The Ultimate Blueprint to Content Marketing
 
Everything You Need to Know About How to Attract, Convert and Retain Customers With Top-Notch Content
The Big-Picture Shift: From Interruption to Permission Marketing
In the digital age, our attention is an important asset. We can instantly stream just about any movie or show we want, instantly download any book we want to read onto our tablet, instantly find millions of news articles we want to read, and instantly get updates from all of our friends and communicate with them using a vast array of social media platforms. Smartphones are so universal that when we find ourselves waiting in an elevator, on a bus ride or in a doctor’s office, most of us can instantly pull up our Facebook news feed, send a Snapchat or even start answering our emails!
Because our attention is stretched so thin, most people today simply won’t share their valuable attention with marketing messages; these are seen as unpleasant interruptions. We record television shows so we can fast forward through the commercials. We throw away junk mail without even opening the envelope. Our email filters deliver messages from advertisers straight to the promotions tab (where they may never be viewed). Honestly, when was the last time you clicked on a banner ad?

These changes represent a large shift away from interruption marketing toward what’s known as permission marketing. Instead of trying to take your audience’s attention away from something they’d rather be focusing on, permission marketing involves creating content that’s worthy of your audience’s attention. It offers them something of real value - by choosing to pay attention to your content, you’ve earned their permission to share your marketing message. 
Here’s how Seth Godin defines permission marketing:

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.

Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there's no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.
The best way to earn your audience’s attention (and goodwill) is by giving them something valuable – that’s where content marketing comes in. Instead of trying to divert their attention, why not create something that they want to pay attention to?

By inviting them to opt in for content they’re interested in, they can choose to pay attention and give you permission to share your message with them. This method also has the added benefit of capturing their contact information so that you can continue to share more valuable content with them over time to convert them into a lead or customer for your business. 

What Is Content Marketing?
Here’s the essence of content marketing in a nutshell: content marketing aims to build trust with your audience by providing high-quality content that’s relevant to their interests, needs and desires.

Any marketing strategy that tries to take your audience’s attention away from something they find valuable can never compete with that.
By using content marketing in lieu of traditional marketing, you can:
Attract the attention of high-quality leads for your business.
Retain customers for longer and more profitable relationships.
Nurture them to create loyal customers and increase your customers’ brand loyalty and positive regard for your business.
Establish widespread brand awareness and thought leadership in your industry.
Create relationships with influencers and new brand advocates to grow your business.
Content marketing isn’t only about blogging, ebooks, or even white papers – there’s a huge variety of content types available for today’s marketers to choose from. These include creative new formats such as podcasts, infographics, slide deck presentations, quizzes, audiobooks and more! The only limit to the type of content marketers employ is their own creativity.
Why Should Your Business Embrace Content Marketing?
If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur without a huge marketing team behind you, getting a working content marketing strategy may seem like a daunting undertaking! You may already have a blog and, although you’ve experimented with content marketing, maybe you’ve only achieved mixed results. Perhaps you’ve never ventured into content marketing, and the thought of pursuing a new strategy like this feels a bit overwhelming! No matter where your business stands with content marketing, just remember: there are some huge benefits that will make your work on this strategy worthwhile.

Adopting a successful content marketing strategy for your business can help you do the following:
Attract Qualified Leads for Your Business 
By capturing contact info in exchange for high-value, relevant content, you’ll gain a huge list of potential customers who have a demonstrated interest in learning more about topics related to your product, making them ultra-hot leads.
Retain Customers for More Profitable Relationships 
Adding value for existing customers will produce a boost in retention. By giving them more content to enrich their experience, they’ll stay with your company longer and buy more than they would have otherwise.
Nurture Leads to Create New Customers
By sharing more content with your leads over time to impress them and win their trust, you’ll succeed at converting them into paying customers at a much higher rate.
Increase Brand Loyalty and Goodwill
If you continue to nurture existing customers with even more high-quality content, you can strengthen their loyalty to your brand to reduce the risk of losing them to the competition.
Build Brand Awareness and Thought Leadership in Your Industry
Content marketing can help you grow and expand your audience to increase awareness of your brand on a larger scale and establish thought leadership as an authoritative source of information and solutions.
Create Relationships With Influencers and Brand Advocates
With content marketing, you will impress more important influencers in your industry — effectively winning them over as brand advocates who can help refer more leads and customers through word of mouth.
Ready to Take the Next Step? Here’s What You’ll Learn in This Blueprint.

In this detailed online resource, you’ll get all the information and strategy you need to build a successful content marketing strategy for your business from the ground up.

You’ll learn how to: 

Conduct research and develop personas to understand your target audience
Define your brand and your story for more effective storytelling
Plan and document an effective, goal-oriented content marketing strategy
Choose achievable, ambitious and measurable goals to guide your efforts
Create an organized, detailed editorial calendar that will keep you and your team on track
Choose the most effective content type and format for your business’s objectives
Manage a team of in-house and outsourced talent to produce top-notch content
Create engaging content that your audience will find irresistible
Promote your content effectively to multiply your reach and results
Understand important metrics to measure and improve the ROI of your content marketing
And lots more!
Table of Contents
Chapter One
Understanding Your Target Audience(s)
Learn how to conduct research, define your target audience, and develop reader personas.
Chapter Two
Defining Your Brand and Story

Find out how to tell your brand’s story in a compelling way to forge a strong emotional connection.
Chapter Three
Planning Your Content Marketing Strategy
Get insight on documenting a strategy with defined goals and planning your editorial calendar.
Chapter Four
Creating Engaging Content
Learn how to write and produce content that captures your audience’s attention.
Chapter Five
Effectively Promoting Your Content
Get strategies for successfully driving traffic to your content to grow your audience.
Chapter Six
Measuring (And Improving) The ROI of Your Content Marketing
Find out how to measure important content marketing metrics and gauge your success.
 Chapter One
Understanding Your Target Audience(s)
First Things First: Start With Audience Research
To find success with content marketing, it’s important to start by knowing, inside and out, who your intended audience is. This goes beyond demographics — knowing your audience means putting yourself in their shoes. What kind of blog articles do they want to read? What kind of videos do they want to watch? What kind of how-to guides are they searching for on Google?

Although you may believe you know who they are and what they want, remember what they say about people who just assume… don’t let that be you! Instead, roll up your sleeves and do some research to back it up. Who knows? You might just discover something new about them! In fact, if you follow these steps, you’re bound to.
Step 1: Get to Know Your Customers
What’s the best place to start when doing audience research to find more people who are like your customers? Get to know your customers better! There are a few simple ways you can do this, including:
Interviews:
Focus groups don’t have to be expensive or complicated! Find a few existing customers who are willing to sit down with you and let you ask them some questions. You can also try interviewing them over the phone or Skype if they’re not local. During the interview, address their pain points (in relation to the problem your product solves) and find out what their perception of your brand is. Ask them about what kind of content they like to read, what range of topics they’d like to learn about. Be sure to take good notes! It wouldn’t hurt to reward them for helping you out with a discount or freebie while you’re at it.
Surveys:
A great way to get information from a hearty sampling of customers at once is to send out a survey. Ask them about their favorite sources for content related to your industry, topics they’re interested in reading more about, and their opinion of your existing content (if you’re already doing content marketing). If possible, incentivize participation in the survey to boost engagement! This can all be done using a free web service like Survey Monkey (or you can use ONTRAPORT).
Talk to Your Client-Facing Teams:
Nobody knows your customers better than the team who works face-to-face with them every day. (If you’re a solopreneur or very small business owner, this might be you!) Refer to your sales and customer teams, and inquire about what problems your customers are currently facing. Find out what objections, if any, they have to your product. See if you can get insight into your customers’ knowledge gaps from their most frequently asked questions.
Dig Into Your Existing Data:
What information do you already have about your customers? Whether you keep your records in file cabinets, spreadsheets or a CRM, do some digging in your customer data to see what you can learn about your customers that you don’t already know. Are there any surprising trends in where they live? Their age or gender? The type of services or products purchased? Information is power, so make the most of the information you’ve got right under your nose.
Step 2: Get to Know the Competition
You probably already know who your main competitors are. Since you’re doing research to prepare a killer content marketing strategy, the task at hand isn’t researching the competition to your product (although there’s going to be plenty of overlap here). What you need to do is research your content competitors — what other branded content sources are your leads and customers looking to?

You need to figure out what else your audience is reading, watching and consuming — especially when it comes to other branded content. (Game of Thrones or Mad Men isn’t exactly a threat to your business..) Your goal is to be the go-to source in a very particular niche based on your customers’ interests. You don’t want them going to a competitor if they could be learning from you and establishing trust.

Here are a few great ways to get an idea of other content that’s out there from which your audience may choose. 

Google Search:
If your customers do a Google search to answer a question about your industry or your product, what comes up? To find out, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and do a series of searches from their perspective. (Use a few different search engines for best results.) See what other types of content pops up, paying special attention to answers that other brands in your space are providing.
Social Media:
Check out your competitors’ social media profiles to get a sense of what they’re sharing. Pay close attention to the engagement they’re receiving - does their audience seem to be more interested in certain kinds of posts than others? You can also do a search in Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram to determine the most popular social media content about your chosen topic.
BuzzSumo:
This handy tool is great for discovering what content is performing best on a variety of topics. It’s also great for insight into the most successful published content your competitors are using to attract attention. Do a quick search, and BuzzSumo will present you with the most shared content across a variety of social networks while giving you a ranking of their popularity according to total shares.
Alltop:
Want to find out what content is currently trending in just about any category? Check out Alltop.com. Navigate to a relevant topic for your industry, and see what stories and sources are the most popular! Alltop has hundreds of topic categories to choose from, and it’s a great way to discover loosely related content that’s earning a huge share of your audience’s attention.
Step 3: Identify Influencers
Who are the trendsetters inside the niche content spaces where your audience spends their time and attention? To understand your audience, you need to identify their most popular and authoritative influencers. 
While doing your search engine research, you’re likely to come across several leading industry blogs that are reaching a large share of your target audience. In addition to blogs run by the largest brands in your space, you’ll also find blogs run by individuals who have mastered the art of personal branding and who are becoming significant influencers on the topics your audience is interested in. 

Check out the types of articles these blogs publish, and keep an eye on the following:

         What kind of headlines do they use?
         In what format do they share content?
         Do they publish articles with embedded videos?
         Are they using infographics?

Take note of what’s popular so you can use it later as inspiration.
Developing Buyer Personas
To really know the people you’re creating content for, you have to know more than bare-bones demographic data. You need to know who they are — and the best way to do that is by creating a persona.


A buyer persona is a picture of an individual person who embodies the most quintessential traits you’ve uncovered in your research — brought to life with a detailed description that you can use to target your message toward them in a more personal way. 


Really understanding the difference between demographic data and a buyer persona can be tricky. Ardath Albee, a content marketing expert and consultant, has had many clients who are fuzzy on the exact distinction. She’s said
Demographic data describes the traits possessed by the individual who is the embodiment of your buyer persona, but data alone isn’t enough to craft a message that will resonate with them! 

Demographic data can include age, location, gender, household income, family size, and  business size.
Combine this with behavioral data about what types of products they purchase from your business and what type of content they consume, and you’ve got a recipe for a buyer persona that you can use to craft more content that’s perfect for them.

When you really know who you’re talking to, you’ll know the kinds of problems they’re facing, their biggest needs and wants, their fears, and the kind of language most likely to appeal to them. You can then use these insights to craft your content marketing strategy.

To develop your buyer personas, ask these questions about each distinct audience group:
What type of content do they consume?
In what format do they prefer to consume content?
How do they talk? What style and tone do they use in their language? 
Where do they discover new content?
What knowledge gaps do they have?
What are their biggest fears?
What’s their greatest desire?
What do they do on an average day?
At what stage are they in their career (entry, mid, or senior level)?
What are the most annoying things they deal with on a daily basis?
What kind of reasoning are they most likely to respond to? (Emotional appeal, cold hard facts, or a blend of both?)

 
Answer these questions, and you’ll have the perspective you need to create content with a strong appeal for your most ideal audiences.
 Chapter Two
Defining Your Brand Story
The Purpose of Brand Storytelling
Now that you’ve done the hard work of understanding and defining your target audience, you’re almost ready to start crafting some content; however, it would be a mistake to jump into content creation without first pausing to define another important element of your content marketing strategy: your brand’s story.

To get your audience to connect with your content, you need to ensure consistency with a cohesive brand story — a story that’s emotionally compelling to the audience with whom you’re aiming to engage. 
Why is it that stories are such a crucial part of content marketing?
Essentially, brand storytelling is the art of crafting a narrative that serves as a vehicle to deliver your brand’s central message to your target audience. Brands who successfully do this have a huge advantage when it comes to awareness and loyalty. By inviting their audience into their narrative, they earn trust and make the buying decision much easier. 
There are few brands who understand the power of storytelling quite as well as Coca-Cola. Jonathan Mildenhall, the company’s Vice President of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, grabbed the content marketing world’s attention with the Coca Cola Content 2020 project, an insightful manifesto in the form of a video explaining how the company plans to use brand storytelling to double the size of their business.

In it he explains
that the company's purpose in creating excellent content that tells their brand’s story is “to create ideas so contagious that they cannot be controlled.” By telling stories, they aim to develop even deeper emotional connections between their audience and brand and then engage their audience in a two-way conversation to gather consumer-generated content that feeds new iterations of the story.

The resulting conversation then allows for Coca-Cola to engage in what’s called Dynamic Storytelling, which Mildenhall defines as “The development of incremental elements of a brand idea that get dispersed systematically across multiple channels of conversation for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience.” By spreading their brand idea widely via powerful storytelling, Coca Cola invites their audience to participate in the conversation and add to the story via social media channels which, in turn, fuels a valuable two-way conversation that advances their business goals.
Why is narrative such a powerful driver of emotional connection in content marketing?
Mildenhall says, “We must remember that storytelling is at the heart of all families, communities and cultures.” By tapping into the narrative themes that will resonate with your target audience, not only can you effectively show your audience who you are, you can also show them that you know who they are. 

How to Tell Your Brand’s Story
Are you ready to engage your audience through the power of storytelling? If so, the best way to create an emotionally compelling brand story is to create what’s known as a Hero’s Journey.

Developed by a mythologist named Joseph Campbell in 1949, today The Hero’s Journey is one of the world’s most prevalent constructs for compelling storytelling. Based on the most common narrative elements found in ancient mythology, The Hero’s Journey (also known as the Monomyth) is a story framework that’s been used to construct some of the most well-known contemporary brand stories, novels and popular films. 

In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell described this basic narrative pattern as follows:

For one of the most famous examples of The Hero’s Journey framework, think of the plotline of Star Wars. The hero, Luke Skywalker, goes from zero to hero, learns to master the Force, defeats Darth Vader, and restores peace and justice to the galaxy.

The journey that the hero takes looks something like this:

How to Use The Hero’s Journey 
What does the hero’s journey have to do with your brand story? Simple: you can use the same framework to craft a story about your product or service that irresistibly draws your audience in. 

Alex Herring, a writer for Pace, describes how you can leverage the framework of The Hero’s Journey to put your customer straight into the middle of your story: “With the customer as hero, the brand’s role is usually that of the “mentor,” (introduced in step 4 of the hero’s journey, but can sometimes appear earlier, i.e. in step 2, the call to adventure). Think Yoda to Luke Skywalker or Gandalf to Bilbo Baggins. The mentor’s message is meant to encourage or empower the hero, to help him achieve something he didn’t believe he could.”
Why does using The Hero’s Journey to tell stories work so well? It works because it promises a shift in the hero’s reality — which translates back in the real world into a shift in your customer's reality. Your brand story is the story of how your product or service makes your customer’s life better. The Hero’s Journey builds the emotionally rewarding aspects of the world’s best storylines straight into your brand’s story, and it makes a promise of change that your target audience can connect to on a personal level.

Failing to do this is one of the most common reasons that content marketing falls flat! When your content is all about you, your business, your product or your service, the audience can’t connect. Your audience needs to envision themselves within your brand story. Leave them out of it and your entire marketing strategy suffers. 

Chris Brogan, prolific blogger and CEO of Owner Media Group has argued that the failure to tell stories from the customer’s point of view is one of the most deadly marketing mistakes.

He proclaims
, “Where marketing seems to go wrong more often than not is when it’s about the product and not the story it helps the customer tell. They lose the sense of a point-of-view character. They think the thing is the star. But that would be like making a movie about the Batmobile instead of Batman. The car is cool. No doubt. But we need a story.”
On the other hand, some marketing experts believe that a successful brand story can place the brand as the hero.

Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer at the Content Marketing Institute, says that “The customer is not your hero. The customer is the one you want to take on the journey — the one who, at the end, identifies with, is inspired by and/or is influenced by the hero. Should your audience be placed in the middle of your story? That’s for you to decide as the creator of the content marketing effort.”

Whether you decide to make your customer the Luke Skywalker or the Princess Leia of your story, one thing is for sure: The Hero’s Journey only works to create a compelling story if it promises a tangible, positive change in your audience’s reality. 

Hero’s Journey Inspiration
You can paint your customers as the heroes who save a damsel in distress, as Zendesk did in this clever video.
Crafting Your Hero's Journey
To fully leverage the potential of The Hero’s Journey as you develop your own brand story in preparation for your successful content marketing strategy, answer the following questions: 

1. Who is the hero in your brand’s story, you or the customer?
Example: Me - I’m a successful consultant who has for years helped small businesses face the challenges presented by technology, and now I’m creating content that can help any small business owner overcome those same challenges.

Example: My customers - My customers are stuck dealing with the challenges of marketing their small business. With some help from me, they can overcome those challenges and serve more customers to make a bigger impact than they thought possible.

2. What is the hero’s life like before the journey begins?
Example: As a small business owner, dealing with dozens of different, complicated platforms and software tools to try and run a business means constant chaos, lots of missed opportunities, and a continual struggle to grow. 
3. What is the hero’s call to adventure? Why is he/she scared to accept it at first?
Example: Small business owners learn that they can make their business better by developing systems and processes that they can automate. However, they’re afraid to get started because the technology out there seems so intimidating.
4. Who is the hero’s mentor? How does he/she help the hero cross the threshold and start the journey?
Example: I help small business owners cut through the chaos by creating content that gives them easy systems and processes they can use in their business, teaches them easy ways to use automation, and empowers them to continue making their business better.
5. What struggles do they face along the way? How do they overcome them?
Example: Along the way, they may run into many challenges learning to use automation, keeping track of new processes and effectively implementing them into their business despite being constantly short on time. The content that I create helps them overcome these challenges by holding them accountable, getting them the support they need, and making their ideas easier to implement.
6. What’s their reality after they’ve conquered the challenges on their journey?
Example: After learning how to automate their business by reading the content I create, small business owners have more time available to work on high-value projects that drive their business’s expansion and spend less time dealing with the routine, repetitive tasks that do nothing more than maintain the status quo. Their business has been transformed, allowing them to achieve the income and the lifestyle they have been dreaming of.
7. What effect does the hero’s victory have for others?
Example: After creating business systems that run smoothly and create predictable success, the small business owner is able to serve more clients and even teach other entrepreneurs how to succeed by doing the same.
Aligning Your Content Strategy With The Hero’s Journey
Once you’ve outlined the framework of your brand’s story using the questions above, it’s time to use your story to shape your content marketing strategy.

The narrative that you created will impact your content marketing strategy in the following ways:

Type of content created:
What would help your heroes overcome their challenges? A step-by-step how-to guide? An infographic? A comparison of pros and cons?
Tone/voice of your content:
How will you speak to your customers according to their role in the story? For example, if your brand’s role is mentor, your tone might be empowering, supportive, and friendly.
Solutions provided by your content:
How is your content going to help the heroes solve their problem? What are you going to give them that helps them defeat the challenges they’re facing?
Next steps from each piece of content:
What is the next challenge your heroes will face? What do they need to do after they consume the content they just read? Perhaps the next step is to download a more detailed guide, share their experience with others via social media, or buy an introductory product to solve their next challenge. Use The Hero’s Journey to choose effective calls to action for each piece of content.
With a cohesive brand story to draw from, you’re all set to start defining your content marketing strategy!
 Chapter Three
Planning Your Content Marketing Strategy
Do you know the difference between strategy and tactics? Using the two interchangeably is one of the most common mistakes for new content marketers!

Here’s the difference: A tactic defines the exact details of how you’re going to complete a specific strategy. It’s not a strategy — it’s only a plan of what you’re going to do to execute a strategy. On the other hand, a strategy defines the “why” behind your campaigns. A strategy provides a purpose for all this work you’re going to do. It paints a clear picture of what you’re working for, what projected success looks like, and how you’ll know whether you’ve achieved success.
Why Do I Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Without a strategy behind it, your content marketing efforts and all the tactics in the world won’t propel you forward.

Diving into content marketing without a strategy is like driving blind. You need to know why you’re creating it, what tangible business goals you’re out to achieve, and how you’re going to measure your success in meeting those goals.
Lack of a solid strategy is a huge problem in the content marketing world.
 
It’s easy for marketers, entrepreneurs and small business owners to get swept up in the latest content marketing trends without defining their strategy. The problem is, this just results in creating content for content’s sake, instead of producing a steady ROI.  

The strategy issue is widespread in the content marketing world. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, and only 37% of B2C marketers do. 
The fact that fewer that half of marketers have defined their content marketing strategy is even more disturbing when you look at the difference having a strategy makes for successful content marketers. Research reveals that having a documented content marketing strategy makes a huge impact.

According the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 report, “Research consistently shows that those who document their strategy are more effective in nearly all areas of content marketing.” Specifically, “53% of the most effective marketers have a documented content marketing strategy” and “40% of the least effective marketers have no strategy at all.” Most fall somewhere in the middle, with a verbal-only strategy, but the implications are clear: having a documented strategy leads to success.  

Why is this the case? Neil Patel provides one possible answer to the question of why strategy is so important for content marketing: “Any strategy — even a bad one — is better than no strategy. With a bad strategy, you can at least figure out that it’s bad and change it. With no strategy, you’ll just keep on doing what you’re doing, wasting your time, losing money, and ruining your brand.”

It seems simple. With a strategy, you’ve got clarity on what you’re working toward.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here’s one final reason: It can help your company prevent what’s known as “content waste,” one of the most disastrous outcomes of focusing on tactics instead of strategy. 
According to Sirius Decisions, “When the type of content created does not align with buyers’ and sellers’ needs, it fails to support the types of conversations that are required to move the buying process forward.” The main reason that content isn’t actually being used — at least not to its full potential — is because of poor strategy.

Don't waste your team’s efforts and your business’s resources. Before you create content, know for whom you’re creating it, the business goals it needs to help accomplish, and how you’re going to measure that.
Establishing Your Goals
With strategy out of the way, it’s time to establish your goals!

Why is establishing smart, measurable goals so important? According to Sonia Simone, co-founder and chief content officer of Rainmaker Digital, “To make content work, you need to understand your marketing and business goals. Then you can create content that serves those goals, instead of just giving your audience something to pass the time.”

Now, consider your content marketing goals. What do you plan to use content marketing to achieve in your business?
Whether you already have a defined goal, or you’re just coming up with one for the very first time, you can use the S.M.A.R.T. criteria developed by management guru Peter Drucker to determine whether or not your goals are worthwhile.

According to Drucker, smart goals are:
1.  Specific - They are detailed and clear.
2. Measurable - They can be tracked quantitatively.
3. Achievable - It should be very clear when they’re complete.
4. Realistic - They should be attainable.
5. Time-Bound - They should be achieved by an end date. 

Here’s an example of a S.M.A.R.T. content marketing goal that includes all five criteria:
Within one year, we aim to achieve 1,000 downloads of our lead magnet to generate qualified leads for our new product and convert those leads into 250 new sales using an email nurture sequence. 


This strategy can actually be used to set goals in just about any area of your business, but if you use the S.M.A.R.T. criteria for content marketing you’ll be off to a great start!
Content Marketing Goal Types 
When establishing your goals, there’s no need to pull one out of thin air. There are a few main types of content marketing goals you can choose from and then modify to support your own larger business objectives. Check out the following five goal types to see what you should be aiming for. 
1. Brand Awareness
Brand awareness goals are about increasing the visibility of your company and product by establishing widespread thought leadership in your area. Research has shown that this goal is one of the most popular among content marketers. A study by MarketingProfs and Junta42 revealed that brand awareness was the number one goal among North American B2B marketers. Why is this such a common goal? John Hall, co-founder of Influence & Co. says that it’s because “high-quality, purposeful content can showcase your company’s expertise, leaving readers asking, ‘Who wrote this?’” When you create an authoritative piece that your potential customers find insightful, they’ll naturally be curious about you and your product.
2. Lead Generation
What is lead generation? Unbounce defines it as such: “Often abbreviated as ‘lead gen,’ lead generation is the process of attracting and converting qualified prospects to fill your sales funnel. There are many types of lead generation campaigns, but the goal is usually the same: collect a user’s email address and follow up with lead nurturing.” Keep in mind, not everyone who arrives on your website is going to become a customer immediately, which is why it’s smart to grab their contact information! 
According to Webrunner Media, “Being that 98% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy on their first visit, you’re going to want a way to continue the conversation with these prospects over time in order to potentially sell them your products & services later on. That’s why it’s imperative you capture some of this traffic’s contact information — specifically their name & email.”

The fact that they’ve downloaded your content also means that they’re now more than just a prospect; they’re a higher quality lead for your product — they’ve shown a level of interest that means it’s worth your time to follow up with them. 
3. Lead Nurture
Do you already have a decently large database of potential customers? Once your lead generation efforts start paying off, your next priority should be to turn those leads into real, paying customers for your business. Content marketing helps you achieve this by educating your leads to help them make their buying decision with confidence.

Think about how long you and your team spend answering the same questions over and over on sales calls. What if your content strategy could educate those leads so you could get straight to more advanced questions?  
In addition to educating your leads, long-term lead nurture with high quality content can also have a big effect on revenue. Here are three impressive stats about the power of lead nurturing, courtesy of this article by Ellen Gnomes at Marketo:
Given the huge power of lead nurturing to increase your revenues, this is definitely a goal worth keeping in mind once you’ve got the basics of lead generation down.
4. Customer Retention
There are many factors that contribute to your customer experience, including the quality of your product and your customer service team. On top of that, your content marketing can actually have a larger impact than you might think!

According to Sonia Simone, co-founder and chief content officer of Rainmaker Digital, “A solid base of referral and repeat business is the hallmark of a great business. Even if you never did any content marketing to anyone other than your customers, you could radically improve your business by improving the communication you have with your customers today.”
Think about it: Your retention rate over time will improve if your customers are continually receiving more value from your brand in the form of content. You need to continue to nurture your existing customers with more content until they’re ready to buy again!

Jonny Rose, head of content for idio, has said that “...content works as an excellent way to retain customers and keep them engaged with brand messaging until they are ready to purchase again... According to a Bain and Co study, when the cost of retaining customers was analyzed against the cost of sourcing and acquiring new customers the study revealed that 'increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25%-95%.'”

Don’t forget that content marketing can do a lot more than just help you attract new customers. One of your most important goals should be to use content to help you hold onto your existing ones! 

5. Brand Advocacy
Your content marketing efforts shouldn’t aim only to convert your audience into customers - why not take it a step further and aim to convert them into brand advocates who are excited to share your content and your product with their audiences? According to Ted Rubin of InsideCXM, brand advocates are “people who are so delighted by your product/service/brand that they can’t wait to tell their friends and their whole social network about their experience.” 
Your content should also aim to delight readers so much that they choose to share it on social media, or even better, actively refer potential new customers to your brand! This can have a huge revenue payoff. Deloitte reports that “Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.” Instead of spending all your budget and content marketing resources trying to attract leads and customers all by yourself, enlist your brand advocates to help you attract customers who will stick around even longer!
Your Content Marketing Goal Timeline
Here’s one thing to keep in mind: A fully developed content marketing strategy should cover all five of these goal types. If you’re just getting started, it’s best to focus your efforts on one at a time.

Spend your time on content geared toward improving customer retention first (there’s no point trying to attract new customers when you can’t hold on to the ones you have). Once you’ve got a handle on that, move on to lead generation, followed by lead nurture, saving brand awareness and brand advocacy for after you’ve established a reliable funnel that brings you new customers. 

Creating an Editorial Calendar
One of the most valuable documents on any content marketing team is the editorial calendar. It helps you and your team to plan and visualize what types of content you will publish, where it will be published, and when it will be published.

Coschedule says that “A content marketing editorial calendar is essentially a planning document that gives you and your team a plan of attack... Like a traditional editorial calendar, it gives you a bird’s-eye view of what is going on.”

Here are three solid reasons why you and your team need an editorial calendar, no matter what your strategy is:
1. It helps you manage your team’s workload and deadlines.
2. It creates accountability for your team to deliver the content you’re expecting on the date you’re expecting.
3. It helps you plan and coordinate the many moving parts of a content marketing campaign. 

How to Create Your Own Editorial Calendar
A good editorial calendar should consolidate all the information about what you’re publishing into one document. This should include your social media posts, your blog articles, your ebooks, videos, and more. The moral of the story: If you’re devoting content creation effort to anything, it should live on the calendar.

Why is it so important to have everything together in one master document? Convince and Convert says that having a single editorial calendar helps you avoid the chaos of many content marketing teams where “The social media folks have their editorial calendar, your blog editor has something completely different, your community manager is planning events and Twitter Chats with something else, and your manager has a separate project calendar for all of these folks.”

To get started, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet so that you have unlimited space to lay out content in easily digestible rows and columns. You can use different tabs to separate content month by month or platform by platform. If necessary, you can create a different spreadsheet for each month to allow yourself more detail in each of the tabs on your calendar.

Here’s why Unbounce recommends using a spreadsheet for your editorial calendar: “With unlimited space, multiple tabs, and even some color, you can build a creative (and easily shareable) platform that allows you to establish themes or focal points for your work. So, if it’s important to remember that March is the month of the Sweet Potato, including it on your calendar will help you develop content ideas around sweet potatoes.”  

There’s a lot of information that needs to be in this document. How you organize it will look different depending on what your strategy is, but don’t forget to include the following:
Content Category (It’s a good idea to sort your content into several larger buckets according to their topic; this helps with your blog and website architecture as well.)
Content Type (Ebook, Blog Article, Video, Infographic, etc.)
Publication Date
Date Due for Review
Author/Writer/Videographer Assigned to Project
Working Title
Blurb/Short Description
Here at ONTRAPORT, we use a spreadsheet to coordinate our monthly content marketing efforts. Our columns include content posting date, day of the week, type of content, content category, title, link to the draft or outline, a short blurb and more. Here’s what it looks like:
If you plan to use a spreadsheet for your editorial calendar, we highly recommend using Google Sheets and sharing it with your team in Google Drive. This allows multiple team members to work on the same document at once, while seeing edits made by others in real time. It also allows you to easily share the document, link to other documents, and update it from anywhere.
Choosing Content Types
With your strategy documented, your goals defined, and your content calendar ready to go, you’re finally ready to choose what content types you’re going to create and publish! There’s a virtually unlimited number of possibilities for what you can create.

If you want to get started with a classic, some of the most widely-used content types include:

Ebook
Ebooks are a downloadable file, typically a PDF, that your audience can save to their desktop and reference at any time. They’re usually definitive guides to a larger topic, industry insights and data, or step-by-step guides to get readers up to speed on a new topic.

Some great examples:
Buffer: 25 Actionable Social Media Strategies You Can Implement Today 
Adroll: The Performance Marketer’s Guide to Retargeting
ONTRAPORT: SEO Basics: An Essential Guide for Entrepreneurs

Webinars
Instead of offering information to your audience in a written format only, why not create a more interactive presentation? With webinar technology, you can share information with your audience via a live video broadcast and field their questions as they come in. Share your own expertise, or have a knowledgeable member of your team prepare a presentation on what they know best!
Blog Article
Articles published to your company’s blog might contain a list of tips, dos and don’ts, steps for accomplishing something valuable to your audience or even an opinion on a current industry trend.

Some great examples:
Digital Marketer: Facebook’s New Conversion Pixel: Pain-Free Migration & Set Up
Copyblogger: Get More Done and Boost Profits With This 3-Step Process for Hiring Help
ONTRAPORT: Boost Your Sales Conversions With These 6 Order Page Must-Haves

Email Newsletters
Instead of only sending emails that promote your content and products, why not create an email newsletter that includes tons more valuable content your contacts will want to read? You can share helpful tips, quick facts, news and even links to articles you’ve written.
Case Studies
One of the most valuable content types you can create for your brand, case studies make it easier for your leads to understand the value of your product or service. By showcasing the stories of your successful customers, you can help leads and prospects understand how your product or service could meet their needs and eliminate their pain points.

Examples:
Life 2.0: How Becoming an ONTRAPORT Certified Consultant Changed One Woman’s Life
Marie Forleo Breaks Into a New Niche
Basic Bananas: Having a Great Lifestyle is Beneficial to Your Business

Videos
Not everyone prefers to consume content by reading. In addition to webinars, producing video content is a great way to connect with a larger audience by presenting content in an audio-visual format that’s easy to watch and digest. Try turning content you already have, like an ebook or blog article, into a quick instructional video. It doesn’t have to be elaborate! There’s no need to hire an expensive studio or buy tons of new equipment — there are many ways to boost your production value on a low budget.
Trying a less traditional format can also be a great way to attract attention to your content!
If you’re ready to step up your content marketing game, try one of the following content types:

Infographics  •  Podcasts  •  Slide Decks  •  Web Books  •  Quizzes
Audiobooks  •  Membership Sites  •  Free Online Courses 

With a solid strategy and plan for your content marketing in place, plus an organized calendar and a focus on the specific types of content you will create, you’re ready to finally start creating content! Read the following chapter for plenty of tips and insights for creating engaging content your audience will love to read.
 Chapter Four
Creating Engaging Content
The golden rule of content creation is simple:
Make stuff people want to read. 

It might seem obvious, but it’s all too easy for content marketers to get so wrapped up in their own businesses, products or industries that they forget to tailor what they write to be both accessible and interesting for their target audience: their existing and potential customers.

Assuming that your content is sought out just because of who you are is a false assumption many marketers fall victim to — and it’s the kind of thing that gets ridiculed in satirical publications like The Onion. In fact, the CCO of The Onion Rick Hamann has addressed the big challenge of making branded content interesting and valuable for readers.
In this interview, he asks, “Why do you think so much of the branded content out there just sucks? It’s the same reason the majority of advertising sucks: It’s just really really difficult to do.” Yet, The Onion manages to produce tons of content on behalf of the brands that they work with that successfully captures their audience’s attention.

This hilarious video promoting Allegra is only one great example of The Onion’s approach to crafting engaging branded content. Although it’s very similar in format to a traditional commercial, the humorous elements they’ve added makes it interesting, remarkable and share-worthy.    
The Onion succeeds at producing great content (and you can too) because they focus on generating content that appeals to their audience. It’s a simple concept, but take care not to lose sight of it while you do the hard (but rewarding) work of content creation.
Avoid These 7 Pitfalls to Create Content People Want to Consume
If people don’t like your content, they’ll abandon it. Here are seven common reasons why: 
1. It's a wall of text.
When people first scroll through your blog article or ebook, do they see nothing but huge chunks of text? That’s a lot to process for a reader who may not be ready to commit at this time. To prevent this issue, intersperse your text with great images and visuals, or break it up with lists or bullet points to make the information more digestible.
2. It's fluff.
A few minutes into your content, do your readers begin to realize that you have nothing of substance to say? There’s a lot of marketing content out there that’s nothing more than drivel masquerading as a detailed ebook or informative webinar. To avoid this, be sure to write on a topic that will give you (or your writers) a chance to show off what you really know. Avoid writing content that’s basically a summary of what your reader could learn by doing a 30-second google search.
3. It’s overly technical.
Are you trying to take your audience so far out into the weeds that they no longer understand what you’re talking about? Are you explaining a technical concept from your industry in such excruciating detail that your reader only ends up getting lost in the jargon? Focus on explaining these ideas in layman’s terms — write them out as though you’re speaking directly to your buyer persona, with all their limitations, fears, desires and knowledge gaps.
4. It’s just not what they were looking for.
This is a common problem that results when content is poorly titled or given a misleading headline. Let’s say someone searched for “how to get my business on facebook,” and found your ebook titled “The Ultimate Guide to Facebook for Your Business.” However, if your ebook was actually about advanced tactics like advertising and hacks to boost engagement, they’d probably move on to something else fast. What they’re really looking for is just the basics! Make sure your headlines and subheaders represent the content accurately.
5. It’s poorly written.
Is your content riddled with spelling and grammatical errors? Is it held back by fuzzy thinking and even fuzzier writing? Is it repetitive, disorganized or otherwise unpleasant to read? If so, your readers are going to hightail it to someone else’s content. To fix this issue, be sure to create a detailed outline for anything you write before diving in. Then enlist some help from an experienced copy editor who can catch any mistakes in your content long before your readers do.
6. It’s plagued by ugly design or visuals.
Does your video look like it was recorded in a bathroom using a potato? Does your infographic color scheme mesh poorly with the background of your web page? Never underestimate the power of great design — it reflects strongly on your content and brand.
7. It’s too salesy or pushy.
No one likes getting a sales pitch when they haven’t asked for it. If your content doesn’t speak to your customers’ pressing needs, wants and fears, why should they pay attention? Instead of asking them to buy, buy, buy, provide something of value — and then follow up with a sales pitch after they’ve specifically requested more info on you and your product. 
How to Produce Top-Notch Content
Now that you’ve gotten a handle on what not to do if you want to create engaging content, here’s what you should do.

Remember this: If you want to create top-notch content, you’re going to need a top notch team.

(Note: If you’re a solopreneur, don’t let this stop you! You should absolutely start out by writing about what you know. You can also outsource content creation to freelancers or agencies to help you get started. More on this coming up soon.)

While most people should be able to write a basic blog article given enough instruction and information, you need people on your team who know how to share ideas and get them to stick. You need people who fill in the blanks and read between the lines when handed an outline to write, design, or film something that connects with the audience in a powerful way.

When Hiring for Your Content Team, Be on the Lookout for the Following Traits:
Critical thinking skills:
Ideal content marketers should know how to evaluate an idea critically and argue their own points with clarity and sound logic.
Persuasion:
A great content marketer needs to know how to make things sound appealing to present your brand’s message in the most enticing way possible.
Sharp writing and editing skills:
If you’re hiring a writer, this is paramount. Is there a typo in the resume? Put it in the “no” pile fast! Even non-writers need to have an eye for this — there’s nothing worse than a misspelling in an infographic your designer spent hours on.
Ability to understand and contribute to your business objectives:
The people you hire need to have an in-depth understanding of how you define success, and they need to be on board with it.
A passion for research and self-education:
If your team is going to create effective content, not only do they have to be at the front of any new trends in their area, they also need to have a personal passion for learning to absorb information and share it with your audience.
When hiring your team, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of outsourcing your content creation as opposed to building your own in-house team. If you’re just getting started with your content marketing efforts, outsourcing some help from a graphic designer or copy editor can be a great way to get the ball rolling with a limited budget. There are also many talented writers and video experts who work as freelancers, and choosing to work with them can be a smart way to access talent that you normally couldn’t afford to hire full-time. 
Directing Your Team
Remember the content calendar that you created back in chapter two?

When managing your team, remember to make this document your go-to place for planning deadlines, assigning writers and other content creators, and keeping track of outlines and drafts.

When you give your team (or yourself) a new assignment, there’s some homework to be done before you start writing. Follow these three steps:

1. Find as Many Sources of Rival Content as Possible
In the same way that you did research on rival content creators when zeroing in on your content marketing strategy, your writers and content creators need to do research on what else is out there on the same topic. Are you writing an ebook about how to roast and grind your own coffee? Search for coffee ebooks, blog articles and videos that aim to teach the exact same thing. Learn what their strengths and weaknesses are.

2. Identify a Gap in What’s Available for Your Audience
After your content creators do some research on rival content, have them focus on how you can make your version even better than theirs. What information is left out? What closely related topics should be covered? Your goal is to find a need for information and fill it.
3. Tie all Content Back to the Customer Persona and The Hero’s Journey
Once your content creators know what they’re going to produce, they need to have a clear idea in mind of who they’re writing it for before they put pen to paper. They should pinpoint to which customer personas they're writing and place the content they're creating within The Hero’s Journey by identifying what they’re going to help the reader achieve — factoring in their jumping off point.
Tapping Into Your Business’s Thought Leadership Potential
The members of your content marketing team are definitely not the only ones in your company who are capable of some serious thought leadership. Do you have smart people in management, engineering, HR or operations who have valuable contributions to make to your organization’s content library? 
Getting people from every department of your company involved in the content creation process allows you to showcase a much wider variety of topics and add valuable contributions to topics that your content marketing team might not be able to provide.

Here’s why you should consider expanding your content creation process beyond your go-to editorial team:

Even if the people in these roles aren’t prepared to sit down and write an ebook for you, you can still take advantage of what they know by having a content writer interview them and create an article based on their insights or by making a video of them sharing their expertise. 
With these insights you’ll be prepared for the next important step towards your successful content marketing program: content promotion!  Get ready for plenty of insights on promoting your content to reach a larger audience in the following chapter.
 Chapter Five
Effectively Promoting Your Content
Creating Content Isn’t Enough - You Have to Promote It.
After you’ve created an “out-of-this world” ebook, a super-detailed blog post, or a captivating video, you might expect to just stand back as your audience flocks to the fruits of your labor.

Rookie mistake!

Even if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. Publishing your work is only step one. Step two is promoting your content! Only then will you draw a crowd. According to Ben Harper, co-founder of Datify, there’s been a shift in recent years that requires content marketers to do more than just put content out there.
No matter how impressive your content is, it’s highly unlikely that people will find it, share it and link to it unless you roll up your sleeves and work to spread the word about it first.

Lee Odden, the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog, says that there are several components to a successful content distribution strategy. 
Choosing the right channels for promoting your content can be a tricky task - so keep reading for a primer on content distribution channels to help you get started.
Distribution Channels for Content Promotion
Before you choose your distribution channels, it’s important to know the difference between a content strategy and a channel strategy.

In chapter four you learned about everything you’ll need to define your content strategy. Channel strategy, however, is a separate concept altogether!
According to the Content Marketing Institute, it’s critical that you don’t get them backwards:
“The content strategy defines your channel strategy — not the other way around.”


If you’re letting the constraints of any channel define your content strategy, you’re going to be in a tight spot assuming trends change quickly or if you’re unable to maintain your success on that channel!

On top of that, if you fail to consider your channel goals in light of your larger content strategy, you might miss out on huge opportunities to let one channel support another channel! Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, gives a great example of how this mistake can play out:

In Pulizzi’s example, if you had failed to consider the ultimate content goal (blog traffic) when deciding on your Facebook channel strategy, you would have missed the opportunity to support a larger goal! Now, with your larger content strategy in mind, you’ll need to evaluate which distribution channels to focus your energy on.  

There are three main types of distribution channels:
    •  Owned Media
    •  Earned Media
    •  Paid Media

For a great article that really digs deeply into the differences between these three, check out this piece by Ben Harper. For now, here’s what you need to know about the three types of distribution channels.
Owned Media 
With owned media, you’re in complete control of what is published and when. Examples of owned media include your blog, your website and your company’s social media profiles and groups. If you want to post an article you wrote at 2 A.M., you can! (We’re not saying that’s a great idea though.)

Here are some pros and cons of using owned media to publish your content:

Earned Media
Earned media includes free exposure from influencers, brand advocates and media sources. You can earn access to media with a solid PR strategy, a brand advocacy program, or an effective influencer outreach campaign. Examples of earned media include:

         Guest posts on other blogs
         Media coverage
         Inbound links from other sites
         Social shares from others
         Email lists owned by others
         Content amplification networks
Here are the pros and cons of relying on earned media for content distribution: 
Content Marketing Hack: Content Amplification Networks

A content amplification network is a type of earned distribution channel where you post your content to a forum and earn exposure via a positive community response such as an upvote or share. Unlike traditional social media networks like Linkedin, Facebook or Pinterest, content amplification networks are more likely to give you a sudden explosion of traffic if you earn the community’s respect and attention.
Find more ideas for content amplification networks in this helpful article from Kissmetrics.
Additionally, here are a few Content Amplification Networks you should definitely try out for some free exposure:

Paid Media
When you pay for media, you pay for the right to publish (or in some cases, promote) your content on a channel that’s owned by someone else. Essentially, you’re paying to increase your exposure. There are two main ways to can harness the power of paid media. 
1. By paying to publish your content on someone else’s channel. 
This might include paying for sponsored content on The Huffington Post or The Onion, paying for your content on Pinterest or Instagram to show up in your audience’s feed, or paying for your content to be included in someone else’s newsletter or podcast. 
2. By paying to share links to your content on someone else’s channel.
Instead of paying to put your content where your audience already is, in this case you’re paying to get them to click over to your owned media. This includes many types of advertising and purchasing sponsored website links. Here are some effective paid media options you can use to get links to your content in front of the right audience:

         Paid Facebook Ads
        Sponsored Tweets
         LinkedIn Ads
       •  Pinterest Ads
        Google AdWords
         Taboola
         Outbrain 
Here are the pros and cons of relying on paid media for content distribution:
When you’re using any one of these three distribution channels to drive traffic to your content, it’s critical to monitor important metrics to understand the ROI of your content marketing efforts. Keep reading to find out how to measure and improve your most important content marketing metrics!
 Chapter Six
Measuring (And Improving) The ROI of Your Content Marketing
If you read the last five chapters, you should have learned everything you need to know to create and promote content, but before you’re completely ready to execute an effective content marketing strategy, you also need to know how to measure and improve your most important metrics. 
According to the Content Marketing Institute, in 2016 only 6% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing efforts to be “very effective!” This is because many of them simply don’t know what numbers to measure in order to gauge whether or not they’re meeting their goals. Companies who report being clear on what success looks like actually show a far higher effectiveness rate - 55%!

The best way to get clear on what success looks like is to identify the numbers you’re using to measure it. With that in mind, here are some numbers that every content marketer should understand and keep an eye on!
Landing Page Visits
The number of visits (or hits) on your Landing Page is a great indicator of your campaign’s overall traffic flow. According to Hubspot, “Tracking the number of visitors to your landing pages is a great way to see how much traffic you're driving to your content.” 
HOW TO IMPROVE:

If your Landing Page visits are low, it’s probably a good sign that it’s time to ramp up your content promotion efforts! (See chapter six.) 
Total Conversions
A conversion occurs when a prospect takes a specific action that reflects the goal of your campaign. According to Unbounce, a conversion is “The ultimate goal of your campaign. A conversion is whatever you decide it is – submitting a form, downloading a piece of content, signing up for a free trial, making a purchase.”

Total conversions should be measured for just about any content marketing campaign you run, no matter what your goal is. 
For instance, for lead generation goals, total conversions is going to be the number you measure to track your progress toward the goal, but it could also apply to lead nurture or brand advocacy goals - that is if you can identify a specific, measurable conversion point that tells you whether your prospect has taken the action you want them to.

The tips below on improving your conversion rates should help you get started.
Conversion Rate 
Conversion rate is an important metric to keep your finger on when your goal is lead generation.

On pages where you’re offering a free download or another incentive to capture your audience’s contact info, the success of your entire campaign hinges on a steady conversion rate. Having a poor conversion rate also makes advertising and promoting your content a greater challenge - since you have to work harder to get the same total number of leads.
HOW TO IMPROVE:

There are a few reasons why your conversion rate might be low. The first, and most obvious, is that the page isn’t properly optimized for conversions. There are many factors on your page that can turn visitors away and make them leave without completing your conversion goal, including poor design, a sub-par headline, or a lame call to action.
Cost Per Conversion
This is a simple metric that tells you how well your content promotion efforts are working. Basically, it tells you how much it cost you to get a conversion on your content - the total ad spend divided by the total number of new leads. Achieving a low cost per conversion should be one of the main goals of any content promotion campaign you run.
HOW TO IMPROVE:

Optimize your campaigns! Focus on reducing your advertising and content promotion spend while increasing your conversion rate. You’ll need to optimize both your ads and your Landing Pages to drive down cost per conversion. See tips for improving conversion rates above.
Cost Per Acquisition
Your cost per acquisition tells you how much it cost you to bring in a sale. This number is crucial for understanding how well your content promotion efforts are working.

According to Social Media Explorer, other metrics “don’t hold a candle to the Holy Grail of marketing metrics: Cost per Acquisition. In other words, how much do I have to spend in marketing dollars to get a paying customer?”
This metric can take some time to measure - at minimum, the length of one entire buying cycle. That is, how long it took someone to move from a brand new lead to a brand new customer (buying cycles tend to be far longer for more expensive or high-stakes products or services).

If possible you’ll want to measure cost per acquisition separately for each different lead source you’re using to promote your content. To do this, you need to track the lead source for your new customers. Then, divide the total number of customers you brought in from that lead source by the total amount you spent. 

HOW TO IMPROVE:

There are a few common issues that can cause your cost per acquisition to be higher than you’d like. Your sales conversion rates or your cost per conversion are usually the first culprits. You might be spending way too much on advertising or content promotion without getting a decent return. To fix this issue, focus on improving the quality of your traffic and your overall conversion rates.

If you’ve got a low cost per conversion, but your cost per acquisition is still high, then that indicates a different problem: lead nurture. Focus on the communications your lead receives after opting in for your content, and look for opportunities to close the sale more effectively. 

Customer Lifetime Value
When evaluating your cost per acquisition metrics, you need to know how much a new customer is worth to you. This calculation is known as customer lifetime value.

What’s considered a “high” cost per acquisition can vary greatly from campaign to campaign. 

There’s no sense in making a judgment on your cost per acquisition (i.e., how much you’re willing to spend to get a customer) unless you know what kind of revenue that customer is most likely to bring in during his or her entire buying relationship with you.

As long as your cost per acquisition is relatively low in comparison to your customer lifetime value, you’re in good shape.

You can calculate your customer lifetime value using this tool!
HOW TO IMPROVE:

Is your customer lifetime value sagging below where you want it to be? There are plenty of reasons why this might happen. You can fix it by creating more content specifically for existing customers that adds value and educates them on how to use your product. Look for gaping holes in your internal processes for customer service. Create forums or communities via social media designed to foster relationships. The problem may also simply be that you haven’t asked your customers for repeat business - do you have any cross-sells or upsells? What can you offer your previous customers that they would want to buy from you again?

Churn Rate
Do you know what proportion of your customers you lose over time? Especially if you sell your product on a recurring subscription basis, this is an important figure to know. According to RJMetrics, “Your churn rate is the amount of customers or subscribers who cut ties with your service or company during a given time period. These customers have ‘churned.’”

Want to find out what your churn rate is? Use this handy tool

HOW TO IMPROVE:

To fix a high churn rate, you need to focus on creating a remarkable customer experience. You need to do some digging and find out why customers are leaving. Is it because they don’t understand how to use your product?

Focus on creating content that educates them and motivates them to stick with your product or service. To boost customer loyalty, try creating an online forum or social media community designed to foster relationships between your customers and your team.

Average Time on Page 
This measurement tells you whether or not your audience is engaging with your content the way you want them to. If the average time on page is abnormally low (much less time than it would take the average reader to consume the page content), that probably means that your audience isn’t finding the content engaging. 
HOW TO IMPROVE:

To fix low average time on page, you need to make your page content more enticing . (See the list of reasons why people abandon content in chapter five!)

To keep people on your page for longer, take a look at your most popular content and see what you can learn. Try adding images, videos, more examples or a better headline to get readers to stick around for longer!

Total Pixeled Audience
If your content promotion strategy involves retargeting ads, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your total pixeled audience. This measurement refers to the total number of visitors you can retarget with ads via social media or other display networks to bring them back to your owned media.

Whether you are using Facebook Ads, Google Adwords or another advertising campaign, you’ll need to install a script into the header or footer of any page on which you want to track visits. 

This script, known as a “pixel,” adds a cookie to your visitors’ browsers. This allows you to target those with cookied browsers in order to bring them back to your content. The rationale for this is that if they’ve clicked on one of your ads or visited your other content in the past, they’re much more likely to revisit your content than a cold audience. 
HOW TO IMPROVE:

To increase the total number of pixeled audience members, you need to focus on beefing up your cold advertising campaigns! Getting more people to the page with your pixel on it is your main goal. Keep in mind, to meet your goal, you’ll need to send more traffic than you might think. If your audience has an adblocker installed or another browser extension that disables cookie tracking, they won’t be included in your pixeled audience. 
Social Media Shares
To find out whether your content is really engaging your readers, you need to know how many of them liked it so much that they chose to share it with their friends via social media!

Pamela Vaughn at Hubspot asks, “How many people are sharing your ebook's landing page on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+? Social media shares is a great secondary metric to analyze how well your ebook offer resonates with your audience and the sentiment of your audience toward your content.” Of course, you’ll want to measure social media shares for more than just ebooks - you can track them for just about any type of content! 

To track how many people share your content, install a share button for each social media platform. Most social networks provide a code you can share on your page that will allow readers to easily share and keep track of your total shares.


Here’s where to find the button code for some major social media networks:

Inbound Links
Keeping track of how many other websites are linking to your content is a great way to measure how well your earned media strategy is performing. You can find out how many inbound links there are to your content by pasting its URL into Moz or Backlink Checker.

Having many inbound links not only sends more readers to your site from other sites, but they can help you improve your domain authority for better overall SEO! Check out more info on SEO below.

HOW TO IMPROVE:

To increase the total number of inbound links to your content, you should focus on creating a backlink outreach campaign to connect with as many site owners and content creators as you can. 

Search Engine Ranking
Advertising and social sharing aren’t the only ways people can discover your content - search engines are also another valuable source of traffic!


When someone does a search in Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine, they’re directed to a search engine results page (sometimes called SERP). Here’s a handy definition from WordStream: “Search engine results pages are web pages served to users when they search for something online using a search engine, such as Google. The user enters their search query (often using specific terms and phrases known as keywords), upon which the search engine presents them with a SERP.” 

Boosting your search engine rankings is one of the very best side effects of great content marketing.

Creating content that people search for and discover in search engines is a smart way to drive traffic and start boosting page conversions for free! 

HOW TO IMPROVE:

If your search ranking is on the third or fourth page back, the problem might be that your content is poorly optimized for search engine traffic. This could mean that Google (or other search engines) don’t know what’s on the page, so they don’t display it as a result even though it’s relevant to the search. 
It could also be because your target keywords are common in your niche which puts you in direct competition with everyone else for good search engine ranking.

To fix this, it’s time to focus on your overall SEO strategy - making sure you’ve got appropriate page titles, tags, keywords and more. Be sure that your web pages are crawl-friendly (that means Google will know what’s on them), and try aiming for more niche keywords that have less competition. For more info on SEO, check out our free ebook “SEO Basics: The Essential Guide for Entrepreneurs.” 

Learning how to measure and improve the stats above is your secret weapon to a successful content marketing strategy. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, don’t let it hold you back - just pick a few stats that are closely related to your specific content marketing goals and start measuring them on a regular basis. Before you know it, you’ll start connecting the dots and gaining even more insight than you have now!

That advice doesn’t apply only to measuring and improving your stats - it applies to everything you’ve learned throughout this blueprint. Although each chapter contains an important element you should include in your approach to content marketing, you don’t have to implement it all right away to start getting results. The most important thing is to choose one area to focus on, improve it carefully and diligently, and then expand into a new area once you’ve mastered it. 

Content marketing is hard work - no one one can argue with that fact. However, it’s one of the most worthwhile pursuits for small business owners or entrepreneurs who are aiming to grow their business steadily. Follow the path outlined in this guide, be consistent about creating great content and strategically promoting it, and you’ll be well on your way to a content marketing machine that reliably attracts, converts and retains customers for a more profitable business!
Resources
Content Marketing Resources
The Big Picture  
Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute: Native Advertising Is Not Content Marketing
Brand Storytelling
Coca Cola: Content 2020
Chris Brogan: Owner Media Group: Your Customers Are Always the Story
Strategy
Content Promotion
Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing Blog: Content vs Links 
Content Marketing Institute: Content Marketing Framework: Channels 
Metrics & KPIs
Content Marketing Tools
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