Buyers today often want to educate themselves on solutions to the problems they have and answers to the questions they face. When done correctly, content marketing does exactly that and can inspire consumers to take action while positioning your organization as a valuable and trusted resource.

According to eMarketer, this year, 84.5 percent of companies with at least 100 employees will utilize content marketing. So, chances are good that your organization is already employing content marketing in your marketing efforts. But, if you are just getting started or if you need a little refresher on the basics, here are seven essentials you need to achieve content marketing success:

1. Start with personas. Personas are fictional people that represent your ideal buyers, and they are the root of all content marketing success. That’s because they help you know your audience and what they want. Data from Dynamics 365 and web analytics along with customer surveys and interviews can help you develop personas for your customers.

2. Map content to the buying cycle. Content should speak to where individuals are in the buying cycle and take into consideration the journey from lead to customer. Lead generation content, for example, should seek to educate your prospects and build trust in your company. On the other hand, content for customers should aim to deepen customer stickiness and loyalty.

3. Set goals. Just as content can work throughout the buying cycle, it can also work to achieve a wide variety of goals. Whether it is brand awareness, audience engagement, lead generation, driving sales or increasing customer loyalty, be sure to attach goals to your content marketing efforts so that you can better measure your success later.

4. Provide variety. Everyone learns and prefers to consume content in different ways, so it’s important to diversify your content mix. In addition to the more traditional eBooks, white papers and guides, visual content such as videos, infographics or webinars can help provide the variety you need to appeal to a wider range of interests and learning styles.

5. Be consistent. To be the most successful at content marketing today, you need to create high-quality content on a consistent basis. The more informative and engaging content you create, the more opportunities you have to be seen by prospects, generate leads and retain customers.

6. Aim for quality. Keep in mind that while quantity is important, you don’t want to overlook quality in an attempt to create more content. Always ask yourself if the content you are producing will add value for your audience. Will it help them learn something new? Achieve something? Take action?

7. Measure and report. If you don’t know how your content is performing, it’s impossible to know what is and isn’t working. While success will be measured in different ways for different types of content, have methods in place for gathering and reporting data so you can continuously improve your content marketing efforts.

Happy Marketing!