Google the term ‘Content Marketing Cycle’ and you’ll see a plethora of images and definitions. But what is the cycle, and how can understanding it help you to create a better marketing strategy?
What is the Content Marketing Cycle?
Definitions and visualisations of the cycle vary – one of the best graphics I’ve found this is this one from communications agency Fusion Spark.
Essentially, the cycle describes the entire marketing process, from initial contact through to nurturing ongoing client relationships.
Here we look at each of the steps in the cycle and how you can use it to improve your own approach.
1. Research and insight
Sometimes titled ‘listen’ or ‘buying personas’. In this stage, you dig deep to find out all you need to know about your prospects. What interests them? What are their challenges, and where do they go to seek out solutions to them? How can your offerings help them?
Make use of surveys, research and analysis from outside sources, as well as your own insights, for instance from your social media (which can provide very useful data to inform your content strategy.
2. Goal setting
What are you trying to achieve with your content? Do you want to attract visitors to read more about your solutions? To sign up to events? To consume your whitepapers or other thought leadership? How will you nurture contacts – do you have a content plan that will move them down the funnel? How will you measure success?
3. Content strategy
Decide what your approach will be. Plan out your content to achieve your objectives – what mix of content do you need? There is lots of research on the most effective marketing content to help you – make use of it to decide where you will focus.
4. Create content
This is where you actually get to dig in and start creating the content you’ve identified in your strategy. SEO is a key consideration, but never forget that you’re writing for your readers, not for search engine spiders. Your content must be relevant to your target audience. Of course, online visibility is essential in getting your content to your readers. Google publishes its own digital content guide which provides good tips on how to make your materials stand out.
5. Curate content
Social media and the internet as a whole mean there is no shortage of content to share. Finding high-quality, pertinent content produced by others and sharing it online is a great way to supplement your own content production. The need to share regular content can be overwhelming – consider curating others’ as a way to reduce the pressure.
How do you plan to disseminate your content? There’s no point publishing high-quality content if nobody sees it. You need to maximise engagement with your content marketing to make the production process worthwhile.
What actions do your audience take as a result of your content? What they do – and what you want them to do – will of course vary depending on the content and its objectives. You might share a snippet of research, and want people to download the full report from your website. You may want people to sign up to a regular newsletter.
Engaging with your content via a download may move people into a lead nurturing programme, whereby engaging with future content drives contacts further down the sales funnel. Be clear on how you want people to engage, and what your actions will be when they do.
With this, it’s back to the start of the cycle again – researching and analysing your readers’ activity and preferences to further refine the content you share with them.
Of course, if you work in a regulated business, there’s another step in the cycle – or perhaps a ‘sub-step’ to content creation, which is Compliance team approval.
Although a necessary stage, if your compliance sign-off processes aren’t as efficient as they could be, they can add time and unnecessary workload. Writing copy your Compliance team can approve first-time helps her, reducing the edits needed before content can be signed off. And you can follow these tips for making your approvals process better.
Many teams have found that introducing some element of automation to their marketing projects has helped increase efficiency and reduce cost, and enables them to get content to market quicker.
This is particularly valuable for regulated businesses, as the additional layer of Compliance approval can make project management more complex, and the process of getting marketing materials and financial promotions finalised more long-winded.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.