Why is my content marketing failing?
Robert Rose, “the godfather of content marketing,” gets this question all the time.
Because your content strategy is all over the place!
Robert has found that 35% of content marketers don’t have a documented strategy, and only 20% know what content success would even look like.
In comparison, 90% of successful content marketers all share 1 thing: audience-centric content, written as part of a well-documented strategy.
Now, make no mistake — it’s much easier said than done. Delivering high-value, customer-centric content is harder, more expensive, and less efficient than producing generic content.
But if you’re willing to invest in it, content marketing can also be the most valuable asset in the business.
If you’re up for the challenge, Robert is here to break down the 3-step process you need to revolutionize your content marketing strategy.
By the end, you will have a scalable content model with a focused strategy and measurable returns.
But first, why bother with content marketing at all?
It comes down to one thing: TRUST.
Content can develop trust earlier in the funnel than any other marketing channel. And in today’s world, trust is everything.
As you can see, trust in mainstream institutions is on the decline:
In this growing vacuum, companies have the opportunity to become a trusted source of information for their consumers — and the best way to do that is with valuable content.
As you work through the following three steps, remember: the ultimate goal of your content is, and always will be, to build consumer trust.
Are you ready to dive in?
HOW TO: Build a focused, measurable content strategy to drive growth and win trust
1. Evolve your content model — enough with the content vending machine
There are 4 content strategy models. The “player model” is the content vending machine — a small team producing content for the entire company. This model lacks purpose, focus, and is entirely unscalable.
Identify which of the other three models works best for your company and pivot your content strategy purposefully towards it, otherwise you’ll get stuck in the “center of confusion” →
A. Performer model: Use your content to build specific audiences that can then be monetized.
- Example: John Deere’s print magazine, The Furrow. You can only subscribe through an equipment dealer, meaning that as they grow their subscriptions, they give dealers a list of qualified leads in their area that can now be marketed to directly.
B. Platform model: Make your content a revenue-generating department in its own right.
- Example: In addition to being the main marketing arm, Redbull Media House sells ads, sponsorships and content at greater margins than their actual drink.
C. Processor model: Help each part of the business optimize their own content, even if that means not specifically creating any content yourself.
- Example: 3M has a dedicated team of specialists that train their regional teams on how to become better content creators in their respective parts of the business.
2. Decide which element of the customer journey your content will optimize
The biggest mistake you can make is trying to build a blog or resource center that addresses the entire customer journey. You need to focus your content on optimizing a single element.
You’re probably familiar with the customer journey infinite loop →
Now break it down into three parts and ask yourself, in which element can your content add the most value.
Is it in building new audiences at the top of the funnel? Is it in enabling leads to self-discover your product? Or is it in creating additional experiences to increase return customers? →
Now devote your content to optimizing that single step. This choice may be the hardest part of the entire process, but without it, your content will fail and you’ll be left wondering why.
3. Identify specific business outcomes to measure success, either in revenue gained or cost saved
Effective content teams can measure their exact ROI. There are 4 main ways content can add value, each with their own quantifiable business outcomes →
A. Campaign: Directly save money by lowering the cost of lead acquisition through content
- Metrics: lead quantity, lead quality, organic traffic, ad conversion rates, brand awareness
- Example: Monster’s career advice center is specifically optimized for SEO and now drives 20% of their overall traffic at a 65% conversion rate. Without the publication, their 48,000 new members would have cost $3 million to acquire.
B. Cash: Directly drive revenue by creating content with its own revenue model
- Metrics: Revenue opportunity, offset marketing costs, partnership opportunities
- Example: Fold Factory is an paper-folding company whose weekly series is so popular that they sell video sponsorships.
C. Competency: Indirectly save money by boosting your own consumer understanding, thereby lowering costs in other areas of the business.
- Metrics: media buy effectiveness, improved marketing database, customer insights, decrease costs for product development
- Example: Avionics produces some of the top content within the aviation industry. They analyze their content performance to help companies identify consumer interest and preference trends.
D. Customer: Indirectly drive revenue by teaching existing users to be better customers
- Metrics: consumer retention, consumer loyalty, WOM marketing, net promoter score
- Example: Ameritrade is an online broker. Their print magazine, thinkMoney, provides stock traders with the most up-to-date strategies and tools in the business. These educated readers then turn around and become higher-value, longer-lasting customers.
So how do you know which value-add option to measure?
While not perfect, these four categories generally tend to align with the customer journey. So depending on where you decided to put your focus in step 2, that will overlay on the value-add you should measure for your content.
For example, if you’re creating top-of-funnel content, you should start by measuring competency →
And with that, you now have 1) a strong content operation model, 2) a focused content strategy, and 3) specific business outcomes to measure your success.