As we revel in the final days of 2016 (and we’ve been reveling a lot lately), it’s also time to look ahead to the coming year.
The start of 2017 will bring an onslaught of both personal and professional New Year’s resolutions. A new year is the perfect time to assess the current state and determine areas of opportunity—and not just in your diet and bank account. In all likelihood, your content marketing strategy could stand to be reinvigorated as well. Below are a few resolutions to help you get the most out of your content in the new year.
Embrace a “test and learn” approach.
Most digital marketers employ testing to determine the efficacy of their messaging, tactics, budget allocation, and other strategic moves. The data that come back from a well-run test is invaluable, helping us make informed, innovative decisions and providing visibility into our audience and their preferences. Interestingly, although content marketing offers the same test opportunities, content marketers haven’t approached testing with the same vigor as marketers in channels such as paid search or display. But there are many simple ways to test and learn more about your readers, so you can continue creating effective content that resonates with them.
For instance, when sending an e-newsletter, A/B test two different subject lines to see which has a greater open rate; you’ll likely begin to detect patterns that will help inform how you capture attention and communicate with your audience. In addition, all online content should include links and calls to action that provide a path for your reader to connect with you after reading an article or viewing a video. Test different calls to action—say, a pitch to join your e-mail subscription list versus a link to follow your company on LinkedIn. Based on the effectiveness of each, you can move forward employing the one that readers are more likely to click.
Develop your content in multiple formats.
Relevant, insightful ideas never go out of style, but the ways you choose to communicate them might. Or at least, you might be able to reinvigorate ideas by producing them in a new format. What began as a white paper could become an interactive workshop or a 30-second video someone could watch during their commute.
This approach requires more time up front, but it will pay off in spades. If, from the beginning, your content team considers the different ways to communicate and share an idea and then collects the necessary elements for quality content creation—research, quotes, subject matter expertise—you can extend the content’s shelf life by regularly producing work without doing the heavy lifting over again. Creating multiple formats helps engage a wider audience and provides an opportunity to do so on multiple channels and platforms, including video, social, website, and third-party sites.
Revisit your content creation process, and ask why.
Many companies know they need to publish regularly to establish credibility, support business development and retention, and share their knowledge and insight. But many companies don’t know that developing and documenting a content creation process is the first step in producing quality content. Adding structure to the process improves efficiency, ensures there are multiple sets of eyes on a piece, encourages clear editorial and strategic direction, and, ideally, speeds up the back and forth on revisions and approvals. A set structure also ensures a consistent level of quality, which your audience expects.
But B2B content marketing is most successful when quality content is aligned with business goals, so strategy should always be the starting point. This coming year, resolve to ask “why?” at the beginning of the content development process. Why should this piece exist, why does my audience care about it, why are we uniquely suited to present it?
Answering these questions and adopting these resolutions will ensure your content development process is purposeful and productive—and what better way to start a new year?