every month solely on WordPress. The world wide web is an ocean of content that these businesses generate.

Unfortunately, most of this content never reaches the intended audience. Even if it does, it fails to drive the intended action. That is, unless you’ve got a solid content marketing action roadmap at hand.

Done right though, content marketing can be a gold mine for lead generation or sales (whatever your goal is) which gets us to understanding why Seth Godin thinks that, “Content Marketing is the only marketing left!”.

The world is going gaga over content marketing (Here’s why)

As per 2018 research data by CMI goes, 86% of B2C and 91% of B2B organizations are investing in content marketing. You can clearly see from the following stats why businesses are tilting in favor of inbound. 

It:

  • Costs 62% less than traditional marketing and brings in 3x more leads
  • Is the prefered method for 70% of consumers today to learn about a product/brand 
  • Works as a solid social proof. As per a recent survey 75% of respondents said so
  • Drives conversion rates that are six times higher than other methods of marketing

Numbers clearly paint a bright picture in favor of content marketing. It works beautifully well. Nonetheless, some marketers fail miserably at it. 

You are very likely to go wrong with your content marketing efforts if you do not clearly establish your goals out of content marketing. Nearly 50% of B2B and nearly 50% of B2C businesses do not align their metrics with their content marketing goals. That’s a huge mistake!

Another reason why your content marketing efforts might be falling flat is poorly crafted content. Which means that you aren’t creating content for all stages of the buyer’s journey. You might have been successful in fetching a good footfall on your eBook with email marketing. However, what should you be doing thereon? Are you even tracking and testing what will fetch you more clicks on ‘Download’?

Content marketing is certainly not a cake walk. And, without a proper content marketing roadmap or process in place, you are going to stumble hard. That’s why you need this quick and easy go-to guide on five most important stages in content marketing. 

5 most important stages in content marketing

While the order of the stages can vary, essentially, the following are the most important stages in any content marketing process.

Researching and planning

For most people who do not understand content marketing completely and correctly, the process begins and ends with content creation. Such content that is created without any homework is exactly the type of content that gets lost in a never ending blackhole. It never reaches the intended audience. Thus, it fails to drive your marketing goals.

Before you start with anything related to content creation, you need to first understand, why are you doing all this? This is the research and planning phase. This is the start point of getting to understand:

  • Who your target audience is
  • What are their pain points, motivations, and frustrations
  • Who are your competitors
  • How are they reaching the same target audience

Let’s cover these points with an example. 

Part 1: Defining your target audience and their pain points

The best way to go about clearly establishing your target audience is by building personas. 

Say, you are an eCommerce merchant selling bamboo bed sheets. Your ideal buyer’s persona should include:

Demographic and lifestyle information

  • Over 30 years of age 
  • Can afford but not spend hefty amount on quality bed linen
  • Married with children
  • Doesn’t buy bed linen from just about anywhere
  • Mid-senior level manager in a digital marketing firm

Pain points 

  • Allergic to synthetic and even cotton linen
  • Experiences hot flashes and night sweats because of hormonal problems

Motivations

  • Believes in brands selling organic food, furniture and linen
  • Credibility and quality matter

Online behavior

  • Trusts online reviews and ratings, and blogs
  • Uses Instagram and Facebook to look for cute organic bamboo linen
  • Loves deals and discounts, and hunts for coupons to make purchases

Frustrations

  • Can’t find many brick and mortar stores dealing in organic bamboo linen
  • Can’t find many design options in the ‘affordable’ range of linen options

Here’s another example of a buyer persona (borrowed from the internet) for your reference

Source

Needless to say, you can’t build personas purely out of your idea and imagination. You need to dig out data for this too. To get into the details of how to design personas, we suggest that you go through this exceptional and in-depth blog post.

Once you’ve narrowed down on your ideal audience, it is now time to figure out how to reach out to them. To get started, first take note of what your competitors are doing. Put the groundwork that they’ve already done to some good use for yourself.

Part 2: Who your competitors are and how they are using content

You can easily dig out your competitor list using a number of free tools available on the internet. SEMrush, for example, is one. The next step is to run an analysis on what all are they doing to get to the same piece of the pie that you are eyeing. 

Analyzing content will help you get a clear picture of where your opportunities and threats lie. For example, you might be planning to work on a content piece to rank for the keyword ‘organic bamboo bedding’. 

A quick competitor analysis will show you the type of content that your competitors have already created and are currently ranking for around this keyword – eBooks, infographics, whitepapers, video, etc. With so much content on the keyword already having made its place on Google, should you be really joining in the race? Or, should you be switching to another keyword with lesser competition yet higher search around it?

Let’s dig further into competitor research and do a thorough analysis on the ‘quality’ of the content they create. 

Quickly open the first five ranking links on Google for the same keyword: organic bamboo bedding. Read A-Z of these content assets. Note the shortfalls. For example:

  • It might not have enough visuals 
  • Content tone could be boring
  • Data and research could be missing altogether
  • It might be falling short of enough examples

Despite all these shortcomings, if your competitor content is ranking, you have enough opportunities to create even better content and rank higher. 

With all this information about your audience and competitors at hand, you now have a clear direction towards the type of content you should be working on. But, even before that..

..you define the measuring metrics. Because, what you can’t measure you can’t improve.

Defining your goal out of content marketing (and the metrics)

Marketing, just like all other business activities, is a game of numbers. If you can’t quantify it’s success in numbers, you are better off not doing it. Each campaign that you run using content marketing needs to bring in the desired results. And, measuring these outcomes is only possible using the right metrics.

Your content marketing campaign’s goal, for example, could be re-targeting. 

The metrics you’ll need to track for this campaign will include add-to-carts, cart abandonment rate, email open rates and click-through rates (if re-engaging cart abandoners with email), push notification open rates (if push notifications is the re-engagement medium), and time spent on checkout page.

You’ll be able to optimize your content be it copy, visuals, or call-to-actions, only when you know what’s fetching you results.

Creating content that informs, engages, and converts

Not all kind of content works at every stage of the buyer’s journey. At the top of the funnel, content, largely, is meant to educate. This is where blogs and infographics are most useful.

Content meant for the middle of the funnel facilitates evaluation. That’s why B2B companies focus so much on webinars and events.

For those at the bottom at the funnel, say those who recently visited a certain product on your organic linen page, you need to rely on personalization. Try sending out an email that resonates emotionally with the prospect. 

Win their attention with a detailed guide on why your organic linen is the finest quality and can best serve their needs. Try to bring in your prospect’s pain points in this content piece. Even better if you could highlight these in the email letter itself. Make it highly personalized. It is proven to increase customer engagement, as pointed out by 74% marketers in a study.

Other than being mindful of creating content for all stages of the user journey, marketers should also pay attention to what ‘type’ of content works. Attention spans are changing. Information overload kills people of boredom. 

That’s why companies like Hootsuite use an element of fun to keep their audience coming back to them. 

Their ‘Game of Social Thrones’ video marketing proved to be a huge hit and highly engaging campaign. 

Source

It was a great way to educate users but in a way that people would sit and take notice. They didn’t use a basic, boring webinar, which usually makes people snore throughout.

Identifying the right channels

You think that broadcast emails are highly likely to fetch you more engagement.

Undoubtedly, emails are a top channel that drives engagement. However, only if they are clicked open by the right audience at the right time. 

Email marketing falls way short of push notifications when it comes to achieving higher open rates. Most emails sit in the inbox for days. On the ‘urgency’ front emails fail as the appropriate marketing channel. And today, timing is everything!

If your content marketing campaign aims at getting you 4x more participants within the next two days you can’t just rely on email.

Another point here is that you should narrow down on your marketing channel depending on the type of content that you are creating. 

You can’t publish an entire blog post on Twitter. Doesn’t work. Will never work. Instead, you can repurpose your blog into an infographic and then use it on Twitter as video content. This will get you the intended engagement on the channel.

Measuring content marketing outcomes

As we pointed before in this blog post, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. That’s why understanding the impact of your efforts is a key stage in your content marketing process. For example, you sent out a personalized email marketing letter to fetch downloads on an ebook. 

The list of users you sent out the ebook to was highly targeted. You wanted to focus only on those users who clicked on the ‘receive more resources’ link in your previous email. What was the ‘download’ or ‘conversion rate’ from those users on this email newsletter? 

Also, while running this email marketing campaign did you test the placement of the CTA? Was there a difference in the ‘download’ rates between the two CTA buttons?

All these little details show you the big picture and bring together the pieces of the content marketing puzzle. 

You might be actually missing down on big conversions only because of small, minor errors. Say that, your CTA copy ‘download the ebook’ might not be working as great as it could have if it would have been ‘Your free ebook’.

Wrapping it up

A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into creating content. Without a proper plan that details on who you are creating campaigns for and what your goal out of those campaigns are, you will fail miserably. 

So, how do you reap the best out of your content marketing? Have any stories to share? Drop us a comment below.

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