Essentially throwing content out there and waiting to see what comes of it may get you some results, but winging it could also end up being the culprit for your content marketing program never leaving the pilot stage. You’ll be making a whole lotta noise, but not much music.

And that flies in the face of the purpose of a content marketing pilot program. You want to determine whether content marketing is a good fit for your organization; otherwise, why bother?

This is not about choosing an activity goal. That is, deciding you want to post a certain number of blog posts per week or produce a certain number of whitepapers are not objectives for your pilot program. Rather, you need to attach an outcome to your program.

A clear and defined objective will help you determine what types of content you should be producing. Secondly, the set objective will help you determine if your content marketing program is successful and delivering ROI.

Think of it this way: when you’re trying to convince your company’s CEO that content marketing is necessary, what will he or she care most about it accomplishing?

Setting an objective for your content marketing pilot program will force you to sit down and think about where your organization is and where you want it to go. For instance, if your brand is doing well financially, but no one knows who you are, your objective could be to raise brand awareness. Or if the stability of your business depends on bringing in new clients and sales, your objective may be lead generation.

Here are some objectives you may want to consider when designing your content marketing pilot program:

Brand awareness and recognition

This is one of the most common content marketing objectives – about 77 percent of B2B content marketers say brand awareness is their most important goal, according to MarketingProfs’ and Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report. Brand awareness is how potential customers know who you are and what you do – it’s how they identify your brand in an industry lineup. However, successful brand awareness isn’t just getting more people to know your name; it’s also getting them to understand what you do.

Lead generation

Content marketing, when done right, is incredibly effective for generating leads. When you understand your audience, determine the right content to produce and then share it, it allows you to attract prospects willing to share their information for the content you have to offer. This objective is also one of the most important goals for B2B content marketers, with 85 percent of them reporting it’s their top goal.

Increase sales

Similar to lead generation, when content marketing is done correctly, it can ultimately increase sales. This doesn’t just mean converting leads into customers, but also converting customers into repeat buyers. Your content marketing strategy helps you get your foot in the door during a consumer’s decision-making process when they’re getting ready to buy, but it also proves to them you’re reliable and that your solution is the best when it comes to meeting their needs.

Improve traffic

Implementing SEO to gain exposure is certainly important when it comes to driving traffic to your site, but it shouldn’t be the key driver of traffic. Thanks to Google’s algorithm changes, SEO today is about 10 percent technology and 90 percent content. Consequently, producing high-quality content can drive people to your site by means of organic traffic and links.

Other objectives you may want to consider when designing your content marketing pilot program include becoming a thought leader, nurturing leads, increasing engagement, improving customer retention and loyalty, generating referrals, influencing key stakeholders, up-selling and cross-selling.