Content Marketing Maturity - The 3 Phases of Content Strategy

Posted on

  • email
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • share this

share this


:: By Joe Griffin, ClearVoice ::


In my many years working in content marketing, I’ve seen a lot of companies come and go. I’ve watched companies launch one large-scale online marketing push, only to fizzle the next month. I’ve seen companies that, after seeing a small online success, continue the same strategies—at best maintaining that early success—only to slowly lose customers, with no hope of reaching their true potential. And then I’ve seen companies that really get it.

These companies know you can’t simply maintain, or reinvent a once mildly effective wheel. They understand that just like your business, your content marketing strategy has to mature with time.

Building a successful content marketing operation is a lot like launching a startup. In the early days, you’ll try anything to reach your potential customers, but as you grow, you learn from mistakes, build upon successes and develop a clear path and direction.

The more you grow, the clearer that path becomes. Like every great company, your content marketing strategy must develop over time, and you must learn from each success and misstep, letting your brand speak for itself.

Fortunately, you don’t have to guess at what your next step should be. There are three clearly defined phases for successful content marketing strategies, which can help guide your marketing efforts.

Phase 1: Spray and Pray

Many content marketing campaigns start out trying to accomplish everything, yet never mastering anything. Their content marketing efforts are often assembled and implemented quickly, focusing on what they’ve heard they must do, rather than what will actually work for their company.

There’s a general misunderstanding that in order to succeed in today’s hyper-connected work, all you need is a presence everywhere. So companies in this phase attempt a little of everything: Facebook ads, boosted posts, Twitter shares and mass, unsolicited email blasts.

That said, there is little to no effort to create a consistent or unified message, but rather multiple messaging strategies are attempted at the same time. Since the company has yet to establish a clear audience for its products or services, they are instead trying to appeal to everyone in every possible way.

If this sounds like you, don’t feel bad. Most companies go through this phase. You may not know yet whom to market to or how to reach them—this is your chance to figure that out. Hopefully, you recognize that this is your approach and can get out as quickly as possible. But just in case, ask yourself this question:

Do you know whom you’re marketing to?

If the answer is everyone, you’re still in the first phase. If you can name a primary demographic, with some secondary groups you’re hoping to expand to in time, your content strategy has matured, and you’re ready to move on to Phase 2. Congratulations!

While we don’t encourage companies to stay in this first phase for very long, it’s sometimes a necessary starting point as you discover your strengths and weaknesses, feel out the market, and learn which groups respond best to what you have to offer. Just keep in mind that the results tend to be spotty at best—and long-term success in this phase is rarely possible. The sooner you can move to Phase 2, the better!

Phase 2: Making a Connection

Now that you’ve spun your wheels and kicked up plenty of mud, it’s time to assess your situation and determine your clearest path to success. That means:

Compiling your data

Looking at which of your early strategies had success and which failed

Pinpointing the audience most likely to respond to the solution you’re offering

In this phase, companies stop trying to appeal to everyone and instead focus on a very specific target audience. In doing so, they are able to study that group, pull from existing research and examples, and make conscious changes to their messaging to appeal specifically to that group.

For example: If you're providing a product or service that resonates best with the 50+ crowd, your language should appeal to their maturity, and your content should focus on issues that matter to them: retirement, financial security, health, etc. Researching this group should look something like this:

Identify common problems and create your content marketing around how your products or services can help them

Focus on tools they use. Pew Research Center found 64 percent of Internet users ages 50 to 64 use Facebook, but only 13 percent use Twitter

Likewise, target websites that cater to your demographic

Rather than throwing content everywhere, focus on a handful of channels and develop a sophisticated, interconnected content strategy, tailored to your target audience. The messaging in each channel should not only mirror each other, but also continue a conversation you started with the customer in another channel.

Building a content funnel

You should be creating a content funnel, in which one point of contact leads prospective customers to another, and to another, ultimately guiding them toward a sale.

Ideally, this conversation flow can be automated, using tools like HubSpot Workflows to move your consumer from one content point to the next. A typical content funnel consists of four stages:

Awareness. Seeing your Facebook ad creates an awareness of the customer’s problem and your solution.

Interest. The linked blog provides additional information, increasing the customer’s interest in your product or services.

Desire.  After signing up for your newsletter, the customer receives an email which builds from your blog and creates an immediate need or desire for your product.

Action. By clicking the link within the email, the customer is taken directly to the product page on your website.

The exact paths through the content funnel may vary, and your content strategy may consist of more or fewer stages. For example, this sales funnel only uses three phases. However, the idea of funneling your customers through multiple layers of marketing content is key to this phase and ultimately to progressing into Phase 3.

Phase 3: A Content Destination

Once you have created a targeted campaign and are effectively speaking to prospective customers on a variety of successful content channels, it’s time to look for ways in which you can lessen the need to seek out new clients, letting them find you instead. To do that, you need to become a trusted thought leader within your field. 

At this point, your goal is to create a platform where consumers will come to learn more about a specific topic. 

Having a rich blog filled with quality content is essential, but you also need to begin backing your content with credentials. You can do this by providing interviews with well-known experts, just as AskMen did in this interview with Deepak Chopra.

Not every company can afford to partner with a big-name expert, but there are still plenty of ways to find qualified professionals in your field such as with Followerwonk.

In addition to seeking credibility through influencers, companies in Phase 3 also recognize the need to invest in their people technology. They:

Hire design specialists, experienced writers and editors, community managers and web designers

Use sophisticated content management tools to create, publish, and manage their content marketing efforts across all of their channels

Every company should aspire to reach Phase 3 in their online marketing efforts, but don’t expect to get there overnight. You can’t establish yourself as a content destination until you’ve first established yourself. While I suggest getting out of Phase 1 as quickly as possible, don’t try to rush through Phase 2. Stay there as long as it takes to build your audience and position yourself firmly within your industry.


About the Author: 

Joe Griffin is the co-founder and CEO of ClearVoice a content marketing technology company for high-quality blogs and content destinations. Connect with Joe on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

 Request Website Magazine's Free Weekly Newsletters 

Login To Comment


Become a Member

Not already a part of our community? Sign up to participate in the discussion. It's free and quick.

Sign Up

8 comments

ToddH 11-19-2016 12:07 AM

What I know is that you must constantly change your content. As for targeting, I just wing it, not getting much out of using my Analytics reports. My content is solely self-help on eight different topics, with a blog specifically geared toward each one.

JuhaniT 11-19-2016 12:30 AM

People, site visitors, like new things. They want to see something surprisingly new, when re-visiting the site. These new things must follow the original strategy to be able to build your brand long term. The webmaster must do a careful, strategic job fo conduct the site through different changes.

Every small business is a niche business offering only limited number of things in a unique way. The best way to conduct the site to a better future is learn from the past.

11-19-2016 4:59 AM

We've worked with hundreds of small businesses and in every case when they can niche into their perfect customer profile - that can drive the content strategy development and stop the flailing around with different strategies. We've put together our process in a free workshop available at ContentZapAcademy.com to help more people get real results with less pain.

Hotmail Sign in 11-19-2016 9:11 AM

Marketing and social signals are fundamental today to reach the target audience

Hotmail Login 12-05-2016 10:16 AM

Branding is very important when it comes to marketing because people (visitors) love seeing new things but they also want to persistence when it comes to a brand.

SudeepD 12-16-2016 4:33 AM

The “more content” approach tends to be very SEO centric, with an emphasis on creating specific, keyword focused content to justify search engine rankings.

Hotmail Iniciar Sesion - Correo electronico 12-31-2016 5:31 PM

Individuals, site guests, as new things. They need to see something shockingly new, when returning to the site. These new things must take after the first system to have the capacity to manufacture your image long haul. The website admin must make a watchful, key showing with regards to fo direct the webpage through various changes.

Each private venture is a specialty business offering just set number of things remarkably. The most ideal approach to direct the site to a superior future is gain from the past.

kidkraft dollhouse furniture 01-21-2017 11:15 AM

Very important information for me!!!

Add to the discussion!

999 E Touhy Ave
Des Plaines, IL 60018

Toll Free: 1.800.817.1518
International: 1.773.628.2779
Fax: 1.773.272.0920
Email: info@websitemagazine.com

Facebook


Twitter