Back in beginning of the 20th century, the automobile was an item of luxury — it took a long time to build (with workers “crafting” each one), cost well beyond the means of most consumers and was complex to drive.
As most people know today, Henry Ford changed all that with the Model T and his innovations with the assembly line. He made a simpler-to-drive car at a much cheaper cost, making it available to the masses and bringing tremendous value to his customers.
So, what does this have to do with content marketing?
New Marketing Tactic?
If you ask a group of people if the Model T was the first car built, most will nod. Ask a group of SEOs if content marketing is the hottest new tactic for 2014, and most will vigorously agree. Neither group would be truly correct, however.
In truth, smart marketers have been leveraging content marketing to dominate their industries for many years. Just like there were many other models of cars before the Model T (including many made by the Ford Motor Company itself), content marketing has taken many different forms on its path of evolution. Product and service detail pages, category content, blog posts, white papers, case studies, buying guides, reviews… it’s all content.
So What’s Different?
Why all the hoopla?
It’s simple: content marketing has been a time-consuming and expensive process, much like the way cars were built before the Model T. Sure, companies of all sizes have been blogging (the early precursor to today’s content marketing) for about a decade now, but content marketing “at scale” has been an especially tough challenge to address for enterprises.
The challenges enterprises face with content marketing are significantly different from those of a small or medium-sized business. In fact, in many ways, small and medium-sized businesses have an upper hand compared to their larger competitors when it comes to the ability to quickly write and distribute content. If you offer only a few services or sell only a few products, it’s trivial to get started and grow your content marketing efforts.
If you’re a large, global company selling products under hundreds of categories (think buy.com) or offering a service in multiple languages (think SurveyMonkey), scaling your efforts will be a lot more difficult.
That is, unless you have an “assembly line.”
In the same way that the assembly line revolutionized the production of automobiles and their accessibility to the masses, the content “assembly line” makes content marketing much more scalable and affordable for companies of every size, helping them deliver valuable content available to the masses. A mature content marketing model is just now emerging.
What Is The Mature Content Marketing Model?
Here is a simple and usable content marketing model that we developed a while ago to help guide the technology we build to support our enterprise clients’ efforts — think about it as your content assembly line:
So, how can you put this model to work?
Every good effort starts with a good plan. A content marketing plan is no different. It requires research into:
- The identity of your business segments, product lines or service types
- Who your audience is for each
- The stages in their buying lifecycle (there is a great piece by McKinsey on The Customer Decision journey that would be helpful in understanding this)
- The keywords used by your prospective clients
- The questions asked at different stages of the buying lifecycle that can serve as topics to write about
Once you’ve identified these five, the next step is to create the content.
All content needs to be:
Search Engine Optimization folks (SEOs) focus too heavily on the optimization part of the equation. Smart marketers focus on all three.
Forget the idea that content marketing is difficult. Having an army of writers on staff is no longer necessary for producing great content. We see a large number of enterprises outsourcing their content-writing to services such as ezDia and TextBrokers, among others, to help scale their content writing.
Your end results will of course depend on your input — which in turn is based on your planning stage.
Skimp on the planning stage, and the content you get back is going to be a jumbled mess. Put the time and effort into your planning stage to understand your customers and their needs, and you will have stellar content that actually speaks to them.
While putting your content on your website is a great first step, scaling the distribution means you have to make it available where it can be “amplified.” Social sites are a fantastic place to amplify the message and expand the distribution in a viral manner.
Yet, there are also many sites that help with reaching different audiences, especially if you can find ways to repurpose your content in different formats — think sites like YouTube and SlideShare, for example.
The more engaging and share-worthy your content is, the easier the time you will have with distributing it.
Traditional SEO analysis of content looks at rankings and traffic generated. This is not enough to help you track your content marketing efforts. While traffic is exceedingly important, the real measure of the effectiveness of your content is in engagement metrics. When tracking your content marketing efforts, analyze:
- Time Spent On Page. Even if users bounced, did they spend enough time on the page to indicate they consumed the content? Or did they leave too quickly, indicating the content was not engaging?
- Bounce Rate. Was the content persuasive enough for your reader to venture further into the site?
- Content Conversion Goal. Content conversion goal defines the actions you want the reader to take once they finish consuming the content. Make sure the buyer’s lifecycle stage you are targeting aligns with the action they take. For example, your content conversion goal may social sharing or amplification, newsletter subscription (allowing for future engagement and greater distribution), white paper downloads or page views that move your visitor closer to your conversion goal.
A Word Of Caution
“Assembly line” production tends to sound like “low quality.” The two concepts are not linked. The quality of your output is only as good as your input.
Henry Ford paid top dollar for the best talent and materials to put into the Model T. Put in poor quality resources, and your “assembly line” will turn out poor quality work!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.