What You Can Learn From Cisco About Creating an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

You probably know that content marketing can get you an influx of new monthly traffic.  Stats from Kapost show that year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8* higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%). Yes, it is a way to create brand engagement and build an audience; but, one thing you might not know is that content marketing can also make a big impact on your ROI.

Content marketing generates three times more leads for 62% less the cost of traditional marketing.

This was proven by Cisco as far back as 2008, with nothing like Instagram or Pinterest. Facebook was still in its early stages. At a time when getting insights from content marketing efforts was almost impossible, the networking giant Cisco was going to launch a new product: a new router. But instead of their usual approach to product launch, which cost upwards of $100,000, they did a little experiment…

The experiment was to launch the product on all their three social media handles, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. They wanted to flip the script, and as a result, examine the impact of their social media marketing efforts in real time. It was a wide success. According to La Sandra Brill, senior manager, global social media at Cisco, it was “one of the top five launches in company history”. This was going to set a precedent for future product launches.

While there are many more companies winning with content marketing today, the results are much easier to assess than it was in 2008. And Cisco is still one of those companies creatively evolving with content marketing. The key is in their content marketing strategy. According to Bethany Johnson in an article on ContentMarketingInstitute:

“While many content marketers know how to start with the customer when creating their strategy, many product marketing-driven B2B organizations struggle to start their content planning from that perspective.

Cisco’s CMO tasked a team of 20 marketing and communications leaders from across the company to set out to reverse the framework and create a genuine audience-first model instead. Today, the content process starts with a detailed analysis of the audience before any content gets created”.

Developing and streamlining your content strategy to accommodate changes is arguably one of the most important things you can do for your business. Also, the ability to track content marketing efforts and work on necessary insights will have a direct impact on ROI

According to Neil Patel, “Content marketing alone won’t deliver organic traffic. Content marketing employed strategically will deliver the organic traffic you want and need.”

Therefore, a content marketing strategy should answer the questions:

  • What’s the end goal of our content marketing efforts?
  • What are the short-term goals we want to achieve that’d lead in the direction of our end goal?
  • How do we reach our short-term goals?

The content marketing strategy presents a bird’s-eye view of a business’s content creation efforts. Note that an effective content marketing strategy would be:

CustomerCentric (Focused on the EndUser)

Do you know the needs of your customers? If you do, how do you plan to meet them? What’s the engagement cycle of your readers? A more direct approach, asking customers directly about their needs, works better than a guesswork approach. This is why it’s a good idea for big brands to put out questions through surveys, questionnaires, or business social media handles to determine what their customers want. Cisco prioritizes this initial audience research – a fodder for great content.

It Should Reflect Your Company’s Uniqueness

What makes you unique? How can you make your brand’s content stand out? You need a unique voice. Your voice is like a trademark. Here, you give your content personality or form. Are you going to be funny, down-to-earth, CEO-like, a researcher, a smooth salesman? You might have to go back to your brand statement and outline the distinctive features of your brand to find your voice. For example, ADP, a business specializing in business outsourcing, was able to grow their revenue in 2015 by $1 million within 3 months through a focus on white papers for human capital management.

It Should Contain Goals That Align With the Company’s Marketing Goals

Can your content marketing strategy be easily grappled with by your marketing team? This is where content meets marketing. Your content marketing goals should fit into the larger framework. Do you want better customers? Then your content marketing strategy should answer the question, “how do we appeal to better clients?” in a way that carries your marketing team along. Aligning your content marketing with your marketing makes it easier for everyone on your team to be on the same page.

It Should Outline Possible Obstructions

What are the potentialities, obstructions, and opportunities? Creating a content marketing strategy demands that you take a look at the competitive landscape of your business and outline possibilities and eventualities. This foresight creates space for you to plan on how you’ll address the obstructions or take advantage of the opportunities.

It Should Outline Analytics and How to Track Them

At the end of the day, you want to track analytics. You want to determine what times of the day, content types, social media channels, CTAs, content formats, or products get the most engagement. Ultimately, you need to keep in mind that content marketing isn’t an overnight process. You have to constantly update your strategy to meet demands. Neil Patel says, “Gaining organic traffic is a slow and systematic process. You engage, you refine, you rework, and you keep at it.”


So, it doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, give yourself permission to make mistakes here and there. But don’t undermine the effect of having a solid content marketing strategy.

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