Expectations vs. Reality: Building A Content Marketing Strategy

By Rachel Lambert

KEY TAKEAWAY

As marketers, we know that expectations don’t often line up with reality and building a content marketing strategy is no exception. In this new endemic era, personalization, quality, trust and collaboration are the central focus of most marketing strategies and are especially relevant when it comes to building a content marketing strategy.

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In any scenario, expectations don’t always live up to reality, and building a content marketing strategy is no different. Taking the time to produce quality content, address your audience’s pain points, and working collaboratively are all key parts of the recipe for content marketing success. Here are some realities of building a content marketing strategy to consider as you prepare your content plan. 

Expectation: Quantity is greater than quality when it comes to content.

Reality: Marketing is no longer just a numbers game when it comes to content.

Quality should always take priority over quantity. Purpose is the north star of any project and will keep your brand top of mind for readers who are searching for simple and straightforward solutions to their pain points. As a content marketer, you should always ask yourself: What value does this — fill in the blank: blog, ebook, webinar  — provide to my audience? 

With more digital noise in today’s marketing landscape than ever before, we as marketers must develop authentic, meaningful, and compelling perspectives in order to genuinely connect with our audiences. If you are creating content just for the sake of creating content, purpose gets lost and quality goes down the drain. Publishing a few well thought out pieces of content is much more impactful than creating a hundred pieces of lackluster content. Take the time to sit down, research, and write about a topic your audience will care about. Let this stat inspire you:

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Bloggers who put six or more hours of work into each post on average are far more likely to report strong results [relative to the blogger’s goals].

-Orbit Media

Wouldn’t you rather read one rich blog post with the answers to all of your questions than five short blog posts with no takeaways? Creating unique and informative content is worth the time it takes to develop it. Readers will appreciate your time and effort and continue to engage with your brand. Before you feel overwhelmed at this seemingly daunting task, consider this next point.

Expectation: Content creation should be done completely in-house.

Reality: External collaboration is a powerful tactic to ensure well-rounded perspectives.

While tapping into your company’s in-house subject matter experts is a compelling strategy to gather credible research and establish thought leadership, external resources should also be leveraged to ensure well-rounded perspectives. Calling on marketing partners to collaborate on content ideation, production, and distribution is a powerful content strategy that also strengthens business relationships.
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Bringing in external copywriters, editors, content creators, subject matter experts, and others can help you gather fresh ideas and prevent burnout within your team. Collaboration, both in-house and externally, is absolutely imperative to delivering an impactful and sustainable content marketing strategy. But how does collaboration look in the new endemic era?

Expectation: Content marketing strategies are the same now as they were pre-pandemic.

Reality: The current endemic era has caused a shift in the content marketing landscape.

There is no doubt that many things have changed from pre-pandemic to now. From shifts in the workplace to lifestyle changes, we’ve learned to be agile in many areas of life, and content marketing is no different.

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“58 percent of B2B content marketers said their content marketing strategy is moderately or slightly different now versus pre-pandemic.”

-Content Marketing Institute

To begin, we all know digital has been on the rise over the past decade, but the pandemic caused an abrupt, accelerated shift. With a large number of employees working remotely, we have seen a growing need to stay in front of people digitally. More and more businesses are hopping on the digital content marketing train, making it increasingly difficult to stand out among competitors. This has created a monumental challenge for content marketers: How do we create meaningful content that resonates with readers across a wide range of platforms without reiterating what our competitors have said?

Expectation: Audiences are only looking for unique perspectives.

Reality: Audiences are seeking practical, actionable content.

Knowing who your audience is and serving them content they not only want, but need, is key to fostering positive relationships and deep trust with consumers. It is impossible to resonate with every single audience, so honing in on the interests of a few key personas is essential to ensure your content is practical and actionable. 

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While sharing unique perspectives can help your business stand out in the content-saturated universe, today’s readers demand authenticity and content that they can act on. Let the core of your content strategy be the desire to address and help solve your audience’s pain points. Offering unique perspectives can certainly garner attention, but serving consistent, practical content to a targeted audience will serve your business and customers best in the long run.

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56% of brands that developed formal customer engagement strategies reported exceeding their revenue goals in 2020.

Braze 2021 Global Customer Engagement Review

Expectation: Audiences will become leads the moment they read the content.

Reality: Lead generation typically takes multiple touchpoints.

At a minimum, publishing content helps build brand awareness, credibility, and loyalty. But what if you took your strategy one step further? Using your content to capture leads through tailored nurture campaigns is a clever way to share knowledge, prove your businesses’ value, and measure ROI in relation to your overall marketing goals.
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However, lead conversion is hardly ever immediate. Achieving results from content marketing takes a long-term strategy and multiple touchpoints. Gating content, such as ebooks, whitepapers, and other pieces of content that appeals to audiencescan help your business easily capture top-of-funnel leads that your team can nurture over time
 
Create a simple form asking for their name, email address, and any other relevant information that populates upfront before users can download your content. Next, sort the gathered leads into a personalized pipeline and add them to a post-download nurture campaign that sends them content that relates to the piece they downloaded, along with emails and information that spotlight products and services that can help them act on the best practices you’ve given them in the content. 

Aligning your sales and marketing teams allows a variety of voices to bolster your lead generation touch points. Work with your sales representatives to create and automate personal messages designed to move leads down the sales funnel, increasing the chances that they will eventually convert. And lastly, leverage data such as website traffic and email clicks to continuously improve post-download engagement tactics and plan future content. The moral of the story: don’t be discouraged when you don’t see leads pouring in right away. Building relationships with content leads takes time!

In Conclusion

Producing quality content, addressing your audience’s pain points, and working collaboratively are all key parts of the recipe for content marketing success. If you’re feeling apprehensive, the best thing you can do is simply get started, using these realities as your guiding light.
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