4 Content Marketing Goals That Really Matter to the Business

Last updated: 02-09-2020

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4 Content Marketing Goals That Really Matter to the Business

We’re just one month into 2020, and you probably know people who have given up on their personal goals or resolutions.

In our work lives, giving up on goals after a few weeks isn’t an option. Since you’re going to be working on them all year, double check that you’re working toward the right goals – goals that matter to business leaders.

Here’s the truth. Brand awareness ­– everybody’s favorite­ – isn’t going to cut it.

Have you ever heard a sales leader or business exec disparage content marketing as “arts and crafts” or wonder about its business value? You wouldn’t be the first.

The myth that content marketing is some nebulous, feel-good, unmeasurable thing gets told from time to time.

Yet the business purpose of content marketing is literally written into the definition:

So why does that myth of unmeasurable, nebulous content marketing benefits exist? We content marketers might have ourselves to blame. Look at this chart from CMI’s 2020 B2B research, which shows the goals content marketers say they achieved in the past year.

Check out the one goal nearly everyone claims to have achieved. Yep, brand awareness (86%). (For B2C marketers, the response rate was similar at 84%.)

Brand awareness is a fine and worthy endeavor. But if that’s your only goal, you may be pushed to explain how awareness ties into an outcome that business leaders care about.

Instead of setting awareness as THE goal, think of awareness as one step on the path toward a business goal. And what’s the business goal of content marketing? To drive profitable action.

Boom. Goal defined. My job here is done.

Except … you probably have questions. What counts as a profitable action? Let’s explore.

To be useful (and measurable), content marketing goals must be more specific – and match a meaningful business goal your company is working toward.

CMI founder Joe Pulizzi likes to say businesses care about three things:

Choose goals that support one of those three things and you’ll have no problem communicating how your content marketing team contributed to the business goals. Here are several to consider.

Building a subscribed audience is the basis of content marketing. Subscribers give you permission to communicate with them regularly. And that gives you permission to subtly market to them while giving them value outside of a product or service. In fact, Joe and CMI’s Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose argue that the asset created by content marketing isn’t content at all, it’s the audience itself.

Building a subscribed audience is the basis of #contentmarketing, says @KMoutsos via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet When it makes sense: Set building a subscriber base as the goal when your business wants to penetrate a new market, compete with a high-profile market leader, or begin the content marketing journey.

Profitable actions to track: Measure your progress by the number of subscribers to an owned channel (email newsletter, blog alerts, magazine, podcast, etc.) or the subscriber conversion rate compared with general audience conversion rate.

To go deeper into subscribed audience as a goal, check out:

Great content can encourage prospects to sign up for a demo, register for an event, or request access to a resource center. (A lead could be defined as a contact in some organizations.) Unlike subscribers, leads provide more than an email address. They trade more information about themselves because they see a value in the content offer.

Caveat: Some leads really aren’t leads. These contacts might have wanted the particular piece of content, but they may not want to hear from your brand again or aren’t that interested in your product or service now. Consider getting these not-really leads to opt in as subscribers because they eventually may be more valuable over time.

When it makes sense: Focus on leads if your business sees content marketing as a tool for the sales team – to help find or qualify new prospects or to help nurture leads through the funnel.

Profitable actions to track: Measure your impact with form/landing page conversion rates, downloads, and percentage of marketing- and sales-qualified leads.

To go deeper on tracking lead generation, check out:

Supporting sales with content typically involves creating pieces that offer proof points to help customers decide to choose (or justify choosing) your product or service. Think testimonials and case studies that show how similar companies have solved their problems.

When it makes sense: Focus your content efforts here when your company needs to grow sales or open up new revenue streams.

Profitable actions to track: Measure your sales support through lead-to-customer conversion rates, effect on time to close new customers, and revenue generated.

To go deeper on aligning content with sales, check out:

Though many think of content marketing as a top-of-the-funnel play, content can work to reinforce the customer’s decision after the sale. How-to and activation content can help make sure the customer gets value from the purchase – and is likely to buy again.

When it makes sense: Focus on customer support content when reducing support costs is a priority (i.e., high volumes of support calls), when the business is struggling to secure repeat business, or when upselling product options and add-ons is a priority.

Profitable actions to track: Measure the impact by the percentage of existing customers who consume content, reduction in the number of support calls, number of repeat customers, revenue from upsell, customer-retention rate, change-in-churn rate.

Most of us know the SMART framework (specific, measurable, actionable/achievable, realistic, and time-bound) for goal setting. Authors of an article from MIT Sloan argue the SMART framework leaves out important elements that can help eliminate quarter or year-end surprises: frequent discussions and transparency.

The article suggests FAST as a better acronym and framework:

The frameworks are seemingly complementary and could easily be a blended mix (SMART-FAST? FARMS-STAT?) for your content marketing goal-achieving plan.

Whichever framework you choose, do your content marketing program a favor. Set ambitious goals tied to a business outcome.And then talk about those goals in ways that make your business leaders care.

What goals are you working toward this year? How are you making sure the purse-string holders understand what content marketing is contributing to the business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

There’s still time to set growing your content marketing skills as a professional goal for 2020. Thenjoin us atContentTECH Summitin San Diego this April andContent Marketing Worldin Cleveland this October.


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