Marketing Bootcamp

7 Essentials for Making Your Content-Marketing Business Thrive

7 Essentials for Making Your Content-Marketing Business Thrive
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There’s no doubt that content marketing is dominating the digital marketing space. Rather than replacing SEO, social media or email marketing,it has become an integral component of each of these strategies and channels.

Despite the widespread use of content marketing, the majority of companies struggle with the effectiveness of their content strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 38 percent of B2C marketers say their content marketing is effective. In B2B circles, this percentage is even lower -- 30 percent.

While this is an unfortunate statistic, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for anyone considering starting a content marketing business. This post will walk you through seven strategies for running a successful content marketing agency – helping businesses with their content strategy, creation and promotion across all their digital marketing channels.

1. Make your own professional blog a priority.

One of the best ways to promote the quality of your content marketing services is to demonstrate this same level of quality in your company’s practices and communications. By consistently creating high-quality blog posts that provide valuable information, authoritative insights, case studies from past clients and useful information needed by other businesses, your professional blog can build your reputation and brand online.

Your blog will also be a critical component of your other marketing strategies. If you hope to attract search engine traffic, having a regularly updated blog with relevant, long-form posts is absolutely non-negotiable. Sharing your blog posts on social media is how you'll gain most of your social referral traffic. If you guest blog on other sites, including a link back to your business blog is crucial both for your own SEO and traffic. I also like to have custom photography on our blog.

Related: 6 Strategies for Launching a Successful Blog

2. Regularly survey your clients.

Frequently call and email with your existing clients to ensure the continued success of your content marketing business. This is particularly important if you’re not directly monitoring your clients’ analytics.

Setting up regular client surveys can reduce the time and effort this process takes. Find out if your clients are satisfied with your services and if they’re getting good results from the content you’re providing. Request detailed metrics from your clients - not just page views and engagement, but also critical data like revenue and conversions directly tied to the content you've created.

3. Hire people who know more than you.

Ben Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post, used this strategy with great success: Hire people smarter than you are and encourage them to bloom. Assemble the best content marketing team you can afford. Secure top-notch freelance writers, editors with supreme attention to detail and high standards for excellence and the most innovative graphic designers.

Once you have these experts on board, give them the freedom to do what they do best. Provide them with a motivational environment in which you can work together with them as a highly effective team -- you running your business, and your experts using their extensive knowledge and skills to create high-level content for your clients.

Keep in mind that you may need to periodically look outside your team for expertise on a particular matter. Seek out experts in the field and ask for their input or insights into a topic. Many experts are willing to vet your content for a small fee -- it often takes them just a few minutes to put their seal of approval on a piece of content.

4. Be active on social media.

Maintaining a consistent presence on social media is important for any business but critical for those in the content marketing field. There are two main ways your social media activities can directly help you grow your content marketing business:

First, social media gives you a platform for building your influence and reputation as a content marketing expert. As you share insightful information and commentary, your reputation as someone "in the know" increases.

Second, being active - particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn, networks known to appeal to the B2B crowd - will likely be a primary driver of high-quality leads to your site. As you share industry insights, participate in industry-related chats and groups, and network with other business owners, your sphere of influence grows; helping you to connect with companies and professionals who will be most likely to need your content marketing services.

Related: 5 Reasons Social Media Is Not Working for You

5. Track and report ROI.

There is no standard industry practice when it comes to content marketing services. Some clients will want you to simply create content for them, while others will prefer that you create and promote content on their behalf. Still others will want you to regularly track the results and returns of all content produced. For this type of client in particular, it’s important that you have a process in place for calculating the ROI of the content you create.

The actual strategy you use to calculate ROI isn't nearly as important as simply being consistent in the data and metrics you're tracking and reporting. Both you and your clients will want to know exactly how effective your content creation and promotion are, and how this effectiveness grows or changes as you implement new strategies.

For some guidance on determining your own ROI process, here are a few strategies you can use:

A Simple Method To Measure Content Marketing ROI (Content Marketing Institute)

How We Calculate the ROI of Your Content Marketing (Contently)

6. Leverage your clients’ knowledge and expertise.

As already mentioned, there will likely be times when you're out of your depth when it comes to industry-specific content creation. Though you may have gathered the best writers and editors possible, your clients will often be in a better position to provide industry insights.

Periodically include clients in the content creation process. This doesn't have to be cumbersome for them, or you. You're not relying on them to write the content for you. You can gain valuable knowledge from these customers using strategies that don't take up too much of their time. Some of my favorite strategies for involving clients are:

  • Surveys (as noted above)
  • Brainstorming sessions via phone, email or Skype
  • Interviews
  • Q and A's
  • Inquiries of front line staff to see what questions or issues commonly arise

7. Make guest blogging a key part of your strategy.

Today's guest blogging is very different than that of a few years ago. In fact, it can be the single most effective strategy you can use to build your content marketing business. It can be useful on a number of different levels, by helping you:

  1. Establish yourself as a leader in your field.
  2. Attract the attention of businesses who may be looking for content marketing services.
  3. Form relationships that may lead to opportunities to guest post on behalf of your clients, thereby extending your clients’ reach.

As you share insights through your posts -- both on the larger, more general sites, and smaller niche sites -- you reach a new audience, gain valuable backlinks to your site and keep your agency at the top of the customer's mind. While blogging on your own site is important, you'll likely find that frequent guest blogging helps you grow your reputation more quickly and more effectively.

For guidance on seeking out guest blogging opportunities for your business, see my post How To Guest Blog Anywhere.

If you've been considering jumping into the field of content marketing, the time is definitely right. Using the strategies above, you have a good chance of attracting businesses that are struggling in their content marketing efforts. At the end of the day, the strategies above are good on two fronts: both for growing your own business, and for helping your clients grow theirs.

Related: Welcome to Guest Blogging 101