The 3 Factors That Drive Content Marketing Success

3 factors content marketing successPeople ask me all the time how I find time to write and share. I have already shared some of my top tips in the above links and this older one. But one of my biggest secrets is that I don’t spend nearly as much time writing as you might think. I am opportunistic with re-purposing the content I already create. When I give a presentation, I almost always upload it to my Slideshare or YouTube pages. Then I use my speaker notes to create a blog post that links to or embeds that content, like here. When I get asked a question or questions via email, I try to turn that answer into a quick blog post. So this is one of those posts, resulting from a request for my top 3 factors that drive content marketing success.

You Know I Love My Job!

I worked inside and across one very large brand. I have talked to every single person in the content marketing industry I could find, since I started this journey. And recently have been fortunate enough to speak to many more brand marketers about the challenges they face in executing an effective brand strategy. Across all those conversations and observations, a few very important factors have emerged on what drives effective content marketing strategy. These have been validated by research from the Content Marketing Institute, Sirius Decisions, MarketingProfs and others. So this is nothing new. But this is what I’ve seen as being the most important factors driving content marketing success. And the three most important ways content marketing should be measured.

Documented Content Marketing Strategy

It all starts with having a documented content strategy that starts with the why, and then works through the who, the what, the how, and the when of the brands content marketing efforts. It can get really complicated from there but for the definitive guide, all you need to do is check out Joe Pulizzi’s approach to creating a content marketing mission statement. The simple overview: define what you will do, for whom, and what benefits will accrue to the audience and to the brand.

Someone In Charge Of Content Marketing

The second most important factor to content marketing success is having a person in charge with the authority and the budget to tell amazing stories. This person needs to be able to understand how to utilize limited resources to publish and share great content. And also needs to know how to translate that into results the business can understand. The content marketing lead also needs to be able to push back on the business’ natural tendency to want to talk about itself. That is why the person, their budget and their authority are all so important. Important Caveat: this does not mean the content marketing lead owns all content efforts across the firm. We could (and I will write) a whole different post on that. But this person needs to create a center of excellence that acts as a service to the rest of the business but also holds the business accountable to content success.

Content Meets All Stages Of The Buyer Journey

The third piece is making sure content production hits all stages of the buyer journey – from start to finish. Most brands are seriously overweighted at the bottom of the funnel. And they miss huge opportunities to meet new customers at the point of need. This also usually means that a large portion of the content that gets produced by the business goes completely unused. As much as 70% of content created by businesses goes completely unused, according to Sirius Decisions. This points to the conclusion that content marketing does not need to always find new budget. It just needs to find the pockets of waste inside the content creation machine and focus those efforts across the buyer journey.

How To Measure Content Marketing Success?

All content marketing measurement efforts have to balance across the main objectives of reach, engagement and conversion. We can’t just count page views and call it a day. Even time on site and social sharing don’t go far enough. Brands need to measure and improve those stats but also need to continuously optimize on conversion. Conversion includes things the business can count and where it can measure real value. So when it comes to content marketing measurement, think both volume and track that to the value it brings to the business. Page views may not have direct value. But if you earned a visit to your website from a prospect, what would it have cost you to buy that same visit via a banner or paid search? You can do this across all the measures of your content marketing efforts. This is what I’m seeing. What factors do you see driving content marketing success?

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

3 thoughts on “The 3 Factors That Drive Content Marketing Success

  1. Thanks for Posting Michael. And I know you love your job! A team that works together to clearly document their strategy will play a key role in the content marketing success. Thanks for identifying implementation from a team/organizational/process standpoint.

  2. Michael, I agree completely with all three points you raise – especially the need to produce content for all stages of the buying process and engage buyers very early on in their journey. I would add that it’s also necessary to reach them even before there is an identified need.

    As a buyer persona consultant, I’ve interviewed many buyers about their purchasing decision. Roughly 65% have told me that at the point where they’ve made a decision to look for a solution to their problem, they’re already aware of the vendors they’re going to look into. Either because they would only consider the largest vendors to begin with, or they’ve already done business with these vendors at some point, or they’ve learned about these vendors as part of their on-going effort to stay up-to-date with technology solutions and industry trends.

    So it’s important for vendors to make sure that their content / thought leadership is included in or covered by the key resources buyers trust and use to educate themselves on an on-going basis. That means industry associations, conferences / events, analysts, trade publications, blogger community, user groups, etc.

    And of course, if they read a bad review from a user group, that will influence their decision. So in my opinion, content marketing efforts should continue even after the sale to help promote user adoption, satisfaction and advocacy!

    1. Great points Gordana. Content marketing is so different from traditional marketing mainly because it needs to be continuous and always-on, just like we are always connected and consuming information as consumers ourselves.

      I totally agree that it should extend well before the point of need and all the way through until well after the point of sale.

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