The need for targeted, compelling content at scale has grown dramatically for many companies. You want to reach your clients with content that educates, engages, entertains and entices — but how do you effectively generate it? Creating great content that brings value to your audience is a difficult task. Doing it well at scale is rare. It’s enough to make a content marketing manager tear her hair out and scream, “What in bejeebers have I gotten myself into!?!”
It’s one thing to crank out blog posts and a few press releases. It’s quite another to pump out a consistent stream of high-quality articles, whitepapers, e-books, infographics, surveys, case studies, webinars, videos and SlideShares.
Here’s the problem. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers use content marketing, yet only 44% have a documented content strategy. Those business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers are in worse shape, with 90% offering some sort of content marketing, yet only 39% have a documented content strategy. So what does this tell us? Marketers understand the importance of content marketing, but less than half understand how to execute it effectively.
To help you solve this challenge, here’s a blueprint for scaling your content marketing engine effectively.
1. Define Your Content Marketing Strategy
What are you expecting to gain by executing a content marketing program? How will your content marketing align with your business goals? What is the goal of each piece of content? What does your customer stand to gain from it? For which audience persona is each piece of content written?
Understand the “Why” of your content marketing prior to creating the “What”. If you are looking to build your prospect database for ongoing relationship building, then focusing on an amazing blog and other content on your own site may be the right approach, whereas to get in front of new audiences you may want to focus your efforts on gaining visibility on third-party sites.
2. Select Your Team
Do you have the right people who can create exceptional content? Who is the content manager? Who is brainstorming and defining the topics to be covered? Who does the research? Who are your writers? Who are your editors? Who are your designers? Do you need specialists in various verticals or editorial themes? If you don’t have all of these people working at your company, you may want to outsource certain tasks in the process. Once your team is organized, how often will you get together for editorial meetings? Before you try producing content at scale, be sure to have the right team in place so that your efforts will be sustainable.
3. Allot the Proper Time
Here’s a well-kept secret: Good marketing takes time. Writing compelling articles, setting aside time for interviews, and creating beautiful infographics all require time and patience. Remember that the quality of your content is a reflection of your business. Want to gain the trust of a prospective client? Show them that quality work runs through each and every aspect of your business. For that to happen, you need to make the time to create professional content that looks as good as it reads.
4. Create an Editorial Calendar
Map out your content for the year or quarter to match up with seasonality, dates and holidays that are relevant to your business. For example, if you’re in the wedding business, you’ll need to start sharing relevant content long before the June brides say, “I do.” If you make the bulk of your profits during the holiday season, then your editorial calendar for October and November had better be chock-full of great content. Remember, you should be educating, entertaining and engaging, not simply sending last-minute email blasts in December.
5. Be Agile
Even with the proper planning, does your infrastructure allow you to capitalize on unforeseen news and events? This is known as newsjacking, and it’s an effective way to position your business as an industry expert based on the hottest topics of the day. Done effectively, newsjacking can help you gain incremental spikes in SEO traffic, as well.
6. Reuse and Repurpose
Get a bigger return on your content investment by reusing and repurposing content across your marketing. For example, a white paper for a tech company on the topic of market share could be reused as an infographic, a blog post and/or a press release. This is particularly important for niche businesses that need to compete for SEO space with larger companies. When brainstorming blog topics, consider splitting larger topics into a series, and then consider compiling the entire series into an e-book and webinar. Or conduct a survey, and then produce reports, SlideShares, infographics, videos and articles based on the results. When you reuse and repurpose content, you’ll save time brainstorming, researching and writing about new ideas. And of course you should be continually amplifying and promoting all of this content on social media. Why work hard when you can work smart?
7. Use the Right Tools
Apart from an editorial calendar, you may want to use collaboration tools, such as:
- MindMeister (brainstorming and mind mapping)
- Coggle (brainstorming and mind mapping)
- Evernote Business (brainstorming and ideation)
- Kapost (content auditing and workflow platform)
- WordPress Editorial Calendar (editorial calendar)
- DivvyHQ (editorial calendar and content workflow)
- Marketing.AI (editorial calendar and content workflow)
- Basecamp (project management)
If you need to outsource turnkey content generation at scale, there are a number of reputable service providers such as:
8. Analyze & Double Down on Your Winners
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. If you’re creating, distributing and amplifying content without analyzing it, you have no idea what, if anything, is working. It is important to look at a variety of metrics to see how your content is performing. You may find, for example, that case studies get more attention from your customers than e-books. If so, load up on case studies and offer fewer e-books. Or you may find that certain content generates more social shares while other content generates more leads. Establish a reporting protocol so that you can track results aligned to your business and marketing needs, whether for market awareness, audience nurturing or lead generation. Make sure you double down on the type of content that gets you the results you are looking for. Give the people what they want without wasting precious time.
The results from carefully researched and planned content marketing can yield remarkable results. It takes time to build a successful strategy, but with solid planning you can scale your content marketing engine to fit your company.
One last stat: According to the Content Marketing Institute, lack of time is the number one problem for both B2B (69%) and B2C (57%) marketers. If you’re reading this, you understand how important it is to deliver terrific content consistently and at scale. Businesses that lack the bandwidth may want to consider partnering with a digital marketing agency that understands how to get the most out of content marketing.