As any marketer (experienced or novice) knows, content marketing is not a new concept. In fact, Content Marketing Institute research confirms 93% of B2B marketers now use content marketing, executing a variety of tactics (social media, articles, newsletters, blogs, case studies, video, etc.) to reach their target audience.
CMI’s “B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — America” Report also shows 70% of marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago. It would logically follow, then, that these organizations devote a team of hard-working, creative professionals to the pursuit of content marketing on behalf of clients.
But fewer than half of marketers have a dedicated content team in place, according to CMI. What’s more, only 35% of marketers have a documented content strategy, which begs the question: How are content teams identifying content goals and measuring against them?
Here’s a look at three practical ways your company can empower content teams to do the same.
1. Establish the Right Team Culture
Whether your company’s content marketing team consists of in-house or external employees (or some combination of the two), it’s critical to establish — at the team’s inception — what you want the culture of the group to look like. Who will be in charge of leading the team? Who will create project milestones, assign due dates and follow up on deadlines? Who will create the content and who will head up social promotion, etc.?
Ideally, your team will function in such a way that everyone feels comfortable bringing their ideas to the table and feels valued as a contributing member of the team. While SEO, social, PR and content roles may differ considerably in job description, the truth of the matter is that they all contribute to the same goal: successful content creation and execution.
Here are a few specific ways my company encourages ongoing content team-building and collaboration:
- Weekly (Monday morning) client status meetings where team members across departments convene to discuss client initiatives for the week ahead
- Bi-weekly team training sessions where one member of the team (entry-level to director) presents on a timely, relevant industry topic and then opens it up to general discussion amongst the group
- Regular (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on project) client calls to discuss ongoing initiatives and solicit client input
- Monthly team events (lunch, bowling, museum, brewery tour, etc.) — because sometimes the best way to refuel is to get outside the office!
2. Adjust the Mindset
In today’s digital era, it’s not enough to simply get your content out there (what with the 150,000,000 blogs already in existence!); what matters is finding a way to make your content cut through the online clutter and stand out in some appreciable way.
As Michael Brenner notes in an article on content marketing culture, it’s important to understand that content marketing is not a one-off solution but a “continuous process of creating, publishing, and sharing content that drives business outcomes for a brand.” This “publishing mindset” begins with content teams thinking of themselves as a vehicle of disseminating useful, relevant and helpful information to their audience — time and time again.
Brenner argues that, in order to do so, content teams must understand what, exactly, it is that their consumers are looking for (more on this point in a minute), which requires input, analysis and evaluation from team members across various functions.
For example, a colleague of mine on the social team recently identified that 3-D printing and lean manufacturing were trending Twitter topics for one of our clients in the industrial storage space. As a result, our content team produced a series of on-site articles (industry news and blog posts) that generated considerable social shares, leading to increased website traffic and even a guest blog placement on a third-party site.
3. Deliver What Customers Want
Even the most cohesive, goal-oriented and driven content teams will fail without delivering the type of content their audience truly wants to consume. Michael Brenner refers to this as the “content marketing echo chamber,” which essentially boils down to content marketers creating and executing content that falls on deaf ears. If readers neglect to click on or read a particular piece of content, then what, really, is the point of creating it?
There are a number of ways for content teams to ensure that content gets consumed by the intended audience. Perhaps the best/easiest place to start is to just ask! Forums (e.g., Quora or Spiceworks), LinkedIn groups and Twitter search can help unlock some answers to the types of questions customers are asking about an organization’s product or service offerings.
Another idea involves developing buyer personas to better understand the target audience’s goals and priorities and clear up some of the following questions: What are our customers’ needs? What are they looking for when they land on our site? How can our content initiatives address customer pain points and provide valuable, actionable insight that will point them in the direction they need to be doing? Whatever answers the team comes up will then help determine ongoing content strategy and execution.
Content marketing’s rise in popularity and usage in recent years has made it clear that content is here to stay. To drive the kind of accountability and responsibility that leads to improved results on behalf of our clients, my company takes proactive steps to empower our content team at every step of the content lifecycle.
What are some of the ways your company approaches content marketing from the inside out? Do you agree with the assessment above? I would love to hear your thoughts and perspective in the comments section!