A Resolution for Marketers: Getting Content to Perform

By now, most organizations are on board with content marketing, if you read industry surveys.  According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B content marketing report, more than 80% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy and that shows in the volume of content brands are producing – the deluge of blog posts, infographics, ebooks, papers, articles, guides, videos and podcasts marketers have published is staggering in breadth. However, the same CMI survey also indicates that only 35% of marketers have actually documented content marketing strategy, which is why most brands continue to struggle with producing enough content, and measuring the results content marketing delivers.

It’s time to resolve to get a handle on content and, more specifically, make it work for the brands we represent.

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Keeping up with demand and not losing control

Demand for content is swamping marketing resources. The SEO team requires content related to target terms, the social team needs fodder for sharing, the demand gen team requires content for email campaigns and nurture streams, the product marketing team needs case studies and guides: everywhere the content marketer turns she finds legitimate demand for branded content.

A direct result of the increase in publishing tempo is a corresponding decrease in the ability to measure results. These difficulties in capturing returns raise serious questions about the amount of resources the company should be devoting to developing content.

It’s not “content marketing.” It’s marketing with content.

If your organization is challenged by either the production or measurement of content (or both, as is the case for many) abandonment isn’t the answer. Instead, the organization needs to first rethink the role of content in its larger marketing strategy.

Here’s where we meet another common stumbling block. The rise in popularity of content marketing has, for some companies, created another silo, which really is at odds with how content marketing should work. A good content strategy should sit at the center of the marketing organization, integrating disciplines, capturing efficiencies and producing high-octane marketing fuel.

Improving the organization’s content efficiency

If your organization is struggling with deriving results from content, these resolutions will help your marketing team realize the full benefits content marketing can deliver.

Integrate & align: Don’t create one-off content – it’s wildly inefficient. Instead of simply fulfilling orders for ad-hoc content, develop an integrated content calendar that sits at the center of the marketing operation. Use product road maps, events calendars and keyword strategies to build a framework for the brand’s content, in terms of timelines, priorities and core language. From there, develop content with relevant channels and audiences in mind – after all, leads, prospects and influence come from various sources (search, social, direct) and over time.

Make objectives measurable: Planning campaigns and major pieces of content should start with this question: What is the outcome we need to achieve, and how will it be measured? Asking this question naturally invites the team to take a multichannel approach, creating more overall awareness and useful derivative content that would be missed if the team just decided to crank up a few more emails.

It’s useful to reverse-engineer the primary objective to get a handle on what outcomes need to be achieved in order to meet the goal, and to inform the tactical plan.

One caveat: Don’t over do the planning and the process

A good content strategy needs to be nimble, imbued with a news sensibility and attuned with the marketplace. An overbaked process that requires submission and approval of three-page creative briefs simple blog posts, for example, is all but guaranteed to zap all spontaneity, eliminating valuable opportunities for the brand to seize important moments to create relevance and credibility with the audience. Simply put, trying to micromanage all aspects of content will fail. Your calendar needs to be flexible, to enable real time response.

Peace, unity and effectiveness

Unmet demands can turn a cohesive team into a warring tribe. Building a centralized calendar will literally get the team onto the same page. It requires discipline to create and implement, however, the efficiencies the team will realize are both a powerful incentive and a reward. Make improving your brand’s content effectiveness a resolution for 2015 – and don’t forget to let me know how you fare.

Happy new year to you all!

Author Sarah Skerik is a content marketing, PR & social media strategist, specializing in integrated digital marketing and upper funnel optimization. Follow her on Twitter at@sarahskerik or connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/sarahskerik

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