Marketing Bootcamp

7 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

7 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy
Image credit: Martin Barraud | Getty Images

If you're engaging in any type of content marketing - social media, blogging, eBooks, etc. - you have a content marketing strategy. While it may not be an official, documented strategy, you likely aren't just producing content for content's sake.

You likely have content goals (if only vague ones), a loose publishing schedule and a general idea of the types of content you plan to publish.

If you're doing any of these, I believe you have a content marketing strategy.

Now, let's make that strategy even better. Here are seven ways to improve your content marketing strategy to make it more intentional and more effective.

1. Document your strategy.

It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Even a three-page document that lays out your content marketing goals and plans is better than nothing.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 53 percent of the most effective B2B content marketers have a documented strategy. Marketers who don't document their strategy are more likely to report that content marketing just isn't effective for them.

If you want to get the best results from your efforts, take the time to write down your strategy. If you're not sure where to start, here are some excellent resources you can use:

  1. The Moz Content Strategy
  2. Hubspot's Content Planning Template
  3. Buffer's Content Marketing Strategy Template
  4. My personal Content Marketing Guide

2. Meet with your team more often.

Whether you have a dedicated content marketing team or not, it's important to meet regularly with those responsible for your content creation and promotion.

We know that the most effective marketers meet either daily or weekly. If you're meeting with your team less often, there's a good chance that important tasks are falling through the cracks.

Wondering what to talk about in these meetings?

  • Discuss any new content that was created since the last meeting. Was it effective? What could you do better?
  • Look to the week or month ahead and divvy up content marketing tasks or responsibilities.
  • Talk about what your competitors have been up to, and how you can improve on their content.
  • Brainstorm topic ideas, or discuss trending topics that could be covered by upcoming content.

Related: Content Marketing Is Not a New Fad. The Michelin Brothers Used It 100 Years Ago to Sell Tires.

3. Have specific business goals for your content.

When I ask business owners what they hope to accomplish from their content, nine times out of 10 they say, "Increased sales". But the reality is that there are few times when a single piece of content can be directly tied to revenue.

So, what realistic business goals can you set out for your content? Some of the most common are increased leads, brand awareness (keeping your company top of mind) and customer retention.

Keep in mind that some business goals can be a little lofty - and difficult to track. For instance, who doesn't want increased brand awareness? But if you're going to state this as a goal for your content marketing efforts, how are you going to know if you've achieved it? This is where tracking specific metrics come in.

4. Know which metrics you're going to track.

Monitoring the performance of your content will help you determine whether it's helping you meet your goals (see #3). Relevant content marketing metrics could include hard metrics like leads, traffic and sales, or soft ones like social media engagement.

In his post, The 4 Types of Content Metrics That Matter, Jay Behr lays out a great framework for deciding which metrics to track:

  • Consumption metrics: Pageviews, downloads, visits, etc.
  • Sharing metrics: How many times is your content shared on social media?
  • Lead generation metrics: How often do visitors opt-in to your list, submit a form or request a quote?
  • Sales metrics: How often do leads turn into actual sales?

Your content marketing strategy should clearly articulate which metrics you're going to track, and how you're going to track them. Otherwise, you have no way of knowing if your efforts are working...or which efforts are working.

Related: Building a Keyword-Driven Content-Marketing Strategy Is Key

5. Become more buyer-centric.

Your content marketing strategy needs to be about more than you or your business. Yes, you need to track relevant metrics and have business goals. But just as your actual content needs to be customer-centric, so does your content strategy.

Understanding how your readers, customers and clients want and need to interact with you is key. Carlos Hidalgo of Chief Content Office Magazine lays out 3 elements of a buyer-centric content strategy:

  • Understanding what motivates buying behavior among your audience
  • Knowing which types of content your audience prefers, and how and where they want to access it
  • Understanding your visitors' path to purchase...and then using your content to move visitors through this path

Paying close attention to your website analytics will be key to figuring out each of these three elements.

6. Know how you'll promote and distribute your content.

It's common for business owners to spend the majority of their time on content creation. While it's true that content marketing can't work without high-quality content, that's only one piece of the puzzle. Having a plan for how to get your content in front of your audience is key.

This is where a solid content distribution plan comes in. Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with this. According to research from Altimeter, while 53 percent of business owners know they need a content distribution strategy, only 26 percent actually invest in one.

Instead of creating content and hoping for the best, have a plan for how, when and where you're going to promote and distribute each new piece of content you create.

Related: Why Your Company Should Consider Outsourcing Content Creation

7. Use a consistent ROI calculation.

How will you know if your content marketing is successful? This is where many content marketing strategies fall short.

You can track goals and metrics all you want, but if you don't have a calculation in place to measure content marketing costs and revenues, you'll never know if your efforts are actually worthwhile.

How you calculate content marketing ROI is far less important than just being consistent about it. Choose a calculation that work for you, and then use it consistently. Here are some methods you can use to calculate your ROI:

  1. A Simple Method to Measure Content Marketing ROI
  2. How We Calculate the ROI of Our Content Marketing
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing

There is no one-size-fits-all template or formula you need to use for your content marketing strategy. Simply documenting your content marketing plans and goals is a great first step...and will undoubtedly help boost the effectiveness of your efforts.