Are you getting everything you can from your content?
A vast majority of marketers—91 percent—reported this year that their organization does some form of content marketing already.
If you’re in the minority that hasn’t yet invested in content, you’re probably either certain that content just doesn’t make sense for your business (you’ll come around), or you’re planning to make the investment soon.
Whether you’re looking to invest soon or you’re preparing to adjust your current efforts, it’s key to create content with a clear strategy and infrastructure in place.
To set yourself up for success and maximize your ROI, here are six things you need to have in order to get the most out of your content marketing:
1. A documented content strategy
The first thing you must nail down before jumping into content head-first is your strategy.
Write down what goals you want to achieve—and keep your list handy as you start your content journey. These goals will inform the types of content you create, the topics you cover, where you publish and how you measure your progress.
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2. A working website
This might sound a little too obvious, but we can’t overlook how truly important web functionality is.
Depending on the goals you have, the kinds of content you create and where you choose to publish, your needs may differ—but you do need a website of some form, no matter how simple the site may be.
Even if all you have is a homepage, you’re moving in the right direction, but including a blog, some landing pages and a process for follow-up can help immensely. Here’s why:
- Maintaining your company blog can be one of the easiest, most effective ways for your marketing team to publish content consistently and start building an audience. Just be sure you keep it updated regularly and make it easily accessible on your site.
- If lead generation and sales conversions are what your content is built to achieve, then your site must be set up to accommodate that. Landing pages help you capture those leads, and a CRM/marketing automation system is essential to managing them once they’ve been generated. A great tool for this is HubSpot.
3. A point person
You don’t need a full content team if you’re just getting started—or ever. It’s totally possible to outsource your content marketing.
Yet, at the very least—whether you keep it in-house or work with an outside partner—you should have a point person who can direct your strategy and help manage your content.
It doesn’t matter if this person is a strong writer/editor, and he or she doesn’t need to be your company’s subject matter expert. You can fill in the gaps with an outsourced team or individual freelance writers and editors; a knowledge extraction process can help you get then expertise needed from knowledgeable personnel at your organization.
What’s important is for this point person to have a knack for digital marketing and an understanding of your business and the goals you’ve identified.
4. A CRM
If you’re hoping to use your content as a tool to increase revenue, then you’ve got to tie in with your marketing—and that includes creating a system for delivering leads, so sales teams can effectively follow up, nurture relationships and close.
If you aren’t seeing a huge influx of inbound leads, you can just filter them to your existing reps. Don’t forget to educate your team about the differences in leads from this new source; inbound leads might need a little more nurturing, so prepare your sales team for what to expect.
5. An SEO plan
One major benefit of content marketing is the opportunity to improve your organic search rankings.
Earning (and keeping) a spot on the first page of Google search results doesn’t happen by accident; it requires an ongoing plan for incorporating SEO best practices into your content.
Start by compiling a list of keywords related to your industry, business and audience interests. This information can help you develop a stronger strategy, create better content and more effectively get that content in front of the people who are looking for it.
6. A distribution strategy
If you’re taking the time to create content, you’d better be doing something with it because (unless you are very, very lucky) just building it won’t guarantee anyone will come.
Thankfully, you have literally dozens of ways to distribute content depending on the audience you’re trying to reach and the goals you’re trying to achieve, including:
- Social shares. Distribute your content across your social platforms, and tailor your messages for the audiences on each. Share your content from your company account, and encourage your team and thought leaders to share it from their accounts, too.
- Email newsletters. Build your subscriber list, and deliver content directly to them through newsletters.
- Sales outreach. Send content to active contacts in your sales pipeline to help answer questions and address objections.
A working website and a plan of action for strategy, SEO, sales enablement, and distribution are all important to the success of your content marketing, but for a little extra credit, consider adding:
- Contacts for PR and guest-posting opportunities. Guest posts and securing press mentions are valuable ways to boost your content. Relationships with other writers and editors in your industry can have big dividends.
- An automated marketing system. You can piece together various solutions to create your perfect marketing stack, but there’s a lot of value in having an automation system that houses all of your content and analytics in the same place and makes it easy to deliver information to your audience.
It is technically possible to use content marketing before you’ve locked in every item on this list, but having these elements in place before you get started will ensure you get the most out of your efforts.
Taylor Oster is the Director of Marketing at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that combines a team of content marketing experts with custom technology and relationships with top online publications to provide our clients a turn-key solution to content marketing. A version of this article originally appeared on the Influence & Co blog.