What would be worse—to pass on an amazing opportunity, or to waste a ton of time and money trying to take advantage of an opportunity, but to never see results?

In a world where prospects make 60% of their buying decisions before ever talking to a sales rep it’s essential that businesses have a system for getting the right information out when it comes to their products.

But if the company just starts producing content without a solid goal or without a strategy for achieving that goal, they may actually be better off not doing any content marketing at all.

They’ll just end up wasting time and money—without ever seeing any real results.

Why Businesses Use Content Marketing (and why so many fail)

Two of the top reasons businesses choose to use content marketing are that it’s cheap and they’ve seen the stats about how it can increase customer leads, which can increase profits.

Unfortunately, only one of these two things is true.

Good content marketing is neither cheap nor easy. It can however lead to sales growth—when done correctly. In fact, one study found that companies who focus on inbound content marketing strategies have a 61% lower cost per lead than those that rely entirely on traditional marketing and sales tactics.

But when a business owner or marketing director thinks of content marketing as merely a cheap and easy marketing option, they tend to underestimate how much time, effort, and work goes into content creation.

They also tend to make another major mistake: They never create an overarching strategy or set goals for that content. As a result, whichever poor intern or low-level staff member is tasked with creating the oodles of content does so willy-nilly—which means the company sees no benefits.

The Big 5: Content Goals You Can Steal

Like any marketing tactic, content marketing will work best when it’s done with a strategy in mind. What the business wants to accomplish will play a big role in what types of content it creates, how often it creates them, what calls to action you’ll employ and, ultimately, whether or not the entire she-bang has had any effect at all.

So what goals can content marketing help you accomplish? Here are three common goals:

  1. Capture new business leads: Generally this is done by offering readers something of value in exchange for their contact information, such as a free info-product or newsletter (or both).
  2. To try your product: This may mean offering a free sample or quote; it may mean helping them envision which of your products would work best for them, even if they aren’t ready (yet) to buy.
  3. Convert leads into customers: Once you have a customer’s contact information you can then send them targeted messaging designed to help convert them, convincing them to buy.
  4. Increase brand authority: Whether we’re talking a personal brand or a company’s brand,  this kind of marketing can be very effective at showcasing a brand to be helpful and useful by sharing unique expertise.
  5. Engage existing customers: Once a customer has made a purchase, it’s up to you to keep them engaged, ensuring they are thrilled by their experience and that they go on to recommend you to friends and family, or anyone else who will listen. These customers are backbone of any business; they buy again and again.

If you’re like most business owners, you’ll read that list and pause.

Wait,” you think, “What if I want to accomplish all of those things?” Well then, you’re in luck. Because I advocate exactly that. Most businesses who use content marketing effectively choose at least 2-3 of these goals.

So, which of these goals is a good fit for your company? Share in the comments which you’d like to accomplish.