Content is now critical for associations as they aim to capture the attention of busy professionals and keep them engaged and informed. Content marketing has become common vernacular for marketers, and associations by nature have great content and resources to share. Done effectively, content marketing drives deeper engagement with current and prospective members and builds industry leadership.
Quality content, however, demands a commitment of time and resources, and at the end of the day, leaders are looking for a return on that investment. Start by focusing your goals and aligning them with your organization’s priorities, then ensure your content is delivering on its desired outcome.
Here are five essential elements of producing, delivering, and promoting valuable content:
- Target Your Audience’s Needs. The first step to creating an effective content marketing strategy is being clear on your audience’s challenges. What unique insights, tips, and data can your organization provide to solve their problems? Also, what channels are most effective in reaching that group? Segmenting content, as well as its distribution channels (blogs, social media, newsletters), by audience group allows you the opportunity to truly optimize performance by closely monitoring engagement and revising the strategy if needed.
- Be Authentic. It’s no secret that people want honest and practical content. While your end goal is promoting your organization’s thought leadership, you risk credibility if you’re serving up content that isn’t reliably independent. Similarly, it must remain true to your association’s voice. Authentic storytelling can be the best way to grab and keep your audience’s attention.
- Stay Consistent. A content strategy requires a true commitment. While it needs to be authentic, it also needs to serve as a regular touchpoint that reinforces your organization’s unique value proposition. According to Forrester, creating a consistent experience across all of your brand touchpoints is a significant driver of trust. And once you’ve started to implement your strategy, delivering consistent content is essential to staying top-of-mind and reinforcing your brand and industry position.
- Integrate. It’s not enough to write a blog post, put it online, and hope that someone stumbles upon it. Integration is key. Your original content—including blog posts, white papers, and webinars—can live on and have a greater impact if incorporated into various distribution channels. For example, break down a white paper into shorter blog posts and turn its data points into an infographic. Get the most out of your content, but ensure it is reaching its target audience.
- Test and Retest. The beauty of digital media is the ability to have on-demand access to data. You can closely monitor the kind of content and stories driving traffic and engagement. In the business-to-business world, email still remains the most commonly used tool for distribution. As we’ve seen in our ongoing research, the average professional relies on email for their most important, need-to-know news and information. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 benchmark and trends report, 93 percent of marketers will also continue to use email as the most important vehicle for their content. Email, social media, and other digital channels provide an immediate way to test engagement and help you quickly revise your strategy.
Associations that take time to strategize on the right match of content and distribution are better able to reach audiences in an engaging manner. Understand your audience and how they prefer to consume information, then tailor your goals and strategies to make the most of the resources you put toward your marketing efforts. Also, leverage your marketing partners for their insights, help, and distribution to ensure your content is both valued and trusted.
Elizabeth MacDonald is managing director of content solutions at SmartBrief. She supports leading associations, nonprofits and corporations in ensuring their audiences stay engaged and informed through timely, need-to-know industry news.