Content marketing is a very different form of advertising that many businesses fail at because they approach it with the same strategies that they use for more traditional forms of advertising. Content marketing is different in that the number one goal isn’t promotion of the brand but rather, getting and holding your audience’s interest in a topic related to your business. The end goal: getting the audience to become customers is about the only thing content marketing has in common with more traditional advertising. Many businesses don’t even attempt content marketing because conversion rates can be harder to track and the return on investment may not be initially apparent. But if you do content marketing right, you can see great ROI. Here are three tips that can help.

Have a plan

Any content marketing effort is doomed to fail if you don’t have a plan. If your only content marketing strategy is to start a blog on your business’s website where you’ll manage to publish an article every once in a while as time allows, you aren’t going to get the results you want. A good place to start is to take a look at your marketing budget and decide on how much you plan to allocate to content creation. You can stretch your budget further by creating the content yourself or adding it to the workload of an employee but it may be wiser to invest more for professional content creation done by people who can dedicate more time and attention to it. You will also need to consider specific goals for your content marketing efforts or you’ll have no way of measuring success. Be more specific than “get more customers.” Are you targeting a certain demographic with your content marketing efforts? Are you trying to generate interest in a specific topic? Other questions to ask include, “what kinds of content will you need to create to accomplish your goals?” and “how often will we publish new content?”

Know your audience

If you’ve followed the advice from tip number one, then you should already have a specific goal (or goals) in mind and a general idea of who your audience but before you can dive into content creation, you have to get to know your audience even more. Researchers who’ve studied customer behavior have found that they tend to follow a very specific path before completing a purchase. This is called the marketing funnel and it begins with interest in a product, service, or some subject connected to a product or service. Some who are interested will move down to a narrower section of the funnel where they will more carefully consider specific products or services with the intention of possibly buying. Finally, at the narrowest point of the funnel are those who decide to go through with the purchase. A big part of knowing your audience is knowing where they are in the marketing funnel. Are you trying to generate awareness about a topic that a target demographic may not really be thinking about or do you want to try to create more in-depth and engaging content to pull in those already interested who are considering whether or not to buy? The channels you use and the types of content you create will depend on where in the funnel your audience is.

Recycle your content across various channels

You can get a better return on your investment by spending less in the first place while still getting good results. A great way to do this is to recycle some of your content. For instance, you might publish a white paper on a subject which would be a longer form type of content creation. You can write shorter blog articles that focus on more specific aspects of that larger paper which you can then publish on your company’s blog. You can take some of that content and create video content or infographics. You can even take a single interesting point condensed into one sentence, and send it to the customers who’ve opted in to receive text messages. All of these recycled uses of content can of course link back to the longer form content for those who want to learn more.