Content marketing is incredibly difficult. It takes time, money, resources, and in most cases, a lot of patience. Content marketing requires being strategic about what you want to create and promote, because most companies don’t have time to produce and host under-performing content. There is nothing more disappointing than creating a long-format blog post or video, only to result in a few people seeing it. However, content done right, in a good format, and timed correctly, can have huge payoffs for generating traffic to your website, generating leads, and driving sales.
For the past 10+ years, I have given a lot of thought and practice into the content marketing space. What I have found is that there are four main types of content that every good content marketing strategy should have. These four types of content are not always equally balanced, nor should they be, but finding the right mix that meets your business’s needs is crucial.
Below is a breakdown of these four content types that I believe every company needs to explore and build into their annual content plan.
Day-to-Day content covers all of the necessary content needed to actively promote your business and keep your website fresh and up-to-date. I like to refer to this as your “blocking and tackling” content… the content you absolutely need to produce in order to stay relevant to your audience and continually build credibility in your industry. Examples of day-to-day content would be things like company and/or industry news, technical support or FAQ content, daily social media posts, etc.
After some initial planning and setup, day-to-day content should not require a whole lot of lifting, it should just become part of your content team’s regular process. For example, if your product team releases product updates every two weeks, your content team can count on that being a regular blog post twice a month. Just keep your content team closely aligned with the product team to know what is getting released and what is okay to be shared publicly. Perhaps every Tuesday you can highlight a customer testimonial on your Instagram feed. These are examples of regular content that you should do to keep your brand’s voice active.
As I mentioned above, day-to-day content should become part of your regular content publishing schedule. To get started on establishing what this publishing schedule looks like, start by identifying your high-demand topics for your business. If you are a product-based business, maybe you want to focus on product updates, testimonials, FAQ content, etc. If you are a consulting or service-based business, maybe you need to focus on email content, industry data analysis content, etc. Define your topics and then set a development and publishing plan. When your content is live, distribute it to all the relevant channels (social media sites, etc.). Finally, and most importantly, track the performance of your day-to-day content so you can make adjustments as needed.
Big Idea Content
There are a couple of publications and blogs I follow that once in awhile publish some larger, longer form blog articles or a special video series that are out of their ordinary content mix (Wired Magazine does a tremendous job at these super in-depth pieces). These special one-off content pieces are what I like to refer to as “big idea” content. Big Idea content are large scale, distinctive projects that may or may not be worth getting sponsorship revenue to back. During my time at the Minnesota Timberwolves, we would develop digital content specifically for team sponsors. The content was unique to the partner’s relationship with the team, was usually co-branded with the partner, and in many cases featured placement of the partner’s product/service.
Not all Big Idea content has to have a sponsorship tied to it. You certainly can plan, develop, and publish any big idea content, but my only word of caution would be that you have to understand the investment you are willing to put into big idea content, and if it makes sense to sell some of the output created from that investment.
Here are some questions that you should take into consideration as you plan big idea content and consider if you should sell it accordingly.
How much will this content cost to create?
How many page views will this content attract?
What possible CPM could the content be sold at?
How much can we spend vs what can we charge to possible get a 2x ROI?
What is the break-even point for this content?
Again, I am not suggesting that every big idea content piece needs to be monetized, but for the right pieces, you might have the right opportunity to generate significant revenue.
Big Idea content requires more thought and planning than the Day-to-Day, but I suggest following this process: Identify the opportunities for big idea content. Develop the creative concept and decide on the best medium for distribution. Assess the economics. Package for sponsorship!
Evergreen & Hub Content
Day-to-Day content is more timely and generally has a shorter lifespan. Big Idea content is longer form, more in-depth, and requires some investment. Evergreen and Hub content, on the other hand, is more rich in SEO value and is produced at high volume and at a low cost. This is content that has a longer lifespan, so whether someone views it today or a year from now, it is still relevant. Here is an example.
Say your company develops PRODUCT A, a mobile application. Every two weeks, PRODUCT A gets an update, which contains bug fixes and new features. Your Day-to-Day content strategy would cover off on doing blog posts and videos on these scheduled release updates, informing your audience of all the cool new features in PRODUCT A. An example of Evergreen & Hub content would be if you had a page on your website solely devoted to PRODUCT A. Maybe the page is titled something like “The Ultimate Guide to PRODUCT A”, and all the content on that page is about PRODUCT A, like a user guide, video tutorials, screen shots of PRODUCT A, product testimonials, etc. These are content pieces that are not time-sensitive, but yet are frequently updated to keep them relevant. Hub pages and Evergreen content are incredibly SEO-rich, so they are an important part of any content marketing strategy.
The process for Evergreen and Hub content is as follows. 1) Assess best performing existing content and determine if you have content assets in place to build a hub on your site. 2) Create new or edit existing content, making it SEO-friendly. 3) Build the hub pages for all your evergreen content to reside on. 4) Distribute the content across social media sites, do outreach marketing to promote the hub page and/or select evergreen content. 5) Track metrics and update evergreen content and hub page as needed.
I strongly believe that every business should have some element of an outside voice in their content. It helps build credibility for your brand and encourages others to share links to your site. A number of years ago, guest blogging was all the rage, but now a days it is Influencer marketing that has taken center stage. What you are looking for is outside content contributors who have a passionate point of view around your subject matter, large followings, established platforms, and are brand-friendly.
Once you identify opportunities for influencer content, the hardest part is recruiting the talent. You should be specific in your requirements of who you want creating the content, and also understand that is some cases you might need/want to pay the contributor. I think the best place to start is to try and get some client testimonials or do a case study on one of your clients. That is content that usually your client will want to get behind on promoting. I know I have never turned down the opportunity to be a part of a case study for a vendor I was using. Next, once the content is created, make sure you support and promote it alongside the influencer. Finally, as always, track the performance of the content to see how you audience is reacting to it.
Bringing It All Together
All the content types I shared above, and the frequency at which they should be published, looks like a lot of work… and it is. However, a solid content marketing strategy requires a good mix of content types and a consistent publishing schedule. That is why it is very important to take the time to develop a plan and use tools like a content calendar and publishing platform to stay organized.
If you have any questions about content marketing strategy, or need help getting started, please feel free to drop me a note!