10 Ways to Create an Efficient Content Marketing Operation
Businesses understand the need for content marketing because of its ability to boost search results, gain credibility as an industry thought leader, attract new customers, and deliver useful information to current consumers. This year, nearly two-thirds of companies will create or maintain an executive position for content marketing strategy in their organization, according to data from Curata. Yet more than two-thirds of marketers have no consistent or integrated content strategy, according to Altimeter Group.
If you’re managing your business along with a staff of full-timers and freelancers who contribute to your content marketing, it’s vital to find alignment within the pulse of these hundred-plus tasks. Getting overwhelmed by many moving parts can create inefficiencies that decrease business opportunities and weaken content and its potential reach. Here are 10 tips to get organized and create an efficient content marketing operation, while keeping your staff and customers happy.
1. Think “Big Picture” to Get Organized
Before diving into the details of a specific content project or campaign, examine the entire scope from a broad view, and then break it down into smaller tasks. These should include:
- Business objectives: What do you want your content marketing to achieve for your business?
- Content goals: What do you want a specific content project to do? Increase traffic, generate highly qualified leads for a service, drive sales, etc.
- Resources: Who will do the actual work? Assign roles including writer, editor, key stakeholder, publisher and SEO strategist.
- Measurement: What will determine your success or failure?
- Refinement: How will you evaluate and continually improve your strategy?
By having a big-picture vantage point from the start of the project, especially ones that have multiple content components, expectations regarding deadlines are easier to create. Tasks may run in parallel because the entire scope has already been navigated.Get a big-picture vantage point and only THEN jump into breaking down the details of your #contentmarketing project. Click To Tweet
2. Become an Expert in Tools to Increase Efficiency
Use technology to your advantage by mastering the best-reviewed and most widely used content marketing and operations tools in the industry. It’s important to learn the ins and outs of complete interfaces so you can be more efficient in the execution of the task at hand, as well as quickly train other members you might be working with. Some great examples of resources we love include:
- Project Management Platforms: Workfront, Trello, Asana
- Blogging and Content Management Systems: WordPress, Tumblr, Percussion
- Marketing Automation: Hubspot, InfusionSoft, ActOn
- Content Creation and Optimization: Google Adwords, KeywordTool.io, Writer Access
- Content Collaboration Tools: Divvy HQ, Gather Content, Kapost
- Social Media Management: Meltwater Buzz, Hootsuite, Buffer
- Email Marketing: ExactTarget, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor
- SEO Analytics: Moz, Raven Tools, SEM Rush,
- Paid Promotion Tools: Outbrain, Disqus, Gravity
3. Plan Ahead, and Create Project Schedules
Projects that end up taking more time than expected cause major impacts to budgets and throw every other campaign that’s being worked on off track. Cloudswave reports some projects that fall behind reduce up to 60 percent in value. Planning ahead and using project schedules to distribute tasks are beneficial because they:
- Hold team members accountable
- Foster a sense of transparency
- Allow managers to gauge how to optimize planning for future projects
- Increase communication
- Create a way to quickly see the need for help if a task has fallen behind
- Speed up workflow
- Eliminate lengthy email chains and the need for long meetings
Positively reinforce the importance of meeting deadlines by offering congratulations within the project schedule communication board and by celebrating small successes.
4. Implement a Kanban Board to Track Statuses of Tasks
Your task list should be organized in an easy-to-read kanban board that all project stakeholders can understand. Companies such as Trello have created a free digital kanban board that allows you to customize statuses with task cards in a list that can easily drag and drop to specific areas in your workflow. You can use it for yourself or with an entire team and can see everything about your project in real-time.
5. Use Templates
Identify areas where templates would be beneficial, and start creating simple and easy-to-use documents that are compliant and brand-consistent. Besides saving time on having to devise something from scratch for every new project, use templates for everything from contracts to content submission forms. This allows you more time to:
- Focus on the data and creativity. You won’t have to edit formatting, since the template ensures consistency.
- Increase professionalism. A branded template indicates your company takes content marketing seriously and approaches it strategically and professionally.
- Create consistency for all parties. Writers, clients, editors and more all know what to expect and how to analyze a piece of content once they get used to the template.
- Save money. Constantly creating new forms suck up just as much money as time.
Before creating a new set of templates, send out a short survey to key stakeholders to gauge what needs to be included in a template, then continue to optimize templates as needed.3 checklists to use with your #contentmarketing: topic ideation, optimization, and content creation. Click To Tweet
6. Create Checklists
A simple, single content marketing task can contain a lot of steps. It’s best to create a checklist that outlines the typical creation process to stay organized and productive. Checklists allow for increased creativity since mundane tasks are outlined and accounted for. Refer to the checklist with every task, and add to it and remove from it as the task evolves in the industry.
Below are examples of typical checklists (in outline form) that Vertical Measures uses at key steps along the way, during the ideation phase, the creation phase and during the optimization phase:
7. Track Time to Gather Data
Choose a project management tool that includes the ability to track time, then make sure all stakeholders accurately log the time needed to complete each step along the way. This allows you to better predict time and resources that should be allowed for future tasks, making project planning a whole lot easier.
Time tracking also allows managers to see which tasks are least efficient, which tasks require more time, and how to optimize processes for future similar projects. The process holds employees, including remote workers and freelancers, accountable to work efficiently.
8. Always Evaluate Analytics
“Test, analyze, evolve, repeat” should be your mantra when managing a content marketing operation. Without setting benchmarks, measuring progress, and evolving strategies to constantly improve, you’ll have no way to determine if a content marketing strategy is working. Business could go stagnant or decline, and having no data means you’ll have no discernible reason to figure out why. Plus, with professional services firm Deloitte predicting the rise of insight-driven organizations as one of its top analytical trends in 2016, using data to drive strategy is required to keep up with competitors.“Test, analyze, evolve, repeat” should be your mantra when managing a #contentmarketing operation. Click To Tweet
Analytics to keep track of related to content marketing strategies include:
- Consumption of content: from pageviews, to video views, to slideshow clickthroughs.
- Sharing: including through social media, through emails and even through texting mobile content.
- Lead generation: via email and newsletter sign-ups, special offer acquisitions, whitepaper and free guide downloads, and “learn more” form completion.
- Sales: through calls to action included in the content, via website referrals that funneled into a purchase, or through the use of a special offer that was promoted in the content.
Whether you’re producing content internally or for others, each campaign should have goals that are measured and evaluated. They should be presented in easy-to-understand reports that anyone in the company can glean important insights from.
9. Involve More Team Players
If you have the resources to allow wide-reaching team members to be a part of the content creation process, reach out to them to learn about their areas of expertise and willingness to contribute. Ways to get your company’s team more involved in content marketing efforts include:
- Having them post on the company blog. People in varying positions all have passions and unique knowledge they can share. If their interests align with the company mission, and they’d like to contribute a useful blog, share your guidelines and empower them to share their knowledge.
- Utilizing internal staff to serve as subject matter experts who provide the raw content that can be shaped by someone with more content creation skills. This can be especially helpful if experts on hand are reluctant to write byline blogs.
Content marketing is about providing useful information to your target customers. Who knows your customers better than your employees?
10. Create a Knowledge Center
As your content marketing operation becomes more efficient, create a centrally-located “library” that colleagues can access and use in developing training materials, internal processes, templates – and future content.
The knowledge center can also point colleagues to websites, whitepapers and free guides (produced internally and by other organizations) that further flesh out content best practices. Not only will this save time, but it will help ensure consistency in messaging and position across all your organization’s content marketing efforts.
By combining traditional business efficiency tactics (such as time-management) with ever-evolving, high-tech tools and apps that are unveiled each day, your content marketing efforts can quickly become streamlined and “second nature” within your organization.
Creating an efficient content marketing operation may seem challenging and a little daunting at first. However, by implementing just 1 or 2 of these steps mentioned in the article during the next 60 days, you will quickly recognize the abundance of content – and content-producers – you already have on hand. You will also see how quickly your efforts will generate real results. Once those initial steps are taken, content opportunities will become apparent more naturally, setting your organization up for ongoing success.
About Dana Kajtezovic
Dana leads the Vertical Measures team as an expert in Content Marketing Operations. She has 15 years of online digital experience, working mostly with Fortune 500 accounts. Today, she loves to dig into the details of each type of deliverable and work on ways to improve its overall quality while increasing efficiency. @DanaKajtez