Content marketing is a lot like baking.
While one ingredient – say a blog post, or chocolate chips – might be what a customer or snacker notices first, it’s hardly the only one in the recipe.
In fact, the recipe will contain a lot of ingredients and have used different tools that someone consuming the end result would never even notice.
Think of things like baking soda and powder… hidden ingredients that activate so much of the chemistry that makes baked goods so delicious.
Or the effect of using just the right hand mixer or baking sheet on the overall effort required.
Those ingredients and tools, while often overlooked by the end consumer, are crucial in the end product being successful (and delicious).
In the recipe of content marketing, targets and research are your baking soda.
And having a smooth, systemized process is like having a coveted KitchenAid stand mixer with all the fancy attachments and hooks you can dream of.
(Unless I’m the only one who dreams of dough hooks…)
Here’s what the full recipe for successful content marketing looks like, hidden ingredients included.
1. Focused Content Strategy
A focused content strategy is kind of like the large mixing bowl you combine wet and dry ingredients into.
Without it, there are no containers or restrictions, and everything gets all over the place.
But with a clear content strategy that’s focused on a specific goal and timeline, you have a way of restricting yourself to the ideas and tactics that matter.
You don’t want to overfill the bowl with stuff the recipe doesn’t call for, or you won’t have room for the important ingredients.
2. Clear Content Guidelines
Your content guidelines are like the smaller bowls or a measuring cup. Without them, you might know what ingredients to use but not how to combine them.
Your content guidelines tell writers, designers, and other contributors how to structure and deliver their work so that it fits into the larger finished product.
What dimensions should designers make blog cover photos?
Which grammar and style guidelines should your writers follow?
The guidelines will lay that out so all the different pieces come together seamlessly.
3. Sustainable Content Calendar
Next, you’ll need a content calendar that lays out all the elements of the content marketing process for each active piece of content.
Things like due dates, publish dates, promotion dates, and content refresh dates all warrant dedicated space on the calendar.
And what’s more important than how much is on the calendar, is how well you can keep up with it.
A content calendar you’re always behind on because you tried to “shoot for” daily posts is pretty worthless.
But a content calendar with just two new posts a month might be something you can stick to for more than a few weeks.
4. Efficient Content Workflow
A content workflow is like the baker’s oven. You put the raw batter in, and as long as the timing and environment are correct, a beautiful and delicious finished piece will come out.
It’s what turns the raw ingredients into a finished product.
Your content workflow should allow for everyone involved to do their work with adequate time and hiccups.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve allowed time for all parts of the content marketing process to occur, not just creation and publishing.
And if the above four ingredients are the tools needed to produce the desired results, the following six items are consumable ingredients.
Things your customers will interact with and taste.
5. Conversion-Optimized Website
The next ingredient to pay attention to is your website. The design and structure, specifically. More important than any branding or design trends is its ability to turn visitors into engaged prospects or customers (depending on its goal).
Is what your business offers clear? Is a way to take the next step obvious?
Can a visitor easily tell if it’s for them? Can they find content or resources to find out more?
This is all important to take into consideration.
Too frequently marketers pour a ton of resources into creating assets they publish somewhere website browsers will never find.
6. Targeted Long-Form Content
Once your content strategy and guidelines are in place and your website is optimized for your specific marketing strategy, your brand is ready to start publishing content.
Long-form, onsite content targeted at strategic SEO keywords is like the sourdough bread of the marketing world.
Labor-intensive to create, but filling and flavorful enough that it’s worth it.
And once you have it, there are so many other recipes and meals you can use it in.
7. Distribution and Repurposing Plan
Using a staple ingredient like bread for another meal (like french toast, it’s delicious) is a lot like content distribution and repurposing. You’re taking something that exists in one form and transforming it into something else.
Unless you’re working in one of the rare industries with no content competition, you’ll need to work for your content to be seen and consumed.
Once you have long-form blog content, there’s so much you can do with it: repurposing for social media, turning it into video scripts, and more.
But to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed with all the options, it helps to create a plan in advance for what you’re going to do.
8. Nurture Sequence
Most people only think of email marketing when they think of nurture sequences. And while those are great options, they’re not the only ones.
Consider a nurture sequence any type of campaign that can follow up with content visitors to help them become customers.
That might be an email sequence after an email opt-in, social media posts, or retargeting ads. It might be something completely different.
What matters is that you have a strategic way to bridge the gap between free content like your company’s blog and paid products.
9. Conversion Points
What is all that nurturing for? To guide them towards becoming a customer.
The conversion point is the final destination on that journey. The cart checkout, SaaS signup, lead submission form, or whatever the endpoint is in your sales process.
After all, without this, what is it all for?
And just like every other ingredient, each recipe requires a different kind of conversion point.
10. Measurement Tools
Finally, now that you have an entire path for visitors to become customers through, you’ll need to know how well it’s working.
That calls for a measurement device, the final ingredient.
Again, this will depend on your business’s sales process, but options you’ll likely want to consider include Google Analytics, Databox, and HubSpot.
You’ll also want to clarify which metrics are most important to track with those tools.
Once you’re measuring your efforts, you can evaluate and adjust accordingly.
This is like the baker’s taste test. It’s the only way to know if you accidentally messed up another part of the process before the final consumer does.
With the tools and ingredients above, you have everything you need to strategize, create, and get results from your content.
In our baking metaphor, you’ll be able to create baked goods Paul Hollywood would be proud of.
Now on your mark, get set, bake!
- Content Marketing: The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know
- 10 Content Marketing Skills You Need to Master (Plus Tips on How to Master Them)
- Content Marketing KPIs: Your Guide to Picking the Right KPIs for Content
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