Author: Meg Staknis

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Developing Next Year’s Content Marketing Plan Now

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Developing Next Year’s Content Marketing Plan Now

It’s never too early to optimize 2020’s content marketing efforts.

At this time of year – early in the fourth quarter – many marketers are beginning to take stock of their budgets for the upcoming year.

And while “content marketing” has become a common line item in many promotion budgets, less frequently does a thoughtful content plan accompany it.

This is a miss, because a thoughtful content plan is one of the most effective strategies you can employ to attract new business and nurture the relationships you already have. Here are five reasons why.

 

1.  A content marketing plan helps you serve your customers

A thoughtful content plan helps you deliver to your customers information they want and value. You can identify topics of interest to your clients and prospects, and then prioritize them according to your business objectives within the content plan.

 

2. A content plan helps you manage your resources

No one has unlimited time or budgets and a content plan can help you prioritize where to focus your energy.

As you develop a plan, you go through the exercise of identifying the most valuable topics and projects for which you’ll be creating content — either by client/prospect demand, your current business strategy, or both — and eliminating the rest of the noise from the system.

If business partners or other stakeholders ask for content to promote a pet project that is neither top-of-mind for your customers nor the business, you’ll have a solid rationale sticking to your organization’s true priorities.

With a plan, only content initiatives that ultimately add value to customers and the bottom line and maximize your limited resources will make the cut.

 

3. It helps you stay in your wheelhouse

As you develop the plan, you want it to be grounded in the things your customers care about – and your customers will give you many, many ideas for content that they care about.

But those ideas may not all be aligned to your organization’s core competencies or value proposition.

Here’s an example: Perhaps you’re the owner of a number of suburban car dealerships, selling both traditional and hybrid vehicles. Many of your customers are interested in more information about electric cars, battery use in cars, self-driving cars, and other environmentally-related topics, particularly hybrid-SUVs. You are also trying to grow that area of your business. You might find that is a content area that you cultivate.

On the other hand, collecting and restoring classic cars may be an area of interest for some of your customers – and a personal passion for you – but it may not be core to your business strategy. Therefore, content on vintage autos may not be a key part of your content plan.

A solid content plan will keep you focused on the content that’s aligned to what you do best.

 

4. It keeps you on message

A content marketing plan that is focused on topics of importance to your customers, and aligned to your business objectives, can – and should – be rolled up to your most important marketing messages. You’ll know which messages to develop as your primary areas of focus, and others to include as secondary, supporting messages.

Consistency of messaging is key in an effective marketing program, and content marketing is no different. So a thoughtful content plan will keep you on message and make your program that much more effective.

 

5. It helps you target the customers you want

A thoughtful content marketing plan is just that – thoughtful. It is based on your business objectives and your customers’ and prospects’ needs. It allows you to develop content for the prospects or existing customers that you really want because they are core to your business’s strategy. Without a plan, you might find yourself developing content for any idea that comes across the transom. With a thoughtful plan, you can align your content efforts against the priorities that will make the biggest difference for your customers and your business.

Now is the time to begin your content marketing plan for next year. It’s a great tool for adding value to your customers and to your business.

If you would like to learn more about developing a content marketing plan for your organization, please contact me at mstaknis@imprintcontent.com.

 

Why Journey Maps Are Important for Your Bottom Line

Why Journey Maps Are Important for Your Bottom Line

If you’re an experienced marketer, chances are you’ve created a customer journey map at some point. But if you’re new to marketing – or you haven’t created a customer journey map in a while – journey mapping is a simple marketing tactic worth revisiting.

Not only can it help you stay focused on creating a great customer experience, it can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

In fact, organizations that have a formal journey management program in place have much greater performance against a number of significant metrics than organizations that don’t, as you can see across the numerous metrics listed in the chart below.

The Benefits of Journey Mapping

Source: Aberdeen Group, November, 2016. Customer Journey Mapping: Lead the Way to Advocacy.

 

Aligning Customer Expectations and Experiences

The customer journey starts by understanding your customer’s complete experience with your organization. This is critical for delivering on your brand promise, particularly in the current era of on-demand, multi-channel options for engagement.

• 75% of customers say they expect a consistent experience wherever/however they engage with a brand (Source: Salesforce Research)

In order to deliver that consistent experience, you must be relentlessly focused on your customer’s needs. That’s where journey mapping becomes so valuable.

 

Illustrating the customer’s path towards her goal

A journey map will lay out a representative illustration of a customer’s interactions with your organization as that customer works to achieve a specific goal. Every interaction represents moment of engagement between you and your customer on his or her way towards achieving that goal.

At each moment of engagement, your customer needs something from you – information, a transaction, education, a product. Their need could be driven by any number of things – a life event, a goal they wish to achieve, or some other external trigger.

Your objective is to deliver exactly what the customer needs at that moment of engagement. The journey map will help you identify and define those elements, so that when your customer leans in you’re ready.

Voice of the customer information is always the most critical input into any journey map. And the voices of business partners across different functional areas around your organization including sales, operations, product development, are also critical for providing invaluable input into the process.

You need to know what you can deliver on internally when deciding how and where to meet your customers.

 

Let your customer be your guide

There are many different formats and models for journey maps. What is most important when you create a journey map, is that you keep your customer front and center.

One journey map model we like to use at Imprint is the “Trigger Model.” This illustrates a customer’s path starting from a point triggered by a particular event or situation, often a life event such as the birth of a child, marriage or divorce, or a component of a marketing campaign.

Another common journey map model is the “Day in the Life.” This follows the persona of a particular customer as they go through their daily routine. By mapping their daily activities – home, commute, work, thoughts, feelings, communication channels and devices, distractions – you have a very good sense of how little mind share your brand occupies in their daily lives. That gives you the right kind of visibility to make the most of every opportunity for engagement.

 

Put this technique to work for your business

When you have a complete view of all of the possible moments of engagement between your customers and your organization, you’ll be in the best position to deliver a great client experience.

And that means better, stickier relationships – and stronger revenue growth for your business.

 

 

RELATED CONTENT:

 

4 Essential Steps for Creating an Effective Journey Map

Imprint’s Kim Papa explains four key steps you should include when creating a journey map.

 

Activate the Wellness Journey

Imprint’s Molly O’Keefe offers insights for wellness brands looking to map customers’ journeys around physical fitness.

3 Benefits to Visualizing Content

3 Benefits to Visualizing Content

We are creatures of habit. We gravitate towards what we know. So it’s not surprising that many firms still regularly publish long-form articles as their go-to thought leadership. But they may be missing a key opportunity: well-designed, accessible graphical content can be an effective strategy for both B2B and B2C communications.

Why? Three reasons:

 

1. Audiences are more likely to understand and remember

Your audience is busy, so help them prioritize information. Graphics can help organize and convey information quickly and simply. Visual content also brings a benefit in its stickiness, especially compared to other content types. If you hear a piece of information, you’re likely to remember only 10% of it three days later. [1] But add a picture, and the recall rate increases to 65% — an invaluable technique for marketers looking to educate their audiences.[2] And this technique is even more relevant for marketers in highly regulated industries from finance to pharma, who regularly relay complex statistics or detailed research.

2. Audiences are more likely to read and respond

If audiences can see in advance that content is going to take up less time and energy, they’re more likely to read it in the first place. Articles that include infographics generate an average of 178% more inbound links and 72% more views than all other posts.[3]

Even just coloring visuals has been shown to increase willingness to read content by 80%.[4] Infographics build brand recognition by strengthening perceptions of your business and its messaging.

3. Visual content is more multi-channel friendly

Importantly, infographics can be used again and again across multiple channels. A striking visual can be a great way of linking marketing campaigns across platforms. And simply including visuals will likely increase your content’s reach—visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media.[5]

Few other adjustments to your creative process will make as much of an impact as incorporating graphical elements into your content strategy. I encourage you to identify at least one area to implement an infographic in your next content project.

 

Want to know more about how infographics can become a part of your content mix?

You can contact me at mstaknis@imprintcontent.com.

.

 

 

[1] http://www.brainrules.net/vision

[2] ibid.

[3] https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33393/The-Marketer-s-Ultimate-Guide-to-Link-Bait.aspx#sm.0001h5vdmybjoedew9c2oonp879wc

[4] https://www.office.xerox.com/latest/COLFS-02UA.PDF

[5] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/science-behind-popular-infographics

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