As content marketers, we’re constantly learning from our successes, failures and experiences in order to evolve with the industry and better serve our clients. Now that 2017 is officially at an end, we’re reflecting on some of the top content marketing lessons we’ve learned, which will hopefully help you plan for 2018 and beyond.
Know your audience
A key content marketing lesson I’ve learned is the importance of putting your audience first when planning and creating content. Audience personas can go far in ensuring your content topics, content types and distribution channels are on point. Make personas as detailed as possible, including things like where and how they consume media, common challenges and major life events. Make sure your personas are front and center when it comes time for planning new content.
—Michelle Jackson, Senior Content Director
Utilize various platforms
There is no one way to reach your consumer; print can promote your website and your website can promote print, for example. And social media and podcasts are important mediums, too. Consumers are busier now more than ever. Ensuring you provide various platforms for them to engage with your organization will only result in a win-win for everyone!
—Emily Cittadine, VP, Business Development, Healthcare
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
It’s an old-school phrase but a timeless marketing concept, especially now when we’re all tasked to do more with less.
R: Are you spending time, money and energy on content that doesn’t add value? Then stop. Now.
R: Look at your long-form content — and slice and dice it. Turn white papers into blog posts, research articles into infographics and conference footage into catchy video snippets.
R: Dig deep into your archives and uncover content with a long shelf life. Simple tweaks will breath new life into those old files.
—Rene Ryan, VP, Content Strategy
Don’t get silo’ed
Coordinate your publishing plans with what’s happening at an organizational level to see what opportunities there are to maximize your content distribution and reach. For example, before sending out an email blast, think about who might help you push out the content or whether you could include additional information from another source that might be of interest to your audience. Be proactive about reaching out to stakeholders and managers in different departments to find out what they’re working on, and to identify opportunities where you can help one another promote content. Set up a collaboration system, such as Google doc, calendar, Slack, Trello, other project management platform or even Outlook reminders to stay in the know.
—Janet Liao Kornas, Managing Editor
Track your ROI
Including strong calls to action in your content is one of the keys to measuring success from an investment standpoint. Everyone wants to know the ROI from their content marketing program, so making sure you include measurable items—such as URLs, phone numbers and event info—as calls to action within your content is important. But simply including a link in your article isn’t enough. Even more critical is following up and actually tracking traffic to see if the audience is responding to your message.
—Kathleen Hagan, Associate Director of Content
Follow the 4 F’s
Fresh. What’s the latest, greatest, hottest trend in your industry? Help your users keep up with all the changes and predictions.
Frequent. Post content as frequently as possible (at least once a week or more).
Factual. Show your authority on your subject by publishing factual, informative material.
Fun. Make your content easy to find, digest and share.
—Greg Ledger, Senior Digital Designer & Developer
Treat content as a strategic asset rather than as a means to message and promote. When it comes to content, quality and utility often are overlooked in favor of frequency and opportunity. The common misconception is to churn out as much as we can and to deploy it through all available channels. But when we consider content a strategic asset, we define its role in helping to achieve overall business goals and objectives, and we begin to measure and predict its impact on future outcomes.
—Joe Stella, VP, Business Development
Tell a story
You hear a lot about the power of storytelling in content marketing. But many people who work in complex or technical industries think that storytelling isn’t for them. After all, how is a story going to deliver the precise, detailed information needed in such an environment? As a matter of fact, telling a good story and delivering accurate information are not mutually exclusive. And by bringing the narrative or human element behind your data into focus, you deliver your message in a way that your audience will absorb, remember and enjoy.
—Amy Bernstein, Senior Managing Editor