Wouldn’t it be nice if content marketing was a science? It would mean you could create a plan, follow the steps, and instantly see amazing results. But sadly, content marketing isn’t a science; it’s more like an art. And that means you can do everything right and still not quite achieve the results you were hoping for.
It’s frustrating for startup companies. However, one of the advantages of being a startup is that nothing is quite set in stone just yet. The business is at a stage where processes are flexible and where you can assess, adapt, and review to deliver the desired results.
If you really want to take a strategic approach to content marketing, don’t throw away everything you’ve achieved so far. Instead, build upon it and make it stronger.
7 Ways To Improve Existing Strategy & Get Desired Results
1. Take a Step Back
It might sound somewhat ironic, but one of the best things that startups can do to improve an underperforming content marketing plan is to take a step back from content… at least for a little while. It’s often said that “Content is King” — and it is — but by placing too much importance on this well-known saying, it becomes easy to overlook other vital aspects of growing a business and to forget about the essential prerequisite steps to building and deploying a successful content marketing strategy.
The single most important consideration when creating content is your audience, but do you really know who your audience is? Are you collecting enough valuable data from your visitors to allow you to tailor content to their needs? If not, then it’s time to take a step back and focus on other areas — brand awareness, customer satisfaction, digital reputation — and work on developing a loyal audience base who are willing to share their preferences with you through surveys, online forms, and social interaction.
2. Reuse and Recycle
As a startup — especially a startup with limited internal resources — content creation isn’t always easy. It takes time, it takes research, and success is never quite guaranteed. In fact, 81% of marketers admit to struggling to create engaging content that really appeals to their target audience. Some content works, some don’t. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could continue to reap the benefits of your best performing content, rather than trying to create brand new articles that may deliver, but may also miss the mark?
Well, the idea isn’t as out there as you may think. In fact, many content marketers reuse and recycle high performing content to squeeze the most value out of it as they possibly can. There are many ways that you can reuse your old content, such as transforming the statistics mentioned in an article into an infographic, taking your main points and discussing them in a video, or extracting evergreen (timeless) concepts from a piece and reworking it into a new article. Recycling content is hugely cost-effective, too.
3. Understand What is Working
If you’re not seeing desired results, it’s very tempting to want to shake things up, change things around, and try a whole bunch of new techniques to generate success. The truth is that there may be many parts of your existing strategy that are working, but it can be difficult to see the results of these strong aspects if they are being masked by the weaker parts of your plan. If you want to improve your existing content marketing strategy, then you need to look at what’s working well and try to replicate these processes.
To do this, you’ll need to analyze your strategy and, perhaps most importantly, determine what metrics you’ll use to measure success. Think about why you’re trying to build a strong content marketing plan. To generate more traffic to your website? To boost brand awareness? To convert casual visitors into sales qualified leads? To improve Google rank? Review your strategy to see which aspects are directly contributing towards your goal, and find how to incorporate these processes into other parts of the plan.
4. Rethink Your Distribution
You could be a content creation whizz, and yet if you’re not promoting and distributing this content in the most suitable ways for your particular audience, you’re unlikely to see this content succeed. Where are you distributing your content right now? On your own blog? Great! But how do potential customers know that your blog is there? Are you distributing through social media channels? Fantastic! But are your target audience following you on these platforms? Promotion and distribution are key to seeing results.
If you haven’t already conducted a target audience analysis, then now is the time to do so. This allows you to create a persona or grouping that represents your ideal customer. By looking at social media usage statistics, it’s possible to see which demographics are where and, perhaps even more importantly, when they use these networks. If you’re targeting CEOs, for example, distributing content on Facebook at 3 pm isn’t going to get your work in front of the right eyes. Don’t allow your great content to be overlooked.
5. Opt for Evergreen
Imagine you’re selling sportswear. What type of content are you going to create that’s relevant and interesting to your target audiences? Will you write about Usain Bolt winning Gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics? Serena William’s eye-popping lycra green jumpsuit at the 2019 Australian Open? A brand new type of running shoe on the market? Sure, you could. But consider just how time-specific these ideas are, and how short a lifespan you’ll get in return for your efforts. Find ways to derive more value from what you’ve got.
If your existing content marketing strategy is lacking a focus on evergreen content, now is the right time to adapt your plan and include this kind of long term content. Evergreen content is content that retains its relevancy over time, ensuring that your articles are not simply one-trick ponies. Using the examples above, you could adapt your approach to writing about the history of the Summer Olympics, the evolution of fashion on the tennis court, or an overview of different types of running shoe materials. Make it last.
In many startups, the organizational structure can be somewhat lax. In many cases, startup employees find themselves wearing many different hats, jumping in wherever and whenever they’re needed. This can mean that everyone from John in operations and Carol in marketing to Christine in sales and Harry in the administration all have contributed towards the existing content marketing plan. It’s strange, therefore, that communication is something that is frequently overlooked in content strategies.
If your existing content marketing plan isn’t working quite as you’d hoped, a good place to look for weaknesses is in communication between those involved. Are these teams regularly communicating about what needs to be done, what’s currently being done, and what’s worked well? Are these members getting together to brainstorm new ideas and discuss new ways to engage with audiences? If not, then find the time. By simply improving communication, you can significantly bridge the gaps in your plan.
Document, document, document! You’ll hear time and time again just how important it is for businesses to document their content marketing plan… and it is! But the problem with documentation is that once a plan is written down, it’s easy to allow it to become stagnant. Yes, documentation is important, but in terms of content marketing especially, so is the ability to be flexible; to adapt to audience evolution; to try new ways of working; to continually meet the ever-changing needs and preferences of our readers.
Build Brick By Brick
When you’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into creating a content marketing strategy and it hasn’t quite gone as planned, it’s tempting to simply throw it out and start over. But even an underperforming strategy can form the foundations of a great campaign.
Content marketing plans aren’t like pop-up tents. They don’t instantly appear and get the job done. Content marketing plans are houses and they’re built brick by brick and can be customized along the way to ensure that, in the end, they meet all requirements.