“Many people have good natural abilities which are ruined by idleness; on the other hand, sobriety, zeal and perseverance can prevail over indolence.” - An Anonymous Greek Dude
Note: There are interpretations of this fable that depict trickery. Here, we’re only speaking to an unwavering determination to achieve the end goal.
Aesop must have been an observer of hares in nature: they do only what is absolutely necessary to get by and no more. While hares can run as fast as any land animal, their movements are sporadic, inconsistent. Even one being trailed by a pack of beagles will get just far enough in front of the dogs and won’t run again until they’re mere yards away. It will preen itself and maybe saunter over to a sunny spot in a thicket, but until danger is imminent, he will be snoozing in the grass.
The tortoise, on the other hand, is consistent. He may not be fast, but he’s mighty steady. Once he sets his sights on a goal, he will see it through to completion. In content marketing, you want to be the tortoise.
Working Toward a Common Goal
Of course there are elements of marketing that happen quickly. Take blogs for example. We can churn them out at a rapid rate when needed. However, blogs, Facebook ads and emails are all building blocks used to construct the overarching goals we set for an individual client. While there may be a few overnight wins along the way, progress is more accurately measured on a monthly basis rather than daily. That’s not to say you don’t want to keep close tabs on certain metrics like open rate and click thru; you do. After careful planning, execution and distribution of your content, it’s the nurturing phase - links, shares and expanded distribution - that’s going to put you steps closer to your marketing goals.
Creating a Content Plan
The planning phase of any content marketing plan is going to be the most time consuming. If you’re already conducting research to find your audience and the problems they need help overcoming, finding dominant keywords, developing personas based on these findings, building a network of distribution channels, carefully crafting an editorial calendar based on this research then creating stellar content that educates, informs and entertains, then you’re on the right track. Guessing won’t cut it. No matter how you sell content marketing to clients, at the end of the day, CEOs care about their bottom line. Are your efforts moving the needle?
Establish Goals Beyond Vanity Metrics
Most marketers distribute content through the various social platforms that quickly report likes, shares, impressions and followers. Even on-site numbers like sessions, time on site and bounce rate are often overused. These are known as vanity metrics.
Vanity metrics may appease the need for instant data gratification, but they don’t necessarily satisfy healthy return on investment (ROI) metrics that support ROI such as sales and customer retention. If you don’t believe this, try to convince a client that consistently receiving thousands of “likes” per post but zero sales is worth more than just a few likes and moving products. There is no clear correlation between the metric and the goal.
Looking at the image above, we must move far down the funnel to see the true value of the channel. For most of our clients, “Organic Search” is and should remain at the top of the priority list, just as you see above. That’s the reason we write keyword-oriented blogs. Next on the list is “Social.” At first glance it appears to be the second most powerful channel for recruiting users to the site. But remember, sessions are not conversions.
If you scroll down a bit farther, outside of the top three, you’ll see “Email.” Again, at first glance you may think that email isn’t doing much for this particular client. That is, until you reach the true goals: Ecommerce Conversion Rate, Transactions and Revenue. Email allows us to have a one-on-one conversation with this client’s customer whereas social serves more as a soapbox on a busy street corner. Always pair metrics with tangible business objectives.
While fast can sound good to the client, it’s consistency that keeps you out in front of the pack. Once you’ve built a proven model based on ROI and data, clients will trust you, rather than rush you, allowing you the freedom to remain vigilant in creating great content while watching trends and staying ahead of the game. And always remember, if worse comes to worse, take a moment to burrow down in your shell and shut off the rest of the world a la the office door. Even during a hectic time, 10 minutes of quiet can do a week’s worth of good.