You’ve read enough half-baked blogs from talking heads going on about content marketing challenges to know the basics:
- “Post content regularly”
- “Make truly excellent content”
- “Be sure to post it on social media”
What eye-rollers. If only the rest of us had thought of that!
You’re not the only marketing manager or CMO out there to get frustrated by the pressure to create more content at a time when the Internet has never been more saturated with the stuff. It’s endemic in the industry.
But this isn’t another post about “making truly excellent content.” Instead, I wanted to cover some different ways of approaching how you produce content marketing, including:
- How to keep your team on top of deadlines
- How to make sure eyeballs actually see it
- How to tie content to steps in the sales funnel
- How to sell the content budget to your boss
You know—the real-world content production roadblocks that real-world teams deal with every day.
Let’s dive in.
Content Production Slips Through the Cracks
I get it. I’ve worked with 8 different agencies and three times as many end clients. With so much going on in marketing alone, it can be hard to keep track of everything.
- The young, cheap freelancers are sometimes hard to manage
- The CEO didn’t approve those thought leadership pieces
- The companion video wasn’t ready in time for the publication date
Stuff like that seems like it’s putting you between a rock and a hard place at the worst possible moment, but the answer is so simple it’s kind of insulting to one’s intelligence.
You need time.
Well, duh. If you had more time then it wouldn’t be an issue in the first place, right? Right. So what would give you more time to absorb and solve those speed bumps in the future?
Solution: Create a Thorough Content Calendar Months in Advance
And stick to it.
Those things are always going to happen because you can’t account for every vendor mixup, every employee sick day, or every “emergency” request that comes down from up top. People forget things, become sidetracked, or get stuck all sorts of ruts on a regular basis.
Only good old-fashioned hustling will get you out of a content production jam on short notice, true.
But creating a content calendar and sticking to it like glue will solve 95% of those problems before they’ve had a chance to smell the morning coffee.
I’ve created content calendars as far as 4 months out so that everyone is on the same page about what’s being written and when deadlines need to be met. This means you’ll have weeks of lead time to accommodate things like:
- Changes in an event blog
- Slotting in a new trade show piece
- Announcing an unexpected partnership
The real traffic drivers will be your evergreen content, but their long-term value means that you can afford to delay publishing the time-sensitive pieces by a few weeks, if necessary.
You’re Not Sure if Anybody Read it
You can publish the best content in the world, but it’s quite possible that nobody will read it.
You spend all of this time coming up with clever blog topics to write about, and how your business solves it. Some of them are symptoms that customers might not even know are connected to the solution that you provide until they’re halfway into your sales funnel.
You’ve scoured the Internet, interviewed customers, networked in trade shows, and consumed the newest research from think tanks across the world.
But nobody read it.
That happens with teams focused on production without distribution.
Solution: Plan Your Content with SEO and Distribution in Mind
Your content only works when people consume it, which means you need to direct traffic toward it.
There are a few ways to do this, depending on your business model, and you can combine most of them tactically:
- Use keyword data so your content generates its own traffic (that’s what we do)
- Notify your most interested customers on your email list
- Put it in front of industry leaders or your customers’ influencers
- Home improvement case study? Tweet it to real estate agents
- Make dishware? Show it off to cafes and boutique home shops
- Post the content on your most relevant social network
- B2B? LinkedIn.
- Event-related? Facebook or Instagram
- Visual products? Instagram or Pinterest
- Content sites can use Taboola, Outbrain, or RevContent on a regular basis as well, but that’s a long-term play
You can usually rely on organic search to bring in a good chunk of traffic on autopilot, if you planned it effectively at the outset—the big thing to remember is that organic search traffic takes time to build.
The other traffic sources tend to act as short-term business levers for you to pull on to give your content some early momentum. There’s room for nuanced approaches, but that’s the general strategy.
You’re Not Measuring ROI on Your Content
I see big companies writing content for its own sake, but they don’t look at how well it performs or where it points visitors. Some of them measure how many email subscribers clicked on their blog links. Baby steps, I guess.
Content marketing can serve many purposes:
- Acquiring website traffic
- Building brand trust
- Promoting a product or service
- Convincing people to download something
- Convincing people to buy something
But so many companies out there produce content without putting in any thought beyond staying top of mind. Some companies are so bad about it that I actually subscribe to their newsletters just so that I can swipe the topic, write better content, and optimize it to earn more organic search data for my clients.
Don’t be one of those companies. Here’s how to make content work for you.
Solution: Measure Performance with Analytics
What if I told you that in a single year I increased one website’s organic search traffic by 1,600%?
It’s true. And that organic search traffic increased conversions by 500%.
Not all of your traffic will become sales, obviously, but it creates so much with the right customer intent that it creates a consistent and reliable stream of prospects who enter your sales pipeline.
And it’s all possible to measure with analytics. You’ve probably heard about Google Analytics and Search Console before, but do you know which KPIs to measure?
These are what you’re looking for:
- Raw Traffic
- Goal Conversions
- Goal Conversion Rates
- eCommerce Conversions
Understand how your content brings in traffic, but also how it nurtures that traffic to fulfill a goal—most likely downloading a lead magnet, getting in contact, or even buying something.
This lets you course-correct your content strategy to produce more of what works instead of guessing blindly.
Content Doesn’t Get Approved as Easily as Advertising
Some leaders understand that marketing creates a sales funnel en masse—”the sale at scale”—but some don’t.
I know exactly what those conversations sound like:
- But what’s the ROI on content?
- How many sales came from content?
- But we need advertising to drive sales right now.
Even if you’ve measured your traffic with Google Analytics, managers and executives can still get fidgety (or fear of not hitting their own numbers).
Spoiler alert: that issue then becomes your issue to solve.
Solution: Recalibrate Your CRM for Lead Capture
Yes, a lot of digital advertising converts directly, but even more of it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean the paid traffic is useless, necessarily. It just needs to be nurtured.
And that’s precisely what CRM software is for!
Very few customer journeys are alike, making it all the more important to record when, where, and how they progressed through the funnel.
If you’ve really invested in your content and SEO strategy and tuned your CRM to record those interactions, then you’ll find that your content plays pretty major touch stones along the way from unqualified lead to sale.
One of the best ways to do this is to use an integrated CRM and email marketing platform that records their data for every lead magnet downloaded.
You can even devise a lead scoring system to take things to the next level—and pretty important for things like B2B, B2G, or any kind of account-based marketing strategy.
I left out some honourable mentions, like flaky freelancers or hitting a multimedia budget. Have those problems? Drop us a line below and we can chat over a coffee.
Until next time!