If you’re looking to build an engaged audience and are more interested in long term marketing wins, content marketing can be one of the best strategies you can use. However, content marketing can be intimidating if you are working with a small team or small budget.
Even a one-person team who must handle content strategy, creation, and measuring success can be a rock star with content marketing if they know exactly what to do before they set out to do it.
That’s why thinking long term, reaching out for help when you need it, and testing ideas with your campaigns is essential. While this is true regardless of the size of your team and marketing budget, it is especially true for a small team.
Think Long Term
When it comes to content marketing, ultimately you cannot think about a short time. It’s definitely a game to be in only if you can stand it for the long haul. Though you can use content to build brand awareness and your audience, you won’t typically see these kinds of immediate results like you would with email marketing or pay per click advertising.
If you have a limited brand awareness or audience, you can spend as much as a year and a half working on content marketing before you start to see the results. In this case, creating big wins means you have to think months in advance and set realistic performance expectations as part of your strategy. I know it sounds discouraging, but considering content marketing leaders get 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders, it’s worth the investment of time, energy, and money.
Begin by looking closely at your current content marketing performance. Use this as your benchmark to measure the success of your ongoing efforts in the future.
Turn to Google Analytics and any other analytics platforms you might be using to learn about what’s going on with your website and social media channels. Remember to take a look at the built-in analytics for Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms you’re using in your business. To dig a little deeper, use tools such as SEMRush, Moz, and Ahrefs to set benchmarks and monitor progress in terms of keywords, ranking, and overall visibility. Look closely at your email marketing provider data to see how well your email marketing is performing, and if you’re using any kind of marketing automation, check in there, too.
Once you’ve determined how well your current setup is performing, collect it all in a spreadsheet, so you can update it as you go online, for a quick and easy way to assess your performance. Include:
- Web traffic statistics such as the time on site, bounce rate, unique visitors, and return visitors
- Social traffic, shares, comments, mentions, and other engagement metrics of interest
- Email subscriber numbers, open rate, unsubscribe rate, bounce rate, click through rate, and so on.
- Keyword rank, organic traffic, and so on.
If you haven’t invested in any kind of analytics, marketing, or email software, you’ll be stuck spending time manually getting social information from each of the platforms, and WordPress or your other CMS. It can be time consuming, but setting the benchmarks is important to make sure you’re on the right track performance wise later.
Take the time to actually document a content strategy. Only 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers have a written content marketing plan. Clearly, you can operate without one and do just fine, but if you’ve gotten it on paper, it will increase the chance of success.
Once you have the strategy developed, create an editorial calendar. This ensures you won’t need to wonder what to post on your blog, and can work ahead to make sure you have the content you need over the next week, month, or even quarter. This also makes it easier to manage your workflow and collaborate with other people on your team, keeping everyone accountable and on the same page.
As you build that editorial calendar, think of ways you can repurpose your content. This way you can get your message in front of larger audience, while saving time and money on the content creation process. Plus, you’re not constantly having to rush for new ideas. Just be sure you take the time to actually repurpose it – don’t post the same status update on LinkedIn as a tweet you posted on Twitter. Don’t just copy and paste your blog posts and throw them up on other websites.
Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource When Needed
The reality is that no matter what, there are only 24 hours in a day, and only so much can be accomplished. Even if you’ve got a partner or a small group of people to help you, there’s a lot to get done over the course of the day. Content marketing can add mounds of work to that list, so instead of burning the candle at both ends and burning out well before you can see the results of your efforts, turn to freelancers to help you.
The key is to spend time finding freelancers who can directly help your team execute your strategy. Keep the team as lean as possible so you can stay within your budget constraints. If you find someone doesn’t produce the content you need, or just doesn’t work to help you reach your strategy goals, then move onto someone else.
To create a successful working relationship with freelancers or any outside agency, you must create an environment that fosters success. This means:
- Providing clear performance expectations.
- Sharing any brand style guides, contributor guidelines, and any other relevant marketing activities. If you’re worried about the freelancer abusing the information you share with them, you can ask that they sign a non-disclosure agreement.
- Keeping communication as transparent as possible.
Spend some time thinking about exactly what it is you need and writing a clear and concise job description before you begin looking for freelancers or agencies to work with. When you’re ready, take a look at this list of freelance websites to help you connect with the right people.
Reaching out to freelancers gives you more people to get the job done and ensures you can maintain quality standards without having to spend extensive time onboarding and training. And, because you can eliminate the need to hire formal employees, there’s no need to deal with W2s, which can keep HR costs down.
Test and Experiment with Your Campaigns
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. As such, you should continually experiment with a variety of content campaigns. The main focus should be on creating a stellar brand experience, as this ensures you can grow your community over time.
In 2016, 70% of B2B marketers said their content marketing strategy was more effective than in the previous year. Stick with it, even when things seem discouraging.
After you’ve developed your editorial calendar, set deadlines to keep your team on track. Your strategy can be as simple as requiring a single article every week, or scheduling social media posts every day. What matters is you set goals you can execute every day – because the consistent effort is what makes the difference.
With your editorial calendar in hand, plan a content distribution strategy, or a content distribution checklist. If you publish content but don’t take the time to promote it, then you won’t get results. Your distribution checklist should look something like this:
- Share content on social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (or whichever channels you’re using)
- Start discussions on relevant forums – Quora, Reddit, GrowthHackers, Inbound
- Add to social media scheduling tool, such as Buffer, Oktopost, Hootsuite, or PostPlanner
- Tag and mention anyone mentioned in the content
- Syndicate content on Medium and LinkedIn, if relevant
- Share in relevant LinkedIn groups
Whether you’re a one-person team, or have a small group to work with, you can still make content marketing work for you. Even though you may not have the resources of a large corporate machine, it all comes down to planning, efficiency, and execution.
Have you ever let content marketing intimidate you because you didn’t think you had a big enough team? Are you a small team who’s making big wins in content marketing? Talk to me in the comments – I’d love to hear your story!