Want to be a successful content marketer? Do these 10 things

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You want to do content marketing. Profitably. Efficiently. Without having to study it for months first.

No problem.

We’ve got your to-do list. These are the data-backed best practices of the most successful content marketers:

1. You have a documented content marketing strategy

Ever heard of “to fail to plan is to plan to fail”? Well, it’s true in content marketing. 61% of the most successful B2B content marketers have a documented (aka written out) strategy. Only 13% of the least successful B2B content marketers do.

content marketing success factors

This means you’re more than four times as likely to be successful with content marketing if you’ve got a written out content marketing strategy. f you don’t have one already,

If you don’t have one already, this post can help.

2. You’ve defined what content marketing success is going to look like

It’s kinda spooky more companies haven’t defined this. But even among the most successful content marketers, only 81% say their “organization is clear on what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like”.

Compare that to the least successful content marketers – only 14% of them know what a successful content marketing program would look like.

The good news on this bad stat is you don’t have to be like this. Defining success is not hard. Actually, IMHO, it’s the best part of planning anything.

Here’s some ideas for what any successful content marketing strategy might look like:

  • It has a positive return on investment.
  • You can track the results from it. This is implied in the ROI part, but it may take awhile to achieve positive ROI. In the meantime, you’ll need to track results.

3. You publish on your blog often enough to get results

I’ve had a change of heart on this one. I used to believe that companies could just publish one great post per month, promote the heck out of it, and be fine.

That strategy has worked for some bloggers, but not for most. And HubSpot has all but proved that more content is indeed better.

the most successful blogs publish at least twice a week

The companies HubSpot studied didn’t really see a lift in traffic and leads until they were publishing 5-10 posts a month.

So more is better. And HubSpot and I aren’t the only ones saying so. Orbit Media’s 2016 survey of bloggers also showed a significant improvement for blogs that published two or more times a  week:

Oribt Media blogging survey - publishing frequency

But most blogs don’t publish that often. According to our own survey, only 20% of blogs publish twice a week or more.

Scoop.it content marketing best practices survey - blogging frequency

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to publish more often. You don’t have to type until your hands hurt.

 

4. Your blog posts are more than 1,000 words long

This doesn’t give you license to blather. But it does mean you should go into detail, show examples, and back up what you say. So use your blog posts to give readers a detailed discussion, not a snapshot. You’ll do better with search engines and with human readers.

Orbit blogging study - blog post length

Corollary to this: Spend more time writing your posts, too. Try to spend at least three hours to write a post, and as much as four to six hours.

5. You include images and other media in your blog posts

This one’s interesting. It’s not new – content marketers have been encouraging the use of videos and multimedia for awhile. But here’s how effective this tactic is:

includes

Know what’s really interesting about this? According to Orbit’s data, only 15.1% of bloggers add a video to their posts. Only 2.7% include audio. That’s a terrific opportunity for you to stand out.

6. You repurpose your content

We just talked about how time-consuming content can be. It’s expensive, too. So maybe it’s time to get more results from less content. Repurposing is the ideal way to do this.

How often content marketers repurpose their content

Need more inspiration for how to do this (and why)? Check out our blog post on how we got lots of traffic by repurposing our blog posts into SlideShares.

7. You promote your content via email updates

This is one of my favorite content marketing tips. It’s because I love email (yup), but also because most of us are still obsessed with getting social media shares.

How often do content marketers promote their content via email newsletter

And yet… social media was recently shown to be the least effective way to promote your content.

Orbit blogging study - content promotion channels

8. You re-share your content

The average article gets shared eight times or less.

This is a travesty. Seriously.

And it’s an avoidable travesty at that.

There are plenty of tools that make it a snap to re-share your old content. Our own Scoop.it Content Director is one, but there are others.

Here’s just a few reasons why the smartest content marketers love this trick:

  • You’ll get nice little traffic spikes every time you re-share your content. This can also get you leads (especially if you put a call to action at the close of every blog post).
  • It’ll fill up your social media feeds. They’re hungry beasts, constantly needing to be fed. But they do eat leftovers. 😉
  • You’ll reach a larger portion of your audience. As you know, barely 10% of our social media followers see a given share. So by sharing more than once, you’ll reach more of these people. And that’s exactly what they followed you for.
  • You’ll have an edge on your competition. Only about a third of content marketers re-share their posts. This is crazy, but you can use it to your advantage.

how often content marketers reshare blog posts

9. You get your team members to share company content to their social media feeds

Wish you had an army of passionate followers who would share everything you publish? Well, until that time comes, use what you’ve got: Your co-workers. Ask them to share your company content.

This is a simple thing to do, but it will put you ahead of most of your competition.

how often do content marketers ask their team to reshare content

10. You can track your content marketing ROI

This brings us right back to where we started – the essentials of a successful content marketing program.

It may take you a few months to a few years, but keep working until you see a positive ROI. Start with just being able to track your results. As the saying goes, if you can measure something, then you can improve it.

Even if you don’t achieve a positive ROI right away, just trying to measure your marketing improves your chances for success. That’s what HubSpot found in their “State of Inbound” report.

Calculate ROI

There’s more proof of this in the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs’ 2017 “Content Marketing Trends—North America” B2B and B2C reports, too. According to those studies, 91% of the most successful marketers can track ROI. Only 54% of the least successful can.

Tracking return on investment can be tricky, I admit. But we have software now that makes it radically easier to do than it used to be. And there’s some great resources to show you how to set your marketing up to be trackable in the first place. Our own ROI or RIP handbook is a good start.

Just checking your analytics on a regular basis is also a good way to start. In Orbit Media’s survey, bloggers who “always” check their analytics are nearly twice as likely to say their blogs are delivering “strong results”.

how often bloggers check analytics

But surprisingly, only 31.7% of bloggers “always” check. So that’s yet another opportunity for you.

 

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot here. Let’s distil it into a checklist so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Top performing content marketers tend to:

  1. Have a documented content marketing strategy
  2. Know what successful content marketing would look like for them
  3. Publish on their blog two or more times a week
  4. Write post more than 1,000 words long
  5. Include images and other media in their blog posts
  6. Repurpose their content
  7. Promote their content via email updates
  8. Re-share their content on social media
  9. Get their team members to share their content
  10. Can track the return on investment of their marketing

 

What do you think?

Can you think of any other best practices that top-performing content marketers do? If you can, please mention them in the comments.

If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!

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About the Author

Pam Neely
Pam Neely has been marketing online for 17 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and an avid email and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award. Her book "50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List" is available on Amazon.com. Pam holds a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.
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