Content marketing isn’t new, and for modern marketers it’s the go-to digital strategy for driving new business, leads, and revenue into their coffers.
14 Fundamental Content Marketing Best Practices by @jeanwrites
But not all companies have sorted out how to implement content marketing. Even though 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing, the notion of streamlining efforts and reaping the benefits of this relatively green process still eludes many.
So we decided to round up some of the most essential content marketing best practices, and share them with you.
Content Marketing Best Practices
1. Write down a strategy annually, update it quarterly.
Adopting inbound marketing (drawing customers to your business by producing quality content) doubles average website conversion rates from 6% to 12%, yet only 44% of B2B content marketers have a documented content strategy. Considering these two stats in tangent reveals an important insight: taking the time to develop a content strategy leads to revenue opportunities.
So before you jump into random acts of marketing, identify your strategy, write it down, and get feedback from internal stakeholders. At Kapost, we recommend mapping out your strategy annually, then making quarterly updates to ensure content is timely, relevant, and in line with business objectives.
2. Organize content campaigns in an editorial calendar.
Once you have your strategy, map out the core content pillars on a calendar.
This seemingly simple step covers a lot of bases. It takes care of deadline appropriation, allows for coordination of efforts, and provides visibility into launch dates for cornerstone content assets.
Also, crafting an editorial calendar unifies your content team around a single timeline, and alerts other departments of content that might be relevant to their job. For instance, a new eBook might be on a topic that’s important to a hot prospect. Their sales rep can check the status of publication, then deliver the eBook to nurture the relationship with his or her prospect.
3. Identify key contributors for each content piece, and use project management software to group those people around production.
Who’s responsible for making sure each asset is launched on time? This varies depending on the kinds of materials your business is producing, but is a key question to answer before you get started producing content.
Perhaps bottom of the funnel materials (pitch decks, case studies, etc.) are assigned to your product marketing, whereas eBooks and whitepapers might be in the wheelhouse of your marketing communications team. Discerning who is in charge of each asset ensures everyone is aware and held accountable for their responsibilities, giving you a better shot at staying on top of production schedules.
4. Create comprehensive task lists needed for the production of each asset in your calendar.
A list of content marketing best practices by @jeanwrites
Once you have an overarching strategy, the execution is in the details. List out each workflow task involved in the production of a particular asset to keep the engines churning on production. And get specific—it’s not enough to have “first draft due” and “final draft published” as the only two tasks in your workflow. Fleshing out the entirety of the project from start to finish outlines the necessary steps, clearly communicating all the nuances required to pull it off.
For instance, when writing a blog post this is the workflow we follow at Kapost:
5. Identify the person or people responsible for each task.
For each task on your content and campaign workflows, make sure there is a person assigned to it—and that they know when it needs to be completed. That way, content producers know what they need to do and how their role contributes to the overall plan. This keeps production well-oiled, and breeds efficiency across departments and teams.
6. Identify key content distribution channels.
As I explain in this article, not all content should live on every social platform. Different types of content do better in different digital ecosystems. Use that meme on Twitter instead of a case study; use infographics on SlideShare and smaller images in email. Find the right distribution channels to support your content assets, then test how different content styles and types perform to better optimize how, when, and with whom that content is shared.
7. Identify key performance metrics to track for each of those channels.
Once you’ve identified the channels you’ll be populating, implement a barometer for success. Pinpoint the performance metrics that will shine light on your content success or failure. Often, this goes beyond Google Analytics. As Derek Edmund of Content Marketing Institute says in 6 Ways to Measure B2B Content Marketing Performance, “Even though page performance metrics found in Google Analytics are strong indicators of B2B content marketing success…they don’t fully illustrate the reach of the content that’s developed and marketed.”
Metrics could include: referral traffic to your website, social shares, number of influencers who share your content regularly through the identified channel, individual engagement per post, and more. Then take those key performance indicators (KPIs) and…
8. Set benchmarks for performance accountability.
Once you’ve identified the metrics that matter for performance, how do you actually measure success?
Read this Quintly post for a useful tool to get started mapping social media.
17% of marketers have no content effectiveness measurements in place, and 49% are using only basic metrics such as click or downloads. You can (and should) do more. Use industry data or internal data to benchmark success. Or in other words, how many “retweets” is “good” in your books? Depending on the size of your company and number of followers, perhaps five retweets is good, perhaps 1,000 is. All benchmarks should be numerical and trackable.
9. Set a cadence for regular analytics check-in.
It’s not okay to check in with your content marketing analytics irregularly. Irregular tracking results in inconsistent data, misleading figures, and a marred content marketing strategy.
Set consistent data check-in intervals. Incorporate that into your overarching content marketing strategy, and use the data to inform better content. Marketers increasingly find that incorporating a metrics-and-data-based feedback loop into their marketing strategy is transforming content from fluff to influential.
As Heather Healy writes, using data makes it possible for marketers to “eliminate the guesswork and work out what our target audiences actually want.”
10. Update internal departments about new content.
Avoid operating in silos. It’s a familiar adage, I know. But for content marketing to function, it’s an important one to follow.
Develop and implement a way to update internal departments about new content as it is launched. This arms them with fresh, relevant content to use in their various prospect or customer touchpoints. Sales teams, for example, can provide fresh content to prospects that aligns with existing messaging. Account managers can use content to help current customers implement best practices and be successful. This also avoids teams creating duplicative content on their own.
11. Define a feedback system between internal teams to identify what’s working (and what’s not).
Tracking KPIs provides invaluable perspective on what content is working, and what’s not. But qualitative data helps, too. Ask people from your organization which pieces of content they use, which they don’t, and why?
Recently I did this in Kapost. I had shared three new articles with our sales team, and asked them which one was most useful in their sales conversations. The feedback I got was unexpected. The article that was most useful was written by our CEO on intra-marketing alignment. One saleperson explained that posts by our CEO are powerful and trusted, making them more useful in her sales conversations.
So, more CEO blog posts (or at least quotes—CEOs are kinda busy people) coming up!
13. Archive your content and campaigns for easy retrieval and access.
Content can be reused and repurposed. Or rather it should be.
To decrease total costs associated with content marketing, reuse, rewrite, repurpose, and republish assets that do well for your business. This shouldn’t be thought of as “cheating the system,” or not working hard. On the contrary—it takes a keen mind to recraft content in a meaningful way. But as a best practice, you must also be able to access those content pieces for easy retrieval and republication. Content that is lost, buried, or forgotten provides no value to your organization.
Integrate a system that makes resurfacing old content easy and quick so that your company can reap the benefits for months and even years to come.
14. Coordinate a cadence for retiring old content.
In a similar note to number 13, it’s also important to retire old content. Users want freshness. They want the most up-to-date information. Purge your content archives, from time-to-time, to keep your brand and company polished and hot off the press. To do this, you must identify a cadence that works for your business (perhaps once or twice annually) and regularly wipe old content off the grid.
Follow these precepts to establish an infrastructure for success, and transform your content process into a powerful marketing operation.