With so much content already online these days, it is getting increasingly overwhelming at times to find a way to stand out and capture a target audience’s attention. Still, it is possible and depends on how you go about it from the start. For those who are already on their way, it’s about knowing when and how to adjust your strategy for higher success.
It’s true. Finding yourself in charge of content marketing can be challenging, whether you have previously gone down this path before or are brand new to the role.
Trust me, we have all been there and had to find our way. Because of this, I am sharing what I’ve learned about creating a successful content strategy in hopes that it can help you as well.
While you may have heard it before, the first consideration is always to develop well-defined content strategy goals.
Just like in your personal and professional lives, setting goals for your content marketing strategy, and defining where you want to go and how to get there, is an essential task before taking that first step upward on the stairway to success.
The Importance of Setting Goals for Your Content Strategy
Setting goals is a fundamental practice in many aspects of life, yet it often gets overlooked when it comes to content marketing. However, without defined goals, it becomes difficult to gauge progress and determine if you’re moving forward or in circles.
A recent survey from CoSchedule confirms the significance of setting goals for your content strategy. Marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report success, with 89% of goal-setting marketers achieving their goals some or most of the time. The remaining 8% may have neglected to document their goals.
Goals Give Your Content Marketing Strategy Direction
By creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals, content marketers have a roadmap for their marketing campaigns and the content they produce. When these goals align with the company’s overall business objectives, the content created serves a greater purpose.
Setting goals gives direction to your content marketing strategy. It helps you prioritize content creation and allocate your marketing budget effectively. Approaching content marketing without a plan is akin to taking the longest route to your destination. To make informed decisions, it’s crucial to have a well-defined content strategy that aligns with your company’s goals.
Content Marketing Goals Support Your Company Goals
Each piece of content you create should contribute to achieving your company’s larger business goals. Without clear goals, you won’t know if your content is leading you in the right direction or veering off course.
To ensure the success of your marketing goals, it’s essential to align them with the overarching company objectives. For instance, if your company aims to increase sales by 5% over the next 3 months, your content strategy goals should focus on lead generation or conversions that will help achieve that sales increase. Aligning content strategy goals with the overall business objectives keeps you on the right path.
While sales are an important metric, they shouldn’t be the sole focus of your content goals. Customer delight and retention are crucial for long-term business growth. It’s more cost-effective to retain existing customers than acquire new ones, and word-of-mouth referrals are highly influential in generating leads. While sales indicate business health, it’s important to prioritize customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Measuring Content Goals Helps You Determine Success (And Failure)
Measuring content goals is essential for determining success and identifying areas for improvement. Recognizing failure is as important as recognizing success. If you’re not on track to meet your goals, it allows you to take corrective action and adjust your strategy. On the other hand, achieving your goals provides valuable insights to inform future campaigns.
Setting goals for your content strategy not only provides a clear path to success but also empowers you to adapt and improve along the way.
How to Set Realistic Content Marketing Goals?
You know by now that goal-setting isn’t easy. And setting marketing goals or content strategy goals can be especially challenging for many businesses that don’t know where to start.
To take some of the mystery out of the content marketing goal-setting process, follow these steps below:
1. Use SMART Methodology for Setting Content Strategy Goals
SMART goals are crucial in content marketing strategy, ensuring effective goal setting. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here’s how it works:
- Specific Goals: Avoid vague language and use real data. For example, “5% higher engagement” instead of “more engagement.”
- Measurable Goals: Set goals that can be measured to track progress and determine success. For instance, “increase monthly web traffic by 5% within three months.”
- Attainable Goals: Strike a balance between challenging and realistic goals. Avoid being overly ambitious or too easily attainable.
- Relevant Goals: Align content goals with overall business objectives. Consider how the goal contributes to the company’s bottom line.
- Time-Bound Goals: Add a time component to make goals actionable and measurable. Set a specific timeframe for achieving the goals.
Example of a SMART Goal: “Increase sales of the Widget Pro Max by 10% in the upcoming fiscal year compared to the previous fiscal year.”
Adopting SMART goals in your content marketing strategy will provide a clear roadmap for success. Follow the SMART methodology and achieve better results in your content marketing efforts.
2. Understand Where You Are Right Now
To set realistic content strategy goals, it’s important to understand your current position. Whether you’re starting from scratch or already have existing content, conducting an analysis will guide your goal-setting process.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Evaluate Existing Content: If you haven’t implemented a content strategy yet, now is the perfect time to start. Take stock of what content you already have published. If you’ve been doing content marketing for a while, your catalog should be substantial.
- Analyze Engagement: Assess which pieces of content are attracting traffic and which ones are not. Identify any trends or weaknesses in the content that isn’t receiving sufficient visibility. Make note of these observations for later use.
- Assess Conversion: Examine how effective your content is in converting visitors into leads. Determine if your conversion rates are competitive within your industry. Similarly, evaluate how successful you are at converting leads into customers. If there’s room for improvement, you’ve identified an area for growth. Analyze both high-performing and underperforming content to identify patterns or weaknesses.
By understanding your current content strategy and its performance, you’ll be better equipped to set meaningful and achievable goals for your content marketing efforts.
3. Identify Your Current Needs
Before setting your content marketing goals, it’s crucial to analyze your current needs and align them with your business objectives.
While every business has unique needs, most marketers fall into three main categories: generating more website traffic, converting visitors to leads, or converting leads into customers. Identify which of these areas is most pressing for your business at this time.
Remember, setting narrower and more realistic goals is more effective than trying to improve everything simultaneously.
4. Establish Quantifiable Targets
Specific and measurable goals require a numeric component. Once you have determined your target area (let’s say it’s bringing in more visitors), it’s time to talk numbers.
There are various ways to express your goal, such as setting a specific number of new visitors per month (e.g., 1,000 new visitors) or aiming for a percentage increase (e.g., 5% growth in new visitors). You can even consider exponential growth targets, like 5x or 10x expansion.
The approach you choose depends on your business nature and growth stage. Startups often aim for exponential growth, while established players in competitive markets may focus on more conservative goals.
5. Establish a Target Date
Once you have chosen an area for growth, set a numerical target, and ensured it’s attainable and relevant, it’s time to commit to a date for goal completion.
Set a target date that is realistic and challenging but not impossible. Estimate the number of hours required to achieve the goal and consider potential obstacles.
If necessary, adjust the components of the goal to align with the timeline. Avoid setting goals that are too short-term or too easily achievable, as they lack aspiration or ambition.
6. Allocate Adequate Resources
Having a SMART marketing goal is not enough. To achieve success, you must allocate the appropriate resources. While this may seem obvious, many marketing teams fail to create a cohesive plan to meet their goals.
Determine the resource allocation required based on earlier steps. Allocate the necessary people and hours to accomplish the goal effectively.
If you realize that you lack the resources needed to achieve all your goals, revisit and adjust them to ensure they remain realistic.
7. Maintain Team Communication
Unless you’re a small business or solopreneur, achieving your content marketing goals typically involves a team effort. Whether your team comprises internal members or external freelancers, it’s crucial to follow up regularly.
Stay in touch with every team member, inspect their work, and provide guidance and support. Even if your team members are self-starters, your involvement is essential for the success of the process.
Having covered the goal-setting process, the next step is to assess your progress and determine the effectiveness of your goals.
How to Measure Your Content Strategy Results?
Putting a content marketing strategy in place is only as good as the results it brings back to you. Once in motion, it becomes a living strategy that needs monitoring, repeating, or modifying at points along the way.
Content planning is only the first hurdle to clear when it comes to strategy. While you may create exceptional content, either in-house or with the help of an experienced freelancer, what will matter is whether or not that content reaches and resonates with your current customers and target audiences.
To determine how content is performing and where it needs revisions, then, will require a monitoring and measuring approach, and that approach needs to include KPIs, Key Performance Indicators.
What are KPIs?
KPIs serve the role of quantifying the performance of your content within a specified timeframe, providing you with information as to whether or not you are reaching one of your specific objectives.
Not only will these KPIs help you monitor and evaluate your content performance or results, but they will aid you in making more informed decisions going forward and provide proof in defending your marketing budget spending.
KPIs are important to your organization because they can save you time and resources, narrow your focus to carefully culled targets, guide teams, establish milestones, and offer valuable insights.
While your content is at the heart of your strategy, there is another important piece of the puzzle. A successful strategy relies on finding and utilizing the most beneficial content distribution avenues, which you can also measure with KPIs.
KPIs will serve you well if you tightly tailor them to a specific target, objective, or goal. For example, if your marketing objective is to attract new customers, monitoring that KPI will provide you with the data you need to show whether or not the content is succeeding in drawing in new viewers and converting them into paying customers.
How to choose the best KPIs for your particular marketing strategy?
Start by examining your business goals, which apply to the big picture and the company’s needs overall. Now, align each KPI to one of these business goals.
Next, understand your marketing objectives, which are drilled-down versions of those overall business goals and formulated into steps. Here are some examples.
- If a business goal is to increase sales, your marketing objective may be to drive more quality traffic to your website. For this, you will need to create engaging content and find the best channels to distribute it. For your KPI, you may want to focus on website views per month, the percentage of returning site visitors, or conversion rates for website CTAs.
- If your business goal is building brand loyalty and increasing customer retention, filter these into your marketing strategy. Your measurable KPI may be retention rates or the percentage of repeat customers.
- If the aligned goals are to focus on building engagement with customers, your KPI metrics to measure can be centered on reach, impressions, the number of responses or comments, follower count, and likes or shares on your website or social media.
Which KPIs Align with Which Content Marketing Assets?
You can also use content marketing metrics to evaluate the success and quality of specific content asset types included in your content strategy. Here are some examples of KPIs that you can use for each type of content asset:
Social Media Posts
- Fans and followers
- Post reach
- Engagement and return on engagement
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate
- Opt-out rate
- Open rate
- Click-through rate
- Churn rate
- Delivery rate
Articles and Blog Posts
- Website traffic
- Traffic sources
- Geographical trends
- Unique visitors
- New visitors vs. returning visitors
- Average time spent on site, time spent on each page, and bounce rate
- Average number of page views and page views per visit
- Exit rate
- Mobile and desktop visitors
- Views and average view duration
- Unique viewers
- Traffic sources
- Click-through rates
- Likes, shares, and comments
- Ratings and reviews
Pay Per Click Campaigns
- Impressions and cost per impression
- Click-through rate
- Cost per click
- Conversions, conversion rate, cost per conversion
- Cost per sale
- Return on total campaign cost
Top Tools for Tracking Content Marketing KPIs
Tracking and analyzing data for your content marketing efforts may seem daunting, but with the right tools, it becomes much easier. Fortunately, there are several online tools available that simplify the process and provide valuable insights.
Here are some of the best tools to consider:
Google Analytics is a versatile and cost-effective tool, as it’s free to use. It offers powerful insights into your website’s metrics, allowing you to track and analyze various aspects of your content performance. Focus on key reports such as navigation summaries, traffic reports, conversion data, and organic search analysis to gather valuable marketing research information.
Facebook and Instagram Insights
If your content strategy includes social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, take advantage of their built-in analytical insights for businesses. These platforms provide valuable data on engagement, reach, and audience demographics, allowing you to assess the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.
HubSpot offers a comprehensive suite of customer relationship management tools. While some features require a subscription, they also provide free tools that can assist with content marketing analysis. HubSpot’s tools help you track leads, monitor website performance, and evaluate the success of your marketing efforts.
If you have a physical location for your business, consider integrating data collection into your daily workflow. Conduct customer surveys to gather information about the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, employee sales performance, and customer retention. Including in-person traffic and sales data in your content marketing metrics will provide a holistic view of your strategy’s success.
6 Content Marketing Goals to Get Started
Now that you understand the importance of setting content goals, let’s take a look at some examples of possible content marketing strategy goals.
Although overall goals for your business and marketing may be to attract prospects, increase business from current customers, and create sales, there are many factors that go into that equation. You might need to gain the attention of your prospective target audience, remind customers of your company’s strengths, or provide detailed product usage instructions.
This can all be accomplished in various ways through a goal-based content marketing strategy. Whether your content is educational or entertaining, short-form or long-form, basic or in-depth, potential goals for content creation might include:
1. Build brand awareness
The age-old philosophical question asks: if a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s there to hear it, does it actually make a sound? In a similar vein, if nobody knows about your business, does it truly exist?
Thus, the primary objective of content marketing is to put your brand on the map and create brand awareness. Without awareness, potential customers cannot make informed decisions about your products or services. You’ve got to make some noise!
The challenge and opportunity lie in creating content that stands out from the crowd and leaves a lasting impact on viewers. This can be achieved through various means such as comical advertisements, video clips perfectly synchronized with catchy songs and inventive visuals, or even something simple yet memorable.
Once high-quality content is produced, the game shifts to effectively marketing it.
Building brand awareness is equally essential for startups and established businesses. In today’s rapidly shifting consumer landscape, it is vital to showcase your brand in a unique way that resonates with potential customers. Failure to do so risks losing market share to competitors.
Considering the importance of brand awareness, it is not an exaggeration to view it as both the initial and ongoing goal of content marketing. When leads remember hearing about or encountering your brand, whether through content or conversations with their peers, they are more likely to trust your brand compared to one they have never heard of.
To measure your strategy’s effect on brand awareness, track the following KPIs:
- Website traffic
- Page, video, and document views
- Referral links
- Social chatter/share of voice/mentions
2. Educate your target audience
In every business journey, obstacles and challenges are inevitable, making the relationship between companies and their clients crucial for maintaining an overall upward trajectory. At the core of this relationship lies clarity, and content marketing serves as a powerful tool for providing that clarity and educating both current and potential customers.
Your content can serve as a visual representation of the benefits your product offers, delving into the details and shedding light on secondary and tertiary advantages that clients may not have been previously aware of.
It allows you to address any misconceptions about your product, service, or the broader market landscape, enabling customers to better understand your mission. By offering pertinent statistics, discussing market trends, or sharing how your business strives to make a positive impact, you empower customers with knowledge.
Knowledge is indeed power, and the more your customers comprehend your business, offerings, mission, and position in the market, the stronger their connection with your brand becomes.
Educating your target audience goes beyond just providing product information. While that is essential for current customers and those nearing the end of the sales funnel, it is equally important to educate customers about their problems and pain points. Help them gain a deeper understanding of potential solutions and guide them in selecting the right solution for their needs.
Education not only guides consumers through the buyer’s journey, bringing them closer to conversion, but it also establishes your brand as an industry expert. By demonstrating your expertise and sharing valuable insights, you build trust and credibility, positioning your brand as a go-to resource in your field.
This, in turn, strengthens the bond between your brand and customers, paving the way for long-term relationships and potential sales opportunities.
3. Attract new customers
Attracting new customers is a fundamental goal of content marketing, but it encompasses more complexity than meets the eye. In the digital realm, data plays a pivotal role as it precedes customers and leads. While some individuals may instantly engage with your content and become customers, the primary focus of content marketing is to generate leads.
When you release an advertisement, potential customers interact with the content at varying levels. They may watch a video, visit your website, or sign up for your email list. Each interaction generates valuable data and brings them closer to becoming a customer. For instance, someone who subscribes to your email list can now be targeted with a special sign-up offer.
Content marketing has the power to attract customers across a spectrum, from immediate commitments to mild interest. By effectively deploying content marketing strategies, you cast a wide net, gather data, and generate prospects, ultimately leading to the acquisition of more customers.
Measure your success with the following KPIs:
- Click-through rate
- Email/blog subscriptions
- Social media follows
- Form completions
- Conversion rate
- Online and offline sales conversion rates
- Trends in sales cycle length
- Sale/contract size with and without content
4. Improve your SEO
Standing out from the competition is a key theme in content marketing, aiming to increase brand awareness and foster loyalty. Establishing a strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) presence is integral to achieving this goal.
When users search for your product, service, or relevant keywords, you want your brand to appear at or near the top of the search results. Engaging digital content enhances your chances of ranking higher in search engine queries. Posting high-quality, unique, compelling, and SEO-optimized content improves your visibility in search engine results.
To improve your reputation with search engines, it’s essential to adopt the right approach to creating optimized content. While keywords remain important, the focus now shifts to delivering valuable content that meets users’ needs and interests. Search engines prioritize serving users the most relevant and valuable content. If your content fails to address your audience’s needs, it risks being overshadowed by the vast amount of content available online.
By producing quality content that resonates with your target audience and aligns with their search queries, you enhance your SEO efforts and increase the likelihood of ranking higher in search engine results pages.
To measure the success of your content, track these key content marketing metrics:
- Website/blog visitors per period of time
- Returning reader rate
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Call-to-action content conversion rate
5. Deepen customer relationships and foster brand loyalty
Acquiring new customers is undoubtedly an accomplishment, but equally crucial is the ability to maintain existing customers. A well-known adage suggests that satisfied customers are the best source of referrals. A client or customer who willingly extols the benefits of your products or services carries more credibility than any marketing message you create.
Despite this, many companies tend to overlook the importance of serving their existing customers when developing their content strategies. The focus often leans towards generating more leads and conversions, neglecting those who already know, like and trust their brand.
Building stronger relationships with your current customer base is the key to encouraging repeat business and referrals, which are vital for sustaining a thriving enterprise. One effective method of achieving this is by cultivating a sense of brand loyalty—a deep-rooted feeling of pride and commitment toward the company.
Brand loyalty thrives when continuous value is provided to customers, and content marketing serves as an ideal conduit for delivering that value.
For example, crafting emails that feature authentic stories of customers positively impacted by your services can help solidify their commitment to a brand they already believe in. Such narratives, filled with genuine and transformative experiences, strengthen the emotional connection between customers and your brand.
By consistently delivering valuable content to existing customers, you demonstrate your commitment to their satisfaction and reinforce their loyalty. This proactive approach not only fosters long-term relationships but also encourages customers to advocate for your brand, driving further growth and success.
Your content can also serve as a source of enjoyment and usefulness for your audience, enriching their lives beyond the core focus of your business.
Consider sending monthly emails that address aspects of happiness, demonstrating your genuine concern for your customers’ well-being. Furthermore, leveraging content marketing allows you to run giveaways or contests, giving your customers a chance to win prizes and celebrating your dedicated customer base.
The possibilities are endless, but content marketing remains a powerful tool for showcasing value and fostering brand loyalty.
To evaluate how well your content helps you hold onto the customers you’ve already drawn in, keep tabs on these handy KPIs:
- Percentage of content viewed by existing customers
- Percentage of repeat sales to returning customers
- Renewal rates
- Sales and conversion rates on new products and services
- Customer engagement and click-through rates for content on new products and services
6. Engaging with Customers
Your customers play a crucial role in your business’s success, impacting revenue and providing valuable feedback. They inform you about what they appreciate, dislike, and desire in your product or service. Essentially, they serve as both end-users and a research and development team.
Why not actively involve your customer base in driving your business’s success? Utilize content marketing to engage with them and invite their participation in shaping your company’s story. Seek feedback, conduct polls, and host Q&A sessions to foster meaningful interactions with your supporters.
This approach yields twofold benefits. Firstly, you gain valuable insights into your strengths, areas for improvement, and customer preferences. Armed with this feedback, you can adapt and enhance your business to better serve your audience. Secondly, involving customers creates a stronger sense of connection and loyalty. When customers have a chance to contribute, they become more invested in your business’s journey.
Ultimately, this results in a better business with a loyal customer base and an enhanced reputation. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.
You can measure the engagement and the quality of your content by tracking the following metrics for each piece of content you distribute:
- Inbound links
- Click-through rate
Content marketing today is exciting yet complex. Successful outcomes are possible as long as you know how to build a foundation and stay strong in your approach.
The best thing you can do for your team and your company is to start with a strategic plan, a plan with defined content marketing goals to steer you onto the right track and keep you moving forward at a steady, and sometimes, accelerated pace.
To recap, formulate those goals using the SMART methodology. Develop KPIs that align with both the overall business goals and your marketing objectives and include definitive targets to help you understand the measured results.
While every company is different, you can apply some of the most common goals to fit your needs and get rolling faster.
Finally, don’t just set KPIs and forget them. Start out with just one or two to monitor, then add as you go. Bring your entire team on board, devoting appropriate resources, then schedule a time to follow up to see where you are.
At the heart of everything you do, however, is the quality of your content. Writer Access can help you scale that quality content production so you see results faster. Why not take advantage of the 14-day Writer Access trial and get a feel for how the process works and the value each writer can provide? With professional writers providing you with the content you need, you can focus on marketing objectives, measuring KPIs, and finding the paved route to success for your company.
Sarah Jane Burt is Sr. Content Strategist at WriterAccess. For the past decade, she’s helped brands big and small, from tech giant IBM to the local plumber, tell their stories and create strategies for customer-driven content. When she’s not working on developing and implementing our content strategy, she’s writing blog posts that help demystify content marketing and strategy for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and enterprise content teams.