Did you know that, although 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing, only 42% actually know what they are doing? That means that more than half of the content marketers out there are feeling their way in the dark when it comes to content creation.
The key to success, it seems, is in having a documented content strategy. A study done by Content Marketing Institute found that B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy considered themselves a lot more effective at content marketing compared to the rest. With that in mind, it is critical for marketers who want to succeed in content marketing to have a clear plan in mind.
To help you out, we’ve created a content creation checklist to make sure that all the pieces are in place. Here are 5 simple steps you should take if you want to create useful and engaging content.
1. Meet the bottom line: Know what you want to achieve with your content
What do you hope to achieve for your business by creating content? Remember, your boss won’t care whether or not your content went viral – all he wants to know is how it added value to the business.
In the words of Jay Baer, “we must learn to understand…that content helps achieve business objectives, not content objectives”
Are you looking to raise brand awareness? Or generate leads for your sales team? Be clear on what you want to achieve with your content, and it will guide the rest of your steps.
2. Be customer-centric: Know what your customers want to read
It wouldn’t make much sense to create an article about beer when you’re in the business of making pastries (unless, of course, you’re talking about the best beers that can go with pastries!). Be sure to make your content as relevant as possible to your customers.
A quick way of finding out what topics your customers might be interested in reading is to check out what your competitors are talking about (and nailing). There are several tools online that could help with this, but I personally enjoy using Social Crawlytics to identify my competitor’s most shared content.
3. Determine content format: What type of content would deliver the message best?
Slideshare, infographics, long form articles – the choices are many, but the reader’s attention is limited. Make sure to identify which content format would deliver your intended message in the most interesting and engaging way possible.
A recent study by Marketing Sherpa revealed how marketers generally perceive the effectiveness of a variety of content products:
4. Be there when they are: When should you post your content?
If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears or sees it, does it really fall? We live in a time when information comes and goes at a furious rate, and there’s a high chance that your content could easily get lost in a gamut of other related content.
If you want your content to have a fighting chance of reaching your reader’s eyes, you have to be timely about posting it. In other words, you need to know when your customer is online, or when they prefer to engage on your blog.
According to Dan Zarrella, the optimal time for posting on blogs seems to be in the morning.
A word of caution: this is highly subjective according to your audience. Be sure to use other tools such as Google Analytics to see what times your post are read the most to be certain. For example, at ReferralCandy, we get the most hits on our blog posts at midnight, and the least in the evening.
5. Send the word out: Promote and distribute your content liberally
Last but not least, don’t expect readers to come just because you posted content. It’s not enough just to craft epic content. The only way that others will know that you have awesome content is if you get it out to them somehow.
Get the word out to your community via your social media channels, related online forums or social book marketing sites (such as Digg and StumbleUpon). Even better – send it directly to your customers via an email campaign! If you don’t blow your own horn, no one is going to do it for you.
Does your content creation checklist have any other items? I would love to find out more. Let us know in the comments below!