Content marketing is a phrase which has become ‘flavour of the moment’ with digital marketers and SEO practitioners.  Done properly, it is a highly effective method for building trust, authority and generating new business.  Done badly, and it can be a waste of both time and money. 

But how do you try and ensure your campaign falls into the former category?  There are some practical steps surrounding the implementation of a campaign that can make a real difference.

At this point I am assuming you already have objectives for your content marketing campaign and have put some thought into why content marketing is the way to go. Once you have done this, it is on to the practicality of implementation.

Generate lots of ideas 

Putting all of your eggs in one basket with one big idea, puts you in a make or break situation.  By generating lots of ideas, and seeding them out to different sources, you have more chance of reaching your target audience and meeting your objectives. At Tecmark we use an old German technique called 6-3-5 brainwriting which allows us to come up with 108 ideas in 30 minutes.  They won’t all be good, but you will at least have lots of options to consider.  Find out what works for you in terms of ideation, but make it varied and make sure you have lots of ideas to work with.

Apply a filter

Once you have your list of ideas, you need some way of whittling them down to a manageable number.  I favour the NUF method, where you assign each idea a score out of 10 for whether they are new, useful and feasible.  Out of the combined score for all three measures, any with a score below 20 are discarded, leaving you with a much refined list.  At this point you can also start to theme ideas and think about formats a little more.  You may find a common theme coming through in the ideas which will allow you to group them into batches which can help with the scheduling of releases.

Drip feed content

Once you have your content ideas you need to formulate them into a timing plan.  It could be three months, it could be six months, but you need to plan out where and when content is going to be released and place (on your site or others).  This allows you to apply critical timescales for the production and syndication of the content. Different formats of content can go out simultaneously, with bigger pieces interspersed within a campaign period.  Having multiple pieces live at a  given point allows your more opportunity to reach different audiences or have multiple touch points for maximum impact.

Don’t be afraid to pay to promote

You are fighting for the attention of potential customers in a very noisy and crowded online world.  Don’t be afraid to use content distribution advertising services such as Zemanta and Outbrain or other paid platforms such as Twitter and Facebook ads, or Google Adwords.  Giving content a boost to begin with can start the social sharing in a quicker manner than allowing it to grow more organically.

Use your advocates

Use your existing customers, staff, partners and other advocates of your business to help distribute the content.  They may not be its intended audience, but they people they share it with might be.  Including content pieces in email newsletters, seeding through your own social channels, featuring on your homepage and doing your own PR campaign all help in maximising the effectiveness.  This will likely involve you activating multiple departments within your business.  Content marketing, is not just for the marketing team.

Monitor success

As with all marketing campaigns, it is important to monitor the success of content marketing against the previously agreed objectives.  Ensure you have a clear method for measuring success and reporting it back to stake holders will allow you to know what worked and what didn’t in order to learn and improve for future campaigns.  Decide on the key metrics which match your campaign and your business.  Shares, links, traffic, email sign ups, sales, whatever it is that defines success for you.  This also gives you the benchmark for measurement of future activity.