5 Steps to Drive Real Business Outcomes With Content Marketing in 2022

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December means your social feeds and favorite blogs are crowded with headlines like “15 marketing trends to watch in 2022.” Brands and publishers alike rush to build narratives around end-of-year data analysis and surveys, hoping to capitalize on search traffic.

These articles are often well-researched and insightful. But let’s be honest: simply detailing trends stops a step short for busy business leaders who realize marketing is a means to a business end, not a means in and of itself.

Below are five steps business leaders can take to ensure their content marketing efforts accomplish tangible business Outcomes in 2022.

1. Identify the business Outcomes you want your marketing to achieve.

Before you jump into your key messaging briefs and social media content calendar, come to an agreement on why your business is investing in marketing in the first place. What specific business Outcomes are you hoping your marketing efforts will deliver?

Sit down with your agency and/or key stakeholders and decide what business Outcomes you want your marketing to accomplish. At N6A and Studios, we call this an Outcomes Summit.

Increasing the number of engagements on Twitter isn’t a business Outcome. Growing sales and revenue is an Outcome. So is recruiting top talent or getting funding. What big picture goals does your company want to accomplish?

From there, drill down into your KPIs. How will you measure whether your efforts are successful? Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics here. As the CEO of one of our client companies says, “You can’t eat clicks.” A 120 percent increase in LinkedIn impressions doesn’t necessarily mean you’re any closer to your desired business Outcome. This sort of secondary data provides important contextual information but isn’t a direct measurement of success.

Set your Outcomes. Set your KPIs. This is the foundation on which the rest of your 2022 marketing strategy will rest.

2. Use account-based marketing to align sales and marketing.

Ever feel like your content marketing is shouting into a void? If the efforts of your marketing and sales teams aren’t aligned, it probably is.

Account-based marketing, or ABM, brings sales and marketing together to create efficient, targeted campaigns. The sales team defines and reviews potential leads, giving the marketing team specific, high-value prospects to target.

Bring your sales and marketing teams together to identify accounts that offer the most revenue potential for your business. Then drill down to specific stakeholders and decision makers—CMOs or VP of sales, for instance—and build detailed personas. What challenges do these individuals and their businesses face? How does your company solve the challenge and how can you best communicate your solution? Using that information, the marketing team can create tailored content and amplify it to hit those personas.

The sales team vets new leads as they come in, letting the marketing team know which are worth trying to move down the funnel and which are a waste of time.

3. Identify the most effective channels and content for your message.

Don’t invest time or money in a platform unless it provides a clear path toward accomplishing your business Outcomes. This is key to maximizing your marketing budget.

Go back to your target audience list and determine what platforms they’re using and what action you want them to take. If you’re targeting CROs at B2B tech companies in an attempt to convert qualified sales leads to opportunities, TikTok probably doesn’t make sense.

That’s no knock against TikTok. If you’re trying to drive brand awareness higher in the funnel, it may be worth experimenting with the platform. ​​A notable 67 percent of marketers recently surveyed by HubSpot said they plan to increase their investment in TikTok in 2022.

Video in general, though it can be more expensive than other forms of content, should likely be under your consideration. When done right, there’s no format more effective at communicating information and stirring emotion.

And don’t sleep on blog posts. Yes, the term blogging seems to be as old as the internet, but publishing longer form copy on your owned platform is as relevant as ever. A well written blog post is a great way to demonstrate thought leadership, inform consumers, and improve the SEO of your website.

Podcasts and webinars have their place as well, so long as you’ve done your research. No matter what channel you choose to carry your messages, remember that your content doesn’t need to be a hard sell or even mention your business or products directly. Find a way to offer authentic value to your target audience and they’ll remember it when it comes time to purchase.

4. Get creative in gathering your content assets.

Creating content doesn’t have to mean spending a ton on a professional production. Start with your leadership; their industry expertise lends itself to blog posts, video interviews, or social media quote cards. Look for project or client wins and turn those into case studies that demonstrate the value that your business provides. Photos of team events can showcase your company culture on social media; a break room argument about the next big industry trend could make for perfect podcast fodder.

When you do spend considerable effort and budget creating assets, make sure you maximize those resources by repurposing existing content. Maybe that white paper you published can be split into multiple blog posts. Maybe a line from a video interview with your founder can be turned into a branded quote card and shared on Twitter. Or maybe a few key stats from an industry report can be fashioned into an infographic and published on LinkedIn. Get creative!

Repurposing content is a great way to maximize the ROI of your marketing. It stretches your budget further and keeps your audience engaged.

5. Measure, iterate, repeat.

Once you have a steady stream of content, don’t get complacent!

Schedule a recurring meeting—quarterly or monthly—with your marketing and sales team to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. Have your agency or a member of your team generate a simple report that measures your KPIs and a few relevant supporting metrics. Leave egos at the door and ask frank questions about whether your marketing tactics are moving your business closer to your Outcomes.

Even if everything seems to be working fine, test new ideas. Try isolating and tweaking a single variable—the send time of your emails, the header on your search ads, the layout of your Instagram posts—and measuring the results. By creating a consistent cycle of iteration and assessment, you’ll improve your content marketing efforts and move closer to the business Outcomes you care about.

Make 2022 the year you stop doing marketing for the sake of marketing. Gather your team, review these steps and push your business forward.

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