By Renee Welsh, Co-Founder & CEO of Booking Boss.
The three key elements of a content marketing strategy (not to be confused with content strategy) are goals, persona profiling and team alignment. Here are my tips on how best to achieve them.
1. SMART Goals - your map
A content marketing strategy without SMART goals is like orienteering without a compass. It is definitely going to see you barking up the wrong tree. Most content marketing strategies are not as successful as marketers would like them to be because there is no strong, goal-driven strategy.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals are imperative in any content program. They force you to think through your current situation and your ultimate goal, before breaking that down into granular pieces that outline what actions you want your persona to take.
The more granular you can make your goals, the more likely they are to be understood and achieved. We attach the principles of lifecycle marketing to ours, categorising our prospects into strangers, visitors, leads, marketing-qualified leads and opportunities, as determined by both their behavioural and demographic/firmographic data. We review our historical data to determine the numerical targets for each category.
In this way, smart goals force you to think about strategies you’ll need to get there.
Here are some examples of strong SMART goals:
- Increase website visits by 30% by 30 June, 2016
- Secure 300 Marketing-Qualified leads by 30 June, 2016
- Close 5 x $50,000 deals by 30 June, 2016
The important thing to remember is to align your SMART goals with your business goals. So, if you want $50,000 of revenue by end June, and 50% of that to come from inbound marketing, you need to set your visitor, lead and opportunity goals to deliver on the revenue goal. This means you need to know (or at least, at first, estimate) your visitor to lead conversions, lead to opportunity and opportunity to sale conversions to get the right number of visitors coming into the top of your funnel.
2. Persona Profiling - your target destination
The starting point of any successful content marketing program is deep understanding of your target audience, including the context they live and work in. It is only then that you can create content they’ll actually care about.
- Choosing your target persona can be tricky, luckily we only have twobuyer persona at the moment. However, we understand that marketers often have many different buyers. So the trick is to choose a segment you want to move the needle on, look for the best customer in that segment, and base your target persona around that best customer.
- You then need to deepen your understanding of that persona, understanding their motivations, pain points, buying criteria and decision-making process. Begin to understand what help you can provide your persona to ease them gently along the decision-making process.
- Lastly, you need to understand where you’re going to find them. Which are the channels they would be most receptive to which kind of message? Which format or method of contact would they prefer to receive, and how much reach can you achieve with that format?
3. Alignment of your sales and marketing teams
Aligning marketing and sales teams makes for greater visibility for closed-loop reporting and ROI tracking. When marketing and sales teams are not aligned and speaking the same language, this is the result:
- Marketing are working hard to deliver leads, but they may not be the right quality or type. Sales complain amongst themselves but don’t deliver any constructive feedback to marketing.
- Sales are complaining about the quality of leads, and start to ignore any lead that marketing delivers as they believe it won’t be any good.
- Marketing are complaining that sales are burning perfectly good leads.
- Nobody is talking about what IS a good lead and how they can work together to improve the quality for the success of both teams.
The three key steps to achieving alignment are:
1. Create a common purpose and shared definitions. Alignment programs start by getting shared agreement on what constitutes a marketing-qualified lead. They also involves creating shared revenue goals, and divvying up specific accountabilities and KPIs for each team to deliver on, in order to achieve the shared goal. This is so everyone knows exactly what their role is, so there can be no blame games. It creates a clarity, ownership as well as a shared sense of purpose.
2. Get visibility over results. Then, of course, you need joint visibility over the data. The best way to achieve this is to integrate marketing and sales systems. These days, most marketing automation platforms have APIs that help them connect to CRM platforms.
This way, marketing can see whether sales are adhering to their opportunity contact KPIs and running opportunities through the agreed sales process in a timely manner. Sales can also see how many leads marketing are producing in each category and check that they are getting the agreed number of marketing-qualified leads in.
3. Establish regular communication. Monthly meetings to review KPIs, and agree any additional actions that need to be undertaken are key to achieving the joint goals.
Tweaking of the marketing-qualified lead definition is also required, as sales start to get a feel for how successful their calls to these leads are. This feedback goes back to marketing who can tweak the lead scores and workflows to ensure the marketing qualified leads have the kind of demographic and behavioural history that qualifies them as a strong lead.
For more content marketing strategy tips, watch Richard Parker's video below, and check out our Content Marketing Strategy course.