What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Content Marketing Program

  • Categories:

    Content Marketing

  • Date:

    June 27, 2024

What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Content Marketing Program

Content Marketing

Congratulations! You’ve decided to add content marketing to your marketing communications mix. Now that you have a launch date, everyone is full of advice, from publishing cadence, content types and promotion to how much time and effort you should devote to search engine optimization and even what to name your blog.

It may seem daunting, and it’s natural to feel nervous. After all, each content marketing program is unique and deserves to develop in a way that aligns with your brand’s strategic objectives. While there’s no single template for a successful content marketing program, there are six common questions you should think through before the big day when it enters the world and takes on a life of its own.

1. Does my brand need a content marketing strategy?

    A content marketing strategy should underpin all content programs no matter their size. If you start by answering these questions, you’ll find it easier to develop meaningful content that resonates with your audiences and drives meaningful results.

    • Who is the audience?

    • What challenges do they face?

    • How can content help them do their jobs better?

    • What do you want them to do?

    • How will we measure success?

    Creating a strategy will help you identify potential topics and the subject matter experts needed to develop each one. It will also help you focus your editorial calendar on the most relevant topics.

    2. Should my editorial calendar be set in stone?

      An editorial calendar is a roadmap that helps you and your team plan. But as with an actual roadmap, you may need to reroute based on real-world detours, such as a delayed product launch, news events, unexpected industry trends or new insights from your customer service team. Plan to revisit your editorial calendar at least three times a year following content ideation sessions.

      3. Where will I find stories for my content marketing program?

        Content ideation sessions should be an ongoing part of any content marketing program. These sessions can take many shapes from larger group forums to one-on-one calls. Mix it up with different groups of people to ensure you glean new perspectives. For example, product managers will likely generate a very different list of topics than customer service and technical team members.

        Ensure your content ideation sessions have a leader to guide the discussion and provide participants with a clear objective. If possible, give your participants homework to help them prepare, so they arrive focused on the task at hand. For example, the purpose of today’s content ideation session is to:

        • Generate 10 seasonal content topics.

        • Identify five potential case study projects.

        • Develop a list of the most commonly asked customer questions.

        • Create a list of as many technical topics as possible.

        An easy homework assignment for each of these would be to ask participants to come up with one topic they can share with the group. Not only does that get the conversation started, but it also sets you on a course to attain the meeting objective.

        Look outside your organization for story ideas, too. External sources will help you create well-rounded, relevant content because they offer a different point of view. Here are a few external sources we recommend.

        External Sources for Story Ideas

        • Trade magazines: These publications are great for keeping tabs on industry trends.

        • Influencers: If your brand works with influencers — trade or consumer — make every conversation with them an opportunity to home in on topics relevant to your audience.

        • News: Read general news, whether you have a digital newspaper subscription or scan the Apple News feed. What’s happening in the world affects how your customers do their jobs, and keeping up with our rapidly changing world will help you create content that better serves them.

        • Podcasts: Niche industry podcasts are a wellspring of stories and viewpoints that can help you shape customer-centric content.

        4. How should I prepare my subject matter experts?

        While some content can be repurposed from existing assets such as brochures, white papers and technical manuals, the best content mines insights from your organization’s subject matter experts. Much like expectant parents, they may not know what they’re in for. That’s one reason why it’s important to prepare them for the new tasks that could be added to their already busy days.

        Subject matter experts can play a variety of roles in a content marketing program, including:

        • Being interviewed on their areas of expertise

        • Reviewing or fact-checking content

        • Participating in content topic ideation sessions

        • Educating content developers on technical topics

        It’s important to brief your SMEs on their new role and help them understand how their time and insights are an invaluable part of the content marketing program. When you report on your program’s progress, make sure they’re included. That way they’ll see their time as a wise investment.

        5. What should my content review process look like?

          The review process will be largely driven by how technical your content will be. For less technical subjects, you might need only one or two reviewers who can manage two rounds of reviews. These reviewers will keep an eye on brand voice, product messaging and brand messaging alignment.

          For highly technical topics, very likely you’ll need to add your SME to the review process to check for accuracy. Factor in time for legal review, if your organization requires it.

          Once you’ve determined who will be part of the reviews, estimate the time needed to complete all reviews from the first draft to the approved final. Back out that time in your editorial calendar, so you allot enough time for interviews, writing, reviews and revisions. Expect to work out some kinks in this cadence at the beginning.

          6. How will I know when to update, optimize or retire content?

            Whether it’s a blog article or an infographic, content needs periodic refreshing — even your evergreen content. At least once a year, schedule time to review your content library for needed updates, optimizations or sunsetting. Some might only need small edits, while others may need to be retired.

            Here are a few examples of topics that could trigger an update:

            • Government tax credits or rebates

            • References to current events

            • Social media trends

            • Regulatory updates

            • New products

            While artificial intelligence is changing the organic search landscape, it’s still critical to review blog articles for potential SEO updates. At a minimum, optimizations can help the AI better understand the content on the page and increase the chance it could be cited as a source in Google’s AI Overviews.

            We’d love to help design your new content marketing program and bring it into the world. Let’s chat.

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