There’s almost nothing worse than investing double-digit hours of time into a marketing campaign that flops. You strategized, worked hard, got all the pieces into place, launched, and then. . . crickets — or bad leads that waste even more time. If you’ve been using content marketing for any length of time, you know that some campaigns perform better than others. But why? What makes a successful content marketing campaign, and how can you ensure your next campaign gets results? Let’s look at five characteristics of successful content marketing campaigns and how to implement these essentials into your next campaign.
1. The Right Audience
First, are you sure you’re targeting the right audience? Are the people you’ll be speaking to the ones who will hire you or buy from you? Your audience must have a need for your offerings and the ability to pay for them. Many content marketing campaigns get derailed before they begin because the messaging or content speaks to people who don’t have a serious problem, who can’t afford to buy, or who are inclined to perform the service themselves after they learn from you how to do it.
Aim for prospects who are feeling significant pain from a problem you can solve, who have an appropriate budget, and who are too busy to spend the myriad hours of time required to learn to do it themselves. If you haven’t already developed marketing personas for your ideal customers, now’s the time to do so — they will serve as a guide for your entire campaign strategy.
2. The Right Kind of Content
Not just any content will deliver ROI. You’ll need to share something that your audience is inclined to take time out of their busy days to read. Your content should provide real value, sharing essential knowledge, offering a fresh perspective, and/or, if your brand personality allows for it, a bit of entertainment and whimsy.
Think through each stage of your buyer’s journey to create a strategy for what content will be welcomed at each stage. When the prospect has just begun researching, you’ll need content that addresses top-level questions, such as the consequences of the problem, all the different ways to solve the problem, and advantages and disadvantages of each approach. If someone is well along the path of research, it’s time to share how to choose which solution is best for them, what other considerations they should take into account, and how similar people have solved the problem. A prospect that’s settled on a certain type of solution will be ready to learn more about your company and how you work, see details of products, and hear about your fulfillment and customer service process.
Also consider content format. Some prospects prefer to watch short videos or see other visual content, some would rather have text to scan and read what’s important to them, and others enjoy listening to podcasts. Some just want a quick overview, while others need to dig into the details.
To learn the topics and formats your audience needs and wants, refer back to what you discovered when building your marketing personas. Don’t rely on guesswork here, or you may miss the mark and not see the success you could have otherwise.
3. The Right Offer
All the amazing content you create has one primary purpose: to get prospects to move to the next stage in the funnel. At the end of each piece of content, you should include a call-to-action for an offer that will trigger them to share their email address and dive into the topic further. Your offers should be guided by your buyer’s journey — someone at the top of the funnel will need a very different offer from someone at the bottom. Offers could include a complimentary downloadable e-guide, a short educational course delivered via email, Q&A session, group coaching call, case study, demo, or anything else that would be of interest to a prospect at the point they’re at in the buyer’s journey.
4. The Right Promotion Strategy
“If you build it, they will come.” If only this were true! Since it’s not, you’ll need to create a promotion strategy that will get your content in front of your audience. The most important thing to remember when planning your promotion strategy is to be sure you’re targeting the right people. Many marketers seem to forget their personas at this point and just use a “spray and pray” approach. They end up paying for unqualified leads, wasting money and time. Let your personas guide you on where and how to promote your content. What social media channels do they use? Where do they spend time online? What publications do they read? Share your content wherever your audience is engaging.
Your strategy may include LinkedIn ads or Facebook ads, pitching bloggers or journalists who publish on websites your audience visits, paying for a sponsored email to the email list of a newsletter your audience receives, guest blogging on websites your audience reads, etc. The more targeted you are with your promotion strategy, the better your leads will be and the less you’ll pay per qualified lead.
5. The Right Nurturing Strategy
The final step is essential but often forgotten. Once you’ve captured the contact info of a lead, it’s time to start nurturing them toward the next step in the buyer’s journey. For each campaign, create a nurturing strategy that consists of sending them 3-5 emails over the next few weeks, delivering additional valuable content on the same topic they initially expressed interest in. These emails should gradually lead to case studies, additional information about your business, and a bottom-of-the-funnel offer like a demo or a promotional product offer.
If you’re using an all-in-one marketing software like HubSpot, you can track the actions that your prospects are taking and see their lead score to determine when is the best time for a salesperson to reach out. It’s important not to have a salesperson contact too soon or you may lose the prospect — but it’s just as important to be proactive at the right time.
While these aren’t the only components that affect success (professional-looking design and strategic copywriting come immediately to mind), these five elements are foundational. If you have these five in place, you’ll immediately skyrocket your campaign’s effectiveness.