Create content. Amplify the content. Get the customer to convert. That’s it, the main goal of content marketing. Or is it?

Those three steps are in the minds of most marketers during the content creation process, but there is one focus many of us can sometimes forget – forging strong customer relationships.

No matter what type of content you produce, we’re all focusing on the same thing – building connections, forging relationships and developing a voice that we hope people hear for every content strategy – video, infographics, blogging, and more.

That’s the big picture – you want to be heard by more people. Successful content marketers do this by getting other people to do the heavy lifting, getting customers so excited about their content that they do the amplification themselves.

This is powerful stuff, and businesses are taking notice.

According to a Starfleet’s B2B Content Marketing Survey, 52 percent of marketers allocated a larger portion of their budgets to content marketing this past 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. In addition, 26 percent plan to more than double their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months.

Money talks, and marketers wouldn’t be spending money on content marketing if it wasn’t working. So how do you make a content strategy with the big picture in mind?

Before you create your content, listen.

Writers can sometimes fall into a pattern of talking about the things that are easiest for us to understand – a.k.a the intricacies of our jobs. Everyone is on the ground floor of his or her industry, and each person is a wealth of knowledge waiting to be tapped.

But the point of your content is not to simply dump that knowledge onto the page, but to forge a relationship with your potential customer. As marketers, we have to give before we can get, and before we can give, we have to listen.

Social media is one of the best ways to listen.

A social media monitoring survey conducted by Businesswire and PR News found that 72 percent of communication professionals use social media to listen to customers and prospects while 60 percent use it to find influencers.

The individual social media platforms make this easy. With the advent of hashtags, lists and groups, it is easier to find specific communities of people, but don’t stop at just social media.

Listen to your customers during all of your interactions with them. Read blog post comments, pay attention to industry news, or ask them questions during conversations you have in person.

Most importantly, leverage this information to make it worthwhile for them. Use it to create killer content that people want to talk about.

Check out some of these awesome resources on how to write great problem-solving content for potential customers:

  1. 8 Ways to Solve Prospects’ Problems Through Your Marketing
  2. Content Marketing 101: Tell The Stories Of The Problems You Solve
  3. 4 Powerful Content Marketing Frameworks to Jumpstart Your Blog Traffic

Big Picture: If your content is helpful, people will come back for more. Not only will they come back, but hopefully they will spread the content on their own, further increasing it’s organic reach. You have just taken the first step in forging a valuable customer relationship.

You have to tell people about the awesome content you create.

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Now you’ve created some top quality content. It’s data-based, backed by awesome sources and is relevant to your target audience.

Now what do you do?

“Build it and they will come.” – Field of Dreams

This is a lovely little quote that the business world loves to tout, but unfortunately, that’s not the way it works in the internet age. While it may work to draw customers to a bustling metropolis rising in the distance of a farm town, the internet isn’t always so visible.

In order for people to come and consume your content, they have to see it first.

Where do people see content on the internet? Mainly, it’s two places – publications and social media channels.

Most of the time, internet browsers aren’t headed to the webpages of their favorite brands unless they’re already planning to buy something. You have to do some heavy lifting to direct them there.

The easiest solution – get your brand on social media. Share your content, engage with your customers and talk to them about their problems. You won’t be alone:

According to Viralheat’s Social Marketing Impact Report, social media marketing has seen significant adoption by brands: 78 percent of companies now say they have dedicated social media teams, up from 67 percent in 2012.

That’s great news, but social media isn’t the only content amplification channel. Brands can’t rely on just their own voices to get their content out there (seeing a theme here?)

Contacting influencers and asking them to share, write about or even re-print your content is an extremely effective way to boost your content across the web. Having a third-party influencer vouch for your service or product is very valuable.

If you don’t have the budget to invest in a real public relations professional or agency, you can start to build some of these influencer connections through article submissions and social media on your own.

Here are some of my favorite articles on amplifying your content.

  1. Make Your Content More Shareable With These 5 Simple Tricks, Backed By Research
  2. How to Amplify Your Reach With Content Discovery Platforms
  3. Amplify Your Content Strategy with Influencer Marketing

Big Picture: Amplifying content through those social media channels helps build relationships. Having an influencer discuss your products and services helps build credibility and trust.

You’ve done it. Your audience is paying attention. Now what?

Generally, brands want their content marketing strategy to produce a good Return On Investment (ROI). They don’t want to spend the time and money creating content that won’t eventually lend a hand to their ultimate goal – a conversion.

Research conducted by ALF shows that 43 percent of brands are actively tracking their content marketing return on investment. About 62 percent of polled marketers cited as web traffic the most reliable metric to measure the results of their content marketing efforts.

Not surprisingly, most people define a conversion on the web. What is a conversion? I don’t know. That’s up to you.

The agency I work for defines a conversion as a website visitor filling out the ‘Contact Us’ form. For a product site, a conversion might be someone checking out in an online cart. Decide what a conversion means for you before you begin to ensure a clear understanding of your goals.

Even with clear goals, you might run into some bumps.

You’ve defined your goals, and created content in order to gain more web visitors. As your web traffic increases, you’re could run into some problems such as a high bounce rate, no website funnel movement or a lack of new traffic. Don’t panic.

Start with web design. Is there anything about your website that might make a user nervous? Is there anything that would drive an incorrect audience to that page?

If you know what’s wrong, change it. If you don’t, implement some A/B testing in order to figure it out.

Next, think about your call to action. Is there a clear and concise ‘next move’ for the customer to take after they have consumed your piece of content? Is there a form for them to fill out, a prompt for them to read similar content on your site or an extra incentive that you can trade for their information?

If not – define the customer’s next move after content consumption is complete.

Check out some of my favorite resources for driving conversions to your website:

  1. 9 Chances for Website Conversion Optimization You Don’t Want to Miss
  2. How B2B Content Marketers Can Drive Conversions
  3. How to Drive Conversion Rate by Understanding Visitor Intent: Article 3 of 4

Big Picture: Every experience that a customer has with your content and your website is an experience with your business and brand. A good experience may earn you a conversion, but a great experience might just get them amplifying your content for you, turning them into a brand ambassador that will help drive more customers to your site.

Ultimately, it’s the way your customers feel, respect and interact with your brand that matters. This keeps them coming back for more, and hopefully, encourages them to leverage their own internet influence to help drive more web traffic, more social engagement, and ultimately, more customers in the long run.

I’m always looking to connect with others! Connect with me on LinkedIn orTwitter and we can talk more about content marketing – if you’re thinking big picture that is.