3 Simple ways to determine if your content is any good

content marketing strategy73% of CEOs say their marketing team is not doing a good job.*

58% of marketers say their content is not effective.*

Houston, we have a problem.
I might be oversimplifying it, but I think that if we developed better content as marketers that engaged our audience and got results, there would be a lot more happy CEOs.
Content is misunderstood and undervalued by most executives. They don’t understand the impact of a well-designed and well-executed content strategy on their brand, lead generation and the overall way in which a customer views their business.
They do however wonder why their websites are not generating any leads. They wonder why after three years, a client leaves to go to a competitor. They wonder why they lost a deal.

The answer in all cases from a marketing perspective is: content, content, content.

If you’re not getting any calls from potential customers when someone lands on your website, it’s very likely that:

  1. Your value proposition is unclear
  2. Your value statements are not compelling
  3. Your copy does not address customer problems
  4. The organization of your content is confusing and hard to navigate

In other words, you have a bad strategy and bad content that is not helping a potential customer through the buying process.
If a client leaves you after three years to go to a competitor, likely it’s because you have done little to support continuous communications of the impact of your solution on their business goals. Things like a consistent blog strategy or customer email campaign will keep them engaged.
If you lost a deal to a competitor whose offer was of equal or lesser value to your product or service, chances are the competitor did a better job at the start of the buying process i.e. by using their content and online presence to help the prospect qualify and self-serve themselves.
Here’s why companies can’t stick their head in the sand any longer and avoid content marketing  buyer behavior has changed. Customers and potential customers (leads) expect more. People are no longer willing to put up with badly organized, hard to navigate websites and content that is product-centric and says nothing useful.
The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Report: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends compiled and issued by Marketing Profs, suggests that the use and development of, and budgets for content marketing is on the rise.
Of the more than 1,000 B2B marketers surveyed, here is how they are using content marketing:

  • Brand awareness  82%
  • Lead generation  74%
  • Customer acquisition 71%
  • Thought leadership 68%
  • Engagement  64%
  • Loyalty 57%
  • Lead management  47%
  • Sales  45%

Personally, I would like to see brand awareness drop way down the list and lead generation, customer acquisition and customer retention become the top drivers of content marketing.

But to use content marketing to achieve real and measurable business goals, you have to start here…

  1. You need to set goals. Even if your goal is brand awareness, you need to be clear on how you will achieve this and look at ways that you can actively measure how brand awareness supports specific business objectives.
  2. You need to make a commitment to content marketing. It is at least a 12 month exercise. It pays off big time, but you can’t write three blog posts a year and think you’ll get results. It’s a different mindset than “campaigning”.
  3. You need to create a content mission statement. Start with “why” you are doing this. Otherwise your content will bounce all over the place and be amusing for the writer and terrible for the reader you are trying to attract.

“Content marketing is a commitment not a campaign”, Ann Handly, CEO Marketing Profs.

For many of our clients who have made a 12 month commitment to an active and focused content marketing strategy, many are seeing very positive results with respect to their goals and objectives.

  • lowriefinancial.com. The goal was to build the database and add more subscribers to helpful investing content. They achieved that in 2013.
  • etgroup.ca. The goal was to share thought leadership on corporate and community collaboration strategies. They achieved that in 2013.
  • promys.com. The goal was lead generation and getting the right people into the pipeline. They achieved and are still achieving that goal.
  • grantek.com. The goals was lead nurturing. They achieved that and are still achieving that goal.

After you set goals and confirm how you want your content marketing plan to work in your business, you still need to do the heavy lifting of developing good content. For content to work, it has to be:

  • USEFUL: Customer-centric business problems and content designed from the perspective of the customer is packed with utility.
  • INSPIRATIONAL: Dry, boring technical content is something few people will read. More importantly, they won’t share it. For content to work, it has to inspire the reader.
  • HONEST: A reader will be drawn to your content – whether information on a web page or blog post – if you are honest and can sympathize with a particular customer’s challenges.

useful X enjoyable X inspired = Innovative Content**

So here are three simple ways to determine if your content is any good:

  1. Is it useful? Add a download or checklist to your next blog post and see if you can achieve a 1% conversion rate. This is a pretty good benchmark to set and this will let you know how helpful the content was for your target audience.
  2. Is it enjoyable? Look at the time on page for your web content and your last three blog posts. If you are achieving over three minutes of time on page, you have something.
  3. Is it inspired? You’ll know this right away based on click thru rates, if anyone commented or if anyone shared your content via social media. You can set simple benchmarks, but if no one has ever commented or shared a blog post, you have an issue. Hit the reset button on your content strategy now.

Make 2014 the year you develop an active content marketing program for your business. Set your goals. Create a content mission statement. Develop your content and start testing.
*Stats are courtesy of Kissmetrics and the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Report: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.
**Successful content, the formula, courtesy of Ann Handly, CEO Of Marketing Profs and the webinar, Jumpstart your 2014 Content Marketing Strategy.

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