By Lisa Heay, Marketing Planning Manager at Heinz Marketing
Content. It’s been a focus for us internally as we continue to re-prioritize our marketing efforts after Covid-19 threw our marketing plans for a loop this year. I imagine other companies may be in the same boat—you must use what you have or create something at no or low outside cost to keep your top-funnel marketing efforts going. Speaking engagements and events are being reimagined, and digital marketing comes at a cost that companies may be cutting back on right now. But one thing that can be managed consistently and utilized in top-funnel marketing efforts (and doesn’t require face to face interaction) is content!
If you don’t already have content created, this blog post may be a step ahead of where you are today. If you’re new to content strategy, here are some more resources that provide the foundational elements to start with:
- 5 Stages to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
- Research: How to Accelerate the Buyer’s Journey with Content
- How to Utilize Webinars for Customer Research and New Content
- 4 Elements of a Ridiculously Good Content Marketing Strategy – an oldie, but still some relevant points
If you do have some content ready to go, keep reading. Are you utilizing that content to get the most value out of your efforts? If not, don’t be ashamed. We’re guilty of it at times, too—you have a new research report, stick it up on your website’s resource center, create some social posts, and move along with your day. But your content could be working so much harder for you!
PathFactory posted a great blog last year on Why Content Hubs Frustrate Your Prospects And Slow Them Down. Check it out for their 6 ways in which content hubs can cause friction. They bring up some fair points – content hubs (or resource pages) are a dumping ground where all content (and prospects!) is created equal—no customization that acknowledges the interest of the reader or what they just looked at.
Maybe you go a step beyond and don’t just drop your content into a hub—you send it to your subscribers in an email announcement or incorporate it into a targeted nurture stream you have set up. Even then, you could be getting more out of your content efforts. Your content should be used to create an experience for your prospects. And that takes planning.
Content Experience Platforms
As curious and creative marketers, we’re always on the lookout for ways to improve processes, gain insights, and generally make our lives easier. Intelligent content insight and management platforms are coming up on the scene and it’s easy to think you’d be able to use one to cut corners and get more value from your content now if you turn one on. Don’t be fooled—we are firm believers in strategy before execution.
If you find a content insight and management solution is in the cards for your organization, fight the urge to flip it on and haphazardly throw content into a stream. Make sure you’re carefully planning so the tool doesn’t drive the strategy—the strategy drives the tool.
Before platform selection or implementation even begins, you need to make sure your content is in order. If it’s not, a tool is not going to help you. Even if you don’t go down the road of choosing a tool, the following tips will still help as you manually organize and manage your content.
Before you get started with a tool, you need organized content to put together a purposeful and impactful experience for your prospects. Here are some things to consider to get yourself organized:
Audit your existing content. Inventory your current assets – including those you may not think of as content pieces. Content isn’t just whitepapers, case studies and brochures. Webinars, blog posts, videos, news articles, podcasts—those are all valid content pieces that should be inventoried in the same way as your more traditional PDF content pieces. Once you have them listed in a single Excel or CSV file, it will be easy to view your content holistically.
Categorize. Now that you have your content listed in one place, you’ll need to categorize them. Categorize based on topic, job functions that’d be interested in that piece (sales, marketing, leadership, operations, etc.), and target role in the buying committee (business decision maker, technical decision marker, end user, champion, etc.).
You’ll also want to determine where each asset fits in the buying journey. Is the piece geared for top-funnel awareness, mid-funnel consideration, or bottom-funnel decision and sales enablement support? Maybe the piece is created for customer or partner enablement. Knowing where your content fits in the buying journey will help you put together a more purposeful content track for your audience.
Determine your gaps. Now that you’ve audited and organized your library of content, you can use this data to assess where you have holes. If all your assets are product-specific bottom-funnel content pieces, you can easily see you need some educational pieces at the top of the funnel, for example.
Now back to the platform
Now that you have your content organized, you can head back to your content experience platform. And you’ll be glad you did. These platforms offer some seriously cool insights and features. Here is a deeper dive into a few we’ve seen so far:
- PathFactory – and read Payal’s App of the Week – PathFactory for her take.
- Uberflip – and read Matt’s App of the Week – Uberflip for his thoughts.
- There is also G2’s list of Content Experience Platforms for a more comprehensive and up to date list of options.
With any platform you invest time and resources into, spend the time to learn the ins and outs, best practices, challenges, and features your platform has to offer. Get acquainted with the reporting and insights and actually use them! And finally, iterate. Even with a powerful platform, you won’t hit it out of the park on your first try. Get started and make changes from there.
Above all, keep your content engine going through the good times and the bad. After all, you put in the work to create and organize it—now it’s the content’s turn to work for you.