According to a research report by Junta42 and MarketingProfs,the number one content marketing challenge is producing engaging content. It’s an age-old marketing truism that the key to engaging customers is relevance, which comes from a deeper understanding of customer behavior and sentiment. However, as our customers are becoming more social, and as the business and personal worlds continue to converge, the tools and tactics we employ to get to know and engage our target customers are changing dramatically. And not too surprisingly, the demands of this new breed of socially savvy-buyer are not only forcing the evolution of the marketing practice, but the marketing practitioners as well. Thus, a new breed of marketer is emerging: the content engineer.
The content engineer is a marketer who creates and optimizes the many forms of content required to engage social customers, based on the data presented by available analysis tools. They listen to the customer — through all the newly available media — before crafting the content (and marketing messages) for each medium. For example:
- Social media monitoring and analysis give them a pulse on buyer sentiments on brands, products, and ad campaigns.
- Web analytics tell them which content is engaging which types of visitors, and from which sources.
- Search engine optimization tools present them with the right keywords to include in their content to improve online visibility.
By leveraging all the social and behavioral intelligence available to them, content engineers develop and apply the right content, at the right time, to engage the right audience in the most effective manner possible. Part creative right brain and part scientific left brain, content engineers live and breathe the new marketing math: creativity without conversions = zero!
So what does it take to be a content engineer? Here are the seven areas of expertise that these professionals must master in their quest to attract and enchant their readers:
1. Align Yourself with Business Goals
You can’t be an effective content engineer, much less an effective marketer, if you’re not properly aligned with your company’s business and marketing goals.
Understanding goals is the key to setting effective strategies. So before you unleash your content wizardry,ask yourself key questions, such as what is your company trying to accomplish, who are your target audience segments, and what are the key messages that are likely to resonate for each segment.
2. Know How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Once you have a clear picture of business goals, you can begin to chart your content marketing strategy, including determining what types of content you’ll need to achieve various company goals, what existing assets you have to work with, and which types of success metrics to use.
Remember, content comes in many shapes and flavors these days, including video, live or recorded webinars, blogs, and tweets, as well as more traditional formats like white papers and case studies. Below is a chart showing the most common types of content and their alignment within the traditional customer lifecycle of acquisition, conversion, and retention. Some content assets can fall into multiple categories, though there are a few that are definitely more suited to one specific purpose.
3. Unleash Your Inner Data Analyst
Here’s where your left-brain kicks in. One of the keys to being a good data analyst is being able to use data and measurement to plan, report on, and optimize content. If you’ve never familiarized yourself with Google Analytics (the most popular free web analytics service) or one of the many social analytics tools available (such as Viralheat or Radian6), now is a great time to start. This is where the content engineer earns his bread and butter, and it’s what truly separates the content engineer from the copywriter. Here some ways in which the content engineer leverages data:
- Planning: Which topics and types of content have driven the best results in the past? How can you can re-purpose or re-imagine those topics for future use? What’s trending within web and social circles that might help you better connect with your audience?
- Reporting: Is your content meeting your marketing objectives? How much traffic is your company blog generating, and how many people are converting from that domain? No what matter type of content you produce, its reach, engagement, and conversion effectiveness must be monitored and measured in some manner.
- Optimizing: Optimizing content first starts with establishing a measurement benchmark based on the objective, and then continually testing against that baseline. For example, for content geared toward extending reach, you need to establish specific reach benchmarks (see: recommended metrics, below), and see how your various forms of content perform against those metrics. Different forms of content will work better for different businesses, so don’t be afraid to experiment to determine what works for you!
4. Know the Right Tools
Content engineers must make it a point to know the tools and technology that will help them save time and be more effective. For example, a content engineer knows he or she doesn’t have to be an SEO expert to help optimize content. Instead, they can rely on tools such as InboundWriter to do that work for them. Here are a few categories of tools the content engineer should be familiar with:
Content measurement: Google Analytics, Chartbeat, Viralheat, SocialMention, and Bit.ly are a few of the tools you can use to help measure content effectiveness on the web and within search and social channels
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