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Assessing Content Needs

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by: Stephen Guerra (@StephenGuerra)
09 March 2012

Developing, managing and leveraging content is critical to supporting marketing goals. Many companies lean too much on promotion-heavy messaging, which can lead to customers and prospects a) losing interest, b) deleting your emails and/or marking them as spam, and c) unsubscribing.

While promotional content is essential to achieving your goals, the key is to blend it with content that your contacts will find entertaining, surprising and/or educational. For example, recipients of business messages are often looking for information that will help them in their jobs.

That said, the amount of content provided in emails does not have to be extensive. In fact, email messages generally work best when they can be quickly consumed. For example, a message that provides an introduction and links to more extensive content elsewhere often works well.

In my recent work with clients, many of them have asked how best to determine what content is needed to bolster their programs. To evaluate what content is available, what’s needed and how best to use various content pieces, we work through the following process:

1) Identify your audience. List the different roles or profiles of those who may be interested in your content. Prioritize this list according to the relative importance of those roles to your goals.

2) Identify what type of content would be valuable to each role. For example, technical personnel may be interested in materials on the efficiencies they can bring to the design process, while business decision makers might prefer ROI-related content.

Remember to include audiences that may not contribute to revenue but are important nonetheless. For example, students looking for information now may become customers later, while press representatives can help with PR even though they may not want to purchase from you.

3) Based on step two, identify what content is needed to support your goals. Focus first on the types of content required to support immediate revenue goals, then turn your attention to the other types of content identified in step two.

4) Conduct a content audit. Identify and list all existing content as well as content that’s currently under production. Include everything, no matter how old it is. For each content piece, your audit should detail:

a)      Topic: What is the subject matter covered?

b)      Format: What type of material is it—video, article, recorded webinar, etc.?

c)      Location: Where is the content stored, and how can it be accessed?

d)      Audience: What is the appropriate audience?

e)      Value: From the perspective of the audience, how valuable is this content? Any ranking method can be used—a low/medium/high system, for example, usually works well.

The value established should take into account what other sources of similar content are available to your audience and whether that content is restricted or not. Look to see if your competitors offer similar content and if they ask for information before distributing it.

When distributing content, use the identified value to help you determine whether this content should be provided without restriction or whether it’s valuable enough to warrant a data request. As you build forms to present and deliver content in return for data, evaluate the number of abandoned forms to help you determine if your initial value estimate was correct. If you see some forms of content being abandoned more than others, that content might not be as valuable as you thought.

5) Identify Gaps: Based on what you learned from steps three and four, determine what content is needed and what materials should be updated. To help in prioritizing production, include the relative importance of each piece when performing this assessment.

By following these steps, you’ll build an archive of helpful, educational, relevant content you can mix in with your promotional message to more strongly engage your prospects and customers.

Silverpop eMarketing Strategy Consultants work with our clients to develop successful content strategies. If you’d like help with approaches to creating and managing content within your marketing program, let us know at SilverpopStrategyConsulting@silverpop.com. And remember, have fun and keep learning.

Related Articles:
1) Blog: “Feeding the Content Beast
2) Blog: “Marketing Automation and the Evolution of the Marketing Department
3) Blog: “Progressive Profiling: The Key to Collecting Data Without Weirding People Out

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