If you’ve ever wasted time stuck in a meeting, you know it can be hard to get your teammates excited about coming together for one. Your content marketing team members already have a lot on their plates, and the last time more than one hour-long space opened up on your Google Calendar, it was actually just a dream.
I totally get it. I’m a scheduler and a planner, and I’m a pro at setting up meetings. Our team relies pretty heavily on them to make sure we’re all working toward the same goal.
That’s why I was surprised to learn that only little more than half (54 percent) of marketers even find their content meetings valuable. We know that regular meetings improve the effectiveness of our content — 61 percent of the most effective marketers meet daily or weekly. So what are the other 46 percent of marketers missing in their meetings? What’s keeping them from being as valuable as we know they can be?
It’s never too late to look at what you’re doing and find ways to improve. Over the years, we’ve played around with our marketing meeting agenda to make our meetings as effective as possible, and we’ve learned a few tricks that might help make yours more valuable, too.
Content Marketing Institute found that marketers who meet daily or weekly are considerably more likely to find meetings valuable than those who meet less often. But that doesn’t mean the solution is to just put more meetings on your calendar. You’ve got to take a few important steps before you meet. To get started, ask these three questions:
Before you do anything, establish the goal of your meeting. What do you want to achieve? If everything went perfectly, what would you walk away with?
For us, the answers to those questions pretty much focus on sales. We want to examine how content empowers the sales team and affects our company’s bottom line. Our goals, then, would be to ensure our team generates qualified leads and that we create content that enables sales.
Simply knowing what your goals are isn’t enough to call a meeting. Without data to analyze or information to share about how you’re working toward those goals, your meeting won’t be valuable to anyone.
So break down your goals into measurable benchmarks. Determine which key performance indicators are most important, and match metrics to your content goals.
For example, because our goals are to generate leads and enable sales, we track KPIs like:
Our marketing team uses HubSpot, in addition to our custom content marketing software, to help us manage content, measure its performance, and improve its effectiveness. Whether you use robust software like HubSpot or ICo Core or you start smaller with a customizable analytics template, make sure your system is set up to show you how you’re progressing toward your goals.
It’s time to figure out who you need to make sure your goals stay top of mind. If you are like us and focus on qualified leads and sales, consider sending invites to key sales team members in addition to your marketing team.
This gives you the chance to update salespeople on current projects, and it gives them the chance to give input on content and how they use it. Inviting sales to your meetings helps your two teams stay aligned, which makes the efforts of both teams ultimately more effective.
Remember, you don’t need to set your invite list in stone. Your objectives will change, and you’ll introduce new initiatives and campaigns as you identify needs. Let your goals guide who you bring together.
With goals, KPIs, and an invite list in hand, your next step is creating the agenda to bring it all together. Like your meeting member list, your agenda doesn’t need to be a permanent, unchanging document — but it’s helpful to create and use a template that includes what you want to cover.
To give you an idea of what an effective agenda looks like, here’s a peek at what we cover in our weekly meetings:
Based on your goals, pull and aggregate all the data relevant to your KPIs to create a simple analytics report that makes the info easy to read and understand.
Remember that numbers alone aren’t usually enough; you’ve got to offer some kind of analysis or interpretation of what that data means. Reporting the “what” without including the “why” or “how” won’t make your meetings more valuable.
So if generating leads is something that matters to you (and it absolutely should), include data on things like lead sources and contact form submissions. Identify where your leads are coming from: organic search, direct traffic, referrals, social, paid advertising, etc. Which sources deliver the most qualified leads? What content have people who’ve submitted contact forms interacted with? How can you maximize your content?
If you’re creating content, you should have a list of keywords that are most important to your company. Run an analysis on how well you’re ranking for each of those keywords, and include it in your meeting reports.
Which keywords are ranking? What content of yours do those keywords direct users to? How have those rankings or content pieces changed since your last report? Tools like Moz, Searchmetrics, and BuzzSumo can help you see where you stand and determine which content pieces are performing well.
With this data in mind, set aside time in your meeting to discuss what you can do to create high-quality content and improve your results. Improving your search rankings for competitive keywords won’t happen overnight, but this will help you stay abreast of small improvements.
One of the biggest content marketing trends we noted last year was that blogs are still an important tactic for overall content success. Maximize your blog’s impact by discussing strategies and distribution tactics in your meetings instead of publishing without intent.
Examine how your blog is contributing to your lead gen and lead nurture efforts. Which posts are getting the most views? Which ones are converting visitors into leads? How is your blog helping move sales prospects down the funnel? Which posts could use some extra love?
Take time to consult sales during this analysis to figure out which posts are most helpful to them in their communication with leads and partners. Are there any holes in your content? Any questions left unanswered? Combine that input with your data to fuel blog content ideas in the future.
If you’re blogging, you should also be writing guest-contributed content. But contributing content to external niche publications takes more than just writing and submitting an article — you’ve got to plan for it.
If you’re actively contributing to outside publications, address your publishing cadence and the status of all those efforts to keep everyone on the same page. And while you’re at it, include information on your upcoming webinars and outside content collaborations. This keeps everyone in the loop and offers more chances for effective content distribution when projects go live.
You could have the most incredible marketing meetings in the world, but none of them would mean a thing if you didn’t put next steps in place. Like each piece of your content, your meetings should end with a call to action.
What are you going to do now that you’ve covered this information? What actions are next, and who’s responsible for them? Always ask what sort of changes need to happen to your efforts to increase performance, and allocate that next step accordingly. Be sure to reserve some time in your next meeting to follow up on any of those next steps.
For your content to be its best, your marketing meetings need to be consistent and effective, too. I hope this guide helps your content marketing team make the most of its time together.
Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all agenda. Each team is different, so it’s up to you to continue testing what works and what doesn’t. If you track other items in your reports or discuss different topics, share them with us in the comments!
Natalie Slyman is a content marketing and social media professional. She enjoys reading her favorite blogs, perusing Instagram, and talking about her cats (even when no one is listening).