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howtobuildmarketingengineLast month, thousands of content marketers gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, to talk everything content marketing. Besides Joe Pulizzi’s call to be authentic, one of the biggest secrets to success that came out of Content Marketing World was to have a documented content marketing strategy.

In forthcoming research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, only “32 percent of B2B marketers have a formalized content strategy — one that’s recorded, measured, and shared across the organization.” And unfortunately, lack of a formal strategy is hurting marketers. Latest numbers show a drop over last year – now only “30 percent claim their content marketing programs succeed.”

Besides having a documented strategy, what can content marketers do to improve their effectiveness? We asked seasoned marketers to share their content marketing success tips.

(Psst: Don’t have time to keep reading? Bookmark our handy new guide, where we share these tips and more.)

Know Your Goals Before You Go

Before you get started writing any content, let alone publishing, identify exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. Mary Ellen Slayter, CEO of Rep Cap, advises marketers to develop a one-sentence explanation of how you’re going to achieve your goals. From there you can determine how to allocate resources and attention in support of that strategy.

“The clearer you are on your content marketing strategy, the easier it is to decide what to say yes to — and more importantly, what to say no to,” she says.

Click to Tweet: “The clearer your strategy, the easier it’s to decide what to say yes to – and more importantly, what to say no to.” @MESlayter

Step Into Your Customers’ Shoes

Content marketing isn’t about the stories you want to tell. It’s about the stories your customers need to hear. The most relevant and effective content addresses the challenges your prospects and customers are asking.

George Stenitzer, founder and chief content officer of Crystal Clear Communications, recommends you answer customers’ questions one by one. By providing those answers, he says, “that’s how you can convert them from content consumers into paying customers.”

Click to Tweet: “Answer customers’ questions one by one. That’s how you convert content consumers to paying customers.” @riverwordguy

Develop Your Content Marketing Toolbox

Producing enough content consistently is a persistent challenge for content marketers. Start first by identifying the right content team. Lindsey Donner, executive editor of the Young Entrepreneur Council, says “Talent is critical to any useful content marketing endeavor. Just like you wouldn’t skimp on a graphic designer or a programmer, don’t skimp on your content makers and managers.”

Then identify and develop your content marketing toolbox—systems you and your team can use to manage the process and deadlines associated with creating content. Explains Donner, “you absolutely must have systems in place in any organization dealing with large quantities of content. Whether those systems are relatively rudimentary or not (spreadsheets are still our friend), they must be clear, repeatable and teachable.”

Click to Tweet: “Talent is critical to any content marketing endeavor. Don’t skimp on content makers and managers.” @lindsey_donner

Stick with Your Plan

The editorial calendar is a content marketer’s BFF. But you can’t just set it and forget it — you have to stick with your calendar plan.

Brooke Howell, editorial director at Rep Cap, manages dozens of calendars on behalf of hour clients. Her advice? “Stick to the plan unless there’s a strategic reason to deviate from it. A good reason to deviate is to respond to big news in your industry. A bad reason is because you suddenly had an interesting post idea that will be just as relevant and timely next month as it will be this week.”

Click to Tweet: “Stick to your editorial plan unless there’s a strategic reason to deviate from it.”  @BrookeHowell @RepCapital

Keep It Real

Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Bryan Barajas, marketing director at PreCheck, says you have to be realistic. “The secret to success is that there really is no shortcut. You have to put in the work day in and day out, week after week, and month after month.” Don’t forget to “make sure you take the time to plan ahead before you implement your content marketing plan.”

Click to Tweet: “The secret to success is that there really is no shortcut.” #contentmarketing @bryanbarajas

Looking for other tips to make your content marketing more effective? Download Rep Cap’s new guide:

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