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Content marketing presents a unique challenge because it requires being a writer, a publisher, and a marketer all at once (and, more often than not, a designer too). It’s tough to balance it all, not to mention optimizing and measuring it. The best content marketers succeed because they never forget that they don’t just write content; they create, promote, measure, experiment, and improve it.

The best content marketers use personas.

If you’re going to create content to address your audiences’ headaches, you have to understand your audience first. Your favorite magazines operate with a clear image of their reader in mind and so do the best content marketers. In fact, creating personas is even more important for marketers: Sports Illustrated and People just have to attract an audience, but you have to attract an audience of people who are actually going to buy your product.

Create buyer personas for your business and carry them through to your content marketing– according to Aberdeen’s research, companies that do see a 73% increase in conversions. In fact, if you’re seeing low conversion rates from your blog traffic, that’s a huge red flag that your content isn’t targeted to the right audience, even if you’re getting tons of visitors. If your content is addressing the pain points that your product solves for, you’re in good shape. Stumped about what those are? Talk to your sales reps about what they’re seeing and hearing in the field.

The best content marketers integrate deeply.

What’s the point of spending a lot of time refining your personas and creating content targeted to them if you’re not also going to integrate your content with the rest of your funnel? 64% of the companies Aberdeen identifies as leaders in content marketing have integrated their content management system (CMS) with their contact records or CRM. This integration is a huge win for both marketing and sales and it can unleash some very powerful capabilities. For instance, companies that use HubSpot for their content marketing can also dynamically customize their CTAs and email nurturing based, or tailor their demos and sales calls based on content that a visitor has read. Now that’s how you use content across the entire funnel.

The best content marketers think inbound.

I get asked all the time to explain the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing. Content marketing is a component of inbound marketing, but content can’t exist in a vacuum. While content marketing is marketing with content, inbound marketing is content marketing, free tools marketing, freemium marketing and marketing your content. SEO and a prayer isn’t enough to truly leverage your blogs and offers. Get to know influencers in the areas you write about (tools like Little Bird are great for this) and work with them to build an audience. The best content marketers think beyond content creation, and spend just as much time constructing an integrated experience for customers that goes beyond the content itself.

Mike VolpeMike Volpe is the CMO of HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform company based in Cambridge, MA. Since Mike joined HubSpot in early 2007, the company has grown from 10 to 11,000 customers, expanded from 5 to over 700 employees, and increased revenue from $0 to $77 million. Mike is an MBA graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management and received his BA in Economics and Government, summa cum laude, from Bowdoin College. Mike used to be an avid golfer, play recreational ice hockey and work on home improvement projects, but that was before having 2 sons in the past 3 years, so now he spends his free time playing cars and trucks.

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