How to Rock Content Marketing in 6 Easy Steps
As a content marketer, I am always on the hunt for new ideas and inspiration from other content marketers, like what’s worked (and what hasn’t) for them. Over the past few years, content marketing trends have shifted, but one thing has remained constant for me: I am perpetually learning new and better ways to tweak my own process for content creation, promotion, and distribution. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve found to have worked for me.
Step 1: Understand that content is the fuel for your marketing engine.
When we decided to make a strategic decision to focus on producing more content, we didn’t realize at the time was that content was eventually going to drive all of our marketing activities. Content quickly became the backbone of our marketing plan. We couldn’t send out an email campaign if we didn’t have anything to promote inside. We couldn’t host webinars without developing presentations around how to be a better email marketer or how to integrate your email and social media campaigns. The content that we work so hard to create has become essential in our marketing program.
Step 2: Channel your inner planner.
There are dozens of directions that you can take your content, but at some point, determining an overarching theme or tone for your content will help set you apart from your competitors, and truly represent our brand. Content Marketing Institute’s notion of a content mission statement will do this. Putting together a mission statement for your content will really set up your strategy.
With your mission statement in place, you can take on other important aspects of your content strategy, namely the planning. The pre-planning aspect is crucial when it comes to content, because you don’t want to spend hours writing and design a piece of content that isn’t as effective as it could be if you had done a little bit more pre-planning.
While you’re planning, ask yourself — or your team — what needs you are fulfilling with your content. If you can condense any related needs and put all of that content into one piece, you can be much more efficient. Also keep in mind the needs of your audience – is this going to be important to them? Otherwise it will fall on deaf ears and it will be a waste of your time. How long can you use this piece? How can we create it so that its relevant now, but futureproof it so that a year, two years from now, it’s still helpful? The more time you spend in the pre-planning process, the less headaches you’ll have later, and your content will be stronger.
Step 3: Develop personas and figure out what they really want and need.
Personas can be a very powerful tool in your marketing toolbox, but they can be a bit overwhelming to take on. Personas can help you to better understand and therefore better communicate with your audiences. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of your members is especially important with content marketing because it can help with the tone of a piece of content, the format of the content, and even with the overall goal of the piece of content.
Once you have a better understanding of the different segments of your audience, map the journey that you want them to take with your organization. Student members probably most likely have different needs from your organization than a retired volunteer does. Develop content that answers their questions at every stage in their relationship with you, and deliver it in a format that makes sense for that persona. For example — those student members — maybe they’re looking for networking opportunities, and they tend to “hang” on your Facebook page. Why not post a video to your Facebook wall that talks about upcoming networking events? This same type of content and format of content isn’t going to work for all of your personas, but it might just be perfect for student segment.
Step 4: Call in reinforcements.
Whether you’re a one-man shop or one of 20 people on your marketing team, you can’t do it all. You need a team! When my team’s resources were stretched thin, I started recruiting internal and external subject matter experts. See if you can get writers to commit to submitting content on a continuous basis, and then think about how you can make the most out of that content. More on that later.
Also consider an editorial board. Recruit key stakeholders to volunteer to meet quarterly and discuss content needs, team projects that are related to content, and check in on any content that other departments are creating. Strategize on repurposing content, how to make one piece of content that will work for everyone, and create a culture of open content communication by bringing awareness to all of the content that is being produced.
Step 5: Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose.
Years ago, in an end-of-the-year meeting, our marketing team looked back at everything we had done that year and discovered we had created a lot of content. New whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, blog posts — yet each piece hadn’t seen the engagement we had hoped. We realized that we weren’t giving our content the exposure and the time that it needed to be fully received. Striking the balance between creating enough content and maximizing its exposure is a challenge, but the content pillar approach revolutionized our strategy.
A content pillar is a substantive and informative piece of content on a specific topic or theme that can be broken down into different sections, pieces, or materials. It’s basically a big piece of content that you can turn into several smaller pieces to help fuel channels where there may be deficits. With this approach, you can produce fewer major content releases, yet maximize exposure. The key to this strategy is efficiency.
We now turn one ebook into several pieces of content. Yes, there is still some design time involved, but the writing aspect of content creation, which we found was one of the biggest timing factors for us, is cut down so drastically.
Think about the pieces of content that you spend the most time putting together. What from those pieces can be broken down into smaller “chunks” and distributed more frequently to maximize coverage? Make that piece a content pillar.
Step 6: Evaluate.
Every good list like this has to end in reporting, right? Reporting is the key to understanding your successes and uncover where you can improve. Depending on the type of content, you’ll likely have different measurements for success: downloads, visits, shares, bounce rate, clicks, etc. Look at your metrics and evaluate how well content has been received and see what pieces had the most impact. What was it about them that made them most desirable? This information will help you when you’re back up at Step 2 again.
What lessons have you learned in content marketing?