Marketers have high expectations of technology’s effect. We recently surveyed 300 marketers and at least two-thirds said it’s likely or very likely that technology will make content marketing significantly more efficient in the various tasks of the life cycle.
They’re right. When used appropriately, technology can bring more efficiencies — a tactical benefit. However, I prefer to emphasize that when used strategically, technology helps content marketers work smarter — to develop and implement a more successful content marketing program.Technology used strategically helps content marketers work smarter via @gdecugis #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
The majority of those surveyed also cited benefits that are more strategic — clarity on success, amplification of results and revelation of previously unknown opportunities.
As Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi says:
Before buying technology for #contentmarketing, you need a strategic vision via @joepulizzi Click To Tweet
I look at technology for content marketing being used right now as putting out fires, solving very small issues. Before buying technology for content marketing, you need a strategic vision that makes sense for the organization.
We interviewed Joe and other experts to learn how they think technology should help content marketers, and this theme emerged: Prioritize content marketing technology choices by what makes you smarter, not just faster.
As Bernie Borges explains:
Of course I want to be as time efficient as possible. But rather than doing it faster, it’s more about being smarter. So that the hard work that I put into content has more potential of being successful.
With that understanding, let’s explore seven ways to use technology to make you smarter and your content marketing more strategic.
The Technology Behind The Language of Content Strategy
1. Audit your content library – identify content gaps and real-time opportunities
Some marketers spend a lot of time tracking their content inventory and performance metrics in a simple spreadsheet. Periodically, they manually assess the spreadsheet.
It’s a lot of work and outdated the minute you hit save on the spreadsheet. An annual — or even quarterly — review isn’t sufficient to know what content is working, what content isn’t, and what content is missing. You could be losing valuable opportunities to create or repurpose your content to more quickly address your buyers’ actual needs.
However, if you use a technology tool to audit your content assets, the work can be done automatically and in real time. You can stay on top of new trends, upcoming sales, shifts in buyer needs, etc.
You also can do more with the content you already created. You can identify top-performing content to repurpose in other formats as well as evergreen content that converts well and could be promoted again.
In addition, automating the process allows your content inventory and performance metrics system to connect with other systems across your enterprise so you can see what content resonates at what stages of the sales funnel. For example, you may have content assets that foster quality leads but few content assets that help close the sale. With that knowledge, you can create more effective content for the bottom of the funnel.
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2. Maximize your keyword research to identify your content sweet spot
Every single piece of content you produce is a bet: an investment with uncertain returns. Smart marketers reduce that risk by finding the topics and publishing content that provides the best answers to their buyers’ questions while standing out from competition.
Keyword research alone doesn’t tell you what content is successful with your audience. It tells you how popular the word is when your audience searches for content. But when you add to your keyword research technology tools, you can cross-check your keyword data with performance metrics such as volume of shares.
You can use this collaborative data to see what content (yours and your competitors) has been effective in engaging searchers. You can identify opportunities — new angles, curated content, fresh formats, etc. — to build on those proven engaging topics.
A Nutshell Guide to Proper Keyword Research
3. Use editorial calendars to improve collaboration and project management
Sure, using a spreadsheet for your editorial planning can work for a time, but it can’t be scaled for content marketing programs that have hundreds of publishing events per quarter. Too often, your time gets sucked by updating the single document, letting your team know what was changed, what the update means, the next steps, etc. You also may find that the tracker updates weren’t communicated properly and confusion arises — or worse, work is done that didn’t need to be.
Even more importantly, a spreadsheet editorial calendar usually results in silo-based content marketing when it should be driven by past performance analysis, research, opportunities with your current content assets, etc.
Online collaborative content calendars enable you to be smarter in your planning — automating reminders and notifications, being more systematic in your processes, and giving team members the ability to know and see what is happening in real time.
They can elevate your content marketing to the enterprise’s business level — no longer are you seen as the marketing department that cobbles together a tracking spreadsheet that requires permission to access and to explanations to understand. The sales team, the C-suite, etc. can log in and see what content is coming up, what content is working, etc.
Editorial Calendar Tips, Tools, and Templates
4. Curate content to supplement your own and add credibility to your editorial
Crafting curated blog posts, such as combining a short quote and reference to the original piece with your own commentary, enables you to provide valuable content to your readers without requiring the time it takes to create original content.
If you search for content to curate through Google, it may seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. When you automate content discovery, though, the content comes to you.
Content discovery software also enables a smoother process from conception to posting — it can help you assemble your own commentary on the content, automate attribution, and create the publishing elements for different formats.
11 Resources to Curate, Clip, Collect, and Collaborate Content
5. Optimize your content systematically
All other things being equal, a blog post will perform much better if it’s optimized. Andy Crestodina has a great checklist of 21 Ways to Publish Better Content — adding naturally worded calls to action, including internal links from high-ranking articles, linking to external references, and identifying and using related keywords, etc.A #blog post will perform much better if it’s optimized says @gdecugis #SEO Click To Tweet
That’s a lot of work and it may not get done without the help of technology tools to automate the process. In addition, these tools can identify more effective links or keywords to include that you never would have thought of.
The Ultimate Blog Marketing Checklist: 65 Tips, Tools, and Resources
6. Automate social distribution based on audience profile
You know that getting your content seen on social media is a challenge. It requires a lot of work and data crunching. You also know that sharing once is not enough. You need to:
- Publish multiple times
- Vary the message to the audience and platform
- Change the message to avoid audience fatigue
- Distribute at the right time for your audience
Without an assist from technology, you can’t do this effectively. Software tools can collect data (yours and others) to come up with optimal strategies to deliver valuable content on the right channels and at the right frequency and times for your specific audience.
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7. Focus paid social promotion on top-performing content
Even when you have all the elements right to deliver great content on social media, you still are at the mercy of the platform’s algorithm, which is evolving in favor of paid promotion. But it gets expensive to promote every post.
However, if you tie your social media analytics to your sales tracking system, you can quickly learn which posts produce the best leads or conversions. And thus, be more selective about which posts should involve paid promotion. You may find that you spend 80% of your Facebook promotion budget on the top 20% of your content. That’s a smarter way to do paid promotion than stretching your budget thin on every single post.
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As Barry Feldman says,
Feeding you actionable advice will become a big part of #contentmaketing technology via @FeldmanCreative Click To Tweet
Feeding you actionable advice will become a big part of content marketing technology by turning analytics into action.
While there are many tools, here’s a short list to get you started with leveraging smart content marketing technology:
- Buffer Optimal Scheduling (social media schedule optimization)
- BuzzSumo (research / ideation)
- HubSpot (keyword research, conversion tracking)
- Kapost Content Auditor (content library audit)
- SEMrush (keyword research)
- Scoop.it Content Director (our tool that covers social media schedule & blog post optimization, research / ideation, keyword research, conversion tracking, content library audit)
- Yoast (blog post optimization)
But remember, rather than focusing on the tools, it’s important to take a strategic approach. First, determine how to incorporate technology to make your content marketing strategy smarter. Then figure out which specific tools will help you get there.
Want to see the latest content marketing tech tools in action and learn from the experts how to use them even more effectively? Register today for Content Marketing World. Use code Blog100 to save $100.
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
Editor’s note: Scoop.it is a Content Marketing Institute benefactor, which is a paid supporter of our website and content creation activities.