The new year brings an opportunity to step back and reflect on your accomplishments. Take inventory of what you’ve done, celebrate your successes, and evaluate what you should change. When it comes to content strategy, the end of a fiscal year is the perfect time to assess what you want to change.
Allow yourself to ask a few difficult questions. Are you delivering concrete value to the business? Is your content speaking to the right people? Is it covering the topics they care about through the channels and media they engage in?
Answering those questions requires you to do some research and outreach, initiate conversations, and take action on what they reveal to you. Willingness to do that puts you on the cutting edge. Seriously, it does!
Only slightly more than half of organizations have a content marketing strategy. And 64 percent of content marketers aren’t satisfied with their organization’s ability to measure content performance.
That’s another way of saying there is a lot we don’t know about whether we are making an impact.
Given that, your next-gen content strategy should start with a priority-driven, five-step process.
Step 1: Align your content marketing strategy around business goals.
We hear all the time that we need to align our content priorities to business goals. Yet it doesn’t always happen. It’s not because we don’t want content to align. It’s a direct result of the pressure to keep up the content cadence and produce. This pressure often leads us away from our higher-level goals. It’s also common for content teams to become reactive to the requests of important executives.
To avoid that disconnect, I like to follow one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People coined by Steven Covey and “begin with the end in mind.” Start by aligning the organization’s annual goals with your objectives.
For example, say you work for a healthcare provider, and one of your organizational goals is to increase telehealth use by 50 percent. As a result, you may make “digital adoption for the health consumer” one of your content pillars for the year. Alternatively, if you work for a personal investment organization looking to grow assets under management by 20 percent for Gen Z investors, you may need to create and deliver content for Gen Z personas.
Organizations often have more goals than you can integrate into a single content plan, given available resources. That’s okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The point is to start building the content strategy by aligning with key goals for the business.
Step 2: Decide what content marketing success looks like and how to measure it.
Content metrics help you better understand what is working (and what isn’t) to drive measurable results. Metrics also help you communicate your success to senior executives. To determine the right metrics to share, you’ll need to know what content marketing success looks like and what metrics matter most to your leaders.
Don’t avoid determining your success metrics ahead of time. If your content doesn’t fulfill those terms, it’s important to stay accountable to those metrics, so you understand what went well and what didn’t. These measurements help you learn so you can improve your content strategy moving forward.
Defining success ensures everyone has the same understanding of the goals.
In the long run, this helps you engage and communicate with your stakeholders. What does success look like? Let’s go back to the business goal for the health provider in step 1. Your content plan for driving engagement and leads for telehealth could be grounded in:
- Current rates of telehealth use today
- Which customer segments are using/not using it
- What is currently driving/not driving its adoption for these groups
The answers likely vary by customer segment or behavior, which has consequences for the content you create and how you measure its impact.
For example, if you know people who have an office visit are more likely to use telehealth within six months than those who haven’t, you might decide to create a pamphlet that offices can distribute to explain the benefits of telehealth and how to use it.
While this could be an effective strategy, print is very hard to track. You’ll never know if a patient even looked at the pamphlet, let alone if it influenced them. But if you include a QR code to schedule a telehealth appointment on the pamphlet, you have at least one way to measure that content’s impact on those who engaged with the print pamphlet. The trick is to think through the metrics you’ll need so you have the QR code built in.
Step 3: Align with business partners to identify the subjects your audience cares about.
Content marketers rarely get to interact directly with customers, which can create a disconnect between the content plans and the topics that customers and prospects care about. Your customer’s pain points should provide one input into your content marketing strategy for the year.
You can use customer data to identify subject areas to integrate into the content plan. That data can come from marketing data analytics about the content that engaged visitors. Marketers can also use customer sentiment data from social listening campaigns or data mined from customer service channels.
Seek out partners in other areas of the business as well. Sales leaders know better than anyone where they hit speed bumps in their ability to convert a prospect into a customer. Partner with customer service leaders as well, as they may have insights into the issues that affect the customer experience.
Finally, content needs to cultivate strong partnerships with other parts of the marketing organization—such as lead generation, public relations, and paid media/advertising—to align content priorities to goals for lead generation and brand awareness.
Step 4: Select next-generation content tactics and experiment.
Every year, new content tactics emerge to help content marketers engage our audiences. Whether it’s a newer platform like TikTok, the ever-changing techniques needed to rank high on search engine results pages (SERP) using search engine optimization, or a trending medium like short-form video for elevating engagement, content marketers need to leave some capacity for new ideas and experiments.
In 2023, the new, big thing in content will be generative AI for content generation. AI content generators for text and images are becoming key content marketing team members. These tools are already here, and people are already using them. Questions remain about how enterprises will ensure their content is accurate and ethical to use, but that hasn’t stopped experimentation. The next-gen content marketing strategy will include AI as a key resource. And we all need to learn where it helps our workflows.
Content personalization will also continue to climb up the priority list of next-generation marketers in 2023. Customer data and analytics are maturing at the same time as customers are more inundated with digital messages. Marketers will solve that disconnect by leveraging customer data to personalize their communications and capture attention from high-value segments.
Step 5: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
You can’t do everything. There will always be more goals, more metrics, more topics your stakeholders will want you to write about, and more content tactics than a single team can effectively cover in one year. To prioritize:
- Choose a select few content goals to excel at. Use a two-by-two matrix to map all your identified content initiatives along the dimensions of business impact (y-axis) and level of effort (x-axis). Then select a realistic collection to work on that year. As a group, they should be challenging but achievable, connect directly to business goals, and be relevant beyond the immediate quarter or calendar year. Beyond defining your current priorities, use the same matrix to identify a smaller group of “not now” initiatives that you can elevate should plans change, or you need to pivot.
- Add more only when and if you’ve rocked your priorities and have extra capacity. Remember that it is far better to have done a few things well than a lot poorly. Leverage those success metrics you define with your business partners at the beginning of the year to periodically assess where you are at meeting your goals. If you hit your targets early, consider promoting vetted items from your “not now” list to priority.
Here’s wishing you an amazing, next-gen 2023 for content.
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The post 5 Tips for Content Marketing Success in Fiscal Year 2023 appeared first on Contently.