Goal-setting is one of the most important pieces of content strategy.
Every guide you’ve ever read on building a content strategy probably mentions goals somewhere.
Goals matter because they give your content marketing direction and purpose. Instead of creating content randomly, you’ll create content for specific reasons, and each piece will contribute to growth.
Because, without goals, content is just content. But add a goal behind it, and it becomes a tool for your business.
But it’s one thing to say, “Set goals for your content marketing.” It’s another thing entirely to put that into action.
If you’re new to content marketing or strategy, you’re probably wondering which goals your particular brand should focus on.
That’s a valid question, but before you get too deep, know this:
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive profitable action.
That means, at some point, your content should affect your audience enough to move them to act in ways that grow your business.
Nurturing content strategy goals
While you can and should drive profitable action with your content marketing, consider how you’ll build up to that point.
You can’t move people to act if you can’t first move them emotionally. That’s what these first three goals are all about.
These goals might be considered “small” because they’re built on a small scale, content piece by content piece. They are also less straightforward to measure than some of the larger content marketing goals, like growing traffic.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy of pursuing. I’d argue that working toward these smaller goals will also help you build toward your larger goals, as they all involve nurturing your audience, which eventually can lead to conversions.
By the way, these are also some of the most common goals marketers say they have achieved in the last 12 months.
1. Building trust with your audience
This goal is small but mighty. An audience that trusts a brand is an engaged audience, and those people will be much more willing to convert based entirely on that trust.
Building trust is done slowly, one content piece and interaction at a time. Over and over, you need to:
With this goal in your content strategy, you’ll commit to giving your audience the best information possible: expertise they’ll come to know they can lean on.
Great content has an amazing ability to build trust. One study found that brand trust increased among 73% of consumers one week after consuming one piece of educational content.
To measure your progress toward this goal, look at:
- The quality of your content over time: Each piece should be well-written, factually accurate, targeted to your audience, and provide much-needed value on a topic that matters to your people.
- Customer feedback, reviews, comments, mentions, chats, etc.: How your customers talk about your brand will give you clues about how they feel about you and whether you’ve earned their trust. Keep your ear to the ground to monitor this.
- Surveys: You can conduct surveys to get a picture of how your followers, blog readers, fans, and customers see you as a brand.
2. Educating your audience
This goal is about value. Content that truly educates and helps your audience learn and grow is immensely valuable. And giving away value builds trust.
To meet this goal, aim to provide educational value in your content. Ask yourself these questions every time you publish:
- Is this content helpful – or are we too focused on selling?
- If your topic is based on a keyword, are you fulfilling the search intent for that keyword? Are you giving a searcher the answers they’re looking for?
- Does your content satisfyingly cover the topic?
- Is it well-written? Well-researched? Credible?
- Does your content provide unique insights – or does it regurgitate what every other blog says about the topic?
If a blog fails to educate: if it’s lacking details, poorly written, rushed, or unsatisfying to read: then it’s not helping you meet your goals.
3. Building relationships and rapport
You might have noticed that these three nurturing goals all stack together. Building one bleeds into the others because they all boil down to trust.
Another way to capitalize on trust built is to nudge that toward building relationships, connections, and rapport with your audience.
To reach this goal, shoot for:
- Transparency: For any relationship to work, you expect a level of honesty. Aim to be transparent in your business and let that flow into your content. For example, if you make changes in the business, like with pricing or policies, be up-front and explain the why to customers. Own up to missteps.
- Responsiveness: No matter where you interact with customers, from the customer service chat on your site to your social media channels, be responsive and attentive. Relationships require two-way communication.
- Demonstrate your brand’s trustworthiness: Earning trust isn’t done with words but actions. Continue consistently creating content that demonstrates that the business walks its talk.
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Action-oriented content strategy goals
These next few goals are about building toward the profitable actions we discussed earlier. As you focus on nurturing content and interactions day-to-day, you can look to these larger goals for the long term.
4. Growing traffic
As you create valuable, helpful content, you can leverage that into search engine rankings. Once you start ranking, your traffic potential skyrockets.
88% of B2B sites are discovered through unbranded searches. That means people find them through regular keywords that typify a problem or knowledge gap.
But you can’t put the horse before the cart. You shouldn’t try to rank in search just to earn traffic. Valuable content must come first because search engines will not rank content users find worthless.
To reach the goal of growing traffic through content marketing and SEO, do these things:
- Know and understand what your audience needs in your content: what information, what solutions?
- Research keywords relevant to those pains and questions reachable for your brand to rank for.
- Create valuable content properly optimized for those keywords that educate and build trust.
5. Increasing leads
More traffic is coming to your website and blogs from search engines and social media:
- What will you do to capture it?
- How will you turn those faceless visitors into interested audience members and potential customers?
This is a key content marketing goal because traffic means nothing if it disappears into the ether. You need those people to come back so you can continue nurturing them with content.
With that in mind, a great goal to focus on for lead generation is building an engaged list of email subscribers.
To reach this goal, continue creating valuable content. But add another layer to it:
- Include CTAs in the content to sign up for your email list. You can even include a short form that collects their name and email address right on the page.
- Create lead magnets with an even bigger value for your audience beyond your blogs. Offer these for free in exchange for emails.
6. Increasing sales
Yes, you can earn direct sales through content. I have accomplished exactly that with just one valuable, well-written, targeted long-form blog.
To get direct sales from a blog, you need the right combination of keyword + pain point + solution.
For example, in the blog that earned direct sales, the keyword I targeted was directly tied to a pain point that my business solved with our services.
In the blog, we wrote a helpful guide explaining exactly how to solve the problem and added CTAs that allowed readers to have us solve it for them.
Through keyword research and focusing on helping instead of selling, we were ironically able to sell on the spot.
However, content marketing can also help increase your sales in less direct ways.
Consistent, nurturing content will continue to build trust and can eventually convince your audience to buy from you: even if you’re not selling anything directly in the blogs.
For example, an on-the-fence customer who has been considering purchasing from you can finally decide to pull the trigger after reading a great blog and realizing, “Wait, these guys really know their stuff.”
Remember that increasing sales through content marketing does not happen without nurturing. You must help, add value, educate, and consistently show up that way.
7. Retaining customers
Focused on customer retention? Content marketing can help you achieve that, too.
Specifically, focus on creating content for new leads and reserving a slice of your calendar for people who have already purchased your products/services. What are their information needs? How can you continue helping them beyond the sale?
For instance, maybe there’s a common question new customers continually ask that you could address in a blog post. Maybe you could create a “new user’s guide” for one of your products.
Many tech companies address existing customers’ content needs through a knowledge base, FAQ pages, or user guides on their websites.
Great example: Dyson has a robust set of user guides on their website for each product, including a place to download the user manuals.
8. Inspiring brand loyalty
If increasing brand loyalty is your goal, you must find ways to surprise and delight your customers through content marketing.
- Celebrate your audience in content: Showcase customer stories and take opportunities to shine a light on your audience.
- Create fun, just-because content: Have fun with your content once in a while. Show the faces behind the brand, get creative, and enjoy it. When other people are having fun, it’s hard not to join in.
- Share user-generated content: Give your audience a challenge and repost the content they create.
- Give special discounts or coupons to your email subscribers: Offer rewards to your subscribers just for being there and sticking around.
Overall, inspiring brand loyalty is easier when you show your audience you genuinely care. Making this one of your content marketing goals will help inspire this attitude throughout your company.
Choose your content strategy goals wisely
As you choose the goals you’ll focus on, remember that not every goal will match up with what your business needs from content marketing at this moment.
Look at where you stand in terms of growth and where you need to go. Content marketing can help you get there, but you have to be realistic.
Set goals you can actually hit by a specific period. Stipulate when that time will be and what to do if you miss it.
Finally, don’t feel locked into the goals you set. If they’re not serving you after some time, don’t be afraid to pivot and tweak your goals as needed. You can even build a check-in point into your content strategy in three or six months to see what’s working and what isn’t.
With goals set, you’re ready to build the rest of your content strategy. Now go forth and grow.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.