Some days, making a measurable and significant impact on your business and the daily grind of planning, producing, and promoting marketing content seem miles apart. You can bring those two worlds closer together, and be recognized in the process, by tying your marketing content to key business objectives and then sharing this connection with everyone.
Providing valuable content to customers is an enduring way to build brand awareness, trust, and engagement with the critical audiences for your business. But, getting effective marketing content out the door is a detailed and painstaking process. This is true whether it be the next video or ebook for your content marketing strategy or simply the next piece of collateral for the sales team.
On a day-to-day basis, we get caught up in creating and distributing content to meet goals oriented around the number of content pieces rather than planning content strategically to meet business objectives. It is easy to fall into the pattern of 1) Map content distribution milestones to the calendar; 2) Pick content formats and topics based on a general sense for the audience; 3) Produce the content and get it out the door quickly so you can move to the next piece. This is a short-term strategy.
When business slows down or engagement with content stalls, there are difficult conversations around budget and the amount of resources put towards content. And besides that, your boss and others don’t recognize you as a leader pushing the business forward when the conversations center around timelines, copy, and ad spend. They’d rather be talking about successfully growing the business.
In most cases, the impact of the content is not immediately obvious, but rather it accumulates over time. Because of this, everyone in the business, including you, needs confidence that your efforts are moving the business forward. Fortunately, there is one unifying principle between the goals of the business and the work of marketing content - THE AUDIENCE.
The success of your business relies on your audience recognizing the value you provide and then choosing you over other competing alternatives. It’s that simple. What that means is that every conversation around marketing content should include 1) Audience being addressed; 2) Potential impact of that audience on the business 3) Specific role a piece of content has on moving that audience towards conversion, retention, or advocacy for the business.
Now wait a minute. Are you telling me I need to perform a detailed ROI analysis every time I communicate about our content?
What I recommend is building a working knowledge of your audience and business objectives so that you can use simple numbers to make comparisons and highlight the importance of your work.
Content that connects with distinct segments of your audience will be more effective. The audience segmentation most helpful in building impactful marketing content is needs-based segmentation, which focuses on a small number of customer personas that have different needs, preferences, and willingness-to-pay. When you communicate in ways that recognize these differences you are leading your audience towards the appropriate solution for them.
Your organization may already have a detailed segmentation. Whether you do or not, you certainly don’t have the luxury of a segmentation study each time you plan a new piece of content or even every quarterly or annual plan. We must rely on information already close at hand to make these decisions.
Which business impact metrics are most important to content marketing?
Here are five ways to relate your audience to your business objectives that you can use to focus the discussion around marketing content and move the business forward. The value of being quantitative is as much in the discussion started around the assumptions as it is in accurately describing the opportunity. The big benefit from doing this consistently is that everyone in the organization becomes focused on what matters most in the business - the customer. And, the side benefit, is that you will be right there making it happen.
The metrics below will help you prioritize your target audiences as you plan content. They are ordered from least information required to most information required.
Most marketing content focuses on engaging with potential customers that are becoming AWARE they have a problem (and may not have heard of your brand) or are starting to CONSIDER ways to solve their problem, so it makes sense that good metrics for prioritizing target audiences would focus on the target market and not only the current customer base. That said, there are times where we may not have much information on the overall market and instead rely on what we know about our customers. The first two metrics rely on a sense of the current customer base.
1. Customer Base
What is the total sales volume for each of your products or product categories?
I know listing your product offerings is not the same as listing your customer segments. But, for easier math and easier conversations across your organization, make an estimate of your different customer segment by listing your volumes for different product categories. Then, order this list from highest volume to lowest volume.
Now that you have a list of your “customer segments” by size, think about how much content budget and content effort is spread across each of these product categories today. Is this the right balance? A simple strategy is to allocate content effort to different customer segments based on the size of that segment. Alternatively, you can consider whether your brand is better positioned to grow sales in one of the lower volume product categories and allocate more effort there. Either way you are better prepared to advocate for your content plan and connect it to the business objective.
2. Revenue Impact by Customer Segment
What is the revenue potential for each customer segment?
This time instead of listing the customer segments by sales volume, list them by revenue. Since some low volume segments have high prices and some high volume segments have low prices, you may need to reshuffle the segment order based on revenue opportunity. Again, you can ask yourself if you have the right balance of content budget and content effort spread across each product category.
The last three metrics relate to the entire target market.
3. Current Market Share
What is your current market share?
Depending on the scope of your content responsibility, this could be industry-wide market share or market share within a narrow product niche. Once you have this number, you will have confirmed that you are either a leader in your category or a niche player. If you are a niche player then your investments in content should focus on building overall awareness within your market. If you are a market share leader, then more of your content should focus on driving conversion, developing advocacy, and differentiating from the competition.
4. Market Segment Size
What is the total sales volume across the market (you and your competitors) for each of your products or major product categories?
This is an update to the Customer Base metric that adds the total market perspective. Make an estimate of different customer segments in the market by estimating total volume across brands for different product categories. Then, order this list from highest volume to lowest volume.
Now that you have a list of your “customer segments” by total market size, think about how much content budget and content effort is spread across each of these product categories today. Is this the right balance? Now that you are looking at the whole market, you may notice the customer segments where your brand is strong or weak. Could more content dedicated to a particular segment solidify your advantage or close the gap where you are behind?
5. Revenue Opportunity by Segment
What is the revenue potential for each customer segment?
This is an update on the Revenue Impact by Customer Segment metric that takes the whole target market into account. Once you have the estimated size of each customer segment for the total market, you can multiply the average price point for each segment by the sales volume of that segment to estimate the revenue opportunity for the segment.
Once you reshuffle the segment order based on revenue opportunity, ask yourself if you have the right balance of content budget and content effort spread across each customer segment. An example of a strategy to consider would be choosing to dedicate content effort to the segment with the largest revenue opportunity where you currently have the least market share. Alternatively, you may choose to play to your strengths by focusing exclusively on where your product performs best relative to your competitors. Or, it may be time to invest content in the area where the business has committed to growing most in the future.
Why can’t I simply take a list of my target audience’s top problems and start creating content that speaks to those issues?
Maybe you you can. If your target audience is very similar across the board, there may be no reason to prioritize content efforts by segment. However, you will still need to answer questions around the expected overall impact of content on the business. You will also need to make decisions on distribution and promotion channels. You will make better decisions with a more objective lens on the size of the opportunity.
What if I don’t know one (or all) of these numbers?
Do a little digging around your organization, and ask others in your network. I always learn something new through these conversations. These conversations are great ways to strengthen relationships and build alignment in your organization.
What if I still don’t have the data?
Make your best guess. Make assumptions about your market to start the conversation and challenge the status quo. If nothing else this highlights the pain and the impact that not knowing this information has on the business. It should generate interest and resources to get to the bottom of the numbers.
Interested in taking your customer segmentation to the next level and really juicing your ability to have business impact conversations, sign up for a free trial of Cobomba.