Before looking at content marketing and its lifecycle in more detail, let’s take a step back and see how this promotional tool has changed the way we publicise brands, goods and services online.
In today’s highly connected digital society, consumers have immediate access to an abundance of information at their fingertips. With the ability to pick and choose what content they want to see, traditional marketing methods are becoming increasingly obsolete.
Television commercials can be effortlessly skipped through, magazine advertisements are often ignored while direct paper mail is thrown in the bin. Consumers don’t rely on these lines of communication for details about new products or the latest deals. Instead, they have the freedom to surf the web without intrusion. Along the way, they’ll potentially discover a few content marketing treats too.
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute’s definition is hard to beat:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
It can be written word content such as blog posts, feature articles, white papers or case studies, visual content like images, infographics or videos, and audio content including podcasts and webinars. However, content marketing is not a one-off technique; it is an ongoing process that aims to change or influence your consumer’s behaviour.
Why choose content marketing?
There are several boons and benefits for choosing to implement content marketing, but here the main ones:
- Strengthen brand identity
- Build consumer trust
- Establish credibility
- Target relevant customers
- Enhance search engine visibility
- Increase conversions
- Help social media footprints
How is content marketing different to traditional marketing?
Because it is far less obtrusive or obvious than traditional selling techniques. In fact, content marketing is simply a non-invasive form of communication that provides the customer with valuable information. Since they are better informed, consumers can then make wiser and smarter purchasing decisions.
What is the content marketing lifecycle?
The content marketing lifecycle refers to this particular technique’s complete process, from planning and creation to implementation and analysis. Although marketers are split in their opinions of what each stage of the lifecycle is, there are certain broad categories that can be defined and understood.
Planning and preparation
First and foremost, any content marketing campaign needs a logical and extensive plan of action. This will look at things like target audience, marketing objectives, type of content, required resources, publishing platforms, distribution channels and analysis metrics.
People – Identify the major groups of consumers you are looking to target and establish the content they would like to receive. It is important to think about niche audiences, thought leaders and industry influencers too, as these groups may also access, consume and share your content.
Objectives – What do you want to achieve with your content marketing campaign? Some businesses want to improve brand reputations or customer relationships, while others are more concerned with lead generation and bottom line conversions.
Scenarios – Try to discover when and how content will be consumed and used. Detailed case studies will probably be viewed when readers have lots of time on their hands, whereas infographics and videos are better for short, sharp pieces of information.
Resources – Do you have the in-house expertise to create high-quality content? Do you have enough time to produce relevant and appropriate content? Will you need to outsource any work to more skilled writers and creators?
Publishing – Where will your content be published? Is it going to be hosted on your own site or will you produce guest blogs instead? Even though you’ll have more freedom with your own site, third parties may attract a bigger audience.
Distribution – Consider how your target audience will access content. You may need to develop a social media, SEO or email marketing campaign to work alongside your content.
Analysis – How will you know if your content marketing campaign was successful? Is an increase in website traffic enough or did you want to improve sales?
Creation and approval
After completing your comprehensive plan of action, it is time to dive head first into the creation process. At this point, you should know what type of content you’re producing, who is creating it as well as how, when and where it will be consumed. Understanding these factors should enable you to construct the best content possible.
Remember that content marketing is all about quality not quantity. Even though an abundance of blog posts and infographics will increase your online presence, clients or customers want to discover first-rate content, which they can benefit from in daily life.
After content has been created, it will require approval. See whether it is geared towards your objectives and adds value to the audience’s browsing experience. If not, adjust accordingly by reverting back to your plan or strategy.
Publishing and distribution
Once content has ticked all the right target and objective boxes, it is time to publish and distribute. Thanks to the planning stage, you already know where your content will be seen and shared.
Make sure your audience can access content quickly and efficiently. If it doesn’t show up on Google, you may have to look at your on-site SEO. Page loading times can also make a difference, so see whether you can quicken up your site.
Don’t forget about the importance of social media either. Not only can you use these communal networks to distribute your content to a wider audience, they also exist for customers too. With any luck, they’ll be very impressed by your content and start sharing it among their friends and family as well.
Measurement and optimisation
Following on from the publishing and distribution stage, it will be time to measure your content marketing campaign. Here you will be able to find out what is working, what isn’t working, and what tweaks and changes are required to optimise your content.
If you are receiving plenty of visitors but achieving little to no conversions, you may need to adjust or change your CTA (Call to Action). Some publishing platforms or distribution channels might be more effective than others, so ditch those that aren’t performing well and concentrate on the ones that are.
Through extensive examination and analysis, you’ll be able to optimise your content marketing campaign and stand a better chance of achieving your objectives.
Before you know it, you’re at the end of the content marketing lifecycle. From here, you can go back to the planning stage and start all over again, but this time you’ll be better prepared and more likely to succeed.