“We should never just publish content, any type of content, just for the sake of publishing [something].” –Nicole Munoz

High quality content is at the heart of any content marketing initiative. Without content, you have nothing. Sharing, re-tweeting and curating (credibility by association) all involve the consumption of relevant, sharable content. Creating that valuable, high quality and sharable content that understands their target audience is the challenge of every content marketer and it doesn’t happen by accident. Great content comes from disciplined, deliberate and focused effort.

Hitch Your Content Wagon to a Star

Creating enough content is one of the biggest problems companies face with implementing a content marketing strategy. Generally, there are three ways to address this need for content:

  • Use existing employees/talent or hire any needed resources to produce content in-house
  • Contract with an outside agency/individual for content creation
  • Use a combination of in-house personnel and out-sourced content creation

Whichever method you determine to use, having an established, authoritative writer is key to maximizing the value of your content. Nicole Munoz of Start Ranking Now shares their unique approach to creating content for their clients:

“A lot of agencies have staff writers that they might be using to ghostwrite content on behalf of the clients, but we don’t do that anymore. What we prefer to do is go out and find an industry expert, somebody that already has a blog, somebody that is already involved in the space and has an online presence, a social media presence; they have Facebook fans, they have Twitter followers and they might even have an email list. We approach them and ask them if they would be willing to become our staff blogger for that specific client and write two to four different blog posts per month on behalf of our client and then also promote them to their own social media presence. By using this approach, not only are we making sure that we are providing higher quality content for our clients, but we’re also taking into consideration all of the different metrics that we need to consider to get our clients ranked high in the search engines.”

While any good writer may be able to create content, the additional value an established author brings to your content includes:

  • Knowledge of your specific industry, e.g., already blogging in that space
  • Familiar with your target audience/s
  • Recognized industry expert with followers and associated influencers
  • May have Google+ status and verification which improves search results
  • Their own established network to socialize the content they create for you

So whether you use in-house talent or out-source for your content creation, consider using an authoritative, established blogger/writer so you can reap the additional benefits of their success.

Content Creation is a Team Effort

By the time you’re creating content, you should have already been through the processes of goal setting, strategizing and creating an editorial calendar. These activities would have resulted in the formation of your team–project manager, writers, editors, publishers, tech support, etc.–who will work together to create and publish the content.

The editorial calendar is your roadmap, but regular weekly and/or monthly update meetings will keep everyone involved in the production process informed as to progress, what everyone else is doing, and any changes needed, as well as building camaraderie within the team. Open and consistent communication can minimize or eliminate some familiar problems:

  • C-suite conflicts over budgets and processes—they don’t understand the program
  • Business owner or manager bottleneck—micromanaging everyone and slowing down production
  • Ego issues—territorial squabbles over authority and who has the last word

Having C-suite executives involved from the beginning will eliminate confusion about what the content marketing initiative means for the company. Involvement in the initial planning ensures C-suite buy-in for the costs, resources and time that will be needed for the content marketing to show results.

Having clearly defined responsibilities and tasks will help eliminate the need for an owner or manager to micromanage and approve every little step along the way. The update meetings should provide the assurances that everyone is on top of their area of responsibility and allow for progress to continue unimpeded, or that personnel changes need to be made.

It’s not unusual for individual egos or whole departments to collide and conflicts arise over ownership of a project. Having all the people and departments working together in content production will help with accountability and keep the focus on the goal: creating content that will benefit the overall goals of the company.

Great Content is Working Content

“Every piece of content should have a goal. After somebody comes to my blog, after they listen to this interview, after they read this paper, what is the next step that I want them to take? I need to figure out how we can make that happen and then how we can measure it.” –Nicole Munoz

That comment sums up the essence of content marketing:

  • A marketing strategy fueled by the creation and sharing of content
  • Purpose to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined target audiences
  • Leads to consumer action, lead generation, increased direct sales, and improved customer retention

It might seem to be a lot to ask from a blog or video, but that’s exactly what high quality content can do. It reaches the intended audience/s where they are, provides relevant information in the way they want to receive it, engages the user and ultimately drives behavior (the next step).

For that reason, every piece of content should include a call to action. Having distinct and clear buttons will encourage users to SHARE, CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE, LIKE ME, COMMENT, VIEW NOW, etc. When a sharing action is easy (one click) a user is more likely to share. Having a variety of media types will engage a wider audience as some people will prefer videos, images or podcasts over written blogs or articles. Don’t be guilty of creating content that just sits there and doesn’t move the customer to take action.

The SEO Imperative

While content is created first and foremost with the target audience in mind–meeting needs, solving problems, answering questions—a necessary undercurrent is the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) element of that content. To be effective, your content must be found by your users and prospects and that’s where the search engines come in.

Google’s recent Hummingbird update (September 26, 2013) has again impacted search criteria and Nicole explains: “The Hummingbird update is really focused on conversational search, so now we [should] create content based around how people are searching in Google to solve problems. Before, Google might show results based upon just key words but now it’s based upon the whole context of that search. So if we can create content based upon exactly the problems they are looking to solve, then that content is going to show up higher in the search engines.”

The Proof is in the Measurement

Once your high value content is out there, you need to track and measure its effectiveness in accomplishing the goals that have been set.

  • Identify the specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that denote success
    • Total brand mentions, new followers, fans, subscribers, increased transactions, downloads, signups, etc.
  • What tools will you use? There are many options for measurement tools
    • Google Analytics is free and shows you the full customer picture across ads and videos, websites and social tools, tablets and smartphones
    • Individual platforms such as Facebook and Twitter offer built-in metrics
  • Track data at regular intervals and measure specific improvement details
    • Measure against established benchmarks for comparison
    • Qualify data as relevant
  • Analyze and interpret the data and draw insights
    • What’s working and what isn’t—effect any needed changes

All the measurement in the world is useless if you don’t make any changes based on the data. –Amber Naslund, Brass Tack Thinking

Join the Conversation:

  • What steps do you take to ensure that your production team stays on target and is communicating with each other?
  • Have you been successful with in-house content creation or by enlisting an outside consultant/agency to ensure generation of high quality content?
  • What measurement tools do you use to track success of your content marketing initiative?
This article highlights selected excerpts from CMX’s interview with Nicole Munoz of Start Ranking Now, and Martin van der Roest of the Examiner on the topic Content Marketing: Optimizing Content Production for Maximum Success – October 4, 2013.