Finding your way to content marketing success is not always the easiest journey. To help guide you to your own content marketing success, this article will provide tips and tricks that I've learned along the way on my own journey.

That journey is uniquely meta: I run content marketing for a content marketing company. I'd like to say that I've always had our strategy under control. After all, this is our business. But let's get real. Back before content marketing was as common as it is today, I had little idea how to create content, much less content that people actually wanted.

After a three-year journey, sheer willpower, and a lot of A/B testing, we recently hit the 100K subscriber mark. Content marketing is now our highest-performing and most cost-efficient channel: For every $1 we put in, we get $14 out.

How did we make it happen? Here are four lessons and a few secrets to help you on your own journey to content marketing success.

1. Consistency and cadence trump volume

We analyzed data from over 10,000 articles across 100 customers, and found that publishing consistently is the No. 1 factor determining content marketing success.

Despite our initial thoughts, it turns out that the volume of content you publish doesn't necessarily translate to content marketing success. Rather, it's all about consistency and delivering a regular cadence of content.

2. Remove the guesswork: Create content you know will perform

In the early days, building an editorial calendar was thought to be the easiest part of content marketing. The process was qualitative, mapping article ideas against specific product offerings and ensuring there was an even distribution of posts to hit each product category.

The problem? That process doesn't take customers' needs into consideration.

The solution? You need to become obsessed with your customer's data and transform your editorial planning process based on that data:

  • SEO analysis: What content receives the highest search traffic?
  • Pageviews vs. engagement time: What articles are driving the most pageviews with the highest engagement rate (more than 30 seconds)?
  • Content formats: What formats work best? Infographics, video, long form articles...?
  • Audience analysis: What content do our VIP prospects and customers find the most valuable? What are they reading and sharing?

Through a data-driven editorial process, you'll learn how much content your prospects are engaging with before becoming customers.

More important, you'll discover exactly what content they're engaging with at different stages of the purchase journey—from whitepapers and webinars to newsletters and nurturing emails.

3. Don't reinvent the wheel: Optimize your highest-performing posts

This has been one of my biggest light bulb moments over the past three years, and it's a surprisingly simple strategy. Rather than always writing new posts around the topics that are performing best, just beef up the old ones. Make them longer, add more data, add more links, and add a stronger point of view.

And, since they've proven to do well in the past, double-down on your distribution strategy, adding a boost of paid media and continuing to share these posts across social and email:

  • Older content that has high engagement but low pageviews. We define engagement as anyone who spends more than 30 seconds actively reading an article. If a post has a 60% or greater engagement rate but under 1,000 pageviews, we'll immediately start to distribute it further.
  • Content that receives a high volume of search traffic but relatively low overall pageviews. This subset of articles is a goldmine: People want this content; they're searching for it, and it answers their questions. Why not give it a distribution boost?

4. Your best-performing channels may surprise you

What's old is new again. Newsletters are NewsCred's highest-performing distribution channel, accounting for about 40% of total traffic. Over the past three years we've published roughly 400 newsletters, and we've found a few key tactics that work time and time again:

  • Offer easily digestible content: Top 2 posts are infographics.
  • Harness the BuzzFeed effect: Four of the top 10 articles had headlines with words such as "top," "best," "most."
  • Know your audience: 35% of top 20 articles have a mention of "content marketing" or "content marketers."
  • Stats and numbers matter: 70% of top 10 articles have numbers in the headline.
  • Stay with the familiar: 25% of top 20 articles have a brand name mentioned in the headline, such as Ello, Vice, BuzzFeed, Nike, and Red Bull.

In the end, one of the most important things to remember is to make the best use of the resources you have: Your data, your content, your team, your customers, etc.

All of those provide unique insight into what your audience is truly looking for; you just have to take a step back, evaluate, and listen to what they're telling you.

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Top 4 Things You Should Know on Your Journey to Content Marketing Success

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image of Alicianne Rand

Alicianne Rand is the vice-president of marketing at content marketing platform NewsCred.

Twitter @aliciannerand

LinkedIn: Alicianne Rand