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Content Marketing

How to Avoid Content Dumpster & Make Your Content Truly Stand Out

December 30, 2014

If you have ever worked on the content side of marketing you know the sheer madness that goes around in that circuit. On one hand are the C-suite folks who care for nothing but numbers and expect (being delusional, of course) that every piece of content generates a bucket load of leads and, in an ideal world, even sales. Then there are the marketing big-wigs who are just a level under these C-suite swags. These are the people who create campaign strategies (so to say) as a part of which they hand out a laundry-list of content that needs to go out every week across a plethora of popular mediums.

Let me highlight something here for the sake of context. It is a common belief in marketing that content development team is like that hen that lays the shiny golden eggs. And therefore, it is perfect normal to assume that every message being pushed out will be received by audiences as nothing less than the gospel truth. In reality, the content team is the one that’s struggling every day to find a balance between being good copy writers and being sales-y writers.

The reason why this is such an unhealthy and unproductive system of work is because there is no way to measure to the success of the communication being pushed out. Without a clear content strategy and a statement of purpose, all of the content pieces that go out as a result of this workflow organization — be it on the website, social media , subscription emails or even newsletters — simply get accumulated in a ‘content dumpster’. It’s just ‘there’ and not really reaching out to the right kind of people, at the right time for the right reasons.

In order to make your content truly stand out, it’s essential to have in place a strong content marketing strategy. And the reason is simple: It’s just as important for the content to be to be spread-worthy as it is to be sticky.

In case of the situation explained earlier, the problem is two-fold:

  1. Such an organization does not have a clear content circulation strategy. The focus is largely on coming up with sticky content, which is a very pro-publisher perspective. It’s a uni-directional, conservative approach to online marketing, and does not take factor in a good way of measuring results. So while the content may end up being striking and sticky, it may not reach the people it is intended for, or worse, it may stretch out for all the wrong reasons.
  2. There is no alignment of goals between allied functional teams. Across every level, the expectation from a piece of content is different. While top level executives may seek quantifiable results, lets say in terms of the bulk of leads generated, the marketing team tends to gauge the success of a message on various qualitative parameters, such as degree of customer engagement and the various kinds of audience responses.

Having been on the content side of function for a little too long, I have realized that at the heart of a good content creation strategy lays three key things:

  1. Good customer insights
  2. An engaging message
  3. A reliable tracking and measurement framework

Customer insight is crucial for a very simple reason: if you do not understand how the content will be received and acted upon, there is no way you can come up with an inspiring, action-worthy piece of content and yours will be just a wasted effort. Insights help define customer personas which in turn help understand a crude picture of the buying cycle a customer is likely to engage into. Once you understand the customer and his buying cycle, you are in a better (more informed) position to come up with customer-facing messages for each of the touch points — online and offline. Spreadibility: Check.

Panneau de circulation à trois directions

A great way to understand your customers better is by aligning with the sales team. These are the people who interact with customers on a daily basis and understand their expectations and pain-points much better than you do. This in turn helps you make your messages more relevant and guarantees its consumption. Stickiness: Check.

The next big step is to make sure you can track and measure the spread of your published content. And you ought to put in some dedicated effort when dealing with this particular item on the content strategy checklist.

A good piece of content — be it a blog post or a whitepaper — drives engagement, which translates into further discussions with the customer, and sometimes even leads to sales enquiry. In such a situation, it is important to have in place a good lead management system — clearly defined protocols for lead nurturing and servicing. There are plenty of online services that can help you with this particular aspect (example: Hubspot) and investing in them will be a wise decision. Measurability: Check.

Well, this is all about the creation and circulation part of things. There’s one more factor that needs to be addressed for a truly effective strategy deployment. As a content developer and a marketing professional myself, I understand the pain points from the perspective of both the parties. And I have come to the understanding that the best way to come up with an effective content marketing strategy — one that helps you avoid landing up in digital oblivion and your messages being lost in a content dumpster — is by aligning the goals of both the sales team as well as the marketing team. The sales team helps your messages become more relevant and action-worthy, while the marketing team helps package it all better. Context of message is as much important and the stickiness of the copy.

Remember: A healthy content habit is directly proportional to the degree of alignment of goals between marketing and sales teams. It is as much about emotional engagement as it is about being relevant across the customer’s brand journey.

Meeta Sharma is an independent writing and editing professional from digital marketing domain. Loves marketing and everything about it.

Meeta Sharma

Meeta Sharma is a content marketing specialist and regularly writes about her domain and start-up life.

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