Lean Content Marketing: Viable Solutions for Challenging Times
“Lean” is perhaps one of the more forgiving words which can be used to describe the global state of affairs in 2020. As the world continues to founder through this current pandemic, countless businesses have been disrupted. Some have even been forced to curtail their operations until a future date. To further highlight this stark reality, a recent study has found that a full 80 per cent of all SMEs are experiencing declines in their revenue when compared to 2019 figures. Those which have continued moving forward have done so with an air of trepidation; a completely understandable perspective when dealing with massive declines in profit margins.
These are some of the reasons why advertising campaigns have been trimmed down in order to address such financial limitations. However, such approaches are certainly nothing new to small- and medium-sized enterprises. The notion of lean marketing has existed for some, and if you are looking to make ends meet until a sense of normalcy returns, the information outlined below will come in handy.
Lean Marketing: A Concise Definition
The easiest way to define lean marketing is embracing the ability to accomplish more with less. In this case, the use of an analogy can help. Imagine that you are finalising the plans for an upcoming hiking excursion. You have separated the equipment that will be brought along into two categories. One group contains essentials such as boots, extra socks, water, and a map. The other is associated with more luxurious items, including a high-definition digital camera, a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses and a cooler of your favourite beer. While both of these categories are relevant for the journey, which one is the most essential? This is similar to how lean content marketing functions.
Lean content marketing embraces a “ground-up” process in order to narrow down an ongoing strategy so that it effectively reaches a target audience while maximising your return on investment (ROI). Here is another useful illustration provided by Arabella Santiago, Director of Communications at Scoop.it:
“Lean content marketing is about measuring the impact of content and refining it, rather than just flopping around.”
If you wish to accomplish more while grappling with a limited budget, it, therefore, makes sense that you must streamline traditional content marketing approaches in order to burn off the proverbial fat. However, transforming this rather straightforward concept into an actionable reality can be slightly deceptive. This is why having a digital plan in place is critical.
Actionable, Precise and Malleable Strategies
It is first important to stress that there is a fundamental difference between lean marketing and more generic approaches. This involves the fact that lean campaigns tend to go live before they are perfected. To put it simply, specialists will learn as they go in order to make future changes are they are appropriate. Not only does this mentality save a significant amount of time, but it is ideal if you are dealing with a dearth in resources due to financial limitations. Let us now examine how lean marketing can be applied to your goals.
1. Seeking to Define “Pain Points”
Some marketers will rely upon nothing more than previous experiences and prior sales campaigns to determine how they should move forward. On the contrary, lean marketing instead seeks to determine the needs of the customer at the present time. They define the pain points of their customers in order to provide viable and relevant solutions.
2. Incremental Content Curation
The first flight taken by the Wright Brothers lasted a mere 12 seconds. However, this singular event nonetheless proved their hypotheses around aerodynamic principles. This mentality should be adopted when creating a lean marketing campaign. Assuming that you have identified the pain points of your customers, you should then create short-form content in order to appreciate how this material resonates with them (think of a product bench test in this sense). This is a low-cost means to understand if any changes need to be made. If your audience responds positively, the campaign can then be rolled out to a much larger demographic.
3. Is the Audience Engaging with the Material?
Shares, likes, bounce rates, and retweets will all serve to measure how the content is resonating with your readers. Take a look at successful material posted in the past and use these figures as benchmarks to better appreciate how your recent posts compare. This data will always illustrate whether your ongoing approaches are producing results or whether you have failed to meet the mark. You can thereafter make changes as may be required.
4. Engagement as Opposed to Conversions
This step is often overlooked by marketers, and yet, it is arguably the most critical. Let’s remember that there is a massive difference between engaging content and material that leads to conversions. In other words, not every post which goes viral will generate revenue. Although the surface value of a post or blog may appear to be producing positive results, it is driving in revenue or is it simply being shared amongst others?
As the Content Marketing Institute points out, even a single conversion is worth infinitely more than 1,000 likes or shares. Once again, trim away the fat to appreciate the core value of your content.
5. Create a Feedback Loop
One of the paramount principles of lean content marketing is that the process never really ends. If you have curated a valuable piece of material, create long-form content to determine if it resonates differently with your audience. Thus, further changes can be enacted while still remaining one step ahead of the curve. In the same respect, discard old or outdated material that has already served its purpose. Not only will you dramatically increase the efficiency of ongoing advertising campaigns, but they will be much easier to track and analyse.
How to Effectively Create Lean Content
Now that we have taken a look at the core tenets of lean content marketing as well as some general suggestions, it is time to examine the finer points. In this sense, what does it take to curate lean content? Are there any professional tips to embrace? How can you keep abreast of what your audience desires? Each of these questions deserves closer attention.
Put Yourself in the Place of the Customer
The team at Crowdy.ai rightfully notes that you will need to think from the perspective of your customers. Simply because you may already be an industry expert does not necessarily signify that you innately know what your audience desires. This is once again when surveys and feedback will come in handy, as you can then develop content that contains real value.
Learn, Create and Measure
Whats is your business trying to accomplish? What are the core benefits of the products and services that you are offering? Are these values being translated throughout the content, and how are they perceived by the end-user? In other words, any material should be based on what customers expect from your business. If you can appreciate their desires, it will be much easier to curate high-value content.
A Touch of Analytics
As always, no lean content marketing strategy will be effective if it fails to incorporate core SEO concepts. Here are some effective analytical techniques to enact on a regular basis:
- Discover which platforms are producing the most results.
- Identify those keywords which are found within popular articles.
- Research new keywords.
- Determine if your SERP rankings have benefited or suffered from your marketing campaign.
Always remember that there is no such thing as “static” within the world of lean content creation. Much like some fish need to constantly swim to obtain oxygen while underwater, remaining proactive will allow you to keep afloat within a digital world rife with competition.
Re-Purposing Older Material
There are also times when it actually makes a great deal of sense to reintroduce older evergreen content. Perhaps you can simply adjust a handful of figures or keywords to make it relevant to your current audience. This is particularly useful if a specific post already received a great deal of positive attention in the past. Let us also remember that recycling existing content will save time and money when compared to creating entirely new subject matter.
What About Social Media Sharing?
It has been shown that 54 per cent of all social media users will employ these platforms to research new products and services. So, it is a foregone conclusion that lean marketing should always leverage the power of these portals. However, it is a mistake to bootstrap your current campaigns to social media platforms alone.
The main issue here is that a standalone website offers a host of concrete benefits that are simply not possible when relying upon nothing more than a social media presence. While such channels are excellent solutions due to their cost-effective nature, here are some drawbacks:
- Overall conversion rates can be fickle.
- Some sites will limit your ability to create a call to action.
- Others will take a percentage of any profits derived from a sale (pay to play).
Furthermore, a separate website will supply your enterprise with a much more concrete and transparent brand identity. After all, would you ever commit to purchasing a product or service if there was no website to provide an authoritative appeal? Even free hosting services such as WordPress-powered websites will help to establish your business over time.
Do Not Confuse Lean with Short
Some businesses have associated lean content with extremely short and concise posts. However, this is certainly not always the case. The main point of lean marketing is to constantly appreciate what your audience desires. Depending upon what it is that you are offering, conveying value to the reader may require 1,000 words or more. The last thing you want to do is to sell your business short simply because the content is not as robust as it should be.
Creating an In-House Marketing Team
The best marketing content will often arise from a collaborative effort. This is why it is wise to create an in-house team that can focus their efforts on a specific project. Delegating different responsibilities to its members will also help to ensure that checks and balances are put into place (grammar, editing, publication channels, and perspective). If this team fully understands the goals and guidelines associated with your brand, it will be much easier to create material that resonates with the end-user.
Lean and Mean
Lean marketing is an ongoing process that needs to be approached with a great deal of flexibility. Being able to mould your approaches around customer feedback will provide targeted solutions even if you have little money to spare. In these strange times, it certainly pays to work smart as opposed to hard.
This is also why a growing number of entrepreneurs have been outsourcing these solutions to the team at Textbroker. Not only can we leverage the benefits of lean marketing, but our writers will be able to provide bespoke solutions that will inevitably lead to positive results. If you are looking to trim the digital “fat” off of a current content marketing campaign, we are always here to help.
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About our authorRon first arrived in Barcelona, Spain in 2007. Although initially pursuing a career in wealth management and finance, he learned that the content writing community provided the highest level of personal satisfaction while still being able to personally help clients. He has been a full-time professional writer since 2011. Some of his other interests include martial arts and bodybuilding.