As content marketers and DTC business owners, we all are well aware of the importance of research in the creation of successful campaigns. Not only does it help us understand the audience better, but it also helps to develop insight and inform our strategies. However, one has to be honest with themselves and admit that it can indeed be one of the most time-consuming and costly steps of the process. The love-hate relationship that all business owners and marketers share with research is a common struggle. It is intangibly involved in predicting the future of your campaign, which is why the thought of avoiding research altogether and jumping into creating content is definitely a sign of having an agile mindset. One can simply not replace the time assigned to doing one’s due diligence with a hit and trial approach and guesses. It is one of the prime reasons why content marketing can completely miss the mark or come across as unoriginal and tone-deaf.
In this blog post, we'll explore why balancing short and long-term planning is essential in creating a successful content marketing strategy.
Content Marketing is a Marathon
Digital marketing has much to answer for when it comes to perpetuating a short-term tactical view. E-commerce and lead generation are often the culprits. While digital marketing has its place in the marketing toolkit, it can distract us with the overwhelming information that doesn't tell us the full story.
Behavioral data is crucial in benchmarking performance marketing or powering predictive models and personalized experiences. However, it has a limited capacity to reveal what people are thinking, why they're thinking it, what they desire or need, and how they view the category, brand, or communication.
Trusting our gut and putting something in the market to observe what happens can be tempting. However, brands aren't built in the short term. They grow over the long term with a commitment to a central idea and strategic pillars executed consistently. It's crucial to nail our position, proposition and messaging framework before investing time, effort and money into content marketing, especially if our business is ready to embrace a publishing mindset.
The W’s You Need to Win
There is a lot to unpack in the importance of long-term brand building and how it serves as the foundation of our perspective on exceptional content marketing and publishing. Thus, it is of absolute importance that we place great emphasis on thoroughly examining both sides of a situation.
The excerpt above may seem digressive, but let’s connect to the topic at hand. Research is a vital tool in powering your content marketing operations and informing your strategic planning. In fact, there are certain scenarios where conducting research is absolutely essential. These situations include:
There are a few questions that you need to first pose to yourself and then strive to answer in every phase of content marketing and research. These are the W’s that will eventually spell out your win.
When you find yourself at the first rung of the tall ladder of content strategy, these are a few of the things you must think about.
What is your motivation behind publishing content?
What are you going to use to position your brand against the competition?
There is a lot of thought that needs to go when you are reviewing the market landscape and identifying the category trends. It's important to take a thorough and thoughtful approach. This involves conducting research on the industry, analyzing consumer behavior and preferences, identifying key players in the market, and keeping an eye on emerging trends and technologies. By taking the time to do this research, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their target audience and the competitive landscape, and develop strategies that are tailored to their specific needs and goals. This process can be complex and time-consuming, but it is a critical step in building a successful content marketing strategy that resonates with your audience and sets your brand apart from competitors.
- What is the view of the market?
- Who are you competing against?
- What is their mode of operation?
- Where do their gaps lie?
Audience research is an important aspect of any marketer’s journey, as it provides valuable insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and needs. Personal development and customer journey mapping are important aspects.
By understanding who your target audience is, what motivates them, and how they engage with your brand throughout the buying process, you can create more effective messaging and content that resonates with their needs and interests. Persona development involves creating detailed profiles of your ideal customers, including information about their demographics, interests, pain points, and buying behaviors. Customer journey mapping, on the other hand, involves visualizing the steps customers take when interacting with your brand, from initial awareness to final purchase and beyond. By incorporating these insights into your content marketing strategy, you can create more targeted and personalized content that drives engagement, conversions, and customer loyalty.
- Who is your brand going to engage with?
- What are their needs?
- What is working and what can be improved?
- What are the obvious gaps?
Content Audits are important to identify the gaps between your strategy and the desired impact you wish to have on your audience. By conducting a content audit, you can determine what content is working well, what needs improvement, and what should be removed entirely. This process can also help you ensure that your content is aligned with your brand's values and messaging. Ultimately, a content audit can improve the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts and increase your impact on your target audience.
- What are your current publishing activity and content hubs?
- What had been working well?
- Why are there gaps?
Approaches You Can Follow
For readers who are still following along, you may find yourself nodding in agreement with the philosophy of long-term brand building. However, the many questions raised could also leave them feeling overwhelmed about where to begin and the level of effort required.
Fortunately, there are some straightforward and effective ways to inform content marketing strategies without breaking the bank, although they may require an investment of time or the assistance of an agency partner.
1. Focus Groups and Interviews
The employees of a brand possess the most intimate knowledge of its values and mission. Therefore, engaging with them is an effective way to gain insights into the brand. One-on-one conversations are valuable, but group discussions or workshops can also be useful. The main goal is to uncover the unique qualities that allow the brand to fulfill its promise and distinguish itself from competitors. This information can be utilized to develop content and story ideas, as well as to inform the design of experiences and solutions that leverage the expertise of in-house personnel or technology.
2. Social Listening
While brand tracking studies can provide valuable insights, listening tools are a more effective means of gaining unfiltered perspectives as they tap into public conversations. By calibrating the software to identify relevant mentions, it is possible to gain a better understanding of a brand's perception and diagnose any potential barriers or issues. Product review sites are also useful in this regard. However, it is important to be mindful of the fact that social media tends to capture outliers, including extremely positive and negative viewpoints.
For the Market
1. Conventional Research
Market and category research is an essential component of any content marketing strategy. One effective approach is to leverage case studies, reports, articles, and opinion pieces from reputable industry databases, global consultancies, and category leaders. These sources can provide valuable insights into the latest trends and best practices, as well as help identify opportunities for differentiation.
Networking with professional groups and membership organizations can also be fruitful, as it can offer access to individuals who are knowledgeable about the industry and willing to share their experiences and perspectives.
In addition to these methods, a simple Google search can yield a wealth of relevant news articles. However, it is important to filter the results to focus on more timely content. By combining these approaches, content marketers can stay informed and up-to-date on industry trends and best practices, allowing them to create content that resonates with their target audience.
For the Customers
To gain insights into the thoughts, feelings, and needs of your target market (including both current and potential customers), one effective strategy is to conduct surveys. Surveys are a form of primary research that can be easily developed in-house, using cost-effective platforms like Typeform or powerful enterprise software like Qualtrics. When designing a survey, it is important to carefully consider the research question and any hypotheses that may inform the survey design and questions. Additionally, it is crucial to be clear about data collection and analysis methods to ensure that the survey results are reliable and accurate.
By leveraging surveys as a tool for primary research, businesses can gain valuable insights into the needs and preferences of their target audience, which can inform the development of content marketing strategies and initiatives that resonate with their customers.
2. Keyword Research (based on topics)
SEMrush and Buzzsumo are powerful tools that can help content marketers gain insights into the topics people are searching for and engaging with. By integrating Google tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console, marketers can gain an even deeper understanding of their audience and the content that resonates with them. Keyword research is a critical component of a successful content marketing strategy, and it requires a balance of both art and science. For content marketers who prioritize SEO marketing, regular keyword research is essential to inform their strategy and optimize their editorial plan.
By leveraging tools like SEMrush and Buzzsumo, content marketers can gain a competitive edge by understanding their audience's needs and preferences, identifying popular topics and keywords, and developing content that resonates with their target audience while also meeting the demands of search engine algorithms.
Research plays a critical role in the development of successful content marketing strategies. It is important to strike a balance between short and long-term planning to avoid short-sighted tactics and develop a consistent and strategic content plan that resonates with our audience. By partnering with a trusted agency like Saffron Edge, businesses can benefit from expert research, planning, and execution to build a brand that resonates with their target audience over the long term. Contact Saffron Edge today to learn more about how we can help you develop a winning content marketing strategy.
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