Smart Marketing Tips: Planning Your Content Strategy for the Year Ahead

Did you know content marketing generates three times the ROI of paid search? If that’s not a reason to put your best foot forward when it comes to content, we don’t know what is.

As we head into the new year, Your Marketing People’s Smart Marketing Tips series is designed to help you take your company’s marketing efforts to new heights. This week, we review our best tips for developing your content strategy in the new year. Follow these, and you’ll be well ahead of your competition.

1. Do a deep-dive on last year’s content strategy.

Before you look forward, you first have to look backward. Start with an in-depth analysis of last year’s strategy.

Review things at a high level. What performed well and what didn’t? You’ll want to look at the overall performance of your content marketing campaigns, as well as the performance of individual blogs, social media posts, press releases, and more.

As you review, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Which channels did the best job at driving traffic to your content? Was it paid social, SEO, or something else?
  • What types of content, and which channels, drove people to subscribe, purchase, or submit their contact information?
  • What journeys did people take with your content? Did email drip campaigns lead people to read more blog content, or did your Facebook ads encourage people to follow you on YouTube? Take a look at the full funnel to get an overall perspective.
  • Were certain times of day or days of the week more effective at driving engagement for your content?

Where possible, compare the results of last year’s strategy to previous years. Looking at a year-over-year improvement is much more illuminating than hard numbers.

2. Focus on quality over quantity.

It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of constantly pushing out new content. Resist the temptation. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content—even if it means you won’t be able to create quite as much content as you did last year.

“Your strategy should incorporate the development of high-level personalized content for your ideal audience,” says Alisha Chocha, President and Co-Founder of Your Marketing People. “Produce stories that speak to your audience’s interests and at the same time create a solid connection to your brand.”

Quality is almost always better than quantity, and that’s especially the case for blogs. According to a recent study by Orbit Media, higher-quality blogs consistently report stronger results:

  • Bloggers who spend 6 hours or more creating their post are 56% more likely to report strong results than those who don’t.
  • More robust editorial processes (such as reviewing with one or more editors) correlate with better results.
  • Longer word counts correlate with stronger results, and better SEO, too, according to a report by Backlinko.

Quality can seem daunting, but don’t worry. It’s probably easier than you think. You can get started by leveraging the content you already have. What are your most popular blogs? Which of your blogs rank well, but could perform even better? Brainstorm what you can do to make them stronger—so they drive more rankings, more engagement, and more leads for your business.

3. Hone in on the right channels and audience.

The quality vs. quantity debate can also apply to your marketing mix as a whole. Your marketing overall may not be performing the way you want it to, simply because you have your hand in too many pots to be effective.

Give your content strategy a hard reset by narrowing down the number of marketing channels you invest in. Review your analytics and discover your top-performing channels. Then, remove the bottom one or two under-performers.

By remove, we mean decide to stop investing your time and effort into those channels this year. You may still drive some traffic and business from those channels, and that will be a happy accident. But, you’ll be able to better focus your attention on your top-performing channels. What you learn from those this year, you’ll be able to apply to one of those underperformers in years to come.

Likewise, apply the same mentality to your target audience. Review your user personas and confirm that you’re on the right platforms and developing the right content to pique their interest.

4. Review your calendar.

What are the big events happening in 2019? These include:

  • Events specific to your business, such as sales and special promotions
  • Local events in your area, such as festivals and concerts
  • Industry events, such as conferences and awareness campaigns
  • National events, such as sporting events and holidays

All of these events deserve content if they’re relevant to your business. The last three in particular—local, industry and national events—are likely to start trending on social media.

As you plan out your own promotions, consider how you can use other events to boost your sales. Would a spring sale perform better if you themed it to go along with March Madness?

Or, can you use local and national events to drive sales during low times of seasonality for your business? Instead of using a sale to attract visitors, you might instead develop creative content that takes advantage of trending hashtags.

By planning ahead, you can ensure you develop quantity content (there’s tip #2 again) that’s likely to succeed thanks to these hashtags—instead of rushing to create something last minute.

5. Take a look at the competition.

As much as we might not like to admit it, we can always learn from our competitors—even if it’s only for examples of what not to do.

However, it’s likely that you have at least a few competitors who you admire, or envy even. What did they do in 2018 that was so successful it sent you over the edge with jealousy? Specifically, what are they doing differently than you that’s working well?

  • Are they experimenting with different content formats, such as ebooks?
  • What does their email marketing strategy look like?
  • Which of their social content seems to resonate best with their audience? Are they trying new formats, like Instagram Stories or Facebook Live?
  • Are they using video marketing? Which of their video content performs best? Is it webinars, expert interviews, case studies, or fun social video posts?
  • Are they working with influencers? Are you?
  • Did they do anything especially edgy with their content last year? How did it work out for them?

Based on what you see from your competition, it may be time for you to double-down on some of your own strategies, or to try something new. Dare to take their idea, make it better, and steal away their customers.

Planning Ahead

This can be a great year for your business, as long as you plan for it. Start with our budget forecasting guide to make sure you’re making smart decisions with your marketing dollars.

Remember to focus on creating quality content no matter which marketing channels you use. If you’d like a fresh perspective from content marketing experts, contact Your Marketing People. We can do an in-depth review of last year’s content strategy and give you a rock-solid plan for the year ahead.