One of the most interesting facets of content marketing is the fact that there’s pretty much always something new to try, something more you can be doing to advance your efforts.
It’s both exciting and a little overwhelming: On one hand, new tools, trends, and tactics emerge all the time that give you the power to learn more and push the limits of how you connect with audiences. On the other, when you’re looking to grow your content programs, it can be difficult to know what the right next steps are.
Thankfully, you and your team may very well be using some tactics that — whether you realize it or not — have laid the groundwork for others that are worth exploring. To help you identify those new tactics, I’ve listed five ways you can take your current content marketing to the next level:
1. If you’re doing any kind of content marketing at all, document your strategy.
Putting resources into content marketing without documenting a comprehensive strategy is like going to Target without (at least trying to create) a list of things you want to get. Without a plan of action, you spend significantly more time and money on things you don’t even need, and you forget what you’re actually in it for.
I get that strategy development might sound like yet another nice-but-unnecessary process step that only prevents you from seeing results yesterday. But if you want to produce the kind of content that consistently delivers meaningful results over time, a documented strategy is a must.
Remember that content marketing is a long-term strategy. How much is two weeks spent strategizing really going to set you back when some of your biggest content marketing wins will likely take more than a year or two to achieve?
2. If you’re blogging, start guest posting.
Building and maintaining a robust company blog with high-quality, educational resources your audience loves is no small feat. If you’re blogging consistently, congratulations!
Your blog is an indispensable resource for the people who make their way to your website — that is, people who are already familiar with your brand: your current customers and clients, your followers on social, and your subscribers.
But what about new audiences? One of the most effective ways to reach them and quickly start earning their trust is to contribute content to online publications in your industry.
By guest posting to online publications your target audience already visits for news, insights, and industry information, you reach new audience members right where they’re at. Plus, these publications offer third-party validation that you and your ideas are credible, which goes a long way toward building trust and influence with new audiences.
Pro tip: Turn your contributed content efforts into a powerful inbound funnel by linking to relevant, valuable, and nonpromotional blog resources in your guest posts. (The Influence & Co. marketing team has actually generated tens of thousands of leads and helped close millions in revenue using this approach.)
3. If you’re contributing content, give it a boost with PR.
When you guest post, you gain instant credibility and audience access by way of the publications that accept and publish your content. Combine those bylines with your blog, and you’ve got yourself a steady stream of content. Now, if you want to give that steady stream an extra boost every once in a while, consider adding press mentions to your content strategy.
Having someone outside your company — a leading industry influencer, thought leader, or online contributor with an engaged following — sing your praises presents a lot of opportunities. Here’s how it works:
- Your consistent, high-quality content and your growing authority as a leader and expert in your industry make earning the attention of online influencers, journalists, and contributors much easier — and, therefore, earning press coverage more likely.
- The influencer’s loyal followers learn about your brand through a source they know, follow, and trust, which makes them more inclined to give you a chance, too.
- And because of your dedicated content efforts, the press from that influencer or contributor doesn’t exist in a vacuum; there’s content all around your brand, coming from you, to back it up. Your content verifies what your audience has heard about you and gives them plenty of ways to continue engaging.
In essence, your audience will discover impressive things about you from the people and outlets they already trust, and they’ll learn valuable things from you through the content you produce yourself. It’s a win-win.
4. If you’re only sharing your content on social, diversify your distribution.
When asked which factors contributed to an increase in their content marketing success over the past year, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reported that only one in two marketers cited better content distribution.
This could mean that marketers were truly experts at content distribution last year and had little room to improve their performance — but more likely, it signals that marketers still struggle with effective content marketing distribution.
Fortunately, there are literally dozens of ways to distribute even one piece of content, and no, I’m not just counting all the social platforms you can use to share links.
Our marketing team recently experimented with creative, diverse ways to distribute our 2017 report “The State of Digital Media,” and these experiments resulted in a nearly 150 percent increase in page views and an increase in submissions of about 40 percent compared to the previous whitepaper’s performance after the same amount of time. (Wow! Go team!)
Obviously, if your audience lives on social media, you should distribute your content via those same platforms. When your content distribution starts and stops with social shares, though, you can limit the success of your efforts. Look beyond social to your sales team, account service members, HR, partners, and influencers for creative ways to get more of your content to the right people at the right time.
5. If you’re not measuring ROI, make it a priority.
Forty-seven percent of B2B marketers said their organizations don’t measure content marketing ROI, according to that same CMI report. Nearly half of marketers are basically doing content and never looking back — or, at least, not very accurately.
Some marketers reported they needed an easier way to measure ROI. If you’re waiting for someone to invent an end-to-end solution for all things content marketing analytics and measurement, don’t hold your breath.
Still, incorporating data into your decision-making makes your team more efficient and your content more effective. Collecting and analyzing that data can be challenging, yes, but that shouldn’t keep you from doing it. Start small by clearly matching your key metrics to your content goals, and identify the tools and software you need to help you track those metrics uniformly over time.
In addition to the difficulty factor, some marketers don’t measure ROI because there’s no formal justification required. But just because there’s no formal justification required today doesn’t mean there won’t be tomorrow.
Content is evolving, and what’s expected of content marketing leaders in the future will be different from today. Plan for it (and your overall success) by measuring ROI, whether you’re required to or not.
In content marketing, there’s always room for growth and change — you just need to know where to start. Examine your current efforts, and consider taking the next step in one (or all!) of these important areas to push your team forward.