For Mention’s marketing team, 2016 was all about focusing and revamping our existing content strategy and processes.
Throughout the year, our entire product changed, going from a freemium tool for anyone to an enterprise tool for serious marketers and other professionals.
If we wanted to keep our content closely aligned to our business goals – aka if we wanted all the work we were doing on content to actually do something – everything about that had to change as well.
It was a big shift – not only were we adjusting to a totally different tool to market, we also had to create and adjust to a totally different way to market it.
But, you know, no pressure on us or anything. It wasn’t like this was our job.
We got to work as soon as the year started, and it’s a shift we’re still making. But we have been working on it long enough to know that it works.
A little while ago, I had a great conversation about it with Nathan at CoSchedule for the Actionable Content Marketing podcast, and am excited to share it with you today!
Take a listen to learn how you can adjust your own content creation strategy to more closely align with your lead gen process.
So what can you do when your business’s goals change and you have to develop a new content strategy? This isn’t the only way to do it, but it’s the way that worked for us.
Like I mentioned before, Mention moved upmarket. We were no longer building a basic monitoring tool for anyone, trying to help everyone a little bit. Now we were a powerful monitoring platform for growing digital agencies and businesses, helping this smaller group a lot.
That required a big shift in content.
Our marketing team’s goal used to be driving free trials and signups for our freemium plan. We were targeting lots of different audiences, going for breadth over depth.
But now, the people using Mention were using it in different businesses for different reasons, and had a lot more in common and a lot more questions we needed to answer during the sales cycle.
And the biggest change: our new priority was leads and demo requests, not trials.
So for the marketing team, instead of being able to go for the conversion pretty soon, we had a way longer lead nurturing process before someone signs up, and that required a lot of new content.
Over the course of the year, we built an entire lead nurturing system, from a full resources library to a few dozen lead nurturing campaigns and tons of content for our sales team.
We worked on it for a whole year, and we’re still not done. It’s a ton of work.
So how did we decide which projects had to get done when – especially when our to-do list was miles long?
How to prioritize when developing a new content strategy
1. Braindump ideas into a “to do someday” list
The first step is to do a massive braindump of all the things you could and should do. However your team normally braindumps and brainstorms, do that. Talk to the other departments on your team, interview customers, do your research.
But keep your goal laser focused on the main change, not your business.
Consider the new goal your new content strategy is supporting, and what content in general would be needed to accomplish that. Once we did that, we then mapped out what creating that would look like – what content we’d need to produce, and the small steps we’d need to take to do so.
For example, our new goal was lead generation and we had decided that a lot of resources, along with a public “library” to house them in, would be a great way to accomplish that. So we planned out what that would look like – what content we would create for the actual library along with any other work we needed to do to get everything live.
Go through this process for any big gaps in your new content strategy to plan out how you’ll fill them.
2. Identify your starting point
You probably came up with a zillion (or maybe a zillion and one) different tactics and content pieces to try during step 1. That’s normal…content marketers are great at idea mode.
But you can’t do them all, and you definitely can’t do them all right now.
It’s a tough pill to swallow – as I tell Nathan on the podcast, “It was just kind of a scenario where everything felt like top priority and everything needed to get done.”
Prioritization is key – you need to whittle that list down from what you should work on eventually to what you need to be working on right now.
Here were our main tactics when figuring out are starting point and timeline:
- Identify the quickest wins that will make the biggest difference
- Start with any large projects that need to be broken down a lot and completed over time
- Plan out how items can stack on top of each other
That first bullet point is a given, spend your time where the biggest results will happen, 80/20 rule, and all that.
If there’s a project where it will take you three hours to quadruple the amount of leads something generates, set aside those three hours. Even if it’s still not collecting thousands and thousands of emails, that’s a huge return on your time. It’ll pay off to get it out of the way quickly so you’ll start seeing results from it.
The second tactic can be a little trickier to plan out.
Some projects in your new content strategy with be ginormous. For us, that was the resource library – it has dozens of different pieces of content. They each had to be created and designed, and then we needed to create and set up the system for leads to sign up for and download them.
Those huge projects can’t be looked at as just one project.
Instead, we broke it down into a few different stages – creating the actual offers, setting up the resources page, building the nurturing funnels, etc.
And we broke those down even further, into different groups and campaigns based on a customer’s industry or use case, content type, etc. It varied depending on the part of the project for us. Find what works for you!
Finally, when you’re planning the order you’ll be doing things in, think about how they’ll stack or build upon each other.
The first thing we needed to do was create the actual lead gen offers and content, because that’s what everything else is built off of.
If our first project had been writing nurturing emails for existing leads, it would have been useless for a while after finishing up, because we still didn’t have any leads to nurture in the first place.
We needed to get those out on the internet before we did anything else, so that they’d work for us and start generating leads while we worked on the other parts of the process to nurture and convert them.
3. Go, go, go!
Once you’ve nailed down a smart, strategic order to cross to-dos off in, it’s time to sprint on it.
Start creating the content you’ve identified as top priority. We used agile marketing project management to keep ourselves on track and organized. Between different members of the team, using agile, we were able to sprint on the main assets for multiple areas at one time and get a minimum viable product out quickly.
Or…minimum viable content?
Either way, work on the main assets, with repurposing and maximizing your content in mind. (See Nathan, I told you I’d be making “content maximization” part of my vocab!)
With gaps in your schedule – for example, if you’re going to work on a blog post between ebook springs – repurposing can make sure that blog post later works to promote one of those ebooks.
I was really worried about was being able to maintain our blog and other projects while we were doing so much developing our new content strategy. So before I finalized our editorial calendar for a month, I would look at what we were already going to be writing, then come up with something related.
That way, we would be working on an exclusive piece of content, and a blog post to promote it with, almost at the same time. It saves time on total content creation without diminishing quality, and guarantees that our blog content supports and is related to our lead gen content.
What’s important to note here is that we didn’t scrimp on the actual content, just delivery. Still put your all into the content that you create, but when you’re first starting your new strategy, the focus should be more on getting it out there and proving its worth than making it perfect.
Developing a new strategy takes time
No matter what, don’t go into creating a new content strategy thinking it’s something you can completely implement right away. Without unlimited resources, that’s just getting your hopes up to be stressed out and disappointed later.
This will be a process that takes time, so planning out how and when, and prioritizing – general project management – is just as important as the content strategy itself.