Some 78% of CMOs view content as the future of marketing. But how we arrive at that future is already changing: We've learned that the job doesn't end with simply producing content; making sure it performs is critical to driving engagement and reaching target audiences.

However, the gap between production and performance is a real pain point for marketers: 86% of B2B marketers use content marketing, but only 21% say they're actually successful at tracking ROI, according to a study by MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute; moreover, only 1 in 5 pieces of B2C content are engaged with at all, according to research by BrightEdge and iProspect.

There is a way to close that gap. Successful content takes optimization at every step of the process—from ideation and creation to production and amplification. Optimization is powered by insights into audience demand to develop content that delivers results and value for both the customer and your business.

To help you optimize, here are three steps you can take to achieve content performance success.

1. Harness data to identify best channels and content types

The first step to winning with your content strategy is to understand both where your audience goes for information and what types of content your consumers prefer.

Tap into data from around the Web to understand which channels and types of content perform best for your audience. Every industry is different, and the ways your audience interacts with your content will differ greatly from those of an audience in a different industry. So, do your research and use this data to inform how you approach your content.

Maybe whitepapers should be more your style, or a series of blog posts might be the way to go. Our own research found that content combining video and images (what we call rich media) drives a 9% increase in performance, so try adding those to your repertoire.

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image of Jim Yu

Jim Yu is founder and CEO of BrightEdge, a  provider of Cloud-based enterprise SEO and content performance management solutions.

LinkedIn: Jim Yu

Twitter: @jimyu