On Jan. 25, we joined forces with Influence & Co. to examine how data should be applied to your content strategy and to share tips on how to do so for optimal results. As we were preparing for this webinar (titled How to Use Data to Create Better, More Personalized Content and Rise Above the Noise), I sat down with Natalie Stezovsky, VP at Influence & Co., to get a quick breakdown of current content trends, key performance indicators, and areas of frustration that she’s noticed while navigating the content marketing waters.
Take a look at her responses below.
Kelsey: Thank you so much for speaking with me, Natalie. There’s so much marketing noise going on right now that I’m curious to know which recent trend in content marketing do you think is working well for companies? Which trend needs to be retired?
Natalie: I think there was a common belief that as long as you were creating a ton of content, then you were doing content marketing the right way. As we enter a period where content truly is everywhere, and so many brands are creating it, in order to have your content stand out among the rest, you’re going to have to focus more on quality instead of quantity. This includes ensuring your content is optimized for SEO and that it focuses on methods that truly help the members of your audience and address their pain points, instead of being promotional and emphasizing your own platform or services. People want to engage, so you have to make sure your content is high-quality and satisfies their business needs.
Kelsey: If brands begin focusing on quality of their content, they’ll definitely want to track the ROI on that. In your opinion, what content KPIs should companies stop or start tracking?
Natalie: There aren’t necessarily metrics that companies should stop tracking; rather there are metrics that they should track smarter. For example, you’re going to take social share numbers into consideration, but you also need to dig into who is actually sharing your content and which platforms is it being shared on. Don’t just take the views at face value — delve into what they can tell you about your audience. Another example is brand awareness, which so many companies say is their end goal with content marketing. It’s a vague term, so you have to establish what this really means. Does it mean keeping track of how many people reach out to your team regarding a specific piece of content? Does it mean getting a press mention? Set those small metrics to help you zero in on whether your larger goal is being met.
Kelsey: What’s the most common mistake companies make when creating their content strategy?
Natalie: There might be a tie here.
I see a lot of marketers go the self-promotional route so often. They think that writing content is a chance for them to plug themselves and their most recent platform or service, but the truth is, people don’t want to read that type of content, and publication editors don’t want to publish it. When people engage with your content, they want tips and expertise. They want a reason to trust you first. Once that trust is built, then you can share more promotional content as they move through the buyer journey.
Another common mistake I see is that brands neglect distribution as part of their overall strategy. Your content strategy doesn’t end once your piece of content is published or goes live. You must be strategic in your distribution, whether that involves sharing on social media platforms, sharing the content with your team members and having them send it out to their networks, or having your sales team use it in conversations with leads. These are examples of distribution methods that help ensure you’re wringing the most longevity out of your content and getting it in front of the right eyes.
Kelsey: You’ve mentioned a lot of great points for companies creating content strategies. Where do you think smaller content teams should focus their attention?
Natalie: Something to note about small content teams is that small doesn’t mean ineffective. You can see big results from a small team, and that is because by having a small team, you aren’t burdened with a lot of red tape. You can create your own rules, test less-than-traditional methods, and see what works for your brand. Having a small team can also lead to more fruitful collaboration because your team is so close-knit, and there’s greater ownership over ideas. A small team should focus its efforts on facilitating that effective collaboration and experimentation to see what is working for your brand and what isn’t.
Kelsey: You and Rick will probably touch on this a bit in the webinar but what would you say to companies that are frustrated with their content returns?
Natalie: I’d emphasize that a content strategy yields impactful results over time, but not quick wins. Implementing an effective content strategy requires time, dedication, and patience. It’s a marketing journey, really, and it builds on itself. If you think you’re going to get 100 leads from one piece of guest-contributed content, you’ll be disappointed. True success lies in your ability to use your content to lead people back to your site, convert them into subscribers/leads, and nurture them until they’re ready to have a discussion about partnership.
A great way to combat frustrations is to look at your content creation process and make sure it is as informed as necessary. Apply data to how you move forward by examining your audience’s behavior and using key findings in your content to substantiate points. See what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust the underperforming content until you see the results you’re after.
Are you creating data-driven content that is personalized and engaging? If you’re not sure, or you need some tips on how to do this, you’re in luck. Check out the recording from our webinar with Influence & Co., where we discussed how data can be applied to each step of your content strategy.