The Six Secrets to a Successful Content Marketing Strategy


We recently launched a piece of research to uncover how marketers are making content marketing decisions, how they’re measuring performance – if at all – and if they’re seeing ROI from their content marketing. Over half of the marketers we surveyed said their budgets had increased in the last twelve months, with more saying they’d increase further in the coming twelve months. With so much money being poured into content marketing – and the average budget currently sitting at $345,000 p.a. – it’s imperative businesses see a strong return on their investment (ROI).

Of the marketers we surveyed, 42% rated their content marketing as ‘very successful,’ meaning three fifths of marketers haven’t nailed it yet. The findings show successful marketers are more likely to use data and analytics in their content marketing. This includes analyzing reader intent to personalize marketing content based on individual reader preferences. It makes sense, then, that analytics are baked into any marketing content so that a constant feedback loop on its performance is created. It also allows marketers to adapt their strategies and continually iterate their content to improve its performance.

Here are six recommendations for building a successful content marketing strategy:

1. Create a mix of short and in-depth content

Many of the marketers we surveyed were reluctant to create long-form content, with this considered too expensive for the results it drives. However, the very successful marketers in our sample create content that is 150 words longer than their competitors, on average, and is driving strong results. If it is relevant, interesting and engaging – and performance analytics should tell us if it is – then content will be read. Additionally, by experimenting with content of varying lengths, marketers can gauge what works best for specific audiences, and further refine their marketing strategy to suit individual recipients of content. If marketers have access to data on their content – they can understand what readers are resonating with and feel confident enough to invest by expanding on these sections to produce more long-form content.

2. Use psychology to optimize engagement

Compared to their less successful peers, very successful marketers are almost 3.5 times more likely to build content with behavioral psychology in mind. When marketers take care to apply the principles of behavioral psychology and behavioral economics to their content, the impact can be profound. In fact, a previous study we ran with Nielsen and Lumen Research found that content which had been psychologically enhanced saw a 1006% improvement in time spent engaging compared with the ‘control’ content.

By creating marketing content that appeals to the human brain, businesses can drive major increases in engagement and information retention, which help to secure the valuable mindshare that makes a brand memorable.

3. Apply data-driven personalization

Almost every one of the marketers we spoke to personalizes at least some of their content. When they do this, they can see a range of highly desirable, measurable benefits, ranging from increased engagement to increased sales. However, our research found that the majority of marketers who personalize their content are only doing this to a basic level – tailoring content with the recipient’s name or job role, or to reflect the recipient’s company.

Very few of those surveyed say they use analytics to tailor content to recipients based on their preferences. This is a huge mistake when you consider that content featuring deep personalization drives an 84% increase in engagement.

4. Ensure everything is visually on-brand

Four out of ten marketers we surveyed aren’t ensuring the consistency of the visual presentation of the marketing materials they create. Of course, for brands aiming to secure valuable mindshare and stay memorable in a crowded marketplace, this inconsistency erodes the brand image and can potentially negatively impact sales.

Indeed, a small number of marketers told us they rarely or never ensure the consistency of design across their content, and almost all of this group said their business was missing out on opportunities as a direct result. When a business has multiple digital marketing channels, more of the team members become content creators and it can be challenging to ensure their copy and designs always remain consistent. Tech tools can keep content consistent visually, without needing to involve designers.

In maintaining consistency, marketers should ensure they have created clear brand guidelines, keep a library of images/icons or graphic systems that are able to be used and provide examples for the brand’s tone of voice to include commonly used words and phrases and those to exclude. Keeping marketing materials coherent can be a powerful tool for marketers looking to increase the mindshare of their brand. Without templates or guard rails within content platforms, there is a risk of teams ‘reinventing the wheel’ and content needing to go back through the approvals process. This creates additional work for other departments that could have been avoided through using pre-designed templates.

5. Measure a deeper set of metrics

It is critical for marketers to ask themselves what success looks like. Is it when

your content generates leads? Or drives engagement? Or converts enthusiastic prospects into customers? Three fifths of marketers say they judge their content’s performance on each of these outcomes.

But the very successful marketers in our survey go beyond these surface metrics. They aim to understand reader behaviors whilst reading their content, not just the outcomes of their content. 94% of these content marketers evaluate their content based on insights into reader intent and page dwell time.

Additionally, very successful marketers are significantly more likely to measure session numbers and downloads of their documents, as well as total read time, to ensure they understand how their content is engaged with. These marketers then use this data to drive their future content, ensuring a virtuous cycle which delivers continual improvements in ROI with each iteration.

6. Make it interactive for increased engagement

Studies have shown that written information paired with relevant visuals can make content more memorable and persuasive. That’s why it’s a good idea to include a variety of interactive features such as polls, charts, graphs and videos. Moreover, interactive content creates an experience that takes a user from passive consumption to active engagement, which makes the messaging more memorable.

As an example, a previous study we ran found that 75% of readers were able to recall important information from interactive documents in comparison to just over 70% from a PDF. We’ve also found that interactivity boosts reader retention, engagement and experience.

Yet despite this, when looking at the most popular content formats, interactive documents were only used by 28% of respondents, highlighting a missed opportunity for marketers.

In summary, by implementing the six steps above, marketers can dramatically improve their content marketing success.


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