Though content marketing is not a new concept, it's now more important than ever for any company looking to build relationships and drive deeper engagement with customers. Even as content creation tools and social media have simplified the process, they've also changed the business landscape. Companies now need to embrace their new role as publishers and act accordingly.

Act like a publisher

If you are putting content online to tell your brand's story—whether via your email newsletter, Facebook account, Twitter handle, or blog—you are a publisher. Rather than ignoring this reality, you should acknowledge the critical importance of your content marketing program and put a plan in place to manage and measure its effectiveness.

IMN recently surveyed marketing professionals across different industries [full findings here] to better understand how they viewed and measured effectiveness of content marketing programs.

Though the vast majority of respondents said they understand the value of a content marketing program and are engaged in content marketing efforts, many are having serious challenges in executing a content marketing program at a very basic level. Internal resource constraints, finding and sourcing relevant content, making sure content passes regulatory compliance, and hiring good content writers were the primary challenges respondents faced when implementing a content marketing strategy.

So how can you address those challenges and implement a successful program? By following the following four steps.

1. Set program goals

Before kicking off your content marketing program, set specific goals outlining what you're hoping to achieve. Those goals will begin to shape the types of content you ultimately provide.

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Craig Fitzgerald is editorial director of IMN, a digital marketing services provider. Fitzgerald leads editorial strategy and oversees content for the company's customer email newsletter and social marketing service.
image of C.C. Chapman
C.C. Chapman is an expert in online and social media and a co-author of Content Rules.