The Rocket Blog

4 Habits for Successful Content Marketing in 2017
By Tonya Thompson and Lindsey Butler on Dec 14, 2016
2017 Start

Does your content marketing need a fresh strategy for the New Year? If you’re in the same predicament as most people, finding time to analyze what is and isn’t working for your brand or company takes a back seat to just ‘getting stuff out there’ week after week. Everyone knows content is the key to capturing the attention, imagination (and disposable income) of potential customers across many verticals, but most people can’t explain the strategy they use to manage such a crucial process.

Content marketing can be a huge time suck, or it can be an incredibly effective tool. You get out what you put in, and having a clearly defined plan makes all the difference.

So, where do you start?

Your first step is establishing an online presence and attracting the right audience. Then, it’s a matter of determining if there’s an actual ROI for the content you’re producing or if it’s time to change tactics.

In the race to create relevant, engaging content, keeping up isn’t enough - you need to stay ahead of the pack. Follow these four guidelines to gain an edge over your competition and start practicing good strategy habits in 2017.

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1. Know your audience, and know the content they consume.

Sure, you’ve heard “know your audience” a million times over, but how much thought have you put into this mantra? How well do you really know the people on the other end of your copy?  You likely know their demographic information, but do you know what specific types of content and media they consume or how (read: on what device) they consume it?  

Creating a complete persona profile of your intended audience includes noting the websites they typically go to for information, the style in which that information is presented, as well as the topics that lured them to that site in the first place. Trying to target a really specific segment? Start digging into individual/group behaviors and traits: what time of day is your intended audience most active online? Do they have kids? Are they frequent travelers? Where do they shop? What is their level of education?

Get to know your audience the way you’d get to know a new friend or a romantic interest. That might sound silly or nosy (or creepy?), but once you start putting the focus on their existing interests, rather than rigidly forcing your message, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to produce irresistible content.

After you get in the habit of thinking like your audience, you’re ready to begin crafting an editorial calendar.

 

2. Write out a strategy.

Brainstorming content ideas is easy, but translating your efforts into something actionable and measurable can derail things pretty quickly. When you’re planning your 2017 content calendar, consider your business goals for the year: are you trying to increase engagement with customers? Attract traffic to your website? Build a reputation? Expand your services into a different region? Attract leads?

If you don’t have any current, specific business goals, then you might be getting ahead of yourself in the content marketing game. After all, you can’t hop in your car and plan a route if you have no idea where you want to go, right? Choosing a content direction is very much like choosing a cardinal direction: you have options, but only one will get you to your destination.

Okay, now that you’re actively contemplating realistic, relevant business goals, WRITE THEM DOWN. We cannot stress this enough. Writing down your ideas and objectives not only preserves them for future development, but also codifies them into something digestible for everyone else in your organization.

Now you’re all on a shared journey, heading in the same direction. (Let’s just hope your bathroom breaks are as in sync as your message.)

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3. Create an editorial calendar.

While it can seem a daunting process initially, creating a comprehensive editorial calendar plays a huge role in differentiating the well-written, professionally produced content leading the pack from all of the incoherent, scrambled efforts lagging behind.

The bad news? Editorial calendars are time consuming to create and execute.

The good news? Almost anyone in almost any industry can make one.

Allowing your content to go through multiple editing phases with different people within your organization isn’t just recommended -- it’s necessary. Pay particular attention to feedback from topic specialists, as they are instrumental in making sure your content is accurate and relevant. Having an established workflow for content creation, editing and distribution helps maintain the quality of what you’re putting out, keep the information useful for your readers, and solidify your company’s “voice.”

Consistent quality elevates a content producer from source to trusted source.

Another benefit of habitually creating editorial calendars is having foresight and hindsight easily accessible, side by side. You’ll be able to look back over what you’ve produced, how that content performed and what kinds of engagement it created. Then, you can use that feedback to identify your most successful efforts and how they best reached your audience. Going forward, your efforts become more aligned with the topics and content delivery methods that best speak to your intended audience, bringing them back to engage with your brand over and over again.

 

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4. Audit existing content.

Has your business created evergreen content?

Not sure what that is?

Content is labeled evergreen if it isn’t tied to a specific time period, event or set of circumstances. Evergreen content stands on its own, has a timeless appeal, and - best of all - can be reused, if done so correctly. The key is being organized in how you catalog what you’ve created and when/where it was published or shared, especially on social media. If you do not already keep track of your outgoing content, don’t panic. That just means it’s time for an audit.

If you haven’t been making editorial calendars for your content planning/tracking thus far, then we suggest you go back through your archives and create a master spreadsheet that indexes authorship, original posting date, topic, as well as any relevant notes about context (i.e. Is this evergreen?). It’s a time commitment, but it’s also an investment in future curatorial efforts.

Make content tracking part of your production habits.

It’s downright wasteful to publish evergreen content once and be done with it. You can sift through all those past blog posts and identify items that can be reshared at regular intervals. Recycling older content increases your output while saving resources, allowing your writers and marketers to supplement these standard pieces with fresh content. (Breathing room, anyone?) Also, blending previous content into your ongoing editorial calendars helps your existing audience reconnect with high quality information while giving newcomers a chance to experience it for the first time.

At RocketFuel, we love translating our clients’ organizational goals into fresh, exciting messaging. When you’re ready to take your content marketing to the next level, we’re just an email or phone call away.