Now that we have set goals, created plans and have the foundations built for an Enterprise Inbound Marketing Process, it's time to create the fuel for the engine—content. As Bill Gates once said, "Content is King." Content has many forms and many purposes in marketing as a whole. Blogs, downloads, videos and social media updates attract potential buyers into the traditional top of the sales funnel, or as HubSpot's Steve Hall recently discussed, into the "Openness" and "Realized Need or Want" stages of the "New Purchase Loop." In later stages, or further down the funnel, content keeps leads engaged and interested, answers their questions and assists sales and marketing in qualifying them. As we get to the sale and post-sale stages, content is equally important in customer satisfaction, retention and upsell opportunities. So, what does the content marketing process look like?
What we want to develop is a framework and a resource library of content that can be utilized for a variety of purposes. This is done by means of a Collaborative Review that establishes the fundamentals:
- Goals and timelines
- Products and markets
- Personas and buy-cycle stages
- Prior marketing strategy and activities
- Available content resources (content + people)
With this information in hand, we create a Content Map, Content Audit and Editorial Calendar. Let's take a look at each one.
The Content Map is basically a matrix that lays out the buyer stages for each of your company's buyer personas and identifies what types of content and subject matter are appropriate for each buyer persona at each stage. Barbra Mago from CMI has a good post on creating content maps and templates.
The Content Audit is an assessment of current content assets. What downloads are available and how well do they fit into the Content Map? How often do you blog, what topics, who does the blogging, and how popular are they? What do your social media profiles look like, who participates from your company and how often, and how engaged are your potential buyers in each social network? The Audit fills in the Content Map and identifies gaps that need to be filled. For many companies, there are plenty of late-buy-cycle pieces, like case studies and brochures, but not nearly enough early-cycle content to drive inbound marketing and demand generation.
The final deliverable from the Content Audit is the Editorial Calendar. New pieces of content for each identified gap in the Content Map, or pieces that need to be redesigned or repurposed, are scheduled for creation, review and publication. The Calendar enables you to stay on track in the content development process and plan the launch of both demand generation and lead nurturing campaigns. As we will see in future posts on the Enterprise Inbound Marketing Process, we also use the Editorial Calendar as a measurement stick. Since Content Marketing is a lynchpin for all digital marketing, the frequency and consistency of publishing content are important KPIs that should be included in your monthly scorecard.
The Review Process
You can be great at cranking out high-quality content on an aggressive schedule, but for most companies, that's not the end of the cycle. There's almost always some level of management or legal review needed to keep content within acceptable guidelines or rules. This is especially true if your content derives from multiple sources, different levels of authority and outsiders and if your industry is highly regulated, like healthcare, banking or public safety. The key consideration is developing a working review process in advance that doesn't overly encumber publication, causing it to become dated or stale, but still checks all of the boxes. This is often not easy to do, but a best practice is to get all of the review stakeholders in a room, discuss the purpose and issues and develop an approval process that will work for everyone.
In my next post, we'll dive into the outreach part of digital marketing—Demand Generation.
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.