You're about to set out on a new content marketing campaign, like a traveler about to set foot to path on a new adventure.
Perhaps this is your first campaign with new team or client, braving a new frontier. Perhaps you've been down this road many times before.
Either way, as you set out on this journey, you want to come back a hero. You want your campaign to be a success. You want to reach your company goals and return to your village victorious and wealthy.
So what best practices should you keep in mind as you start the planning process of this adventure?
Here at CONCURED, we do more than create powerful AI-driven tools for content marketing teams. We're also marketers ourselves, and that means we have a bit of experience with planning and executing new content marketing campaigns.
So, let's take a moment to look at our best practices for creating a successful campaign, so you can see the world, slay the dragon, and become the marketing hero you’ve always dreamed of being!
Schedule Your Campaign First
Before any other planning can begin, you need to decide on when the campaign will take place.
Of course, any content marketing campaign should have set start and end dates. Otherwise, how can you properly measure its success afterward? But why do we suggest scheduling the campaign before any other detail is put down on paper of the brainstorming whiteboard?
The timing of your campaign will drastically affect its content. A series of blog posts in the fall will be very different from a similar series in the spring. You may be aiming for different areas of your target demographic at different times, as well.
For example, you may choose certain keywords for an article series near Christmas to better tap into what people are searching the most during that time of year. In fact, in just about any month of the year, certain keywords are searched for more because of holidays or other events in that month.
Your target audience would also change. You may choose the summer to focus on people looking for a job, because of all the students on vacation or recently graduated who will be job-searching at just that time of the year. Very few people are looking for work between Thanksgiving and Christmas unless your target audience includes freelancers since the holidays are when freelance work always dries up in a big way.
So, before you think about anything else, think about when the campaign will be and how long you want it to continue. That will determine several other factors in the planning process.
If you’re using CONCURED, you can see what keywords are being searched the most in your topic area so you can anticipate what your audience might want to read soon. You can also look at historical data on your competitors to see what they wrote about during different periods.
Align Business Goals and Campaign Goals
When planning a content marketing campaign, it's very easy to fail to see the forest for the trees. In other words, you can easily get caught up in what sounds best for this campaign but never see how it has to fit in with your brand's overall business goals.
An amazingly-performing campaign doesn't necessarily equal an amazing meeting of the company's goals, so that alignment has to be brought in right from the planning stage of the campaign.
What do you need to accomplish with this content? Are you looking to build brand awareness, generate demand, collect new leads, etc?
Have those goals written out for everyone to see from the start, and make sure that the business goals are taken into account every step of the way.
Analyze the Competition and the Market
To continue the metaphor of the traveler and the journey from above, you know that when you set out to go on a trip will depend greatly on what traffic is like right now. You may know that a certain trip will take you only an hour when the roads are clear. But if you don't check traffic before leaving, you may end up taking double that time to get where you want to go.
In the same way, you want to have an eye on what the competition is doing when you are planning and creating new marketing materials. You don't want to be doing the same thing they are doing or they will simply dilute your results.
Analyzing your competition will also help you see where you can improve over them. What have others said about your topic recently? What answers did they leave unanswered? Where did they fail to deliver? Can you set yourself apart from them by doing better?
You'll also want to see what the audience in general is doing. For example, what are people searching for now? What questions do people seem to be asking? What trends of topics are hot now? Can you take advantage of any of that?
By constantly analyzing the market and your competition, you'll make sure that your campaign isn't just wonderfully designed and executed, but also relevant and above the cut when compared to what everyone else is doing right now.
Thankfully, with CONCURED, you can analyze what your competition is doing in real-time and compare your performance against theirs. It answers questions like:
- How many articles are they releasing in a month?
- How long are the articles, and how often are they being shared?
- What keywords are they tapping into?
With the click of a button, CONCURED’s AI-powered tools can give you an idea of what the market is like, so you can better plan for the best possible outcome with your campaign.
Make a Campaign Brief
You’ve filled your whiteboard, Evernote folder, or an old-fashioned piece of paper with smart ideas and amazing keywords. You have a schedule in place, so you know when your next content marketing campaign will start and finish, and you even know what your competition and the market are up to these days.
Ready to get started pumping out amazing content?
Not so fast!
Even with all that planning done, you'll still want to invest in a campaign brief. What is that?
It highlights a summary of all those big decisions you made in your planning process so far. A brief is, well, brief, meaning it is usually no more than a page or two. It’s a guiding document for the campaign.
Why is that summary so important? Because that way the entire content marketing team, including editors and proofreaders, graphic designers, and web developers, will know exactly what you are trying to accomplish.
The brief is a perfect way to make sure everyone is on the same page—literally! Briefs can answer questions like:
- What are the major business goals you want to meet?
- What are the metrics used to measure progress?
- What keywords will be used?
- When will the campaign start and end?
- Who is the intended audience?
Integrate Across Multiple Silos
You want to present a unified brand to your target audience. The same people that read your blog posts are probably on Instagram every day, or else Facebook or YouTube or somewhere else.
If those individuals see a unified brand on every channel, if they see you talking about the same topics across multiple platforms, you'll see a much stronger success in meeting your core business goals for the campaign.
Many companies have teams dedicated to different kinds of content. You may work with a team that makes blog posts and other written, online content.
But what about those associated with your brand who handle social media, podcasts, video content, and other marketing tasks? Are those teams integrated with yours?
Even if the teams are kept completely separate, can you integrate your work so that you have the same message being broadcast across multiple channels at the same time?
So, whether those different silos are under the same roof or not, good communication practices can allow for your message to be integrated and unified across every channel used by your brand.
Track Performance and Course-Correct as Needed
In shorter campaigns, you may not be able to evaluate the performance of your work until the campaign has run its course, but in longer campaigns, you might be able to make course corrections in the middle of the process.
Either way, taking time to look at your metrics and performance data will help you see if you are hitting those business goals. If a campaign hasn’t performed as well as expected, that doesn't mean it was a complete failure. It's possible that your campaign will still have a powerful long-term effect on the strength of your brand.
However, when things don't turn out as you'd hoped, it is valuable to take the time to see if there was something that could have been done differently from the start. Was there a step in the planning phase that was skipped? Was the brief clear in explaining what had to be done? Was there a glitch in distribution? Was there a breakdown in communication at some point?
Determining what factors could be improved will help you optimize future campaigns to do even better than those that came before it.
As any weathered traveler knows, few journeys end up as planned. Such is the unexpected beauty of the road. In the same way, each campaign your content marketing team begins is a new start, another adventure that could lead to riches and fame.
These best practices are here to help you get where you want to go and enjoy the journey along the way.