As 2017 unfolds, the importance of content marketing is growing.
The challenging aspect of content marketing is that it’s easy to lose track of where you are. There’s usually a lot of time between when you publish content and when you see results, so you can get lost in the middle. The solution is to set better goals.
“Business goals represent an intentional approach to your business. They tell your team and the marketplace that you're not simply going to react to developments, but take an active role in shaping your company's future and the marketplace itself,” says an article on the Gaebler website.
If this is true, then why wouldn’t you have specific content marketing goals as well? Goals provide focus, motivation, confidence and accountability. Stop approaching content marketing in a guerrilla warfare manner; instead, attack it head on with strategic goals.
Here’s how to set goals that produce tangible benefits:
1. Break goals up into milestones. A business owner or manager might say, “We want 250,000 unique monthly visitors on our blog.” That’s great, but how do you get from 250 to 250,000? Break this larger goal up into digestible chunks. Successful investor and financial coach Timothy Sykes believes that’s important, regardless of the goal, but he warns against being too rigid. “Don’t let yourself become frozen by this prospect, because we’re merely laying down a rough sketch of the road ahead,” he tells his students. Along the way, he says, “reevaluate your goals and milestones. You can adjust as needed.”
2. Identify relevant KPIs. Setting goals is only half the battle. You need a plan for accurately measuring the efficacy of these goals; otherwise, you don’t really know what’s happening. This is where key performance indicators (KPIs) come into play. There are dozens of content marketing KPIs you can use; focus on those that are relevant to your specific goals. Tracking irrelevant KPIs can lead you astray.
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3. Page views and shares aren’t everything. Be wary of making those metrics the primary content marketing goals by which you gauge everything else. They don’t provide much value to your brand (other than exposure). Focus on conversion-oriented goals, such as email opt-ins, clicks from landing pages to product pages, and sales volume from first-time visitors. Use specific and consistent calls to action in all your content marketing efforts. You’re always going to get brand exposure through content, so make sure you’re getting both exposure and tangible conversions.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. She is also a columnist for Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.