Good content marketing boils down to a simple, repeatable process: create the right message for the right people and deliver it to them at the right time. Then do it again, and again, and again.
It’s pretty straightforward; no growth hacks required. If you take this tried and true method, apply the tactics from that method to your situation, and do the work, you’ll succeed.
Success with content marketing actually looks very similar to success with personal finance. Think about what your clients need from you to get to baseline financial success: they need nail the fundamentals, make smart choices day-to-day, get the really big decisions right and consistently take the actions required over time.
You need to do the same when it comes to your marketing.
You know that basic financial planning isn’t rocket science. Neither is content marketing. It’s the simple steps that add up to massive success over time. So are there really any secret marketing strategies or tactics that you can use?
Kind of. But they’re not what you might expect. These are the three real secrets to content marketing success that you need to know.
No. 1: Quality
At this stage in the game, quality content is more like table stakes than a trade secret—but judging by how many businesses think they can throw out quickly produced, low-value, poor-quality content, I don’t think the word has gotten out yet.
Let me be clear: if you’re not going to invest the time and effort into producing what you feel like is the best article on a particular subject available on the web, think hard before proceeding. Obviously, you won’t be able to devote an entire workweek to a single blog post (although content-driven sites like Sumo easily devote 10 to 40 hours to every blog post). But you can put in a few hours to create some high value articles, podcasts and videos each week.
And if you’re sitting there going, “No, I really can’t; I don’t have the time,” then that better mean you are so covered up in essential and necessary client work or revenue-generating activities that it’s time to outsource and hire someone who can do your content marketing for you.
Otherwise, you may feel pressed for time—but you can make time by increasing productivity, eliminating time sucks and working smarter.
No. 2: Efficiency
That leads us to secret No. 2: you must work efficiently if you’re going to get good at the content marketing game. There are no shortcuts here. Content marketing takes work. You need to put in that effort (or, again, find someone who can help you) if you want to succeed.
You need systems and processes in place, and you should look to automate what you can. Here’s a simple example of one that you could implement to make your content marketing tasks more effective and efficient:
Sample Content Creation Process
- Create a blog post that people want to read
- Publish and share on social media
- Create additional, standalone social media posts by pulling out snippets (sentences or paragraphs) to publish as posts on various platforms
- Promote the blog post to your email list
- Turn a section of the blog post into a standalone email campaign
- Choose one section of the existing blog post and expand it to create a new post or article to send to a third-party publication where you have a byline
Using this process, you can spin a number of content pieces from a single idea and post. That first post may take you two to three hours to write, but the subsequent content should be much easier and faster to create since you’re not writing from scratch.
When it comes to automation, you can:
Create an automated drip campaign to nurture leads in your email marketing system.
Use tools like social media scheduler Edgar to consistently publish evergreen content.
IFTTT is another tool that you can use to automate tasks. You can identify a number of triggers that should signal an action and IFTTT automates these activities. Set up and run paid ad campaigns via Adwords or search to drive traffic to a specific, optimized landing page and capture lead info (that you can then use your automated email campaigns on to handle follow-up).
If you have some basic workflows, systems and processes in place and still feel like you don’t have enough time to handle your content marketing, it’s time to do one of two things: find ways to work smarter and be more productive or outsource.
Here’s what I do to work more efficiently and eliminate time-wasters:
- Do a quick audit of how you spent the last week. Where were you wasting time? What did you do that wasn’t actual productive work, that you can cut moving forward? How could you schedule the upcoming week better to work more efficiently? Note that you can’t accurately audit your time if you’re not tracking it—so start using a time tracker if you don’t already.
- Identify your procrastination habits. Is there a pattern or a trigger that causes you to put off work? Look for that and see how you can change it, prevent it or work around it in the future so you can get more done in less time.
- Get ruthless with your meeting time. I get that you need meet with clients—but anything that is not an essential meeting, get it off the calendar. It can usually go through email, which is more efficient if you handle email during your less-productive work times. Which leads me to:
- Schedule your tasks appropriately throughout the day. Most of us need to do highly creative or analytical work in the morning. When that mid-afternoon slump hits, take care of more rote or less mentally taxing tasks like emails and admin work. Schedule your work days around your mental and creative energy.
- Batch like tasks together, and do them together in blocks. Stop multi-tasking and context-switching.
If you still feel like you just absolutely positively do not have the time to deal with marketing, that should mean you are so covered up by essential, revenue-generating work that it’s time to outsource some of your workload so you can continue to grow and scale.
No 3: Consistency
Just like the world’s best financial advice is useless without action, your content marketing is equally unproductive if you have great quality that you can produce efficiently but fail to do so consistently.
People ask me all the time, “How often should I post on my blog or social media accounts? How many emails per month should I send to my list?” The answer is, “However many pieces of content you can commit to creating, publishing and sharing on a regular basis.”
Frequency doesn’t matter nearly as much as consistency does. What do you know you can do every week? Every month? Start with what you feel confident in doing, even if it’s just one blog post per month or three posts per week on Facebook.
Here’s what I tend to suggest as a bare minimum starting point if you want to see results from your content marketing efforts:
- Blogs: Post every other week, or twice a month.
- Social media: This depends on the network, but two to three times per week on LinkedIn and Facebook are good places to start. Make sure you post on the days when your audience is most active/when you have the largest percentage of your audience on the platform (which you can learn through the insights in your account).
- Twitter: Twitter is the one exception to my “consistency over frequency” recommendation. I recommend posting to Twitter as frequently as you can because it’s so fast-paced and the half-life of a tweet is something like a few minutes—that’s it. Because it’s so frantic, posting as often as you can is going to get you the best result. But at a minimum, I recommend one to two tweets per day (which you can write and schedule ahead of time using something like Hootsuite or Buffer).
- Email marketing: Touch base with your list at least twice a month. You can tie this to your blog post publishing schedule if it helps; you can send your list an email every time you publish a new post to share it with them. When it comes to clients, you need to be sending them communications (outside your personalized interactions and meetings) at least once month.
You can always ramp up from there and increase frequency if you realize you can keep up with a more demanding content schedule.
If you can start working these “secrets” to content marketing, you’ll likely see more success from your efforts. Remember, it’s not about any kind of fancy footwork or complicated, special strategy or tactic. It’s about nailing the fundamentals, working smart and sticking to your plan over time.