One of the biggest mistakes many content marketers make that prevents them from maximizing their content marketing ROI is not creating a strategy. Publishing content without a strategy is like walking in a pitch dark room with your eyes blindfolded.
If you’re creating content without purpose and direction, and are just publishing for the sake of publishing, 9 times out of 10 you’ll find that your content marketing efforts aren’t delivering any real value to your business. In fact, it can even hurt your company’s bottom line if your target audience finds your content irrelevant and stops engaging with your brand altogether.
So how do you create effective content that will attract, engage and convert your target audience? According to Martin Jones, the Senior Marketing Manager at Cox Communications, these are the eight things effective content marketers do that can help you plan for your content marketing success today.
Tip #1: Have Dedicated Resources
Content marketing is a full-time job. You’re likely not going to get the results you want if you have someone in your marketing organization take your content marketing program on as a side project. Content needs to be this person’s top priority, whether you decide to hire an in-house content manager or an external agency to manage your program for you.
Tip #2: Do Your Research
Content marketing is about listening to your customers’ needs and delivering valuable and relevant information that meets those needs.
You want to take time to research all the channels and platforms your customers are spending their time and find out what they’re talking about and searching for. These could include blogs, social media, discussion forums and review sites, just to name a few.
Content discovery and monitoring tools like Buzzsumo can help you research and discover which topics are trending and resonates well with your target audience.
Tip #3: Develop An Editorial Calendar
Successful content marketers know that in order to attract and build their audience, they need to regularly publish content to keep both existing and new readers coming back to their content marketing hub.
But creating new content on a consistent and regular basis is easier said than done. What if you run out of topics to cover? Or maybe you have a great content idea, but you’ve just found out that your company doesn’t have the resources you need to deliver that piece of content?
By creating an editorial calendar, you can avoid these roadblocks that get in your way of producing and publishing content regularly. Map out and write down the topics you’re planning to publish in the next three to six months. Think about what you need to complete each piece of content, so you can better allocate and manage your budget and resources.
If you’re looking for some examples, here’s a great editorial calendar and content plan template from Contently (see Step #7).
Tip #4: Target Different Channels and Content Formats
Your target audience has different content preferences when it comes to how they consume content. If you’re only focusing all your efforts on creating content for one specific channel, you’ll miss potential customers who aren’t on that channel.
That’s why you need to plan for different channels as well as content formats that perform best on those platforms to expand your reach. For example, visual content with short, concise calls-to-action typically performs better on social, and longer-form content works better in blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, etc.
You’ll want to understand each channel’s strengths and limitations as well as your target audience’s content needs and preferences on that channel, in order to create more effective content that resonates with your different audience groups.
Tip #5: Brainstorm With Your Team
Feeling stuck with your content brainstorming? You don’t need to do it alone!
Get together with your teams, such as those in sales and customer success, and brainstorm together. Since these teams work directly with your customers, they’ll have great insights into what your customers want, and may be able to give you amazing ideas on the types of content you can create. Leverage tools like Google Doc, Slack or Trello to brainstorm and document everyone’s ideas.
Tip #6: Delegate And Set Expectations
You’ve got your editorial calendar and content plan all ready to go, but does your team know what their responsibilities and deliverables are? Whether you’ve got an internal content team or are working with freelance writers or agencies, make sure you clearly communicate your expectations and hold them accountable to the tasks they’re assigned to.
Tip #7: Determine The Metrics You’ll Measure
If you can’t measure your content marketing performance, how do you know if your efforts are actually delivering any value to your business or not, or where you could improve to optimize your efforts?
Determine the KPIs you’ll use to evaluate your performance, and make sure your leadership team and stakeholders are all in agreement on how your success will be measured.
Consumption, social sharing, lead generation and sales metrics are four types of metrics you may want to measure. Learn more about these metrics here (see #4).
Tip #8: Be Ready For Change
Your content marketing strategy is not a static, fixed document. Rather, it acts as your guiding light when it comes to your planning, content creation, distribution, promotion and measurement of your content marketing efforts. This means you should leave some room for adjustments to your content marketing plan so you can continuously improve and optimize your efforts.
If you find that your strategy isn’t delivering on your KPIs, or if there is a change in your niche or market, you need to be flexible and prepared to make adjustments on the fly.
What do you think? What other tips do you have for creating a successful content marketing strategy? Please share your ideas below!
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