By Jeff Sullivan
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely experimented with content marketing. Perhaps you’ve even tasted some success in generating traffic and leads. Now, as you head into a new year, you might want to grow your campaign further.
You’re not alone in this initiative. In a survey, leading tech CMOs ranked building out content marketing competency as the 2nd most important initiative. Another report found that 58% of marketers want to increase their content marketing spend.
While starting a content marketing campaign is easy enough, scaling it can be challenging. As I’ll show you below, there are a number of things you must do to scale your content marketing operations.
Develop a content calendar
A content calendar is a roadmap to your content marketing campaign. This single document informs everyone on the marketing team what kind of content you’re going to produce, when, and for whom. A robust calendar will help you plan out content months in advance, allocate (and hire) resources, and develop a long-term promotion plan. Without it, you’re pretty much punching in the dark.
To develop a content calendar, consider the following steps:
- Identify your audiences: Use your buyer personas to map your core audiences and their content preferences.
- Evaluate your existing content: Dig through your existing content archives. Can you put any of this content to better use by updating or repurposing it?
- Identify themes and topics: Create a list of broad content themes (such as “growing a blog”). Brainstorm specific topics around each them (such as “5-step strategy to distribute content with Twitter”). Identify whether the topic should be a blog post, guide, infographic, etc. Also, identify the target audience for each topic.
- Schedule content: Select topics from the list above and add them to your calendar. Assign them to specific content creators. Include specific dates for the first draft, final edits, publishing, and promotion.
It’s also handy to identify important dates (such as a company event or a popular public holiday) and schedule content around them. For example, if you’re a retailer, you’ll likely want to produce sales-related content around the holiday season.
Keep updating this content calendar with new ideas. Share the document with everyone on the team. Refer to it any time you want insight on what kind of content to create.
Hire and manage resources
As you scale your content marketing operations, one of your biggest challenges will be hiring people to create and distribute content. For a truly scalable campaign, you’ll want the following people on your content team:
- Content strategist
- Outreach specialist
If you are committed to content marketing, you might want to hire for these positions in-house. For most businesses, however, a mix of in-house and outsourced workers will work best.
When hiring resources, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Look for remote-friendly workers: Cut down on costs by hiring remote workers for both full-time and freelance positions. WeWorkRemotely, FlexJobs, RemoteOK are some remote-specific job sites.
- Hire specialists: Try to hire people who understand your industry and its problems (especially writers). Else you risk creating content that is inauthentic and doesn’t address your audience’s problems.
- Use collaborative tools: Set up communication protocols and use task management tools to streamline workflow. This is particularly important if you plan on hiring remote workers.
- Create a sense of team cohesiveness: Regardless of whether you hire full-time workers or freelancers, it helps to create a sense of team cohesiveness. Set up regular team chats, try some team building activities, and maintain open communication lines.
Hiring good people is often the toughest part of scaling content marketing operations. Make sure that you’re proactively looking for people to join your team since attrition rates can be high for freelancers.
Develop a content promotion plan
Quality content is the engine of your content marketing campaign, but to get anywhere, you’ll need the fuel of solid promotion.
One of the hallmarks of a scalable marketing campaign is its approach to content distribution. Instead of erratic sharing and random outreach, effective campaigns develop long-term relationships and nurture multiple promotion channels.
To maximize your success, develop a content promotion plan focused on:
- Building relationships: Identify at least 10-20 relationship targets (journalists, bloggers, and influencers). Find their contact information. Develop an outreach cadence to establish yourself on their radar.
- Guest blogging opportunities: Identify potential guest blogging opportunities. Proactively list new ideas for guest posts and any outlets looking for contributors.
- Visual content distribution: For your infographics and other visual content assets, identify suitable publishers. List what kind of visual assets they like and their posting requirements. Nurture relationships with editors to improve chances of getting published.
- Social channels: Identify social channels, including specific accounts, that can help you spread your content on various networks.
- Community outreach: Establish a presence on major community forums and websites like Reddit. Use these communities to share your best content.
- Your own channels: Capture email addresses and earn followers on social media to build out your own distribution capabilities.
- Link targets: Create a regularly updated list of link building opportunities, including broken links, resource pages, etc.
Ideally, you should have a ready list of distribution targets every time a new content piece goes live. This adds much-needed stability to your content marketing campaign – a vital ingredient for stability.
Document processes and analyze results
For a content marketing campaign to be scalable, it must also be process-focused. From the editing process to the promotion strategy, you should have a well-defined list of do’s (and don’ts) for every task.
This is something content marketers often fail to do. A 2015 survey found that only 35% of content marketers had a documented marketing strategy. For 48% of marketers, their strategy is only ‘verbal’ but undocumented.
Take detailed notes once you start scaling your campaign. At the very least, you should document the following:
- Turnaround time and quality of content from different writers.
- Results (in terms of traffic, shares, and leads) for different types of content.
- Results for different outreach templates and approaches.
- Results for different hiring briefs (both full-time and part-time).
- Communication strategy (with both internal and external stakeholders) and its results.
This document shouldn’t be static. You should update it regularly with new findings as you analyze your tactics and their impact.
Your goal should be to have a detailed list of best-practices that work for your business. Make this document the cornerstone of all new content campaigns.
Over to you
Starting and scaling a content marketing campaign requires two wholly different set of skills. As you campaign grows, you’ll have to learn to delegate, hire, and document your tactics to get results.
Use the four approaches outlined above to scale content marketing operations. Start by creating a content calendar, hiring the right resources, and developing a promotion plan. Along the way, document what works (and what doesn’t) to create your own list of best-practices.
Jeff Sullivan is a content marketer at Workamajig where he writes about project management and agency growth. When not analyzing his marketing campaigns, he can be found reading and practicing his guitar skills.