According to recent Content Marketing Institute research, lack of time is the number one issue for both B2B and B2C marketers (69 percent and 57 percent cited it, respectively). If bandwidth is already compressed, how will content marketers find time to address splintered reader attention spans, the ever-expanding landscape of new publishing platforms, and the near-constant shifting of content consumption patterns?
1. Create your initial content marketing strategy
If you haven’t already done so, create a documented content marketing strategy that aligns with your organizational goals. Put an end to the need-it-yesterday hunt for content. It’s a bad habit that stifles creativity, causes burnout, and allows low-quality ideas to slip through. A thorough (read: 12-month) content marketing strategy will help your team:
- Align content production with business goals and buyer needs
- Allocate internal resources more effectively
- Achieve greater relevance by mapping content to major events, holidays, and seasonality
- Address gaps in content proactively, whether related to specific keywords, buyer personas, or stages in the sales funnel.
A detailed yet adaptable plan is best, but even a basic content calendar of topics, company milestones, and industry events will help reign-in the chaos that can result from an unstructured content program.
2. Develop a production process
Next, make sure you’ve put the necessary processes in place to manage the flow of content creation, distribution, and measurement. Keep in mind that good process creates guardrails, not roadblocks, allowing your team to run with the content marketing strategy you’ve created. Consider:
- Who: Writers, editors, publishers — key members of your organization, including relevant stakeholders in other departments, should be aware of who’s in charge of content, and what their specific responsibilities are.
- What: Blog posts, eBooks, infographics, videos… what types of content is your target audience looking for, and what is your team capable of delivering to them? On an individual level, what buyer persona and buying cycle stage will each content asset address? What is the intended goal or call to action for each piece of content? Make sure you define these parameters in advance.
- When: Establish publishing frequency, and work backward to create intermediary deadlines for internal editing and review. Build in enough time to avoid sloppy work and regulate a steady pipeline of content.
- Where: Your team should have shared access to both the content calendar and working drafts. Too much time is wasted hunting down the latest version or trying to remember whether a post was finalized for publishing. Keep the latest status and file name of each content piece in a centralized location for ubiquitous access. Consider using project management software, such as Podio or Basecamp, which enable teams access to a calendar, to-do lists, and files.
3. Develop writer specialization
Subject matter expertise is essential to efficiently written and technically sound content. Delegate projects that actively develop writers’ knowledge around specific topics, or “beats.” Segment by product/service, vertical, buyer persona, or editorial themes.
If your team is small, invest in necessary training and educational resources, or pull in an agency to supplement content creation efforts.
4. Hold regular editorial meetings
Turn your team into a publishing engine through editorial meetings. Bring together the organization’s content producers regularly to:
- Foster creativity through consistent brainstorming sessions
- Uncover unique brand stories waiting to be harvested
- Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and performance of existing content
- Discuss industry news and trends, and take advantage of real-time newsjacking opportunities
- Provide a forum to strategize and prioritize content production.
Each idea brought to the meeting should pass through a conversational filter to discuss the idea’s value, explore alternative angles, select topics for production, prioritize importance, and make sure all topics fit into your larger content marketing strategy.
5. Tap into subject matter experts and user-generated content
You don’t have to go it alone. Bring others into the process of content marketing, including sales, product experts, and even your customers. Make the most of employee-generated content, user-generated content, and customer advocates. Not only can their involvement lessen the burden of content creation, it can also lend greater authenticity to your content, help your team get executive buy-in more easily, and add richer detail to the stories you tell.
6. Reduce, reuse, repurpose
If you’re not repurposing content, you’re doing it wrong. Combine, reuse or rethink content in new and unexpected ways to generate more with less effort. For example:
- Split larger content assets into blog posts
- Write a blog post based on one section of an infographic you’ve produced
- Map out a blog post series that could also serve as chapters of next month’s eBook.
As my colleague Mike Kaput puts it, “Repurposed content reaches more leads in more places and extracts more value from content marketing investments. Most importantly, it scales. An eBook begets infographics, which (with narration) can beget videos, etc. — all in exponentially less time than each asset would take to create in a vacuum.”
In addition to getting more mileage from each topic, repurposing challenges you to re-create valuable content assets for different buyer personas and verticals — making content highly targeted and relevant.
7. Garner internal support to increase budget
One of the more straightforward approaches to scaling your efforts is to draw in greater budget. To earn buy-in from budgetary gatekeepers, be proactive and prepared in conversations, and regularly share current performance and wins to build trust and bolster support. Added budget can be used to build up internal resources or fund wish list content marketing projects, like a video or infographic.
8. Be selective with content production
When creating new content, make sure your time is spent on projects capable of delivering the greatest value. Throughout each stage of the customer journey, figure out which specific pieces of content will cater best to your personas’ current needs.
Start by mapping existing content to specific personas across the sales cycle, then prioritize topics that will fill the gaps. Already done this? Evaluate your content’s performance — revamp the least successful assets, and better promote the most successful. Make your content work for you.
9. Befriend data
Building on Step 8, track performance through quantifiable metrics, and leverage this data to allocate resources toward top-performing subjects and formats. Once you’ve defined the objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will serve as benchmarks for content success, you’ll be able to analyze current activities, evaluate performance, define next steps to improve weaknesses and build upon strengths, and calculate ROI. Consider establishing a schedule like the following to ensure that you stay on top of your metrics:
- Daily: Quickly monitor analytics technology for spikes and anomalies. Investigate as necessary.
- Monthly, quarterly, and annually: Record KPIs, looking for trends and potential contributors.
- As needed: Plan for spot-checks into your analytics now and again to evaluate the performance of new content initiatives or particularly innovative content projects.
10. Prepare for the next generation of content marketing
You may be creating content successfully now, but in order for your strategy to scale as your content efforts expand, you should also be prepared to leverage that content to its fullest potential. Create integrated content strategies that combine best practices in blogging, SEO, social media, PR, email marketing, lead nurturing, and marketing automation for maximum impact.
In an article on brand storytelling that Paul Roetzer wrote for Chief Content Officer, he predicted that the content marketers of tomorrow will take branded content to the next level through a few specific techniques:
- Using historical and predictive search patterns to drive content strategy
- Tailoring copy and calls to action to speak to specific needs, pain points, and behavioral triggers using contextual data (for example, by encouraging first-time visitors to “Request a Quote” while offering returning customers the option to “Contact Your Account Manager”)
- Adapting content consumption patterns to a multi-screen world
- Deploying marketing automation to deliver content at key touchpoints in the buying process.
As content marketing matures, strategy and execution will become increasingly sophisticated.
Taking the first step
Reevaluating your content marketing strategy may seem overwhelming. But if your current approach seems unsustainable, it’s a problem you can’t afford to ignore.
Your brand is vying for visitors, subscribers, leads, and sales, and content should be an ever-growing piece of your marketing strategy. But in order to scale to a level where your content can continually adapt to the challenge of breaking through the ever-increasing digital clutter and noise, you’ll need to prepare your team with efficient processes, integrated technology, and an intelligent strategy that can rise to any occasion.
For additional guidance on building a scalable content marketing strategy, read CMI’s Content Marketing Framework: 7 Building Blocks to Success.
Cover image via Bigstock.