A buzzword can be dangerous, and that’s exactly what the phrase “content marketing” is right now.
It’s an effort that brands are jumping into without really thinking through what it takes to set content strategies up for success. However, for those who properly plan, publish, and execute their content efforts, the rewards can be incredibly beneficial.
Here are five areas that can dramatically affect the success of your content marketing strategy:
1. Document Your Content Plan
Statistics show that companies aren’t documenting their strategies (only 35 percent of marketers are doing so). And in several conversations I’ve had with marketing leaders, those statistics have unfortunately proven to be true.
Documenting strategies doesn’t just benefit your marketing team. Content marketing can be leveraged for recruiting, PR, employee training, and other departments. By documenting your strategy, you can determine how each department can use content marketing to succeed and see how content marketing plays a critical role for each department. In return, this can increase the ROI for your company as a whole.
2. Streamline Your Content Creation Efforts
I certainly won’t deny that consistently creating engaging content is an investment in both time and budget. But if you can harness your company’s knowledge in one place, it can save a lot of brainstorming and writing time.
A knowledge bank — a central location to store your company leaders’ thoughts, ideas, insights, experiences, and more — can be a major asset across your team when it comes to content creation. The key is making sure you’re actively collecting and updating your bank to maximize its potential. To get organized and streamline your efforts, use a free general knowledge bank template.
3. Align Metrics With Your KPIs and Measure Them
The content metrics you track should be influenced by your company goals.
For example, let’s say your company’s key performance indicator is increased sales. Your content goals should align with one of the following: the number of leads in your pipeline and their potential conversion into sales or the number of leads coming from other sources that are being nurtured by the content you’re publishing.
Simply put, you can’t half-ass this. Many companies publish a handful of articles and give up when they don’t see a ton of leads flying through the door.
Take my company, for example. In this year’s first quarter, we published 86 pieces of content across blogs, gated publications, and guest-contributing sites. This resulted in a 151 percent increase in conversions and an ROI of 474 percent after analyzing revenue from our inbound sales. It doesn’t happen overnight. (For more details on how we did this, check out this blog post.)
Some metrics, however, may not be as quantitative but are still important to consider for the health of your company over time. As I mentioned earlier, companies are starting to leverage content for their recruiting and talent acquisition efforts. While tracking leads and applications might be possible, your team may find the most success in simply exploring the content that candidates read — or used in preparation for interviews — that ultimately led them to apply.
Regardless of your qualitative or quantitative metrics, the bottom line is that your team is proactive about tracking and analyzing over time. This opens the door for making tweaks or changes along the way and can ultimately boost your bottom line. For an easy way to track metrics, create a spreadsheet or use a custom analytics template.
4. Target Publications Based on Audience, Not Ranking
Content marketing is not about the perception of credibility; it’s about gaining true influence. In other words, it’s not just about getting into Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, or another major publication.
The key to successful content marketing is to seek niche online publications that reach your target audience. I’ve personally published on more than 50 publications in the last few years. However, I’m always working with my team to determine which publications are the most valuable and which are reaching the right audience — this tells me where to spend my time. Although he’s referring to video content, Gary Vaynerchuk sums it up well in his latest LinkedIn post. The same can be applied to published content:
“You might make a video with 89 views,” Vaynerchuk writes in the post. “But one of those viewers could be a producer at CNN. Undervaluing just that one view is a huge mistake.”
5. Create a Checklist to Leverage Content
Publishing internally and externally will help you reach the right leads, but you can’t solely rely upon publications for engagement. And while sharing content on social media is valuable — and should be standard for all the articles your company publishes — taking it a step further can really maximize its success. Here are a few other ways you and your team can leverage each piece of content:
- Utilize your email signature. Add your newest (or most successful) articles to your email signature line. I frequently update my email signature with new content as it’s published — it’s an easy way to naturally get content in front of the people you’re trying to influence. And while it may not reach a million people, as you continue to grow your network pool, it could spark interest in the right ones.
- Turn content into a SlideShare. Translate an article, a conference presentation, or a webinar into a SlideShare. I was recently on a webinar with Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local, and my team ended up creating a blog post recap. It included the SlideShare presentation and featured tweets from participants. It’s a great way to repurpose and mix up your content while fueling engagement from an event.
- Tap into your employees. Encouraging your employees to share your content can make a big impact while simultaneously boosting engagement and company culture across your entire team. Consider using software like Dynamic Signal (a client of ours), or work with your HR and marketing departments to make it easy for employees to share.
- Test out paid distribution. Putting some money behind paid ads or content discovery platforms like Taboola could help distribute your content to the right audience. Our team has tested many different platforms and found that LinkedIn Sponsored Updates work very well with our content. Test out various options and, as always, measure their success and evaluate next steps.
There’s no perfect content marketing formula. But if you start considering how you’re preparing, creating, and executing your content initiatives — and you make the changes needed to maximize their success — you’ll be closer to reaching your goals and setting up your company for long-term success.
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that specializes in expertise extraction and knowledge management that is used to fuel marketing efforts. This article was written by John Hall from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Originally published on Aug 4, 2015 9:59 AM, updated Feb 11, 2016