It all comes down to this. There’s great content, then there’s great results from your content marketing. The former doesn’t always lead to the latter

orange typewriterIt reminds me of the late-night-standin’-around-a-dirty-kitchen-at-a-dinner-party musings of an undiscovered great American novel, lost to us all in a drawer somewhere. My contribution to the absurd premise is that it can’t be great if it isn’t out there; of, for, and influencing the culture, continuing a dialog.

Same with content, I think. If content doesn’t get read, can it be great? Or better worded for today’s world: if it doesn’t get shared, can it be great?

Or, even better: if your content doesn’t move your audience to actions that align with your business goals, is it great content?

No. No, it is not.

Great content versus great distribution

Maybe it is only the hard core geeks of content who partake in this other silly conversation: which is more important, quality content versus distribution. The goal is not to solve the conundrum, but try arguing either side and it is clear that they are two great tastes that taste great together. Can’t have one without the other, da de dum dum, da de dum dum.

So you have great content, but does it fetch you great results? The point of content marketing is to persuade. Period.

The goal is not to inform. It is to inform as a means to persuade.

The goal is not to educate either. It is to educate as a means to persuade.

Persuade. That’s what it is all about.

What should your content persuade people to do?

Does your organization have advertisers or sponsors? Well, then you want to persuade advertisers or sponsors to buy from you. Do you have members or subscribers? Then your goal is to spur membership or subscriptions. Two different types of content for these two audiences, certainly, but the content for either audience has goals.

I can hear the ethically-oriented, journalistically-trained content creators pulling out their hair now. (I’m sure there is a sound to that.)  “No way. Our content is to inform our members. I am not selling memberships, I am keeping our audience engaged and informed.” Well, true enough. But the bottom-line “why” of engaging and informing is to keep them as members. So, it may feel too much like marketing for some editor’s tastes, but your great content does have a goal that aligns with your organizations needs to acquire or retain members.

Ever notice the ‘marketing’ in content marketing?

Yeah, thanks to technology and social, content is a leading way to persuade your audience. Coca-Cola invests heavily in content marketing and in 2013 Coke they turned their homepage into a lifestyle magazine. They also launched a self-described hub for innovation at See that there? “Content” factory. It’s big people.

And why is it big? Because it is a trend? A fad? No. It is big because it works.

And it is going to be working even better every year because almost everyone you want to reach is walking around with your info in their pocket, meaning a cell phone. But, don’t think of that brick that you carry around now. Think of what’s coming. Light-weight and flexible, you’ll never be without it. (Even under water, I wonder?)

Your audience will never be without you wherever they are. And how they will find you will be through your content. In fact it is predicted that by next year, traffic through social will surpass traffic through search. Meaning they won’t go directly to your site, nor will they search for you. They will find you through your content in the social channels that they are already in. So your great content better get shared because that is how your new sponsors or members are going to find you.

Content marketing is big because it works. It works for the future of how we communicate with each other. And while ads work too, they are most definitely a second tier tactic and a better fit for the past, says this advertising major who still loves great ads.

Content marketing works, when it is done right.

There’s great content, then there’s great results from your content marketing. You should be getting great results. Are you? Can you directly measure from your content to the results?

It looks like this:

There’s a company that can prove that one blog post earned them over $250,000 because the number of site visitors that came to that blog post first and then went on to become customers netted them $250,000.

That’s content marketing done right.

one blog post earned them
In order to know what a blog post does for you, you must be tracking with analytics. And they need to be more robust than Google analytics.

number of site visitors that came to that blog post first and then went on to become customers
In order to know what a customer did on your website, you need a few things to happen. First you need them to identify themselves so that you can track their activity. They identify themselves through forms that they happily fill out in exchange for your killer content. That’s called marketing automation. Then you need to track and nurture their engagement with your content – that’s called inbound marketing. Again the tracking part will take more than Google analytics.

Now that’s just one real-life example about one blog post. What about your magazine? What about your website? What about your industry reports? What about your educational content?

You’ve got the great content. Make sure you’re getting the great results. Otherwise, you just have great content and I know that you are not satisfied with just that.

If great content gets posted, in a forest or otherwise, and nobody reads it or shares it, is it great content? Finally, there is an answer to this philosophical brain teaser: no.

By Monica Bussolati