Image from Flickr by tee.kay

Are your content marketing efforts paying off … or are they yet another thankless task on your to-do list?

If content marketing isn’t bringing you the results you want, you might need to take a look at the goals that you’ve set yourself.

It’s easy to come up with goals that look like this:

  • Publish three blog posts every week
  • Get 1,000 subscribers to the blog
  • Write a guest post for a major site in my industry
  • Achieve a higher ranking on Google

There’s nothing bad about these, and I’d say that they’re good targets. They’re not, however, good goals.

Unless you’re blogging for the fun of it, you’ve almost certainly got business goals that you want to reach. Those might include:

  • Improve customer retention
  • Increase customer base
  • Increase profits

At the end of the financial year, whether your blog has 500 or 5,000 subscribers isn’t going to matter. What matters is whether those subscribers have been successfully converted into paying customers – preferably paying customers who keep coming back for more.

Setting your content marketing goals

Your goals will depend on your overall business objectives.

If you run a small start-up company with financial backing, for instance, you might not be too worried about immediate cash-flow – but you will want to build a list of qualified potential customers.

If you’ve just quit your day job to work for yourself, immediate cash-flow is probably more of a concern. You may only need a handful of new clients each month, so a few highly-engaged blog readers are almost certainly more valuable to you than a large amount of passing traffic.

Do it:

Set aside some time to think about what you really want to get from content marketing. Is it about having more high-quality leads arriving at your website? Is it about keeping your existing customers engaged and interested?

Write down two or three goals for the next quarter, then pick your one top goal. If you like, share your goals with us in the comments below.

Planning wow to achieve your goals

Once you’re clear about your goals – and you have one top goal in mind – you can move on to considering specific targets.

Let’s say your key goal is to make more sales, quickly. You don’t have a large customer / client base, and your mailing list is tiny, so you need to bring in some new leads.

There are several ways you can do this through content marketing. The ones I’d particularly recommend are:

  • Writing guest posts for major sites in your industry, and using your bio (byline) to advertise your products / services.
  • Creating a big, useful, shareable resource – perhaps “50 Ways to…” or an in-depth “how to” post, with a clear call to action at the end that encourages people to check out your services.
  • Choosing a high-quality keyword phrase (the sort that someone looking to buy would use) and focusing your content marketing on ranking highly for that phrase.

There are other tactics you could use, like increasing your posting frequency from two 500-word  posts per week to three 500-word post per week … but while you might see a little more traffic, this won’t necessarily have as much impact as a single really in-depth post.

One great way to plan is to use a mindmap to help you generate and capture ideas. You might have some initial thoughts about the best way to use content marketing, but you may find that these lead to something even better.

Do It:

With your key goal in mind, think about what specific actions you could take to reach it. What would be the best way for you to make the most of content marketing?

Look for two or three specific targets to aim for within the next month – and feel free to share these with us in the comments.

Don’t fall into the trap of blogging for the sake of blogging. Of course, content marketing is a great way to take your business to the next level – but you do need to be strategic about it.

Before you write another blog post, ask yourself what your key business goal is – and make sure that your post is going to help you reach it.

If you’d like more help with setting and achieving blogging goals, why not attend one of our day courses? Go for Blogging Introduction training if you’re new to blogging (or if you want to make sure you have a firm grasp on all the basics) – and Blogging Intermediate training if you’ve already had some experience.