winding path

Content marketing is the latest trend for online business. It is, of course, nothing new – successful businesses have used “content” of all kinds to market their business for ages. Indeed, it was happening thousands of years ago; those Egyptian hieroglyphics were fancy content marketing of a sort. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of years ago those cave paintings produced by early humans seem to be a form of content marketing, telling people where the best hunting grounds were. Those paintings were not mere art, they were a form of communication and instruction.

So, forgive me while I snigger at the online youths who think that they have invented something new and called it “content marketing”. It’s not new; it’s almost as old as human life itself.

However, what is new is the Internet allows us to track and trace the impact of our content marketing. In the past, if you used print-based content marketing it was difficult to see if you had any real impact. Nowadays, thanks to analytics systems and cookies you can see the exact impact. Indeed, you can calculate the exact profitability of each piece of content you produce for your website. You do that, right?

Therein lies the issue. Most businesses produce content and then hope it works. Sure, they check their analytics to see if they have any more visitors. They can see that the more content they produce, the more visitors they get. But that’s not enough. After all, the costs of producing the content that led to those extra visitors could be making the whole palaver unprofitable.

The only way to check if your content is profitable is to set goals for each piece of content.

Sometimes your aim will be to produce a sale, other times it will be to create awareness and sometimes it will be to show expertise.

However, you need to know in advance – otherwise you are producing content for content’s sake – and that is a dangerous strategy as it can lead to other costs and to extra, unnecessary work.

Good content marketing starts with the end in mind.

Once you have the destination in place you can work out how to get there.

  • For instance, if you want a sale, what persuasive steps do you need to put in place that will take people on the journey from the original content to the shopping cart? Is it testimonials and reviews? Is it price comparisons? What do you need to insert between the content and the objective to help provide a pathway to take your user from the start of their journey – your content – to the final destination, the shopping cart.
  • If, though, you are not looking for a sale but for something less specific such as lead generation, then do you have in place calls to action that drive people towards completing your required contact form?
  • And if your reason for producing the content is even less particular, maybe as part of establishing your expertise, then have you set up analytics goals associated with your page of content so that you can see that it is being viewed by the kind of people you want and producing the results you want?

Whatever kind of content you produce it is unlikely to be a simple “here’s a piece of content, read it”. Largely you will have other objectives – but have you got the necessary pathway between the content and your goals or, like many online businesses are you just hoping it will all somehow tie together?

If you are wondering what the objective of this piece of content is, then it is expertise-establishing with a pre-set goal inside Google Analytics ready for me to measure.