What are your content goals? This question stems from an email I received last week.
Every week, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, emails me (and the rest of his list. Also, it’s a great book). In each email, he shares three ideas, two quotes, and one question. The question he asked last week was, “Are you being effective, or are you just being busy?” Now, we could use this question in relation to many areas of our business, but I thought it was particularly poignant when it comes to content.
It seems that many businesses create content because they think they should but they do so without any real purpose. Maybe they threw together a content plan, and maybe they know where and how they’ll distribute the content they do create. But still, they aren’t really sure of their content’s goal.
If this sounds like you, your content isn’t effective. It’s simply busy work.
If you want your content to be effective, however, you need to think about the goal you want for each piece of content your produce.
Sure, it’s true that posting new content on your blog is pleasing to Google and that it makes your business look legit, but you need deeper goals than that.
Let’s look at some of the more common goals you may have with your content, such as:
- To educate your audience and helping them progress on the buying journey
- To drive social engagement
- To earn backlinks
1. Educate your audience
Content that educates comes in many forms. It can be a long-form blog post, ebook, or white paper, but whatever it is, you want to make sure that the value it provides helps move the needle for the reader. In other words, you want it to help them progress in the sales funnel.
In order to achieve this, you should be thinking about a few things like, where are they in their journey and what types of content should I put in front of them when?
There are typically three phases on the sales funnel:
- Awareness and Discovery – your potential prospect has an issue they need resolved and are starting to their initial research. It is very early, and they have lots of questions that they need to be answered. Content for this stage of the funnel could include blog posts, checklists, and ebooks.
- Research Solutions – your potential prospect is narrowing in on their issues and what can help them resolve those issues. Here you could produce in-depth guides, a pros &cons list, and comparison-style guides.
- Making an educated decision – here, your prospect completely understands their issues, the best type of solution, and they are ready to make a purchase. Content here can include FAQs, videos about specific product or service features, and case studies.
You need to produce content for each stage of the funnel and don’t forget to always include a CTA so your audience knows what their next step with you in their journey should be.
2. Drive social engagement
The content you created to educate your audience may or may not do well on social media, and in fact, you shouldn’t solely rely on that content to engage your fans and followers.
Think about your own behavior on social media. What type of content do you react to and engage with on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram as you scroll through your feeds?
Chances are, if you see a 1,200 how-to guide linked in your Twitter feed, you may click on it and bookmark it for later. But chances are, you’ll react to other content much more in the moment.
Content like Infographics, listicles, and videos. And remember, if it performs well on one social channel, then it did its job. That is why you produced it.
3. Get backlinks
Why do you want backlinks? They represent the legitimacy of your content. When other websites link to your content, that’s a vote of confidence and it’s telling the search engines that others vouch for your content which is good for SEO.
There isn’t one type of content that is particularly good for backlinking. Many types of content are, including infographics, quizzes, and guest blog posts. Whatever the content is, it must be fresh and add value.
If you cite a certain statistic or use an idea from another publisher, let them know. Send them what you produced so they can see how you are using their ideas. They’ll be flattered, and they’ll use it as an opportunity to link back to your site. It increases their credibility with their audience.
So, before you sit down and start banging out content, answer these three questions:
- Who is it for?
- Where will you distribute it?
- What outcome do you want your audience to take after they’ve read it?
That will help you determine what kind of content to write.
And feel free to contact me if you need help determining what your content goals should be.