Content marketing is more than great storytelling. It’s a relationship-building tool that empowers consumers to make educated and informed decisions about your brand. It’s an authentic way for organizations to add value to their customers’ lives, fueling happiness and trust. It’s a powerful driver for generating engagement, providing entertainment, and inspiring brand affinity. You know great content when you see it — but the process of creating high-quality content is easier said than done. The growing content marketing ecosystem has amplified demand for top writers, and when you’re creating content and distributing at scale you need all the talented help you can get — and you need them fast. This guide will help you master the art of: › Crafting an operational framework that grows with your company. › Cultivating a team of all-star freelancers who are experts in their field. › Pinpointing the right content software and tools. › Measuring the ROI of your branded and licensed content. › Building a newsroom that can handle high-volume content production with ease.
It’s an understatement to say that content has become the heart and soul of marketing. The idea revolves around a fundamental trend in consumer behavior that today’s buyers are highly self-directed and research-driven. By the time that they reach out to your organization’s sales team, they’ve likely made a decision about whether or not to do business with your brand. Great content is a key influencer in this decision making process.
The end result of content marketing is clear ROI for your business. When executed correctly, content becomes a brand asset — generating a steady stream of leads, sales, and revenue.
Evergreen content has an infinite shelf life. Unlike paid channel advertisements or social media posts that lose relevancy within a few seconds, content lives on the Internet forever and has the potential to generate leads for years.
Write one amazing article and it will appreciate in value by gaining momentum through search engine rankings and incremental exposure through social channels — as audiences discover great content, they’ll feel inclined to share it for years to come.
Here are a few statistics that demonstrate how B2B brands think about content marketing. It’s no surprise that:
Yahoo! uses a mix of original content to power its technology thought-leadership portal, Yahoo! Tech. In addition to original content, Yahoo! is leveraging the power of sponsored content to fill its content pipeline and engage new audiences.
Yahoo! worked with Ford and NewsCred’s NewsRoom writer James Raia to publish an original piece covering the intersection of the technology and automotive industries. By leveraging Raia’s experience as a syndicated automotive writer, Yahoo! Tech published a sponsored article on solar-powered cars, which showcases both the Ford and Yahoo! brands.
Content creation is a major pain point for many brands. Organizations will frequently delegate writing tasks to entry-level employees or team members who aren’t professional writers. Businesses think that they are making a wise, cost-effective decision, but here’s the thing: you wouldn’t hire a lawyer to be your engineer, and you wouldn’t hire an engineer to be your CPA. Writing, just like any discipline, is a specialty that requires both talent and genuine interest. Today’s audiences can easily tell the difference between great, mediocre, and terrible writing.
Great content can help your brand accomplish the following goals:
Hiring an intern just isn’t going to cut it. In a few years, they may become amazing writers, but when interns are just starting out, they’re not going to have the subject matter expertise that your brand’s audiences crave. Paying an overseas content creator ten dollars a blog post isn’t going to cut it either. Forcing your data crunchers to take time out of their days to blog definitely won’t cut it, and will only present a distraction from core job responsibilities.
When it comes to content creation, quality is a must. Online audiences are bombarded with information — and the competition for consumer eyeballs is fierce. Studies on web use have shown that humans have an attention span of about eight seconds. A pet goldfish? Approximately nine seconds. To stand out, inspire audiences, and add value for your brand, your content needs to be awesome. “Good enough” won’t be enough.
By creating lackluster content — for the sake of creating a high volume of content — brands actually waste money. Create amazing content, however, and your brand will lay the foundation for a high-value lead pipeline.
You have several options for creating branded content.
High-performing content strategies require a mix of licensed, original, and social content. Licensed content provides a powerful way to connect audiences with high-quality information at scale and in real-time. Contributed audience content provides an opportunity for your brand’s best advocates to share their unique and authentic perspectives and experiences.
Branded content will take your marketing to the next level. By creating an asset that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the web, you’ll distinguish your brand as a thought leader, developing instant credibility and new audiences by working with writers who are established industry experts.
When we think of freelancers, several stereotypes come to mind:
Marketing leaders who buy into these stereotypes will face a shocking surprise. Freelancers are in high demand and are often paid extremely well — some earn more than $1,000 per blog post. These professionals left the traditional workforce because they are subject-matter experts. They’re constantly recruited for full-time roles, but will frequently turn these opportunities down. They’re extremely hardworking, client-focused professionals who chose self-employment as a path to becoming leaders in what they do.
When it comes to content marketing, your freelance contributors will become invaluable business partners. They’ll help you cultivate your brand’s strategy and share insights about what they’re seeing every day on the playing field.
It’s in your company’s best interest to treat these business partners with ultimate respect. If you want great content, you need to pay your writers well. You need to woo your writers and build a strong rapport with them, especially with the demand for high-quality content being higher than it has ever been. Skilled content creators know that clients (and amazing opportunities) will always be there. Make it worth their while!
Marketing managers may think that recruiting freelancers is as easy as reaching out to writers by email or through LinkedIn. You may be surprised that this process is much tougher and more time consuming than you think.
Freelancers are small business owners who are responsible for all business operations ranging from sales to accounting and client services. In other words, they’re unbelievably busy. They book their services several months in advance, and they’re spending their days doing more than just writing. They’re highly focused on finding steady, high-quality work. By building a reliable stream of revenue with a client, freelancers can minimize the administration necessary to manage their customer relationships.
Brands can attract top freelancers by offering competitive rates, being organized, and communicating upcoming business plans. Focus on building relationships, and get to know your freelancers on an individual level. The more you integrate freelancers with your full-time team, the more empowered they will be to do great work for your brand. Not to mention, you’ll have consistent access to talented experts who will jump at the chance to work with you.
Brands also need to be strategic about their recruiting. Freelancers have varying interests, skill sets, and areas of expertise. If you’re looking for a technology writer, make sure that you’re recruiting for the right background. Request to see their portfolio, and check if they’ve freelanced for notable brands. The more you can rely on your writers’ expertise, the easier your job will be as a marketer, brand editor, or program manager.
Your freelancers have the potential to be invaluable business partners for your brand. Successful brand editors are skilled team leaders who take the time to get to know their freelancers on an individual level and cultivate great ideas from their contributor networks. Follow these ten best practices to build the strongest relationship possible.
A successful content strategy requires both right-brained and left-brained planning. Success requires structure, which is easier said than done. Many brand editors will manage their freelancer relationships over the phone or by email. That works if you’re managing three freelancers. But when you’re working with 10 or 20? Back-and-forth communication becomes a mess. Word documents and emails will quickly become your arch nemesis.
Remember that time is finite. You need to spend your time brainstorming amazing content and empowering writers to produce great work. If you waste time chasing down back-and-forth emails in your inbox, your content program will suffer. Using a workflow tool like NewsCred’s Content Marketing Cloud can streamline your pitch to publish process with workflows, editorial calendars, and publishing and distribution tools all in one place. Research the marketplace and find a brand publishing tool that best serves your brand’s needs.
Brand newsrooms are foundational to an organization’s publishing efforts. Typically these roles include a mix of strategists, editors, writers, fact-checkers, analysts, and freelancers. These roles require well-defined workflows and feedback loops between production, engineering, and analytical teams.
A mismanaged team leaves significant room for error — without the right tools and systems in place, chaos will ensue. It’s easy to lose track of content, misinterpret data, or overlook crucial metrics for performance measurement.
That’s why software is such an invaluable part of your company’s content strategy — organizations with streamlined workflows are in the best position to develop creative, compelling, and growth-focused marketing strategies.
Success in content marketing doesn’t happen overnight. Content programs require testing, iteration, and refinement. In other words — test, learn, measure, repeat.
Content marketing KPIs are a direct reflection of your company’s conversion funnel. Metrics should track a lead’s movement through the funnel by answering the following questions:
Metrics like brand awareness, page impressions, and search rankings need to sync up with bottomline concepts like costs, revenue, profits, and pipeline. The following framework will help you connect the dots:
Creating great content is only half the battle. You need the right software that can evolve and grow with your organization — and you can’t waste time by relying on disparate sources for freelancer recruitment, editorial management, and analytics.
Your brand newsroom has the potential to be a powerful revenue source for your business. This type of operation will need to balance editorial creativity and storytelling with strategy and analytics. With the right software, analytical framework, content creators, and marketing goals, your brand will shine.
NewsCred designed the Content Marketing Cloud to be the brand marketer’s most comprehensive, go-to tool. With the Content Marketing Cloud, you have access to the largest marketplace of licensed content, paired with the world’s best branded content writers, the distribution tools to find the right audience at the right moment, and workflows and calendars that streamline the chaos of a content marketing brand newsroom.