If you’re not using a content marketing checklist to hit all the critical channels for improving your reach, then it’s time for a change. Content marketing has been proven in recent years to be one of the most effective methods to building and engaging your audience both on and offline. Content improves customer relationships, grows revenue, and positions you and your brand as an authority in your market.
More than 80% of marketers are leveraging content marketing, and that number continues to grow. Despite that effort, only about 32% of marketers find content marketing to be effective.Demand Gen (Hubspot)
It’s not a problem with the system though, it’s all in how you use it. A content marketing checklist can help you find your way into the group of marketers and businesses owners who are seeing big payoffs from the generation and curation of 10x content.
What is Content Marketing
Content marketing is a method employed by companies of any size, whereby content (in various forms) is created and shared for the purpose of driving a specific action. In most cases, this is to attract new customers and to build relationships with current customers in order to reduce customer churn.
While a lot of content is written, it takes a variety of forms as you’ll see in this content marketing checklist. This includes:
- Print material
- Blogs and Articles
- Slide decks and more
Companies utilize content for a variety of reasons, often targeting one or more goals such as new customer acquisition, churn reduction, expanding social reach, improve organic search visibility, reaching new audience segments, grow a loyal blog following, expand newsletter signups, etc.
Whether you’re creating a new content strategy or refining your old one, this content marketing checklist will take you through the most critical points to consider to help you boost engagement with your audience.
The 2017 Content Marketing Checklist
Do you know who your audience is?
You can’t create effective content if you don’t know who your audience is. Just publishing what you think is interesting isn’t going to create traction or get results. Misaligned content that doesn’t speak to the needs and interest of your audience is responsible for the massive failure rate of content marketing.
It’s the root cause for so many struggling marketers and business owners.
Understanding what your audience wants takes a little effort, but it’s relatively simple to put the data together.
- Poll your customers for feedback on their problems and interests
- Pay attention to their conversations online
- Audit the content created by competitors
- Use demographics to align content
- Use tools like Buzzsumo to find the hottest topics around specific keywords
- Watch what influencers are creating and sharing
- Visit niche-related forums and groups to see what is being discussed
Once you better understand your audience, you can create content sure to attract and engage.
Create a documented content marketing strategy
Another cause for the failure of content marketing is a lack of a documented strategy. Instead, many business owners take the approach of treating tactics like strategy. A strategy is made up of tactics. Without a plan, you’re just going through the motions and hoping for results.
This is a major part of the content marketing checklist – a documented strategy is a must. Companies with a documented content strategy have proven to be 25% more effective than those who are just winging it.
Map out your content
Creating a content map keeps you on course, helping you see a visual flow of your content and how it fits into your sales funnel. It’s also a smart way to track your milestones and goals along with your content strategy. Like any map, if you get off track you can use it refine your content plan and get back on course.
Some things to consider for creating a content map include:
- What do you want the reader to take away from your content
- What types of content and topics are most appealing to your customers
- What types of media should you incorporate to keep engagement high
- How should the content flow to lead them to the next stage of your funnel
- What calls to action work best to drive them forward
- How can the content be repurposed to expand its reach
- What channels will be used for distribution and promotion
Keep your workflow flexible
It’s important to develop an intelligent workflow that’s also flexible. You don’t want to lock yourself into the same repetitive tasks and hope for the best. Instead, plan far enough out (even months at a time) to help you prepare for the content load that needs to be developed.
A well-planned and flexible workflow will make it easier to develop content, plan topics, plan promotions, and build a team to support your content marketing checklist and strategy – like an editor, promoter, social media manager, etc.
Address your audience pain points
A simple way to create an effective content strategy is to focus on content that provides the most value to your audience. That comes from good research and understanding the needs of your customer. Companies have been doing this for decades with frequently asked questions in support material and on websites.
The downside is that the answers are usually just a few sentences and get straight to the point.
Instead, go deep. Provide comprehensive answers to their most pressing needs and pain points. There’s no better way to load the top of your funnel with content that will bring a tremendous volume of leads.
Including visually appealing images
With so many people being successful with graphic content, you can give engagement a solid boost to your content marketing efforts with the right images. Just don’t think you can slap any old stock photos on your blog and expect results. The images you share through social media and within your content should be highly relevant, striking, eye-catching and overall visually appealing. Good enough to stop the thumb mid-scroll.
Write killer headlines for your topics
Moz has long been an authority on SEO and creating killer content, and after analyzing a large volume of the most shared content, their team discovered that headlines featuring numbers were preferred over any other headline style by more than a third of users.
This is another great opportunity to use tools like Buzzsumo to check the most popular topics within your industry to examine which types of titles are most likely to catch the attention of your audience.
Use data and sources to drive credibility
Your content should center on the knowledge you have, providing maximum value to your audience. The only issue there is that you don’t want to just look like you’re only sharing your opinion. It needs to come off as fact – something they can trust as true.
Make this part of every piece of content you create by linking to influencers who share similar perspectives. Also, include links to studies, white papers, and other data that reinforces your statements. It will solidify your authority on the subject and dramatically improve your audiences’ trust in your content.
Optimize your content
No matter how great your content is, you won’t see results if people can’t see your content. Part of the research phase and knowing your audience is understanding the words and phrases they use to find answers to their questions and problems.
Auditing the content of competitors and looking at what influencers create and share can give you some inclination of what people search for. Use those keywords injected naturally into your content – headline included – to make it stand out. You’ll need that optimizing if you’re hoping to build a steady flow of organic traffic to your funnel.
Include influencers in your content strategy
Influencers aren’t just a source for research. You can expand the reach of your content by teaming up with influencers, directly or indirectly, to promote your content to a much larger audience. This can be achieved a couple ways, so choose what fits your content marketing checklist the best.
Quote them – quoting influencers is easy to do. Find where they line up with your ideas and pull quotes from interviews, articles and other sources. Link to their content within your posts. Once your content goes live, be sure to notify and tag them in social media to let them know they were featured.
Bring them in – If you’ve built a relationship with an influencer, consider working with them to develop a comprehensive piece of content that also has them as a co-author. It’s a great way to align yourself with influencers and expand your brand visibility.
Regularly review your metrics
You should be watching your analytics and content metrics regularly. Part of building your content marketing checklist and strategy is knowing what success looks like. Track content performance so you know what to drop from your plan and what to reinforce and put more resources into.
When metrics reveal content that is just crushing it with your audience, find ways to repurpose that content across new channels.
You don’t need anything fancy; Google Analytics is generally sufficient but you can invest in some comprehensive tools like Kissmetrics for tracking your content marketing effectiveness.
This simple content marketing checklist is a basic blueprint to get you rolling and start seeing more engagement from your content efforts. Adjust the points to fit your business model and your audience, and be sure to create a documented content strategy you can follow and refine as you go.