If you’re wearing yourself out trying to get your content produced then you’re not doing it right. Content planning and production should be a seamless extension of what you already do because after all, you are an expert in your field so it should come naturally. If it’s not, you’re either over-thinking or over-complicating the process, or you’re focusing on the wrong area.
Working smarter not harder is a bit of a cliché, but when it comes to achieving success with your content marketing, it’s a must if you want your strategy to be sustainable. Plus, according to research, content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders, so it’s important to improve your offering. Here are four ways to be smarter with your content marketing.
1. Audit your content library and identify content gaps
A content audit analysis looks at the current performance of your content and identifies areas where you’re currently missing out on attracting traffic and potential leads. There is no hard or fast way of carrying this out, but some simple methods include:
Step 1: Identifying key metrics and objectives for conducting a gap analysis, for example, what type of metrics would you like to see achieve the biggest improvement? These metrics might include:
- Leads generated from content
- Cost per visit
- Social share count
- Content turnaround time – are you spending too long on your content for little return?
- Content diversity – do you have content that engages readers across all stages of the sales cycle – think of the sales funnel here
Step 2: Measure your current content against the above metrics. This will give you a quantifiable overview of your current published content.
Step 3: Carry out a competition analysis using tools like SEMRush to identify the SEO performance and keywords that your competitors’ content ranks for. For instance, you might find that you’re not ranking for an obvious relevant keyword that your competitors currently do rank for.
Step 4: Here’s where you identify the gaps; now you have mapped content against your objectives and can see where your competitors are doing well, you will see which areas can be improved upon within your own offering.
Step 5: Create an action plan: once you’ve started to create your content based upon your analysis, don’t forget to re-measure the changes you implemented! In fact, this whole process should be undertaken fairly regularly.
2. Set up an editorial calendar to improve collaboration and project management
If your current content marketing strategy is more a question of ‘who has the time to write something’, rather than developed ideas, then it’s likely that your content marketing is lacking direction and focus. No focus equals no end goal, so how will you be able to measure your success?
This is where a content editorial planner will save your strategy and save you time. Create an editorial schedule with either Excel or Google spreadsheets: here’s a snippet of what our editorial calendar looks like:
You will see that we have several columns to structure our content commissioning and scheduling process:
- Content title – here we either name the article or content title (pretty self-explanatory)
- Author – who is writing or creating the content
- Copy date (pretty important) we tend to request content three weeks in advance of the publishing date so this leaves time to edit and react to problems
- Publication date – when the content is projected to go live
- Author’s email address – so you can hound them until they relinquish the content you asked for!
- Whether the content is internal (our site) or external (to go on one of the sites our employees currently contribute to)
- We also have columns to mark whether the piece will be a PDF, and/or needs imagery and whether the content is in our Google Drive ready to be uploaded.
This document has streamlined our content commissioning and planning process and will save your strategy too, so never underestimate the power of a spreadsheet!
3. Use content add ons to capture leads
If you think about your content marketing in terms of the sales purchasing funnel, your content should have some clear objectives depending on when it is targeting the user during their buying cycle. Below I have mapped how content influences consumers at the various stages of the marketing funnel:
Driving awareness phase
Content at this point is driving people to your site either from search, social or paid advertising.
At this stage, content like case studies, free trials, product demos, webcasts video and user reviews will be helping prospects to make up their mind on whether they want to commit to buying from you.
Conversion phase – the money phase!
In this phase content like peer reviews, sales collateral and presentations will be helping your prospects to make that final decision, the purchase, with you.
In an ideal world, we would want all of our content to be driving prospects directly to that ‘buy now’ button. But unfortunately, the majority of content is pulling people in at the top of the funnel, however there are some tricks you can employ to drive prospects closer to that ultimate conversion, such as content add ons.
An ’add on’ could be something like a relevant, limited time only, bonus offer. For example, say you’re a mortgage broker and you’ve written a PDF Guide to buying your first home. You could then offer a bonus checklist to securing a mortgage – this would usually be a paid for full assessment of your prospects’ borrowing potential that your business would carry out when a prospect comes in to get finance from you – but you’ll be offering this free to people who download the guide and submit an email address.
Your prospects will be inclined to hand over their email address for two reasons, firstly to get the relevant information, but also because it’s free and this in turn builds your subscriber list. Furthermore, by offering a checklist, a piece of content that’s usually considered to be further down the funnel phase, you’ll be easing the prospect closer to that point of sale.
4. Repurpose your content
Guides, videos, checklists and infographics take a lot of time and effort to create. But once they’re finished, it’s their turn to work for you. A guide is a perfect piece of lead generation content, but what about taking some of the content and creating a series of articles to place externally? This means that you can direct links back to the guide’s landing page to generate even more downloads.
How about using sections of an infographic as social media image content to drive clicks back to your site?
Why not use your videos as demos to offer as additional content which someone can unlock once they hand over their email address?
One brand who is doing this well is Shopify. They recently created a guide to growing your ecommerce business through email marketing.
It contains 11 chapters, some of which they have repurposed into blogs on their own site:
There’s so much more you can do with the content that you already have – don’t forget about it when you’re planning your content strategy.