If you’re looking for instant gratification and immediate marketing results, content marketing likely isn’t going to get you where you want to be. Well, we take that back. It’ll definitely get you results… But it’s likely to take months of consistent effort.
If you’re curious about whether or not content marketing is the right fit for your business and what the process should look like, read on.
In this article, we’re sharing the secret sauce for how to get started and what you can expect out of content marketing.
How Long Does It Take for Content Marketing to Work?
Content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy.
We’re talking at least six to nine months of consistent effort.
While this is not a definite timeline for every business, this period serves as an approximation based on general industry averages.
Your business’s personal results timeline may depend on the following factors, including your:
- Business model
- Industry and market
- Unique goals
- Marketing strategies
- Definition of success
Did you know over 90% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing?
Now that you know how long content marketing takes on average, let’s chat about the secret sauce for how to get started and what you can expect out of content marketing.
Define What “Success” Means to Your Business
One of the first steps your business should take when pursuing content marketing is to determine how your business defines success. Consider the following questions:
- What are your goals?
- What steps can you achieve that will help you reach those goals?
- Is your success based on the number of qualified leads you develop? Or, perhaps success is based on traffic to your site? Or the number of followers you have on your social media accounts?
However you decide to define the success of your content marketing efforts, it’s important to do so before jumping headfirst into a full marketing strategy. It will help you measure your efforts as you go along and adjust your strategy if need be.
Remember, success looks different for every business.
Know What Metrics to Use
Similarly to defining your success, it’s helpful to identify which metrics you’d most like to see improvements in. Be it lead generation, site traffic, follower growth, etc., different metrics require different strategies and focus.
Some that we may suggest are the following:
Driving website traffic is often at the forefront of content marketing. The goal here is to get more eyes on your site.
Within your site traffic, there are additional metrics that hold relevance, such as bounce rate and time on page. Looking at overall site traffic, however, is a good determination of ongoing growth and views of your site.
At the end of the day, the reason you want to drive traffic to your site is to identify qualified leads. Whether through calls to action (CTAs), form fills on your site, or email outreach, the number of qualified leads developed from your marketing efforts may be the most reasonable metric to maintain.
If you’re a business startup working on building growth while still finalizing the nitty-gritty of your business, building your social media following may be a great metric to start with.
Developing a relevant following not only helps drive traffic (see above) but also helps establish your business as an expert in your field.
Think about it: If you’re a consumer searching LinkedIn for a credible lending partner and your options are a new profile with only six followers or a similar competitor with thousands of followers, you’re likely to assume the business with a larger following is more credible.
You may decide that email subscribers are your most important metric to track. After all, email is one of the most direct ways to get in contact with your target audience. Perhaps investing time in research and outreach to develop email lists will be your best bet to reach your identified definition of success.
This metric is strongest tied to businesses that intend on performing significant email marketing down the road.
Identify Your Target Audience
There’s not much use in doing much of anything until you determine who you’re doing it for. Let’s say that again…
There’s no use in doing anything until you determine who you’re doing it for.
OK, so you’re a team of loan officers partnering with banks and private investors. Are you willing to work with any client? Student loans? Mortgage loans? Business loans? You’re best suited to be as specific as possible.
While the specifics will be most helpful as you solidify your marketing strategy, keep in mind that your target market may consist of a couple of different personas. We find it most effective to identify them as exactly that: Different personas.
Think about WHO the people are that you’re marketing to. Give them a name and occupation, and ask yourself what they like to do for fun, who they hang out with, and what social platforms they’re on most often. Do they read? Who do they look up to?
Read on to find out how to attract the right client (and determine your target audience!)
Once you’ve created any number of buyer personas associated with your potential customers, you’re ready to build out your marketing strategy. Your brand voice should be identified as the correct way that you’d speak to the people that you’ve identified.
Think about it this way, you’re probably not going to talk to your 85-year-old grandmother the same way that you talk to your long-time best friend. The same goes for your marketing strategy.
Your voice should appeal to the people that you’re talking to. Read on for more information on the importance of brand voice.
Make SMART Goals
OK, we’re jumping back a couple of steps here in a sense… Bear with us.
So, you’ve identified your definition of success, but how are you going to get there? This is where SMART goals come into play.
Gone are the days of goals as vague as “I want to boost social media followers!” SMART is an acronym used to create goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
A SMART goal for wanting to boost your social media following might look something like this:
“My goal is to gain 100 new Instagram followers per month over the next five months to accumulate at least 500 new followers at the end of the five months.”
Creating SMART goals isn’t always easy, but if you do the heavy lifting at the beginning and set standards for yourself and your business, it’ll be easier to maintain accountability in the long run.
Perform Analysis Regularly
Marketing is a flexible, adaptable field. If something isn’t working, you have the luxury of being able to change it. Adjust your content marketing efforts to meet your business’s needs and suit the demands of your market and audience.
But how do you know if something isn’t working out for you? After all, your boyfriend isn’t going to sit you down to explain that ‘it’s not you, it’s him.’
All you need to do is pay close attention to your stats and perform regular analysis.
No different than watching the ebbs and flows of the stock market, watch how your business metrics react to different things that you change. For example:
Does your traffic spike on days that you publish new blog posts? Does traffic fall on weekends? When are your social media followers most active? Did you get significantly more responses from one email than another?
These questions can all be answered easily by looking at the data easily available to you. Try new things and adjust based on what you’re seeing. That being said…
Be Patient and Consistent
Like we said at the beginning (yep, wayyyy back up there), content marketing takes time. It isn’t going to happen overnight. While you want to pay close attention to your metrics and analyze performance, don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.
You need a base layer of knowledge to be able to compare changes. If you start trying to make changes and adjustments to your strategy without allowing it to grow and develop fully, you might never recognize its true potential.
Should You Invest in Content Marketing for Your Business?
Content marketing may not necessarily be the right fit for every business. But for some, it may be exactly the saving grace you’ve been searching for.
If you’re willing to have the patience for a payoff, we’re here to help. If you don’t believe us, how about believing this stat: businesses that blog produce 67% more leads than those that don’t (psst… blogging is a form of content marketing!)
If you think that content marketing might be a good fit for your business, we know some people that can help. Get started today! Reach out to us directly to schedule your FREE brand storytelling session.