I never realized just how important it was to connect content with business goals until I had a particular conversation with a client.
The client, excited to get started on blog content together, had a running list of topics for me to cover.
But then something strange happened.
When I asked for background information on their content objectives (like potential CTAs, a list of targeted SEO keywords, etc.), I got this response:
“We don’t really have that stuff yet. We’re just kind of ‘winging it’ for now.”
For me, this was a major red flag.
This statement meant I’d need to pump the brakes and help the client get a few preliminary goals in place before I could dive into any project work.
The reason: Without them, we’d both be spinning our wheels and wasting each other’s time.
What happens when you don’t set business goals for content?
Too many times, I’ve tried to go along with the “just winging it” approach.
The problem is:
With no business goals in place, the content doesn’t do anything worthwhile for the client — and it makes me look bad. It makes me look like I don’t know how to do my job as a writer and experienced content marketer, despite the client’s wishes to “play it by ear.”
In my experience, without clear business goals for content, the writer has a much harder job as he tries to execute valuable, results-producing material.
Without any benchmarks to measure success, it’s extremely difficult to measure what’s working and what’s not — and there are no metrics to inform future decisions about topics, formats, etc.
At the same time, the business’s marketing budget gets squandered on lackluster content — and the content manager starts to get frustrated that there are no meaningful results to share with the leadership team. It’s lose-lose all around.
Why business goals matter when it comes to content
At the heart of “winging it,” there’s a major problem: It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. You’re 100 percent guessing at what to try (which rarely produces solid results.)
Business goals matter for content creation because they help make each post part of a larger, big-picture strategy.
When you have a plan in place and measurable objectives around the content you create, you can choose topics to write about in a much more strategic way.
It also allows content to complement other marketing efforts, like SEO and social media ads.
For the writer, objectives provide valuable direction for the pieces they’re creating — and it helps them write for highly specific people who are most likely to convert into customers for the business.
It also helps the writer create a more effective CTA, so the reader can take the next logical step in the customer journey.
In short, business goals are the foundation of any solid content creation effort — and over time, they help marketers build effective campaigns.
How to connect content and business goals
Now that we understand the importance of business goals, let’s look next at how they can be connected to content.
1. Prioritize the objectives that matter most for the business
Step one is to think long and hard about which results matter most for the business when it comes to content.
Is it email signups? Free trial signups? Define your most important potential outcomes, and then prioritize your list.
2. Consider what your audience wants/needs
You’ll never know what your readers want from you unless you ask.
Use surveys, customer service insights, and data around your site queries to see what your visitors want and need more information about.
3. Create a list of content topics that address both areas
From there, create a running list of topics that can both help you accomplish your most important goals and answer common audience questions.
Cross-reference your list of topics with your SEO or ad teams to see how this list can work alongside their efforts.
4. Set SMART goals to measure success/failure
SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals help you accurately measure the success of your content efforts.
Create benchmarks that help you see what’s working (and what’s not) — and document those outcomes for future reference.
5. Let the data inform future content strategy
Based on the data and findings you gather, prioritize your content moving forward.
See if there are specific formats or topics that perform best (and then keep going in that direction).
Establish your objectives today
Without business goals connected to content, you’re likely wasting both time and money. Be sure that the materials you create consistently produce results and drive the business forward.
If you need to push pause on content creation for a while and take time to establish those objectives, do that.
Give yourself permission to add the structures, benchmarks, and parameters that will improve your content marketing.
Whatever you do, don’t “wing it.”
Reader Comments (7)
Ivan Kreimer says
I’ve come to realize the great majority of companies who use content don’t really understand why they do it (as Simon Sinek would say), or what they need to do to succeed with it. Others don’t know how much it will take until content starts to work, and some even don’t hire the right people to help them with their content creation.
At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to inform them about all these things I’m mentioning and which you explained so well. I think most writers don’t do this digging, and that’s why they don’t get paid well or have their content perform.
Great work, Kaleigh!
I agree 100%. Thanks for reading Ivan!
Paul Schmidt says
Great post! Do you have any experience sending out out these content surveys, and at what rate do people complete these?
Most of the time, I recommend companies work with an expert content strategist to iron all of these elements out–so that person does the survey part. But I know they get at least a moderate level of feedback, because often times they circle back with everything we need to get started.
Michael L Ellis says
Excellent analytical business strategies Kaleigh. A wise man once said ” Through wisdom a house (business)
is built and by understanding it is established. By knowledge the rooms ( your content) is filled With all precious and pleasant riches.
Travis Longmore says
Spot on! I find going through this process ends up as more of a business coaching session than just a marketing strategy session. I often find vanity metrics are what still drives some businesses so it’s good to clear that up from the start too.
Lorraine Reguly says
Kaleigh, I love that you took the time to break this all down for everyone.
I have worked with clients who also chose the “winging it” approach. UGH. They are so hard to work with… until I point out the benefits of share-worthy content, having a social media strategy that goes hand-in-hand with their content, and how to best leverage their existing customer base.
It is nice to have articles such as this one to direct such companies to!
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