Should I write a blog? An ebook? Host a webinar? All of the above? The world of content marketing can be hard to navigate. There are so many options, but we often work on limited budgets and tight timeframes. Here are a few ways to ensure you are getting the most out of each piece of content you create.
To do that, you need to be able to answer a few critical questions for each asset or for each initiative you are executing.
1. Who am I targeting?
This is probably the most critical question that you must answer before putting time and energy into new content. Otherwise you are just throwing an arrow blindly down a hallway and hoping it hits a target. Nobody has time or money to waste on blind efforts.
If you are creating an asset as part of a campaign, you have likely built out one or more buyer personas that you are targeting and have uncovered critical information such as:
Job Role (if B2B)
Income level/Marital Status (if B2C)
Where they consume information (LinkedIn, TV, Facebook, magazines, etc)
How they consume information (Digital, print, mobile, communities, forums, etc)
Who contributes to their buying decisions (peers, influencers, etc)
What keeps them up at night?
Once you've developed a solid understanding of the buyer you are targeting, you can begin mapping out the type of content and messaging that will resonate with them.
2. Where in the buyer journey will they be when they reach this asset?
Each asset that you create should be designed to answer a specific question based on where we expect people to be in their buying journey by the time they reach that particular asset. For example, social media content, blogs, infographics, and vlogs are often of the educational nature because we know that it will be primarily those who are new to the space, trying to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, or those looking to build their expertise who will be consuming this content.
Alternatively, a course, trial, assessment or ROI calculator will be designed for someone who is far more engaged with your product and brand and may be considering a purchase.
Where in your buyer journey do you currently have gaps? Where are people falling off? What questions do your prospects have that you do not have a piece of content to help answer? This is where your new content development efforts should be focused.
3. Is this a high-value asset? Should it be gated?
It is important that you have a range of content and, when it comes to putting a piece of content behind a registration, not all content is created equal. Before gating an asset, consider a few things:
Is this asset actionable and providing real value to my audience?
Are my competitors providing similar information? Are they requiring registration?
Have we made it clear what the value of this asset is?
Is it a long-form asset?
Generally, certain types of assets that tend to be of higher value and that are providing more actionable insights will be gated. This typically includes webinars, courses, whitepapers, checklists, etc. Gating enables you to better understand where buyers are in their journey and what their interest level is in your product or service. Since gated assets are usually later in the buyer journey, if someone is ready to provide their information, they are more invested.
4. Should I talk about my products in every asset?
The short answer to this question is no. We know it can be challenging to think about spending time or money on creating content that does not blatantly promote your products or services. After all, if I am not spending my marketing budget on marketing my business, how can I justify it?
Credibility and thought leadership in your industry and market cannot be bought and it is critical to success. To create great thought leadership content, you must do your best to avoid blatant promotion of your products or services. In this type of content, primarily in the form of blogs, videos, social assets, infographics, and community posts, you want to focus on:
Critical pain points your consumers face
Answering common questions
Engaging in conversations with your network
Giving “insider insight” into your company, values and practices
Once you have progressed prospects beyond the awareness and educational phase, then you can begin introducing your competitive differentiation.
5. What is the ideal length of this asset?
Length of an asset will vary based on several factors (audience, platform, message, distribution, etc) but there are general best practices to follow when creating different pieces of content. Here are a few:
Blog: 1500-2000 words
Explainer Video (“What is…?”): 30-60 seconds
Tutorial/Demo Video (Showcasing a product or feature): 60-90 seconds
Podcast: 22-26 minutes
Webinar: 36 minutes
Whitepaper: 6-8 pages
Data/Fact Sheet: 1-2 pages
Ebook: should be able to read through in less than 10 minutes
These numbers will vary - what is most important is that you use the right format to maximize conversion and engage your audience.
6. What goal is this asset trying to achieve?
Another key question to ask yourself is what the ideal action will be from this asset. If it is a social post, you probably want them to click on the link in the post to view the content you are promoting. If it is a blog, what is the message you are sending and where can people go for more information on that topic. If it is a webcast, will a salesperson follow up with them to set them up with a demo or consultation?
Never create an asset that does not have a purpose. Never publish an asset that does not have a next-best action. Unless your sole goal of creating content is entertainment – which not many of us have the luxury of! – you want to ensure your time and budget is put to good use. If people are coming to you for information, help create that journey for them. Become that voice of expertise that always seems to have the answer to their most pressing questions.
It doesn't have to be overwhelming – here’s a cheat sheet
Content marketing strategy and development does not need to be an overwhelming task. Like anything in life, it gets much simpler when you have a plan, set reasonable expectations, and focus on quality over quantity.
To help you do just that, we have developed this content cheat sheet – in one page, we show what type of asset is ideal based on where in the buyer journey your customers are, best practices for what types of assets should be gated, when and where you should talk about products in your marketing, and more.
Ready to start creating better content? Get your cheat sheet now!