If you want to know more than anyone else, learn how to ask the right questions.
No one knows everything, so posing good questions is an essential skill. In many cases, people are glad to share what they know, but they won’t come to you with their insights.
You have to go to them.
Just consider inbound sales pros. When they sit down with a lead near the end of the three-stage buyer journey, the job in front of them is all about questions.
They conduct a discovery session, ask open-ended questions, and learn whether they can deliver the value leads really need.
Team members – within a function, department, or the enterprise as a whole – should get comfortable asking one another thought-provoking questions. This is crucial in content management, where everything depends on your knowledge of the audience.
Marketing teams need to look at content management as an ongoing challenge. No matter how well you “get” your buyers, re-examining assumptions is essential.
The vision, direction, and motivation to do that often comes from the marketing manager.
Let’s look at 10 questions marketing managers should ask their content management team.
1. “What’s Your Understanding of the Company’s Goals?”
To be effective, every marketing initiative has to line up with the company’s goals. The thing is, no matter how many times you hear something, you don’t really know it until you can explain it in your own words. Goals often get muddled as they pass from one source to the next.
Knowing that, start by making sure everyone knows what the objective is. You’ll be glad you did.
2. “Who Are Our Best-Fit Customers?”
Written buyer personas are an essential piece of any marketing strategy. Everything you do needs to speak to a defined persona. Revisit them quarterly to evaluate trends that affect them and make changes.
3. “How Are We Defining Success?”
At the beginning of any complex project, you need to define metrics that show you you’re moving in the right direction.
The same is true in marketing.
Each person may contribute something different, but all of them should know what moves the needle – individually and collectively.
4. “Who Do Our Buyers Trust?”
No matter what product or service your leads are looking for, odds are good they’re not going to go directly to you. Customers with established relationships might, but most leads will check Google first. That means it’s up to you to learn which sites and publishers they find persuasive.
Once you understand which online media influences buying decisions in your space, you have a number of options. You can buy ad placements, submit content, or develop partnerships to tap that ready audience. You can also use influencer content to inspire your own tone and design.
5. “What’s Our Relationship With Sales?”
Sales teams can provide marketers with plenty of valuable information.
Inbound sales pros are often the first to learn about new turns in customer thinking, including objections your web content should address. Ideally, marketing teams will get a quick update after every discovery session, including questions asked to leads and their responses.
Likewise, marketers can add value for sales pros and accelerate the sales cycle.
The fastest way to do this is to implement a CRM that provides total visibility into the ways visitors use your website. When content is closely aligned with the steps of the buyer journey, sales experts can determine a lead’s level of qualification based largely on the content they use.
6. “What Are Our Five Best Content Pieces?”
Speaking of content, understanding how yours performs is crucial to elevating your success.
No matter if your content management team is large or small, someone should be keeping an eye on your site’s data analytics. Only analytics that capture the full spectrum of user behavior can tell you what content people respond to so you can produce more of it in the future.
You can measure the success of content in many different ways:
- Which content is getting the most views? The longest reads?
- Which content is attracting the most shares on social media?
- Which content has inspired the most backlinks from others?
- Which content is most correlated with making a purchase?
Most content serves multiple roles within your content strategy, but each one should have a main objective. The content pieces that meet their objectives consistently have the most to teach you.
7. “What’s Working For Our Competitors?”
With a clear picture of the metrics that impact your content strategy, you can use competitor research to find new ways to reach your goals. Like you, your market rivals are out there driving traffic, winning backlinks, and appealing to your audience.
Some of them are doing worse. Some are doing better. Most are doing it differently.
Whatever the case, don’t reinvent the wheel every time you launch a content management project. Use competitor research tools like SpyFu to gather intelligence on the most read, shared, and linked content pieces in your space at large, then adapt those ideas for your own use.
8. “What Resources Does the Content Team Need?”
There are some basic resources that your content management team should always have.
- A Customer Relationship Management suite such as the free HubSpot CRM.
- A Web analytics solution – Google Analytics is the most popular free choice.
- A content calendar, which could be as simple as Excel or be purpose-built.
- A communications suite, with Slack leading the market at the moment.
Most teams will need these in place to build momentum and find a rhythm of content production. Doing their best work, however, might depend on other assets. Needs specific to your team are sure to evolve based on the mix of goals, skills, and interests in your organization.
Needs could be anything from a new piece of software to resources for mastering a new skill to support for attending a major conference. Whatever it is, asking what your people need – and not just how you can get more from them – helps raise them to the next level.
9. “How Are We Collecting Feedback – and How Can We Get More?”
Marketing and sales professionals are increasingly realizing the value of user feedback. With progressive profiling and lead scoring, pieces of feedback are collected across the buyer journey.
However, there can be gaps in this process. Likewise, it’s easy to forget that the feedback from your existing customers can be just as useful as what you get from your evolving leads.
The more recent feedback you have from someone, the more you know about their needs and the more patterns you’ll uncover about your audience. Always be on the lookout for more.
10. “What’s Our Best Marketing Asset Beyond Pure Blog Content?”
While your blog is the king of content management, don’t overlook the other pieces of the puzzle. Social media and email marketing are two big contributors that are easily forgotten. Quantify their contributions and seek out simple ways to generate better results.
Digital marketing is complex. Don’t try to figure it all out alone: Ask your content marketing team what’s new, now, and next. That will clarify your path to the marketing goals that matter.