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Believe it or not, Content Marketing has actually been a thing for almost 10 years now. At one point it became so popular that people used it as a “catch-all” term for whatever type of marketing they were doing.
Most people these days know that content marketing involves writing blog posts, creating video content, embracing social media updates, building compelling CTA’s, landing pages and items of value. Yet, despite content marketing’s long reign as the most effective form of marketing to generate quality leads, many businesses still have questions about content marketing.
These questions range from anything from, can we do it in-house, should we plan our content calendars ahead of time, and even something as simple as how do we measure our marketing’s success?
For any of you that have questions about content marketing, today I wanted to share with you some answers to these key questions and some best practice tips to ensure that your content marketing strategies are on point and your campaigns produce the largest engagement and highest quality leads possible.
Should We Do It In-House?
One of the most common questions we business owners ask us about content marketing (and one of the first objections we get when pitching content marketing to a potential client) is whether or not content marketing can be done in-house.
One the one side, I get it. Done correctly and aggressively, content marketing can be a rather expensive proposition. The thing that every small business should consider is that the struggle to keep up with the demanding requirements of a consistent content marketing schedule can be punishing. Not surprisingly, even large companies have figured this out. Even with the available resources and extra employees that offer more bandwidth, today, some of our biggest content marketing clients are companies that have 500+ employees and realize the value in having their teams work on other projects and leave the march of the content marketing battle to us.
What I always suggest to every small to mid-size business is no matter how talented of a writer or video editor your receptionist, salesperson or possibly even marketing director are, you do not want to saddle them with this task. With almost 100% certainty I can tell you they will fall behind the requirements of your content calendar, your consistency will lag and your campaigns will fail.
It’s not because your employees couldn’t necessarily “hack it”. It’s because the demands of their regular day to day are going to take precedent and their content marketing responsibilities will take a back seat. This is something we see happen time after time, after time, after time.
One exception to this rule would be long-form content. Long form content is what it sounds like. It’s a longer article and it’s written in an in-depth fashion. Many times, unless your marketing partner has specific experience in your vertical, this content is something that only your internal staff can write. Giving your internal team the opportunity to “go deep” on this content can be invaluable. Once you are done with the content piece, you can of course then hand it off to your marketing partner and let them get to work promoting it.
For your day to day content marketing efforts though, I can’t suggest more strongly that you outsource to a knowledgeable marketing partner that can handle this for you, allowing your team to focus on their day to day necessities.
Do We Need To Plan Out Content Calendars?
This is another question that commonly gets asked by business owners we deal with and it turns out mostly because they’ve already fallen through this tripwire. The tripwire here is that they dove straight into planning the actual content without ever doing any research on who their target audience was.
Whenever we take on a marketing project for a client, the very first thing we do is work with them and ask them questions to learn as much about their “ideal customers” as possible. We use everything we’ve learned in those conversations to put together client personas for them. I’ve written about client personas many times in the past, but to give you a quick definition of client personas:
A client persona is a semi-fictitious story about your ideal client. It describes who they are, what they’re like, where they are in life, their likes, dislikes and pain points
Many clients we work with have as many as 3-5 client personas they are targeting. The key element here though is that EVERYONE needs client personas. They serve as the roadmap to every kind of content you are going to create and push out on the Internet.
So the short answer is “yes”, you need to plan your content calendars. BUT, first, you need to do your homework and establish your client personas. Once those are done you can get to work on the content calendars. When we work with clients, we are always planning a month ahead (e.g. it’s May right now and we are planning and creating deliverables for June), so we always stay ahead of the curve.
No matter how you approach it, planning ahead is key.
How Do We Measure Our Results?
Of all questions, this is for sure the second most popular (and even perhaps a rival for first most popular) question we get asked. So many people are confused about what to do here. Where do you track these leads? In your CRM? In web analytics?
One thing we always point out to clients is click-throughs and new leads, of course, are very important, but at the end of the day, you need a proper sales automation/lead nurturing system that is going to help your sales team convert these interested parties into leads.
Again, think of it as your sales team has so many things going on day to day, why not have an automated system that can pick up some of the heavy lifting and get that lead ready to convert?
We, of course, happen to be fond of our one of a kind Marketing/Sales automation system and think everyone should use it, but at the end of the day, if you don’t use ours, you need something in place.
This will not only help you close leads, allowing you to easily track results, it should also show you all the other metrics (e.g. leads, clicks, pipeline stage, etc.) that are also important to people on your team.
The truth is that content marketing is hard. It’s hard because it works and nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. Partner with the right marketing partner and aggressively and relentlessly going after it will pay you back in ways though that you never thought possible.