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Time is valuable and precious. It is especially valuable and precious for content marketers who must come up with the right content at the right time, published in the right place; they must place that content where it will reach the bulk of their target market; they must create content that engages and compels; and they must be certain that they are publishing content regularly and often. This is a “tall order” to be sure, and anything that will increase efficiency means better and smarter marketing. Here are three steps and tips to increase content marketing efficiency.

Careful Creation of Customer Persona

The more accurate and detailed a persona you can develop, the more efficient content marketing can become. Why? Because knowing exactly who your content is for will determine everything else about that content. Marketers who skip over this step or dismiss a persona that has been developed are really just throwing content up against a wall and hoping that some of it will “stick.”

There are questions to ask yourself in the process of persona development:

  • Who are we speaking to?
  • What does this person care about?
  • What can we say that relates to what this person cares about?

You are building your ideal customer based upon fact, not assumption, and this is important. It takes research, but the information is out there and easily found. And you want to build enough depth into your persona that you will not only know what to say but how to say it. So, do not scrimp on this part of your strategy. Remember, you are forming a detailed identity of your typical customer.

Example: You are an online clothier, marketing to career millennials who work in an office environment.

  1. Give your person a name
  2. Find a photo of “that person”
  3. Research this generation to determine their values, priorities, struggles, needs and wants.
  4. How does this person get information?
  5. Where does this person live? In this case, for example, it will be an urban or near-urban environment, so pick a specific city.
  6. Where do they hang out online?
  7. What leisure activities do they engage in?
  8. What keywords or keyword phrases describe them?
  9. What value will they see in your product or service?
  10. What type of content do they prefer?
  11. What does a typical work day look like? What does a typical day off look like?

So, now we have Lyndsey. She is 28 years old, has a business degree with specialty in human resources, and works for a mid-sized PR firm in Chicago, IL. Her position is in recruitment and screening of job applicants, and the company culture is “business casual.” Her goals are to move forward in her career and ultimately become an HR director, but it does not have to be with this firm. She is mobile and ready to make a change at any time.

Lyndsey is single, lives in an apartment with a roommate. She also has college debt to pay off. She does own a car but uses it primarily on weekends, because she can ride the train to work and not worry about traffic, parking and parking fees.

Like all millennials, Lyndsey is never without her smartphone and uses it for everything – communicating with friends and family, research, shopping, vacation planning, looking for great deals, and more. She goes to the gym three times a week, meets friends after work for drinks and sometimes dinner, is a frequent concert goer, and volunteers twice a month with Habitat for Humanity. She has a good sense of humor but also likes to be inspired. She will share funny and inspirational content with her friends.

Lyndsey is active on Facebook and Twitter, but also engages via Instagram (If you know this, then you know which channels to focus on). She values the opinions of her friends and usually “consults” with them when making purchases. She will shun “hard sells” and distrusts companies that engage in that type of marketing. She wants a personal experience, convenience in the purchasing process, and likes to patronize companies that demonstrate social responsibility.

Wow. Now you have a rather complete picture of Lyndsey, and you have lots of implications for content. You are ready to comprise a comprehensive list of topic areas for content that she will find valuable and engaging, and you know where and when to publish it.

You also know that Lyndsey wants content that is provided quickly – she is on her phone during her commute and in the evenings at home. This tells you that delivering content with visuals and media is best, that your content must be mobile device-friendly, and that you should intersperse humor and inspiration and engage with conversations, etc.

Creating and Organizing That Content

Once you begin creating and publishing content for Lyndsey, you will need to organize and archive it. And you will want to do this by several criteria – topic categories, date and time, where it was published, how often it was published during a campaign, etc. This is important whether you are the sole content marketer for a small company or part of a team with a large organization, but more so if there is a team. When in a content team environment, moreover, you will want cloud-based creation and storage so that there is collaboration and sharing. There must be a system that will accomplish several objectives:

  • Collaboration in content creation, so that good ideas are shared but not duplicated
  • Ability to search for previous content by the categories mentioned above
  • Speed of uploading, retrieval, and sharing on all devices
  • Reasonable Pricing for the amount of storage you need and the number of users
  • Back-up storage
  • Collaboration that allows editing and chatting, but that also archives every version of a piece of content, for easy referencing and decision-making.
  • A feature that invites collaborators individually
  • Ability to upload videos and other media from any device and to access and use third-party apps during content creation
  • Admin controls for task delegation during creation

The two most commonly used and probably the most effective and efficient tools to meet these objectives are Google Drive and/or Dropbox. They have many features in common, but there are some differences that could be important to your circumstances, hence choose accordingly.

Measuring and Tracking Effectiveness of Your Content

If you are not measuring the effectiveness of your content, you are again wasting time and energy. You must track everything from the number of users to the number of shares, to the amount of time a user spends absorbing your content, to bounce points, and more. The more you can track and measure, the more focused your content can become in reaching and engaging your target market. For these efforts, you will need the right tools. Here is a short list that will get you started. As you become more accustomed to measurement and tracking, you will want to explore other tools as well. This does not have to be an expensive endeavor, for there are plenty of free and reasonably-priced tools that will provide deep and detailed data.

  • Google Analytics: it is amazing the wealth of information you can get from this free tool. You will get demographic data, to see if you are really reaching your target audience; you will get data on which content topics have been the most popular, how many shares and on what social media channels these shares are occurring.
  • Google Webmaster Tools: You will be able to track the ranking of your keywords and the quality of your backlinks, as well as receive error messages if things are “broken.”
  • Scoop.it: this is free for personal use but will be fee-based for business use. Still, it is reasonable and valuable. It is a multi-faceted tool, but for analytical purposes, it will track views, comments, and shares on a daily basis.
  • Buffer: this tool allows you to track and measure your social media channels’ performance, by posts. The information you get (free for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn) will tell you which posts and which channels are getting the most views and shares. This will drive future topic decisions as well as where to put your biggest efforts.
  • FollowerWonk: This tool is for Twitter only, but will provide information on followers, number of followers, number of retweets, most used hashtags and even provide the best times to post based upon your current following. And you can spy on your competitors too. There are actually several analytics tools for Twitter, so check them out before deciding on one for your needs.
  • Hootsuite: you will want to know whenever a piece of content or your brand is mentioned anywhere on the web, and this tool will allow you to do just that. Especially on social media, you want to know what is being said and also have the ability to respond to any mentions, positive or negative. You also want to know who is sharing your content and where.
  • Quintly: this tool is for small businesses that want to monitor their Facebook reach. It is free for up to three Facebook pages and will show you “likes” and shares” by post.
  • Addvocate: here, you will find your content ranked by number of shares and also which channels are getting the most “play.”

Obviously, there is some overlap among these tools. Experiment a bit and find the ones that will best suit your needs.

Up-Front Work Makes Things Easier in the Long Run

These three critical steps for your content marketing take time, research, and some learning on your part. Putting your effort in on the front end, however, will pay off big time in the long run. Your content marketing will be more efficient, more targeted, and will get the results you want.