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Six questions to ask when you start content marketing

The planning stage for content marketing is the most important stage

Content marketing has been a key part of the B2B marketing landscape for many years and offers great possibilities for every business. Essentially it involves creating and distributing useful and entertaining content that attracts and engages your customers, allowing you to build deeper relationships.

Content marketing is a significant undertaking for any business and requires commitment and creativity if you are to realise a significant return on investment. If you are considering developing a content marketing strategy for your business, it is worth taking the time to answer these questions:

1. What business goals will content marketing help you achieve? Are you looking to attract new customers, leverage your existing customer-base or re-engage with lapsed customers? Your goals will direct the type of content you produce and how you distribute it. For example, potential customers will need content that highlights the value of your product or service, while content about using your product or service in new ways and deeper insights into your area of expertise will build your relationship with existing customers.

2. Do you know what content your customer values? Research is essential for this stage. The content you produce needs to be aligned with what your customer wants – not necessarily what you have to say. Use Google Analytics to discover what your customers are searching for online, search for trending keywords and concepts on social media and take a look at your competitor’s websites and social media channels.

3. What resources do you have available? Content marketing requires dedication to produce high-quality content on a very regular basis. Do you have someone who is able to fulfil this role? How often can they produce content? Do you have a great writer on your team? What content creation software packages and social media channels do you have access to?

4. What content do you already have? Start a content audit by gathering a list of what you already have – you may be surprised at how much you already have and what can be re-purposed and refreshed. Assets can include video, blogs, podcasts, image galleries, infographics, emails, brochures, e-newsletters, whitepapers, FAQs and reports.

5. How well does your existing content work? Your content audit should also include information on how well each piece has worked for you. Content marketing is resource-intensive, so it is best to focus your efforts on what content works, rather than trying to create a multitude of pieces that have little impact. The analytics functions of your email service provider, social media platforms and Google Analytics are your best weapon here. You can determine this on quite a basic quantitative level by looking at how many people open your email and e-newsletters, what they click on, what they visit on your website and how many shares, comments and likes you receive on social media posts. Should budget allow, more in-depth research involving surveys and interviews of current customers can be very valuable in guiding your strategy.

6. How will you source information and inspiration for your content? One person won’t be able to come up with all the ideas on their own. Think about the subject matter experts you have in-house and how they can help. Who else do you work with or know that could provide advice and opinion useful to your audience? When you identify these people, here's how you can engage them successfully.

There is a lot to think about, but preparing yourself with the answers to these questions before jumping in will give your content marketing strategy the best chance of success.

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