Content marketing has three major things going for it. The first is that it can be done by anyone. Second is that can be free. Third is that it’s often more effective than traditional, expensive advertising.
The downside? It takes time. Lots of time.
You could be wasting time on content marketing.
We’re all feeling a little pressed for time. I don’t think that’s limited to content marketing. Fortunately there are lots of ways to save time and increase your ROI with content marketing. We just published an ebook on how to blog more consistently in 30 minutes a day or less. We also published a post on how to trim your social media tasks down to 30 minutes a day not too long ago.
If you’re not sure you’re using your time well enough, or if you’d like a checklist of content marketing areas to emphasize, the following list may be helpful. Each item of this list is a sign you’re wasting time on content marketing. Or – on the brighter side – an opportunity to boost your productivity.
1. You’re not tracking your results.
Whether you use Google Analytics, Scoop.It Content Director, or another solution, we urge you to track your campaigns. All of your campaigns. Otherwise, you’re basically flying blind.
Not tracking results has a series of bad effects. But if you start tracking, you can flip all those on their head. For instance, if you haven’t been tracking you don’t know what isn’t working. Once you start tracking, you do know what’s a dud. So you can stop doing those ineffective tactics, thus saving yourself a nice chunk of time.
2. You’re not repurposing your content.
Every piece of content you make should be converted into at least one other piece of content. This is the only way to generate the amount of content you need without having to work around the clock.
Blog posts are a great example of this because they’re so flexible. Each post you write can be made into:
- 10-15 tweets
- 2-5 Facebook/Google+/LinkedIn updates (focus on a different aspect of the post in each update)
- A SlideShare
- An infographic… even a simple one
- A short video
- A Pinterest pin
- A section of an ebook, whitepaper or case study
To see how your content repurposing compares to other marketers’, check out this pie chart from the Eloqua Community State of Content Marketing Report.
Want to learn more about content repurposing? We’ve got a whole ebook on the topic.
3. You aren’t automating at least part of your social media activity.
If you’re still manually posting to a social media account, it’s time to stop. There are plenty of tools to help you automate your posting. ScoopIt Content Director is our own, and there’s a lot of reasons we like it, but geez, use something. Use anything.
I’m not saying all your social media activity should be automated. We don’t think that’s a good idea, and it’s not something we practice ourselves. But take the bulk of your social media work and automate it. Just step in now and again to do the real human to human social media work – the personalized “thanks for sharing” messages, answering questions, giving someone a shout out.
4. You aren’t automating some of your email marketing.
There are four ways to automate your email marketing:
– You’ve got your blog synced up to your email service provider so every time you publish a post it gets converted into an email and goes out to your subscribers.
– The content you’ve recently shared is automatically formatted into an email newsletter template and then sent to your subscribers. This is a feature of Content Director we’re particularly proud of.
– You’ve got a “drip campaign” or email autoresponder set up so people will get a series of pre-scheduled emails if they request them.
– You’ve got triggered emails set up. These are almost exactly like drip campaigns, but often a prospect will automatically get passed from one list to another based on which triggers they activate. Triggered emails are just one step more sophisticated than email autoresponders.
5. You’re only sharing your own content – you’re not adding any content curation to the mix.
Content creation is hard. It’s time-consuming and energy draining. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all yourself – it’s AOK to promote other people’s content. It’s even been shown to persuade some people better than your own house-created content.
You could probably curate up to 80% of the content you share or publish on your blog. If you’re just getting started, aim for 20%. Think of how much time and resources that frees up? Not only, that, but consider the potential results: One B2B company recently got a 464% lift in SEO traffic after of just a few months of content curation.
For more ideas on how to curate content, see our SlideShare deck, “10 Tips to Curate Like a Rockstar”.
6. You aren’t testing.
Whether it’s the call to action in your emails, or your order buttons, or just different social media update formats, it’s critical to test. You don’t need to go crazy and start doing multivariate testing. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars. Just start with some simple A/B split testing and improve from there.
7. You don’t have a content strategy that’s tied to business goals and your buyers’ journey.
Want a proven way to get more results from your content marketing? Write down your content marketing strategy. This was the biggest difference between marketers who saw positive ROI and those that didn’t in the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs’ 2015 Content Marketing Benchmarketing, Budgets and Trends reports.
Here are the specific results:
- 60% of content marketers with a documented strategy said they consider their organization to be effective at content marketing.
- Only 32% of marketers with a verbal strategy said the same.
- A mere 7% of marketers with no content marketing strategy felt they were effective.
8. You haven’t defined your buyers’ personas or their typical journey.
This is basically the sin of not knowing your audience. If you don’t know your audience, it’s hard to create persuasive content for them. Content that is not built for the correct audience is content that won’t get results.
9. You aren’t creating content strategically.
This is basically point 8B from above, but it is a separate area. To make your marketing time worthwhile, you have to be creating content that’s designed to get into the heads and hearts of these different personas. That content also has to educated and persuade them to take the next step forward with you. Content that doesn’t meet both these criteria is off-strategy.
Here’s a visualization of how content formats sync with the buying cycle. This is the Content Marketing Matrix as designed by Smart Insights.
Need to come up with content for different levels of your funnel? Here’s a way: What questions do customers at the top of the funnel ask? There’s your top of funnel content (also called “TOFU” in some circles). What do customers mid-funnel ask? What do customers at purchase or after purchase ask? Each class of content you create for those audiences should be answering those questions.
10. You don’t have a centralized “vault” of all your company’s content assets.
Content marketing involves a lot of content. Different forms of content. All that content needs to be organized in a way so that you and the rest of your team can find it fast. Every piece of content also needs to be tagged so you’ll know when to update it.
Without a vault, creative teams can spend up to 20% of their time just hunting down different versions of old content. There’s also the risk of forgetting pieces of content that could be reused. In other words, it’s a mess.
11. You aren’t promoting your content, either via social sharing or by making it visible to the search engines.
If no one can find your content, it’s as good as uncreated. Some people recommend spending 4 hours of content promotion for each hour of content creation. If that seems out of reach, aim for at least one hour of promotion for every hour of creation.
And if that means you have to do less content creation, then do less content creation. Or simply curate more.
12. You have nothing to show for your work.
This one stings, but it belongs on the list. If you’ve been working hard but have almost nothing to show for it, you’re not being productive.
It’s tough to not see any results, but don’t give up. Start back up at the top of this list. Scrutinize each item. Make sure you’re doing the best you can with it. The results will eventually come.
Back to you
Do you feel like you’re wasting time on content marketing? Or do you know some productivity tricks that have made a difference? We want to hear about them. Tell us your tricks 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!
Image by Pranav Prakash.