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Up Your Game: How To Operationalize Your Content Marketing Today

Content marketing has been around long enough that it’s starting to change. Again. In 2018/19, most businesses have at least dabbled with it, and/or tried to set up some kind of systems.

It’s becoming more formalized, more targeted, and more efficient. It’s a part of most marketing operations. In fact, it’s getting to the point where there are some businesses aren’t even calling what they’re doing content marketing anymore. Instead, they’re calling it content operations, according to Marketeer.

Don’t let the next-generation name scare you, though. Content operations is just a tactical version of content marketing, focused on more efficiently generating results–while still maintaining the creativity and spark that fires up genuinely good, story-driven content.

To make that leap from the latter to the former, I’ve outlined here a few of the core concepts that might just let you supercharge your results.

1. Clearly Identify Your Objectives

What is your content supposed to do? Yep, ideally it’s supposed to earn you new customers, and/or to keep the ones you have loyal. That’s perfect as an overarching goal, but if that pie-in-the-sky generality is all you have, then you might not have as clear a path as you need for your content team.

When approaching the planning and creation of content, you absolutely need to have a clear objective for what it’s supposed to do. Every aspect of it needs to serve a purpose—including what it should do, and for whom—and must tie in to your overall company goals. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with disconnected content that succeeds more by luck than by design.

2. Understand Your Acceptable Metrics

Take it from me: it’s not enough to create content and put it out into the world. That might achieve one-off victories, but the success doesn’t last. Here’s the thing: once you’re clear on your goals (see above) you’ll want to identify clear KPIs to measure those goals, along with target objectives (even if you’re not totally sure, set an objective…it helps!) and then track the interactions with your content using those KPIs to see if it succeeds in the goals you set forth. You’ll be paying close attention to those particular KPIs, whether it’s your content’s page rank, the bounce rate, the average amount of time spent on that page, your subscriptions, and/or your conversions—and hopefully building on what’s working, scrapping what’s not, and seeing progress as you go. You need measurements of your content’s success, and the necessary data to help ensure that your content is actually achieving the goals it was crafted for.

3. Audit The Content You’ve Already Got

An audit starts with going back through the content you’ve made and ensuring you’re not re-writing similar pieces in the future. But it can be much more than that. When you audit your content, consider creating a simple ranking system based on what you know to be important (e.g., trustworthiness, connection with one or more target personas, factual accuracy), and rank your content quickly as you audit. This will give you a clear snapshot of the stuff that is working for, rather than against your brand. From this, you can make the necessary edits to bring it all up to speed with your current goals and values, and to be sure that it is doing what you need it to do. A good audit can assess all the content you have, and serve as a tool for honing the good stuff, scrapping the bad stuff, and clarifying the way forward.

4. Use The Content That Best Works With Your Audience

There are dozens of different types of media for presenting your content, and you need to find what works for your audience. Not sure of what your audience likes? Here’s where your measurement tools come in handy. Tools like Sprout Social are brilliant for providing demographic windows into who’s reading your content, on which channels. If you find that blogging isn’t getting the results you need, then you may need to switch to a podcast format, or to make videos instead. Don’t get too attached to a single form of media, because if you stay flexible that will benefit you much more in the long-run. 

5. Always Use A Call To Action To Drive Your Results

No matter what kind of content you’re creating, it’s important to tell your audience what you need them to do. This call can be subtle (such as telling your audience they should get their hands on your product before it’s sold out), or direct (asking someone to share an article or video, or to subscribe to you as a creator), but the point is that it has to be there. If you go through all the effort to create content that gets noticed, and that gets your audience’s attention, the most foolish thing you can do is to let them walk away without asking them for what you need. Be firm, or ask gently — that part is up to you. But when people appreciate your content, they are likely to consider your requests or suggestions.

Speaking of which … I do invite you to get in touch to discuss how content marketing can help your business. Good luck!

Shannon Emmerson
Shannon Emmerson
With 20+ years experience in creating and publishing digital content for a range of organizations, Shannon knows it’s all about stories. Inspired by: small acts of courage.