Managing content marketing can be stressful. This brief guide will show you how to use time and technology to maximize success without raising your stress levels.

Successful content marketing doesn't always involve mountains of content, but it does need some serious planning and management if you are to generate the expected leads and sales.

Here are a few things you need to consider early on if you are to avoid problems.

1. Plan ahead

Forewarned is forearmed. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. You've heard it all before, but that's because it's true. Your content marketing success relies on careful planning. You need to consider factors such as...

  • What is the "theme" for the coming months, quarters, or marketing periods?
  • Whom are you targeting and what are their pain points?
  • What content would best "speak" to these people?
  • What is the correct tone of voice to use to address these people?

Without adequate planning, the only certainty is disappointment: "Only 39% of in-house marketers rate the performance of their company's campaigns as 'excellent' or 'good,' while 15% admit their campaigns are 'poor.'" (Email Marketing Industry Census 2013)

2. Build your system

Like any other marketing campaign, you need to keep records of activities to...

  • Keep track of campaign progress and activities performed.
  • Record successes and failures that can be used to fine-tune future campaigns.
  • Demonstrate ROI on the campaign to satisfy the CMO that budget is being spent properly.
  • Centralize content and other collateral.

Unlike other marketing campaigns, you will need to capture unique stats that do not easily translate to other channels (print, direct, telesales, etc.). That adds an unwelcomed layer of complexity to your project, unless you choose a content marketing platform that can automate many of the key tasks, such as capturing data, scoring leads, and initiating further communication with prospects.

If you don't currently have such a system in place, you're not alone: Two-thirds of marketers spend less than 10% of their budget to marketing automation.

3. Get writing

The cornerstone of any content marketing campaign is the "meaty" articles and e-guides that are to be distributed to your prospects. With your topics and targets defined, the next stage is to get the content written up and designed in readiness for the start of the campaign.

As with every other stage of your campaign, the sooner you start writing, the more time you have to tweak content to address industry changes or to add topical content closer to launch.

4. Don't forget additional collateral

Every piece of content produced also needs supporting information to drive interest. As with content, it pays to consider these channels and prepare messaging in advance for...

  • Social media posts tweets and status updates
  • Forum posts and threads
  • Email collateral to drive engagement with prospects who access content

5. Execute

This is the "easy" part: Press Enter and set the campaign in motion. Just don't forget that anything that falls outside of your plans will need to be responded to manually!

6. Report, reflect, repeat

With the right marketing automation software in place you should have...

  • A group of new leads and customers who have been generated as a result of the campaign
  • A large volume of data that allows you to assess success and ROI of the campaign
  • Useful data that can be used to inform your next campaign

Take some time to analyze the information you collect and to see what you can learn. Then it's just a case of heading back to step one and putting what you have learned into action.

Follow these 6 steps to stress-free content marketing

To get your content marketing running smoothly...

  1. Plan ahead—as far ahead as possible.
  2. Get a marketing system in place that uses automation to reduce your workload without compromising the customer's experience.
  3. Get writing; make sure your content is fine-tuned to your audience.
  4. Prepare your social and email content in advance so it dovetails nicely with your meaty content.
  5. Just do it!
  6. Take what you learn and build it into your next campaign for even greater success.

(Discover more useful marketing tips in the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide: Content Marketing.)

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image of Sylvia Jensen

Sylvia Jensen is the director of marketing for Oracle Marketing Cloud in EMEA.

Twitter: @smajensen

LinkedIn: Sylvia Jensen