7 Steps to a Killer Content Marketing Program

Wondering how to set up a great content marketing program? These 7 steps will guide you through the process… this devilishly handsome man, however, might lead you to the misapprehension that step 8 involves smoking a pipe for retro suave appeal, so please be aware that no content marketing program actually requires tobacco.  Or a tie.  Or a typewriter.  Suspenders, maybe.

1) Determine your content marketing program business goals

A good content marketing program, like any other marketing program, has well-articulated business goals before you start.  Are you going for lead generation?  Brand awareness?  Thought leadership positioning?  Figure out what your highest level goal is before you start writing: if you don’t, you’ll be struggling to find the R in ROI.  After all, it’s hard to achieve (or measure) a return if you haven’t articulated what return you’re trying to get.  (For more on this, check our this article on social media ROI.)

2) Set your content marketing keyword strategy

We write content for a variety of reasons: to demonstrate thought leadership, to incite a social share, to create gates for lead generation.  One natural by-product of online content is that it’s crawled by search engines, and to that end it’s critical that you content marketers out there have a working knowledge of SEO.  The content that you put online may as well service as side doors to free traffic, so be sure to do keyword research before you publish.  This is not to say that you should be writing things specifically around keywords, or stuffing articles to the point of no return, but rather to say that everything you publish is ideally keyworded thoughtfully, and maps back to a larger keyword strategy.

3) Start writing content

Just get started.  Blog posts are a really easy way to get some content flowing and seeing what comes of them.  Not everything you write has to be The Most Ingenious Piece of Content Ever Conceived, although I would suspect that someone like Tom Robbins could pull it off; that being said, putting content out there for the sake of it isn’t a good idea either.  If you’re stuck for ideas, take a look at what people are talking about within your industry (a social listening tool is very helpful for this), and add your thoughts on it.

4) Curate content

Sometimes it’s hard to think of things to write, especially when you’re already busy with setting your content marketing program goals and measuring them and such.  And, if you’re the only writer, you can grow weary of your own voice.  Curating content is a great way to keep good content on your owned media channels, while simultaneously building relationships with industry influencers.  Take a look at who’s produced something great recently, and use that piece of content as a jumping-off point for your own thoughts on the matter.  Be sure to credit your source appropriately, and when you’re sharing your article on social channels, hit the original author with an @ mention – this is a great way to engage that influencer, flatter that person, and earn yourself a RT from someone with a targeted list of followers.  A good content marketing program has a good community management and influencer strategy.

5) Have fun with your content

Writing for business doesn’t have to be boring.  If you’re bored by your own writing, imagine how your customers will react.  Consider the things that you, as a consumer, would want to read… and let that be your guide.  Not everything you produce has to be educational or informative; people put a great deal of value on simple entertainment, as evidenced by the wild popularity of Buzzfeed.

6) Market your content

Sadly, your content won’t market itself, and any good content marketing program has a plan in place to market the marketing.  Once you’ve produced something, it’s time to get on out there and market it.  Have people within your organization share it on their social channels, and don’t forget to do that yourself.  You can also take a look at sites that have published similar pieces, and reach out to let them know that you’ve published something.  With so many brands out there looking for good content, it’s wise to establish good symbiotic relationships that will help you and them garner more eyeballs.  (See this article on online influencers for PR, and this one on how to find online influencers for tips.)

7) Measure and refine your content marketing program efforts

We now come full circle to #1: have you hit your content marketing program goals?  Measuring content marketing success can be as back-of-the-napkin as looking at which posts have garnered the most social shares – after all, the social share is what gives us earned social media, and is the primary goal of social media marketing.  Or, perhaps you’re measuring lead capture.  Whatever your goals, take a gander at what content is doing the best for you, and use those findings to inform your efforts for future pieces.