It’s a brand-new year, and you’re still adjusting your quarterly campaign budgets accordingly. While you totally get that optimizing your current content marketing efforts is a must, you’re a little unsure about where exactly you should dig deep and make improvements.
To help you increase effectiveness and figure out where to delegate your resources for the next quarter, here are four ways you can jumpstart your content strategy:
(And let's not pretend to be surprised at the fact that I managed to incorporate giant emojis in my post. C'mon.)
1. Host a Content Party
Oh, you don’t have regular content parties? This is sort of a ritual every three months for our marketing team, and boy, is it a blast (mimosas may or may not be involved on occasion).
Aside from all the fun and games, this meeting is absolutely necessary for us to brainstorm and outline what the next quarter of content will include and how each piece fits into our overall marketing funnel. We’ve found that it’s best to create mini-campaigns using a template like this one:
Download a free template to create your own content map here.
This way, we can plan out three months of a strategy, and everyone understands from the beginning what guest-contributed and internal content needs to be produced. Try hosting regular content parties to plan out your strategy so you can thoroughly impress your CMO with all your ideas.
2. Find Creative New Ways to Draw Inspiration
Developing content on a consistent basis can get dull after a while, so it’s important to get creative when looking to spark inspiration for a new article or project.
A few things I’ve found helpful when I’ve hit the J.K. Rowling of writer’s block (spoiler: no crazy dark wizardry twists or butter beer has ever come as result, sadly) are as follows:
- Listen to a podcast. Podcasts are an easy way to break out of your routine of searching the web for inspiration and tune in to something educational — whether it’s directly related to marketing or not. Our president and podcast extraordinaire, Kelsey Meyer, wrote “The 6 Best Podcasts for the Curious Content Marketer” if you need a place to start.
- Turn your meeting notes into a how-to post. This one is kind of weird, and I’ve only turned to this method once or twice, but basically, it includes taking copy you’ve already written and transforming it into something new. Two content birds with one stone? Hollaaaa!
So if you took notes in the latest marketing, sales, or leadership meeting, use them as the body of an article. Pull out pain points, offer solutions, discuss how to be successful at nailing end-of-year goals, etc. It’ll be easier to write content about an event (or meeting) that just occurred rather than start completely from scratch.
- Repurpose a deep, tactical post into a graphic or list-based article. About that two birds with one stone thing: Repurposing content you already have in an organic, reader-friendly way is really as fantastic as content creation can get. If you’re an exceptional content marketer, you have a bank of published content. So find a high-performing piece of long-form content, have your team’s designer whip up an awesome infographic or branded SlideShare, and voila!
Note: The tip jar is open if anyone feels so inclined.
3. Create a Calendar
Using a calendar is one of the easiest ways to keep you on track with consistently publishing content. As you’re filling it out, you can account for the time it takes you to write, timely topics that arise, any upcoming events, and other minor details that can easily slow down your content process.
While this can help your team pace itself and avoid sudden rushes or dry spells, its main benefit is to ensure your team meets its publishing goals — whether that’s once a week, twice a week, or twice a month — without delays. If you’ve built a queue of content and scheduled it out for the week but something unexpected happens, it’s much easier to move things around on your calendar than scramble to generate new content the morning of a change.
Despite these benefits, content calendars aren’t as commonplace as you’d think. I’ve seen marketers piece together an “editorial calendar” by leaving Post-it notes here and there reminding them to publish a certain article in the next week or so. But truthfully, that kind of calendar just won’t cut it.
Using an actual calendar, such as Google Calendar and its suite of tools including Sheets and Docs, or an editorial calendar template can help you better organize your content and distribution efforts. As simple as it might seem, it could be the missing link your strategy needs.
4. Ask (and Answer) the Nitty-Gritty Questions
And finally, if you’re trying to determine what’s not working in your existing strategy, ask yourself and your team the following nitty-gritty questions:
- Does your strategy reflect your company’s most recent goals? If you’re working on a content strategy that was developed a year or two ago and you just a had a companywide meeting about some big changes that would affect your content strategy, get the white-out pen ready. (I kid — those are more obsolete than gaucho pants in this age of tech innovation.) If you make sure your company’s new goals are reflected in your strategy, you’ll have more legroom later on when you’re asking your C-suite for a bigger budget.
- Is your content strategy documented? “But Maya, does it really have to be?” Yes. It really does have to be documented. Read about how we boosted the conversion rate of our guest content by 151 percent by documenting our approach last year.
- Is your documented strategy designed so the rest of your team will want to use it? We’re all buried in shared Google Docs and folders up to our ears, so more of the same won’t help your team embrace your strategy. Add a little flair to your content strategy document so it evokes positive feelings and is easier and more enjoyable to read, and your team will want to use it more often. You’ll see.
- How exactly are you tracking results? Do you have an analytics system in place to track key metrics? If not, you’ll never really know what’s working, which means you’ll never know what problem to fix. Use an analytics template or other means of organization, and start compiling and analyzing that valuable data.
There you have it. While you may have a content creation process in place — which is fabulous, by the way, and a step ahead of many others — it’s important to make sure your content is fresh, documented, managed in a calendar, and easy to analyze so your team can jumpstart next quarter’s content strategy.