Content marketing has been around, in one form or another, for decades, but only in the last five years or so has it grown radically in terms of both popularity and approachability. These days, there are enough digital tools for almost anyone to start a content marketing campaign – but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to be successful with one.
Today, entrepreneurs have more data, more tools, and more opportunities than ever before – but they’re also faced with more competition, higher user expectations, and a constantly shifting landscape to deal with. If you want to be successful in 2017 and beyond, you need a content strategy that can beat the competition – and one that’s well-poised for the changes to come.
Goals and Direction
Before you type a single word or create a single video, you need to set the goals and direction for your campaign, and formalize these visions in a document you can reference later.
A content marketing strategy can bring a number of different benefits, so you can customize your approach to favor some more than others. For example, are you more interested in building more brand visibility and reputation, or are you more concerned with improving conversions?
Answering questions like these will help you determine what types of content you need, where you’re going to distribute them, and of course, how you’ll eventually measure success.
Your content marketing strategy should also include a number of different “formats” of content, such as:
- Written content. Written content has taken a backseat lately in many industries, but it’s still an important element of your content campaign, and remains the most strategic format in many other industries. Relatively easy to produce and appealing to a wide audience (not to mention holding major SEO benefits), written content should still form the anchor of your campaign. However, feel free to integrate other mediums into your written material, such as by embedding images or video.
- Image content. Image content, such as infographics, take a bit more time to develop, but are easy to share and distribute, and tend to be more likely to go viral. If done right, they can help you stand out enormously.
- Video content. Video content is rising sharply in popularity, and there’s no sign that that momentum will stop anytime soon. Be sure to include video content as part of your modern content marketing strategy.
The depth of your content is also going to be important, though you have several options here:
- Short form content. Short form content includes articles under 500ish words, and are generally used for fast takeaways, news updates, or lists. These are great for fast sharing and commenting, but won’t generate as much long-term value as long form content.
- Long form content. Long form content is usually several thousand words long, at least, and can attract hundreds, if not thousands of links and shares (if you’ve explored your topic thoroughly). However, this isn’t just about length—every word you write here needs to carry meaning, and above all, add value. Long form content is only useful if you’ve done enough research to make it significant.
- Social content. Social content gets its own category here because it’s naturally quite short (140 characters or less in Twitter’s case), but doesn’t quite qualify as short form content. You’ll need to customize your content for each social media platform, in terms of both form and function, if you want to succeed.
Ideally, your content campaign will include some selections from all three types of content. Just remember that all these types, even long form content, should be written as concisely as possible—don’t include fluff anywhere in your campaign.
Distribution and Syndication
Just producing content isn’t enough. Your content strategy should also include a plan for distribution and syndication of your best material.
- Social media profiles. Get active on as many social media platforms as are relevant to your brand. Keep your audience in mind here, and distribute your content regularly, especially when you post it for the first time.
- Guest posting opportunities. This is crucial. Don’t just post content on your own blog; get your work featured on outside sources. You’ll earn more visibility, a better reputation, more traffic, and more links and shares to fuel your search visibility. Without a guest posting strategy, you’ll have a hard time building any momentum in your content campaign.
- Ongoing revitalization. Just because you’ve published and circulated a piece doesn’t mean it’s dead (unless it’s a time-sensitive news article). Reach back into the archives and regularly resuscitate your most popular works by periodically re-distributing them, or at least updating them with new information.
Measurement and Adjustment
Finally, you’ll need to have a system for ongoing measurement, analysis, and adjustment. It’s not enough to have a good concept for your content – even good concepts can falter, and even questionable concepts can succeed. The only way to tell how effective your content has been is to directly measure its impact in terms of click throughs, likes, shares, and comments.
Take a look at the types of content that succeed and the types that don’t. What differentiates them? How popular are your competitors’ pieces of content? Use this information to regularly update and adjust your campaign; you should never stay in one fixed place for too long.
With enough flexibility and a suitable focus on bottom-line numbers, even a shaky content marketing strategy can eventually be successful. The best quality a content strategy can have in the modern era is adaptability, since you never know what else is going to be coming down the line.
Think ahead, execute with diligence and with your audience in mind, and keep switching things up when you can; do this, and I can almost guarantee you some level of long-term success. For a comprehensive look at developing a winning content marketing strategy, see The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.