Setting specific content marketing goals

Setting specific content marketing goals

Well, that didn’t last long. Australia are out of the tournament after three games with no wins and no goals from open play. But having gone to all the trouble of creating a special landing page and brainstorming a bunch of content ideas we’re not quite ready to pack up and go home.

Instead, we’re going to turn the clock back to 2006 when the Socceroos put in their best ever performance at a World Cup. Rather than the slim pickings of Mile Jedinak’s penalties (and massive beard), Aussie fans were served a football feast as their team made the last 16. There were 5 goals to cheer, late drama and controversy before a valiant exit to the eventual champions Italy.

What has this got to do with content marketing, you ask? Well one word that matters an awful lot in football and in content marketing is “goals”.

Without goals – as Australia discovered Tuesday night – you can’t win football matches. And if you’re building a content marketing strategy but don’t have proper goals, well you don’t really have a content marketing strategy.

Pay the penalty for zero goals: Italy v Australia, June 26th 2006, Kaiserslautern

We begin at the end. Kaiserslautern, June 2006 and the round of 16. Australia have kept out a star-studded Italy for 90 minutes. Then deep into injury time, Lucas Neill prostrates himself at the feet of Fabio Grosso, who doesn’t need to be asked twice. Down he goes. Penalty. Totti. Game over.

Even for neutrals, it seemed harsh on Australia who had proved good organisation, desire and hard work can be decent levellers even at a World Cup. This, afterall, was an Italy team that featured genuine world class players like Buffon, Cannavaro, Del Piero and Pirlo. But with no goals, they were always on a tightrope. And Neill, Grosso and Totti combined to push them off.

There’s a good lesson here for content marketers. Just like World Cup knockout games, there are no points in content marketing for effort. You can spend money, time and energy creating blog posts or content for your favourite social media site and get no real return for your business. An ROI-focused content strategy isn’t built on your creative talent, it’s built around measurable goals.

Decide what you want to achieve first, then set about how to achieve it. Otherwise you’re always at risk of losing business support for your content marketing activity. When your boss is deciding where to allocate budget she will be more convinced by clear goals and evidence of real progress than lots of really nice-looking content.

Expert view: a content strategy with clearly-defined goals is a must. Without well-defined goals, the content you’re producing is little more than noise – and it’s not going to satisfy the needs of your customers (Search Engine Journal)

Our takeaway: always start your content marketing strategy with goals. Goals are the measurable, useful actions you want users to take. Your content marketing campaigns then promote and sell those goals to your target audience.

Pick the right goals: Croatia v Australia, June 2nd 2006, Stuttgart

Everyone makes mistakes. But some mistakes are quickly forgotten while others are career-defining. In Australia’s final group game back in 2006, English referee Graham Poll discovered that to his cost when he booked Croatia defender Josip Simunic three times.

In Poll’s defence, Simunic was born and raised in Australia so would have been complaining and pleading his innocence with a Brisbane accent. Maybe that threw him off, but the result was an infamous error that Poll has never lived down. This is a man who could reasonably claim to be one of the best referees of the modern era. He officiated more than 400 games over a 25-year career. But he’s become synonymous with his three-card-faux-pas.

Picking the wrong goals can be equally damaging for your content marketing career. And there are lots of ways to do that. Content marketing goals that don’t line up with business goals, for example. If you’re going to defend your content marketing budget to your boss you need to show you care about the same things he does.

Another mistake is to confuse goals with objectives. We define goals as useful, measurable actions. So, something you want a user to do on your site or social media page, that has some value to you and that you can track in some way.

Your content marketing strategy can have broader objectives too. Maybe you want to build your brand awareness with a particular market segment or educate your audience about a new product. But those aren’t the same as goals.

Expert view: the reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is because they set Smart (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals. Smart goals are concrete targets that you can easily aim for. They’re realistic, quantifiable, and focused, so you know exactly how to accomplish them (Hubspot)

Our takeaway: make sure your content marketing goals are aligned with your business goals. And don’t confuse clear, measurable goals with the broader objectives you might want your content marketing campaigns to achieve,

Create more than one goal: Australia v Japan, June 12th 2006, Kaiserslautern

When Tim Cahill came off the bench as a second half substitute against Peru this week he was hoping to become only the fifth player to score at four World Cups. Had he bagged one of his trademark headers he would have joined the illustrious company of Miroslav Klose, Uwe Seeler, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pele.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Cahill has barely played for his club this past season and was a nostalgic pick for Australia’s final 23 in Russia. He was unable to stop Peru putting his team to the sword and missed his chance to enter the record books.

But 12 years ago in Germany, he was much more decisive. Australia were 1-o down to Japan in their opening match. With the clock ticking and Brazil up next they were facing the prospect of an early exit. It’s worth remembering at this point that before 2006 Australia’s only prior experience at a World Cup was a miserable, winless showing in 1974.

Enter Cahill. With 6 minutes left he pounced on a loose ball in the Japan box to stab home an equalizer, scoring Australia’s first ever World Cup goal in the process. Just before full-time he went one better, rifling in the decisive second from 20 yards. John Aloisi scored a third in injury time and Australia had a vital win.

Cahill wasn’t satisfied with one goal. And as a content marketer, you shouldn’t be either. Your content marketing strategy needs goals that fit different stages of the sales funnel. Users who are just researching a problem won’t want to take the same actions as users who are ready to buy. You should create goals that feel like natural next steps for users depending on where they are in their buyer journey. A lot of brands fail to do this and miss potential leads as a result.

You might also want to create goals tailored for particular user personas. What convinces one type of user to convert might be very different to what convinces another type of user to convert. If they’re coming to your site for different reasons chances are they’ll want to take different actions.

Expert View: here’s the cool thing about content marketing: Despite a misconception that it’s always a top-of-funnel tactic, content marketing can help reach people at any stage of the funnel, and as those people continue their interactions with your organization, it helps widen the neck of the funnel farther down (Moz).

Our takeaway: create more than one goal for your content marketing campaigns. You should have different goals for different stages of the sales funnel. And you might also create goals for different user personas.

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