There’s been a lot of discussion about who’s doing it, how they’re doing it, and who they’re doing it with – we’re talking about content marketing, of course. This channel is one of the fastest-growing in the digital sphere, and a recent study by Econsultancy has reaffirmed the significance of content marketing:
- 80% of global companies agree that ‘the role of content will continue to grow as push marketing becomes less effective.’
- 91% of marketers, publishers and agencies are using content to market products and services and most believe it will become more important over the next 12 months
- 91% of UK companies will produce more content in 2014 than last year and 88% of companies plan to produce even more in 2015
We’ve heard all about the benefits of this strategy – increased ROI, improved brand awareness, greater traffic, inbound links and lead generation – and seen some great examples of content marketing from brands such as Red Bull and Coke. But how exactly does one go about putting a content marketing strategy in place? This last aspect seems rather vague, so we’ve decided to share some of our secrets into the mystical world of content marketing.
Create an Editorial Calendar
Create an excel doc or table that plans out the next 3, 6 and/or 12 months of marketing activity for your business or client.
- Firstly, include seasonal events such as Christmas, bank holidays, the start of summer, etc.
- Research your client’s industry. What important events are taking place that you should know about? Major conferences? Report release dates? Government rulings? Special awareness days?
- Confer with your client. Get as much information from them as possible with regards to important business days, company milestones in the upcoming year, product launch dates, scheduled sales, new service offerings, and any of their own marketing plans. Sometimes the client will think certain bits of information are irrelevant, when they could actually be something to centre a piece of content around, so make sure to press them for all possible angles.
From this information, try to extract themes or campaign ideas. Check with the client to see if there’s something in particular they want to focus on, e.g. push their new kiteboard range in August.
These themes or campaign ideas will help inform the plans for your social, digital PR, blogging and overall content marketing pieces, so that you can create an integrated digital strategy. Indeed, it’s a good idea to populate the rows beneath all the monthly information with your plans for each individual channel, for maximum integration.
Make sure to stay in constant contact with your client (which you should be doing anyway!), so they can let you know about any new developments that can be added to your editorial plan.
Remember that this editorial calendar is not set in stone. It is simply a skeleton that will form the basis for your marketing campaign. Not all the dates, events or other items of information will be used. There is also plenty of room for reactive, ad-hoc campaigns, against the backdrop of what has already been planned.
Once you have completed the calendar, send to the client for any additional feedback or comments. When all the information is nicely organised, it may make it easier for them to understand and contribute additional useful information.
Extract from a partially completed content calender for a fictional interior decor retailer.
This is where the real hard work happens.
Gather your team around – preferably with representatives from each of the digital channels you will be utilising for the client, as well as your creative geniuses.
From the information that you have gathered, you’ll need to create campaign ideas that can be used for a content marketing piece, and will integrate with the other channels.
Things to consider:
- What resources are at your disposal? Do you have a designer who can create an amazing infographic for you? Is there someone at the company who can produce video content? Does your client have a whole load of data that can be repurposed? Don’t get disheartened if you have a niche industry or small client – it’s still possible to implement a content-driven campaign.
- What kind of content marketing campaign do you want to run? User-generated, where you create the idea and customers come up with their images or vines? Or do you want to provide an informative infographic or entertaining presentation?
- How long do you want the campaign to run? One week or three months? This ties in closely with the above point.
- While an epic content marketing piece that goes viral is always something to aspire to, make sure you are targeting your core audience, and not simply trying to replicate Buzzfeed for some feel good traffic and likes. At the end of the day, you want your brand name in front of the people who are most likely to convert.
- Don’t put all your campaigns in one basket. Sometimes a piece of content will bomb, for no good reason. Make sure you have a few campaigns planned, instead of pinning all your hopes, budget and resources on an idea that might not work.
Once the campaigns have been formulated, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
- How will your content marketing piece be marketed across the different digital channels? Will you send a press release with your data-based infographic to relevant industry titles? Is there a budget for socially boosted posts? Is spreading your fantastic content piece via email an option? Plan out the promotional steps carefully. What marketing platforms will you use? There’s no point spending time, money and effort into producing a wonderful content campaign, only for it to fail due to shoddy promotion.
- What will need to be signed off, and by when? Budget? Final approval?
- How will you measure success? Increased traffic? Social shares? Increased brand awareness, which is a lot harder to establish? You want to put targets and measurements in place, so that you can improve for next time.
The fun stage! (Or the stage of blood, sweat and tears.)
There’s not much to say here, apart from the fact that this is where you put together all your planning and create the desired content marketing piece – video, report, graphic, written post, quiz, etc.
If you’re going to be running a user-generated campaign, then make sure you’ve got all the T&C’s sorted out, your PR list organised, and your social posts written out.
Be aware that in the creation of your campaign, you may find you need to deviate from your original plan. This is all part of the process, so remember to improvise if you reach a stumbling block. Agility is paramount in the world of digital – keep tweaking and adapting for the best campaign possible.
Essential ingredients for the content marketer.
Implementation & Promotion
The proof is in the pudding, so to speak – now it’s time to get your content marketing piece out into the world wide webosphere.
As with the creation stage, you may encounter obstacles that require you to adjust your well thought out plan. Don’t let this derail you.
Monitor your campaign, and make adjustments where needed:
- Is traffic from social performing poorly? Check that you’re making use of the correct hashtags. You can also boost your post for a small amount, and see if this improves.
- Is there a high bounce rate on the page where your piece is hosted? Take a look, and see what might be discouraging visitors. It might be as simple as a layout adjustment to fix it.
- Are visitors not participating in your campaign? You may need to write a stronger call to action, or offer a greater incentive.
Once the campaign has been “completed”, so to speak, it’s time to measure results, according to the metrics you decided on in the planning phase. Bear in mind that the best content is evergreen – so you should continue to monitor the success of your piece, long after it has gone live. You may find it continues to generate further traffic over time.
We hope you’ve found our guide helpful in understanding exactly how to put a content marketing campaign in place. Do you have any suggestions, thoughts or additions? Let us know in the comments section below – we’d be happy to hear your input!