You Got 99 Problems, But Content Ain’t 1

Account Director/Senior Content Director
Published 2/25/16
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If you’re in any field of marketing these days, you know by now that good content (and lots of it) is your friend. CONTENT IS KING! CONTENT DRIVES REVENUE! OMG, WHY DON’T YOU HAVE MORE CONTENT? Alright already, we get it. Industry experts have been beating that drum so hard, for so long, that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees. But what can be tricky is figuring out where to start.

As part of its annual “Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” research, Content Marketing Institute recently asked content marketers to identify the most challenging parts of their job. Even though responses came from companies both accomplished and struggling in this arena, several universal concerns emerged. Their toughest tasks? Creating content that is ...

     • Engaging

     • Consistent

     • Diverse

     • Measurable

     • Affordable

Sound familiar? You know you need content, but how do you know what types of it will be effective at meeting the needs of both consumers and stakeholders? And once you figure that beast out, can you afford to keep it coming? So many questions, so few easy answers, so here are a few tips to help you tackle these five key challenges:

Create content that is engaging

To be a successful marketer, you have to provide content HOW, WHEN and WHERE your customers want to receive it. While the concept is simple, the task is not.

     • Comb your analytics to find out what type of content users interact with most. Is it videos, lists, first-person narratives? Identify your winners and create more content like them.

     • Monitor social channels to see what posts draw the most responses and what questions your followers are asking. These are the topics they’re most interested in, so deliver content to satisfy them.

     • Pose a question! People love sharing their opinions, so encourage them to. A social post asking “What is your favorite waterfall?” will likely produce a bunch of personal endorsements – with gorgeous photos to boot.

Produce content consistently

Consumers will come back to you more often if they know when to expect new information. Adding new content every week for a while, then going months without any, is a sure way to lose your peeps.

     • Create a content schedule, then stick to it religiously. If you can post weekly, by all means do so. But if you know that’s going to be difficult to sustain, create a realistic calendar based on uploading new content every two weeks, or even once a month.

     • Create a content calendar that reminds you what topics are important to cover throughout the year. It will help keep you focused (and motivated) to get your word out.

     • Divide content creation responsibilities among several people. Unless you have a full-time content creator, this task will be too much for one person to bear. Recruiting a pool of people you can draw on lessens the load for all, making your content machine more sustainable.

Offer content in a variety of formats

Unless you’re in the enviable position of knowing EXACTLY the type of information EVERY one of your customers wants, you have to offer a variety of content to try to reach as many of them as possible. Some people prefer stories, while others only read blurbs. Some won’t take the time to click on a video, while others do nothing but. Cover all bases ...

     • People love lists. Naming the “best” attractions in your area may be politically tricky, but that’s the information consumers want. If you can’t do that, think of creative ways to offer “best bet” type nuggets (5 Great Overlooks, 10 Top Trails).

     • Turn number-heavy information into fun graphics or “by the numbers” lists.

     • Curate from external sources by pulling in strong content others have created about you or pushing readers out to them via callouts, taglines and links. Even if this isn’t “your” content, it strengthens your content arsenal.

Track content effectiveness

That awesome 1979 Coca-Cola commercial featuring Mean Joe Greene is universally considered one of the greatest ads of all time. (“Hey kid, catch!” – I still tear up decades later.) But guess what? It didn’t sell a single additional bottle of Coke that year. Effective ad? Hardly. Content is the same way: It doesn’t matter how “good” a travel story is if it doesn’t make the phone ring, so to speak.

     • Define your goals first, then identify what content is needed to achieve them. If you want to strengthen your brand, then video and social engagement are key. Put your resources there. If you want to build a customer database, focus on content that drives email signups, guide requests and lead generation.

     • Define what determines success for you and track the content that accomplishes that. If it’s calendar views, what factors are driving those? If it’s web visits, what tactics are driving most of them?

     • When it comes to content, more isn’t always better. Information that is outdated or under-utilized should be refreshed or trashed. If not, it’s just clutter getting in the way of stronger content.

Live within your budget

Sure, you can spend a ton of money hiring hot-shot content producers to eloquently spread your message. But do you really have an extra stash of cash lying around? Instead, think about how you can use existing resources more effectively.

     • Repurpose existing content by reviewing current archives to identify information that could easily be repackaged into something “new.”

     • When producing new content, make sure it’s doing at least triple-duty. A story or video created for your website shouldn’t only live there. Also push them out through your enewsletter and social channels.

     • You’re already responding to consumer inquiries, right? Someone emails your destination looking for a great place to host their family reunion and you fire back three great recommendations. That response can easily become an additional “Top Spots for Family Reunions” post on your blog or social channels. Never do a content one-and-done.