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Unlock Your Content: Keys to Ensuring Successful Content Marketing
In a world where news is updated seemingly every hour or at least multiple times a day, it is becoming even more important to prove your relevance and expertise in order to stand out in the crowd. People want content that is fresh and are seeking sources that make updates regularly. But, multiple updates a day can seem like a lofty goal. How do you plan your content marketing strategy so that you and your business stay relevant in an increasingly more crowded field of information sources without dedicating all your resources and time to content management?
Director of Major Accounts Services Rachel Totaro is tasked with answering these very questions for our national and international clients each day as they plan out their content marketing strategies. Here are some of the best practices she has developed with the Covalent team over the last several years of managing online newsrooms (and tens of thousands of press releases, photos and pages).
Process, Process, Process
Developing a content marketing plan requires forethought, strategy and timing. But, don’t worry! We’ve broken the process down to three easy steps to ensure a seamless execution.
- Establish a strategic focus with clear business goals. This part of the content marketing process is probably the most important and includes identifying your key audience and stakeholders, creating goals for what your content will achieve and developing parameters to measure your success, whether that’s page views, increased time on site or something else.
- Plan an editorial calendar. Deciding what to post when can be a daunting task, but with proper planning, you’ll be able to coordinate across your site(s) easily. Your editorial calendar should tackle how frequently you want to post as well as include a breakdown of evergreen vs. time-sensitive pieces and if assets (such as images, videos or infographics) will be involved.
- Ensure a consistent curator. Once you have your goals and editorial calendar established, it’s time to start curating content. As you begin gathering and developing content, remember to be thoughtful about the voice and word choice you are using. Whether your tone is more formal or super cheeky, just be sure to be consistent so users know what to expect.
So, you’ve made your goals, you’ve planned an editorial calendar and you’ve started curating content. But, as you start to navigate the information waters, how do you pick and choose what content to include on your site? Lucky for you, we have a tried-and-tested breakdown that will ensure your content marketing success.
- 70% of content should be links that take you directly to the source of the news without offering additional commentary. This type of content enables you to offer comprehensive coverage which makes your readers feel as if you are a one-stop shop for information.
- 20% of content should be web-enhanced articles that are links to other news sources which include some commentary directly related to your business. These types of articles allow you to marry your content with news that already exists to show your knowledge with minimal effort.
- 10% of content should be original content that is researched, written and developed for the purpose of your business. This type of content proves that you have expertise and value that is unavailable anywhere else, making you an indispensable resource.
Analytics and SEO and Navigation…oh my!
After you’ve developed and implemented a content marketing plan, it’s time to start measuring your success. The questions we most often receive with our online newsroom management center around how the site is performing and how we can increase engagement with users. We’ve outlined three easy ways to monitor and improve traffic across your online platform.
- Analytics. The sites we host include some type of reporting tool or software so we can regularly review traffic and offer insights on how to increase usage of the site. Updating your content often is one way to ensure users feel engaged with your site and come back often. But, it’s also important to mix up the type of content you’re hosting – include press releases, but also videos, hi-res photos, infographics and any other asset that makes sense for your brand. And, be sure to link related content to one another so that users can easily find pages or articles that they’re interested in.
- SEO. We’ve all heard someone throw out “SEO-friendly” as a phrase in a meeting, and some of us may have had to pretend to know what they were talking about. Well, pretend no longer, because we’re here to help explain. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a way to have your content placed higher in search engine results so people see your site as a resource before your competition. One of the easiest ways to create an SEO-friendly site is in how you structure your URLs. So, rather than your press releases only being accessible via a link with news/index/release/12345, create a friendly URL that includes the headline of the release, something like /new-initiative-announced-for-the-brand.
- Navigation. A final way you can ensure users are actively engaged in your site is to review and optimize your navigation structure. There’s nothing worse than finding a reputable site that is impossible to navigate through! Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, there’s a too few, too many and just right experience when it comes to your website’s navigation. To ensure an optimal user experience, we recommend no more than seven main navigation items, each of which can contain up to seven sub-items. More than this and your site will feel cumbersome, but less than this and users may feel like your site is lacking breadth.
Planning, executing and evaluating your content marketing plan can feel like a burden. But, with a few easy steps and some strategic tactics, you’ll find your content’s ROI is worth all the effort you put in.