This post follows part 1 which you can read here.
Tips for creating great content
Once you’ve defined your purpose and personas (as described in part 1), keep two principles in mind to help you create consistently valuable, relevant and engaging content.
First, stay on the common ground that you share with your persona – where your business purpose meets your persona’s concerns.
Second, offer specific answers to questions that occur to your personas during their buying journey – in other words when they try to solve the problems that your services can fix.
In my view the buyer journey simply reflects the steps a person takes to solve a problem. Michael Brenner says that a buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions to be answered. Think of these questions as extremely useful hooks from which you hang your content. Give great answers and your prospective buyers will love you.
I suggest you map out a buyer journey. Start by defining the stages followed to solve a problem. Here’s a simple three-stage model:
For each stage (aware, inform and decide – but you can define stages as you please) your content should cover:
- What questions does your persona have?
- What are the best answers to these questions?
- What actions should your persona take to make progress?
- How is your persona better off having read – or watched or listened to – this content than they were before?
If you think the buyer journey is equivalent to your pipeline stages then you’re half right. The main difference is that pipelines are normally a bit linear, with stages such as lead, suspect and prospect – while a buyer journey is meandering and unpredictable. Here’s a representation of a gloriously undecipherable and complicated buyer journey from Forrester Research.
Ledger Bennett DGA provides a much more straightforward and very useable buyer journey cheat sheet. Here’s a screen grab.
Would your persona say that your content is relevant, educational and in parts, appropriately surprising?
Does your content cover all stages of your persona’s buyer journey?
How is your persona better off after reading each piece of content?
Get your content seen
Marketo’s CMO, Sanjay Dholakia, talks about the ABC of customer engagement. It’s worth presenting it in full here (quoted by Forrester):
A – As individuals. This is all about moving from mass messaging to microsegmentation. And communicating using the channels buyers prefer individually.
B – Based on what they do. For marketers, this is about listening in and following the customers’ lead, whether in the physical or digital world.
C – Continuously over time. Recognize that customer relationships have a life cycle and needs change over time.
D – Directed toward an outcome. This is about recognizing that there are different outcomes that matter, especially when you focus on the customer’s outcome first.
E – Everywhere they are. Omni-channel, Internet of Things, contextual… all boil down to giving buyers what they want when/where they need it.
Part E is good advice but clearly very ambitious, so I suggest using only as many channels as you can cope with before adding more.
Make absolutely no assumptions about which channels will work for you. Pay attention to hard results and don’t rely on your intuition. It’s important to test specific channels in each of these three channel categories:
Different channels are effective for the different stages of a buyer journey. For instance, a series of blog posts and tweets may be the most effective channels to create awareness. A technical paper could be an appropriate way for your personas to inform themselves. And a checklist or comparison table may help a prospect decide how to solve their problem. Hootsuite provides more about channel categories.
What channels are you using to reach your audience?
How do you capture the performance of your content through each channel?
How do you analyse how each channel performs against expectations and time investment?
Which ones work well and which do not?
Should you push your content through any other channels?
Measure, test and improve
You won’t know what you’re doing right unless you measure and test which channels your audience is using and the results you’re getting.
First, identify and capture the meaningful, actionable metrics that tie specific and repeatable actions to observed results. Eric Ries (The Lean Startup) defines the three As of metrics:
- Accessible and
Avoid vanity metrics that offer no insight into your performance or what to do next. For instance, don’t count prospects that have been languishing in your pipeline for years. Pay closer attention to registrations and signs of interest rather than simply number of website visits.
Second, once you’re capturing results, you need a clear dashboard that provides a basis for interpreting them and running tests and tweaks to improve them. I will talk in more details about measuring and testing approaches in a later post.
What importance do you place on your metrics?
Does your leadership team see and discuss these metrics?
How do you adapt your activities when your results are changing?
Do you capture and track the right metrics? Do improvements in your metrics correspond to hard, meaningful business improvements? Which metrics are the most meaningful, and how?
The bigger and more active your marketing function, the more useful specific tools will be. Depending on the scale of your business, consider elements 1 to 4 below as your technology backbone, and element 5 as your secondary tools. They should interface well with each other, so you avoid manipulating data manually.
- CRM (customer relationship management) – keep and update information about your clients and prospects.
- MA (marketing automation) – automate communication and lead scoring across multiple channels.
- SP – (search platform) – search and keyword tools to get found online.
- CMS (content management system) – create, deploy, manage, store and personalise content.
- Secondary tools and technologies such as social media, web and email hosting, events tracking, calendars and schedules, project management, accounts and timekeeping.
What requirement do you have currently for marketing technology?
Which of these technologies do you use?
How can technology make your business more efficient and provide more insights?
I’m interested in know whether this post (both part 1 and 2) has been helpful. What thoughts and actions has it prompted? What works for you? What doesn’t work? What should you do more of? Less of? What should you stop doing altogether? And what should you start doing?
Please share this post or leave a comment.