How to Unlock the Secrets of SMART Content Marketing Goals

How to Unlock the Secrets of SMART Content Marketing Goals

Having SMART content marketing goals is vital to promote your services and products on the web. If you think that’s simple “blogging,” you might want to think again.

These days you need to do more than post a random series of articles whenever the mood strikes.

When your business has no audience and no inquiries, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Understanding why and how to set SMART content marketing goals produces proven results. Develop a content marketing strategy to attract new visitors. Engage a loyal audience, and convert prospects into your delighted clients.

Why Set SMART Content Marketing Goals?

Because 72% of content marketers who increased their level of success over the past year credit their strategy as a major contributor. Follow their example! Document your own content marketing strategy. Review it often, and update it as needed.

The SMART framework is especially useful for planning content marketing goals. Deliver materials to give potential customers the solutions to their problems. You’ll keep them coming back for more.

Produce content that will stimulate your ideal clients. Expect to do a little more than blogging, though. Attract and hold interested readers with useful information in a variety of formats.

A Quick Review of SMART Goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, results-based, and time-bound. Breaking that down produces a foolproof content marketing strategy.

SPECIFIC: Set goals for each piece of content relating to your business objectives. Also consider the stage of development you’re in. A startup would likely have very different priorities than an established business.

Common reasons to produce content include increasing website traffic. You might want to attract more email subscribers or move up in Google’s search rankings.

To attract website visitors, one tactic is to create great headlines. Although 8 out of 10 people read headlines, only 2 out of 10 read the rest. Craft golden headlines followed up with useful, interesting information. Producing clickbait risks losing the authority and goodwill you’re hoping to build.

Everyone has divulged an email contact in exchange for a compelling lead magnet. That’s a common strategy for collecting information to expand a marketing list. Develop useful content that your audience finds valuable. It’s worth the effort if encouraging subscribers is a priority.

Rising to the top in search rankings is a long game. Hacks to make it happen overnight are unreliable at best. That makes it especially important to publish exceptional content. It’s the best way to attract searchers in your target market.

MEASURABLE: Analyze the results of your efforts to make well-informed decisions. Determine what content best serves your readers, and thus your SPECIFIC objectives. Tie those objectives to key performance indicators, or KPIs. This shows the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.

Google Analytics tracks and reports website traffic and marketing analytics. Use this information when planning your content. Produce more of the format types and topics that engage your visitors the most.

Your email marketing platform of choice provides statistics. These can help you generate meaningful offerings. Follow the results of your campaigns to develop suitable content.

Google Search Console checks your site’s indexing status. Integrating it with Google Analytics helps you generate appropriate content. Keep track of how it performs. Focus on developing material that drives impressive search engine results.

Develop SMART content marketing goals to power-up your content strategy.

Develop SMART content marketing goals to power-up your content strategy.

ACTIONABLE: Taking SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE actions leads to achieving your goals. This is where a comprehensive editorial calendar comes in. It’s a vital tool to help guide your way. Nothing fancy, a simple spreadsheet documenting your strategy will do.

Attracting targeted traffic to your website requires a variety of techniques. Chief among those is the tactical use of diverse content. Plot out what you will publish and when. This is the first step to developing your editorial calendar.

Optimize the landing pages for your lead magnets to increase email subscribers. Inventory assets on hand and upcoming content. Then make it easy for readers to sign up for the amazing information you provide!

Search engine optimization is key to climbing to the top of the results pages. Research relevant keywords and develop content featuring them. Knowing your audience helps drive search results.

RESULTS-BASED: Of course, you have an aim for each of the SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE ACTIONS you’ll be taking. Decide in advance how to determine success. Keep in mind that it’s important to set reasonable growth objectives.

No matter the goal, planning to go from zero to one hundred overnight will only gain you undue pressure. Be realistic when setting expectations.

Develop a mix of content formats to spark interest from a wider audience. Analyze your metrics to assess how much growth you can actually foresee in a given period. Which brings us to the final piece of the SMART goal framework.

TIME-BOUND: Have a predetermined ending point to your goals, whether long- or short-term. Be adaptable within yearly, quarterly, monthly, and even weekly sprints. But always have your ultimate goal in mind.

When preparing to take action, be sure you can sustain it for the most effective time frame. Don’t skip from action to action! Have specific, measurable, relevant initiatives at every stage.

Always Be Flexible

Direct all your efforts toward achieving your fundamental goals. Just don’t try to get there all at once. Break your strategies into smaller segments. That way you can make course corrections on the fly.

And don’t try to increase every single metric at the same time. Focus on what makes the most sense for your business at the current stage you’re in. Take the actions that will be most effective for your level of business development.

Create content that answers the questions your customers are asking. That’s a powerful foundation for building trust and rapport with your audience.

Final Thoughts

Before jumping in, think through and write down your plan of action. Clarify the SMART content marketing goals that best serve your business priorities. Establish a realistic time frame. And build in frequent checkpoints to review your progress.

Decide which metrics support your desired outcome and analyze them often. Update your content marketing strategy to incorporate things you learn from each challenge. Your rewards will be greater satisfaction and return on your investment.

Consistently provide useful information that matches the needs of your audience. The tribe you grow will learn to know, like and trust you. That overcomes the first hurdle toward converting them into satisfied customers.

Has SMART goal setting improved your content marketing strategy? Let us know in the COMMENTS!

What You Need to Know to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

What You Need to Know to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

Without an effective content marketing strategy, your online business might as well not exist. It’s operating in a void if no one knows or cares about it.

Staring at a blank screen will NOT get your website noticed. Erratically throwing together 100 words on the first topic that comes to mind is sure to keep your rankings at the bottom of the search engine results pages.

And clickbait headlines can only get you so far once the reader realizes there is no substance to the rest of your post and clicks away.

You need a plan that will attract your ideal clients and keep them coming back for more, but the project seems overwhelming.

The biggest challenge content marketers face is constantly having to create so much material on an ongoing basis. Think of all of your different marketing channels — your blog, your YouTube channel, all of your social media accounts, your email list, and so on. You need unique content for each one.

Think also of the time frame. Your content stream develops over months or years, depending on your marketing plan. How on earth do the big, influential content creators stay on top of it all?

Of course, you can delegate or outsource, and tools can help. But being organized is the secret weapon. You’ll need to be organized if you want to use content to gain exposure, build relationships, and sell your products and services.

Don’t waste valuable time posting ineffective nonsense that could potentially alienate your target audience. Instead, understand how and why a content marketing strategy is essential for success — and create a simple, easy-to-follow plan even if you think you don’t know where to begin.

Why Content Marketing Strategy Matters

Having a documented content marketing strategy really is a big deal. Savvy shoppers these days avoid ads whenever possible, and 84% of people expect brands to create content. Content marketing costs 62% less yet generates 3x more leads than traditional marketing.

But although 72% of marketers have a strategy in place, only 30% have it documented. Considering that small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than those without, their competitors who have not documented their plan in favor of keeping it in their heads are far behind in terms of attracting leads and increasing revenue.

A strategy is simply a plan of action designed to meet a major aim. Your business has a major aim: Generate revenue and earn a profit. Having a documented content marketing strategy will help you do just that.

5 Steps to an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Step 1. Set SMART goals for your strategy. As we mentioned before, it’s the roadmap you’ll follow to make your business goals. So before you do anything else, define those goals and address why you’re creating content in the first place. SMART goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, results-based and time-bound are your starting point.

Next, inventory your existing content. You likely have blog posts, infographics, eBooks, case studies, and more. Be on the lookout for ways to repurpose these assets you already own to fill any gaps uncovered in your audit.

There are multitudes of creative ways to turn blogs into podcasts, eBooks into templates and worksheets, and other endless possibilities. So take stock of the various ways you might use new and existing content to achieve the business goals you’ve set. Providing the information your audience is looking for is the foundation of effective content marketing strategy.

Step 2. Perform target market research and develop buyer personas. You want your readers to look forward to your content to help them solve their problems as only you seem able to do — because you’ve taken the time to learn about them and understand their needs.

In order to produce content your audience loves, you have to know them well. You’ll need to collect data about them and use it to develop content. This requires an organized system of gathering and analyzing information about your audience, and keeping in constant contact with them so you can learn more.

The most effective content is that which offers a practical, unique solution to the problems your readers face. Your system should be designed to pay close attention to these needs and challenges.

Identify your market and find the types of content they prefer. Understand the emotions that lead your ideal clients on their journey from recognizing they need a solution to realizing that you are the solution they seek.

A content marketing strategy is essential. Create a simple, easy-to-follow plan.

A content marketing strategy is essential. Create a simple, easy-to-follow plan.

Step 3. Brainstorm topic ideas and keywords to target. If you’ve been paying attention, your potential clients have already given you much of this information. Use it to create a list of topics your audience has discussed online or asked about in forums. From that, make a keyword list of common search terms they might use to look for answers to those questions.

Don’t go overboard here, though. To create compelling content that readers will find valuable, always be sure to write for humans and not search engine bots. You’ll get better results than if you produce keyword-stuffed gibberish that doesn’t serve your target market.

Step 4. Create a content calendar. A content marketing strategy has many moving parts. The best way to organize these moving parts is to create an editorial calendar. Once your calendar is in place, you can simply open it each day and you’ll know what needs to be done.

Your editorial calendar should include each piece of content and when to publish it. It should also include each step along the way to creating the piece, such as planning, writing, image research, and editing.

Actually, every single task related to your marketing plan should be on this schedule, including brainstorming sessions, reaching out to any people involved, and monitoring your results.

Incorporate content ideas, keyword suggestions, and social media promotion. In addition to keeping you organized, this gives you a record of the types of content you’ve distributed, keywords you’ve used, and details on your social media sharing.

5. Develop remarkable content. With practice, this is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Assemble well-written material using proper spelling and grammar.
  • Avoid jargon and complex terminology.
  • Format text for skimming with plenty of headers, subheaders, bulleted lists, block quotes, bolding, and italics.
  • Acknowledge your research using stats, case studies, and examples.
  • Attract readers by addressing both their problems and their common objections to moving forward.
  • Maintain interest in your content using relevant, high-quality images.

Position yourself as someone your readers can begin to know, like, and trust. Once you’ve determined your target audience and the purpose of your content, it’s easier to integrate with your buyer’s journey.

Making Your Content Strategy Work

The most successful content marketing strategies focus on nurturing readers who care about the information being delivered. Helping your business gain traffic and enhancing your SEO rankings are only two benefits of a sound strategy. You’ll also generate more leads and convert more prospects.

Develop a strong foundation by examining your business goals and matching your expertise to your target market’s needs. Then you’ll have the tools to create content from your unique selling point.

Your advantage lies in highlighting the perspective that differentiates you from your competitors.

Seeing the Big Picture

All of these moving parts, your editorial calendar, and data collection from your market should be aligned with the “big picture,” your long-term business goals. The first step in getting organized is to review and/or clarify your major goals for the next year or few years. This allows you to see the big picture, which makes it easier to understand how your content fits in.

Each piece of content has its own mini-goal within the big picture. Some pieces are for attracting people to your marketing. Some are geared towards building relationships or generating leads. There could also be pieces that are designed to drive sales directly.

The best things about content marketing are that it’s relatively inexpensive, quite cost-effective, and yields long-term results. You only need to invest the time necessary to build an organized, streamlined system for producing, publishing, and promoting your content.

In Closing

Understanding why and how to create an effective content marketing strategy is just the beginning. It’s up to you to put in the work to clarify your business goals and determine how best to reach your target audience.

Have you created a content marketing strategy? Do you need more information? Comment below or contact us if you’d like help creating your own content marketing strategy!

Blogging Done Right

Blogging Done Right

Blogging has evolved into the highly profitable form of Internet advertising known as content marketing. That’s because the Internet has an insatiable appetite for information.

Billions of searches are conducted every single day, looking for everything from how to bake an apple pie to why zebras have stripes.

For anyone who conducts business online, these searches represent a steady flow of potential customers who are looking for what you have to offer.

Blogging is an easy, cost-effective method of being found by the exact people who most need, want, and are willing to pay for your services. But only if you have a good content strategy in place first.

Know Your Keywords

These are the search terms your ideal client is using to find answers to her questions. When you know what your keywords are, you can easily create blog posts that will:

  • Attract the right visitors to your site
  • Position you as the expert in your niche
  • Make it easy for your ideal client to find—and get to know—you and your services

Write for People

While it’s important to know and use keywords in your blog posts, it’s even more important that you write your content with people in mind over search engines. Your blog should be engaging, informational, and even entertaining — but above all else, it must be readable.

Be Consistent

Content marketing — and blogging, by extension — is very much a numbers game. The more content you produce, the greater your results will be. That means setting — and sticking to — a content production schedule is a must.

For most websites, a weekly schedule is both attainable and sufficient to build a steady stream of traffic.

Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind

Blogging is not a fast business-growth strategy but it is excellent for long-term sustainability. Those posts you write this month will continue to work for you many years from now, bringing in more and more traffic and potential clients.

Use Good SEO Practices

Aside from keywords, great bloggers know there are many techniques you can use to bring in more readers, including:

  • Link out to authority sites from within your blog
  • Link internally to other, related content on your own sites
  • Use graphics and sub-headlines to break up long text passages
  • Take the time to write compelling meta descriptions
  • Create content that other sites will link to

Get the Word Out

Each new blog post is an opportunity to be seen, so take the time to share your content socially, and encourage your readers to do the same. Share your post on your Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and anywhere else your ideal client is likely to see it.

Mix It Up

Not every post has to be a 3,000-word article. Include other types of content as well, such as:

  • Video
  • Infographics
  • Curated content
  • Short opinion pieces
  • Audio

Have Fun with It

Above all else, have some fun. Inject your personality into your blog. Not only will you more easily attract your ideal client but you’ll enjoy blogging a lot more if you use your authentic voice. And the more you enjoy it, the more likely you will remain consistent as well.

Need a little help?

Whether you’re over the whole blogging thing or just need a little help every now and then, our content strategy and management services can help you out of your rut and get you back on track.

We work with you to create and manage the content your audience will look forward to reading, as well as sharing on social media and beyond.

Take a look at our current offerings here, and be sure to let us know how we can best meet your blogging support needs!

This article is part of an ongoing series on how small businesses can improve their procedures and processes to maximize their growth. What topics would you like to see featured? Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments!