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Most marketers agree with the established wisdom that content marketing is one of the best ways to promote a brand online. It’s relatively easy to get started, making it accessible, it serves as a complementary strategy for other channels (like email marketing, social media marketing, and even paid ads), and it has the potential to give you a huge return on investment (ROI).
That said, content marketing can also be expensive. It’s costly and time-consuming to build a quality blog from the ground up and reach out to new publishers on a regular basis. And there’s no guarantee of results; it’s possible to spin your wheels writing content on a constant basis, while attracting little to no actual traffic to your site.
Make Your Content Marketing Strategy Worth the Investment
Given these constraints and possibilities, how can you make sure your content marketing strategy is worth your investment?
The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy
Let’s start by looking at the big picture. If you want your content marketing approach to be worth the time and effort, you’ll need to focus on:
- Preparation and focus. You can’t just jump into content marketing with no plan and expect to see decent results. If you want your investment to be worth it, you need to take the time to prepare properly and focus on specific goals.
- Quality. There are millions of people competing with you in the content marketing space. If you want to stand out, or appeal to your specific audience, you’ll need to make sure you’re investing in high-quality work.
- Cost efficiency. You’ll also need to avoid spending too much. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars per month with a high-tier content marketing agency, but is it really worth the money? Not every investment is wroth it.
- Ongoing improvement. It’s almost impossible to perfect your strategy out of the gates. Instead, you’ll have to incrementally adjust your strategy until it serves you the way you need it to.
Before you spend a penny on content marketing, there are some important pre-planning steps you’ll need to take:
- Set your goals. Content marketing isn’t a magical gateway to business improvement. Your strategy needs to be specifically directed if you want it to succeed. What exactly are you trying to accomplish and how are you going to do it? Are you hoping to become a trusted authority in the eyes of your users? Are you interested in generating as much traffic as possible? Do you want to focus on onsite conversions?
- Understand your audience. If you want your content to work, it has to appeal to your audience; it can’t be generic fluff. That means your first job will be identifying the audience you want to target and working to understand them better. What do they want to see in the content they read? How is this audience segment different than others?
- Have a plan to scale. Anyone can start a blog. It takes an enormous amount of focus and resources to manage a large-scale content campaign. How are you going to get from point A to point B?
Too many newcomers to the content marketing game think that the path to success is to produce as much content as possible. They’re not entirely wrong; more content is generally a good thing. But if you want to stand out and be successful, your work needs to be high-quality. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written 1,000 articles if all those articles are garbage. In other words, you have to prioritize quality over quantity.
Here are just some of the ways you can do it:
- Be original. Don’t copy what someone else is doing – and don’t add redundancy to an environment that’s already saturated with repetition. If you want to stand out, you need to do something original (even if that means taking a risk to do it).
- Work with professionals. You need expert content creators on your team if you want a chance to be successful. Depending on your budget and the state of your business, that could mean hiring a content marketing firm to do the work for you, better training your internal staff, or simply hiring more professionals to join your team.
- Cater to your specific audience. It’s tempting to write general content that could hypothetically apply to anyone, but it’s much better to narrow your focus and increase your audience-specific relevance. Write content specifically designed for your audience segment.
- Do your research. All your content needs to be as well-researched as possible. You should be backing up your claims with specific facts and links to further reading – and presenting every side of the argument you can find.
- Climb the publisher ladder. It’s not enough to plan your content marketing strategy for the present; you have to prepare for the future. When publishing offsite content linking back to your site, you’ll want to start with low-hanging fruit (such as local publishers and those highly relevant to your niche) and gradually work your way to more prominent, higher-traffic publishers.
Increasing Cost Efficiency
From there, you’ll want to sculpt the cost efficiency of your content strategy, reducing your costs as much as possible without impacting the quality and effectiveness of your work.
- Cut the tactics that don’t work. Pay attention to the mediums, channels, topics, and target keywords that just aren’t working for your strategy. If they’re costing you money and time without adding something valuable to your campaign, cut them.
- Focus on low-hanging fruit. Look for opportunities to appeal to your audience without contending with aggressive competitors. High-volume, low-competition keywords in search engines, for example, make for perfect topic ideas in your content marketing strategy.
- Reuse and repurpose old content. Over time, some of your content will become outdated, obsolete, or even outclassed by your more recent work. Instead of deleting these old materials, try reusing or repurposing them; it’s a way of recycling within your online marketing strategy.
- Tie content marketing together with other strategies. One of the biggest advantages of content marketing is that it has incredible synergy with other marketing strategies, like SEO and social media marketing; make sure you use it to its fullest potential.
Finally, you’ll need to remain flexible and set the stage for ongoing improvements to your content strategy:
- Experiment with different mediums, styles, and angles. Make sure you’re running experiments on a regular basis, if not constantly. You should be producing content in different mediums and styles. You should be creating content of different topics and angles. You should be posting on different publishers and through different channels. You never know where your next big opportunity could come from.
- Measure your results thoroughly. As you’re experimenting, measure your results thoroughly. Pay attention to how many readers you’re attracting, how much traffic you’re generating, how many conversions you’re getting, and so on.
- Incorporate lessons and keep growing. Analyze those results closely and be ready to adapt to the lessons you learn along the way. For example, you may find that your video channel isn’t generating traction, but your audio interviews are a hit; you can easily reallocate your budget from here and promote your audio interviews even further.
- Gradually invest more. As you learn more about your audience and about your content capabilities, you’ll be in a position to invest more – and see an even bigger return on your investment. Scaling up gradually gives you the best possible opportunity to grow efficiently.
The idea of writing content to attract more people to your site is very simple. But the execution is much more complicated – especially if your bottom-line goal is to earn the largest possible ROI.
Fortunately, as long as you pay attention to these key areas, and you’re willing to keep changing your approach (slightly) as you grow, you’ll eventually nail down a strategy that works for your brand.