We all know that content marketing is here to stay. Customers have become increasingly more savvy and with it comes the need for an authentic experience with a brand. Storytelling is the true way to make an impact and guide a consumer through the customer’s journey.
However, findings from 2017 Global Comms Report from Cision/PRWeek shows that “58 percent [of marketers] don’t have a good sense of what people do after they consume the brand’s content.”
Essentially, most companies know that content marketing is useful and they’re creating content, but they are blindly running campaigns. They have a shiny new whitepaper that they promoted through email, social media, and paid media, but they can’t concretely say what that piece of content actually did for their business.
The Cision/PRWeek report also found that 66% of marketers placed content creation among the three most important activities for their brands, but there is a huge disconnect when it comes to showcasing the value. As a result, brands are not getting the budgets allocated that they need for content marketing — they simply can’t prove that content marketing brings results.
This is where marketing automation comes in. Marketing automation ties up those loose ends and allows you to get the full picture of your customer and their journey. What brought them to the website in the first place? What was the point where they converted? Was that piece of content effective?
Here are some ways marketing automation will help your content marketing efforts so that you may strategically plan in 2018:
1. Use Gated Content the Right Way
Gated content is extremely valuable to not only build up your email list, but to offer a high quality piece of content that showcases your company’s knowledge. However, a big mistake companies make is using gated content in the wrong part of the journey.
If someone is visiting your website for the first time and they download an ebook, this does not mean the next step is to give them a phone call. Your target will likely be immediately turned off because they were simply getting to know your company or were interested in the topic of the ebook.
Instead of going straight from download to phone call, allow your new contact’s information to funnel into a drip campaign. What was the topic that peaked their interest? Allow this knowledge to shape future blog posts and content to include in the email campaign. With marketing automation, most of the work is done upfront. This means you can simply drop them into a list and cater content based on their actions.
Your customer is now being nurtured through various email content and in return, you are learning who your customer is and what will motivate them to convert. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell your sales team exactly what content drove action and what to focus in on with that initial call? That’s the beauty of integrating gated content with marketing automation.
2. Give Every Piece of Content a CTA
Every piece of content should be created with an audience and a purpose in mind. If each piece is strategically written, then it should naturally be able to tie back to your company with a CTA.
With a segmented audience, you can use marketing automation to create a call-to-action that will lead your customer into the next step. For example, if you have a blog post on content marketing, then you’d supplement that blog post with a call-to-action at the bottom for the reader to download an ebook with more information on content marketing.
You have now gone from seeing that your customer clicked on a Facebook post to your blog post and now voila! They are interested in more details and downloaded your ebook. This customer went from being just a fan on Facebook to an active member in your email list. They will be nurtured through your sales process with content catered toward their interest; content marketing.
The Cision/PRWeek report quoted Michael Marinello, SVP, strategic comms who explained, “Comms’ main goal is to create great content for sales and recruitment, so it needs to learn to be a great partner with other departments in the organization.”
Sales and marketing can cohesively work together to complete the full circle with the help of content marketing and marketing automation.
3. Integrate Social Media Ads Into the Journey
According to Hootsuite, social media spending in the U.S. alone is expected to increase to $17.34 billion in 2019. Marketers know social media advertising not only works, but it is worth spending marketing dollars on.
With the incredible targeting capabilities of Facebook and other social media channels, it makes sense to include social media in the marketing automation process. Not all marketing automation platforms have integrated social media completely, but Salesforce Marketing Cloud has done a great job at allowing for social media ads to be part of the Customer Journey Map.
Picture this. Your customer has successfully been added to a segmented list and received several emails with content catered to their interests. They love your emails because they are relevant, interesting, and educational. You have built up their trust so you invite them to a webinar to learn more about your product or service.
They have more emails to sift through and suddenly the webinar email which did initially interest them is now in the back of their head, soon to be forgotten. However, they go browsing on social media only to see a social media ad for the same webinar. They’re reminded to sign up so they click through and register.
With marketing automation, you were able to not only follow their steps, but to also provide another touchpoint to your audience. Of course, the happy ending of that story would be that this person loved your webinar and converted into a sale or a strong lead.
4. Repurpose Successful Content
A content marketing strategist created an analogy that really does stick this holiday season. She said content marketing should be thought of as a Thanksgiving turkey. You cook up one glorious meal and then reuse those leftovers for many meals later. You might make sandwiches and soups to feed your family for the next few days.
Thanksgiving might be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prolong those savory leftovers. Take this time at the end of the year to do a year review of what content performed the best. Using this data, scope out how many more pieces of content can be created by repurposing the original high performing content.
One of the biggest challenges reported for companies participating in the Cision/PRWeek report was determining what content was most effective. Marketing automation doesn’t allow for head scratching. The data and insight are all there in plain view. If you haven’t been using marketing automation, this is a good time to consider it for next year so that you can make educated and smart moves with your content marketing strategy.
Content tells the story, but it is up to you to paint the picture.
Looking for More Help in 2018?
The 2017 Global Comms Report from Cision/PRWeek touched on another main challenge we can help you with. With 35% stating they have trouble consistently creating content, that’s where we come in.
We work with you to create high quality content that all stems from a content strategy. Each piece of content has its purpose in the marketing funnel.
RelationEdge Digital Agency works to integrate marketing automation and content marketing to meet your business goals. We work closely with the RelationEdge Marketing Technology team to ensure that each customer is experiencing a personalized journey that will drive leads and ROI. We are storytellers and creatives with a technical edge. Contact us today for more information.