Content Conversations: How to Hit the Ground Running with Content Marketing in 2018

We are in the final stretch of 2017 which means 2018 will be here before we know it. And unfortunately, Q2 will be here in the blink of an eye.

All too often we spend weeks or even months creating a content strategy, and quickly find that by the middle of March, we’ve already abandon our best laid plans. Instead, we should be spending our efforts developing a plan that is tied to a core group of objectives that we can reference as soon as it feels like things may be getting off track.

It’s no surprise that one of the key themes for content marketing in the coming year is working harder to tie marketing activities to objectives and measuring TRUE content impact.

To help you figure out how to start 2018 off with a bang, we bring you part 2 of Content Conversations. Last week we tapped into our content experts for insights into top lessons learned in 2017. This week we take a dive into essential steps to help you hit the ground running with content in 2018.

Always Think of Your Audience First

Sounds easy enough right? You’d think so. But unfortunately, many brands are still creating very brand and product centric content.

Instead, focus on creating content that answers the top questions that your audience is asking. If you don’t know what those questions are, speak with your customers and use tools like Answer the Public to determine demand.

Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

“If your content isn’t of value to your audience, then it’s not effective.” @annhandley tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What are the top three pain points that our product/solution/service solves for our customers?
  • Which of my current content appears to be resonanting best with our target audience?
  • What does an ideal customer look like?

Simplify & Focus on Content Impact

Regardless of resources and budget, content marketers want to do it all. Often, we become spread too thin because we’re trying to focus on too many channels and too many tactics.

Let data be your guide for determining where to focus in 2018. Use this information to decide which channels and tactics are performing and fully invest your time and effort in the coming year into these data-driven and focused approaches for maximum impact.

Joe Pulizzi
Author & Keynote Speaker

“Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.” @joepulizzi tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Would our content benefit from an audit?
  • Which tactics do we know perform best for our brand?

Tie Content Marketing to Revenue

Let’s face it, there are a lot of marketers secure in their positions that are not at all responsible for the performance of their marketing. Because content objectives can sometimes appear “fuzzy”, many marketers are not moving the needle in the right direction.

It doesn’t matter if your content budget is large or small, it’s important to tie all tactics and activities to a desired outcome. Now that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for testing and creativity which is essential for standing out against the competition.

Chris Brogan
CEO, Owner Media Group

“The biggest companies in the world want more passionate people, not spreadsheet watchers.” @chrisbrogan tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Have we identified the true performance and value of our content marketing activities?
  • Are we all holding each other accountable to marketing performance?

Create Content Benchmarks

How will you ever know where you’re going unless you understand where you’ve been? Instead of setting arbitrary performance content goals, review performance of previous campaigns or tactics to create a benchmark.

Also, once content has gone live, be sure to review what worked (and what didn’t) so that you can optimize the performance going forward. Content is not a “set it and forget it” tactic so it’s important to edit to improve marketing performance.

Alexandra Rynne
Content Marketing Manager – Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

“Look back at how your content has performed and optimize your approach.” @amrynnie tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What similar content have you published that can be used as a benchmark for future content?
  • What are reasonable goals for improving content performance?

Be Creative & Experiment

It’s time for content marketers to begin pushing boundaries. Instead of focusing on getting the content published, take a look at what has been created and what is planned to determine if it is a piece of art, or something anyone could make.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may not have a dedicated creative or design staff. Spend time finding outside freelancers or agencies that can help turn your content from good to mind blowing.

Tim Washer
Writer & Producer, Cisco

“Content goals that are clear are publishing deadline and budget, but many can’t tell if they’ve created something meaningful.” @timwasher tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What is one test or bet that you can make early in the year on a creative piece of content?
  • What budget can you set aside for experimenting with super creative content?

Determine Your Measurement Strategy

Content success looks different for every brand. Defining your goals for content in different funnels of the buying cycle are critical to content success.

Every piece of content that you create and publish should be directly tied to goals and should be relentlessly measured against those goals.

Dayna Rothman
VP of Marketing & Sales Development, BrightFunnel

“Have goals in place for every piece of content you create.” @dayroth tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What are the most important KPIs for our brand that content should be measured against?
  • What tools do we have/need in order to effectively measure content?

Understand the Waterfall

As you know, digital marketing is a multi-touch process. The vast majority of time, prospects don’t convert into customers just from reading a single blog post.

Plan for the different stages of the customer journey to make sure that you have compelling (or even personalized) content for each stage of their vetting process.

Chris Moody
Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

“Everything you do as a marketer, can be anchored into something that is actual ROI.” @cnmoody tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Do we know what the typical customer journey looks like for our brand?
  • Do we have anchor content at each stage to keep moving them through the funnel?

How Do You Plan to Hit the Ground Running in 2018?

The verdict is in and 2018 appears to be the year that marketers MUST focus on content measurement outside of basic KPIs. The marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive so it’s essential to define your content measurement strategy by the end of the year in order to remain relevant.

What advice do you have for other content marketers to hit the ground running in 2018?

Disclosure: BrightFunnel & LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.


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