Content marketing has become an indispensable asset to many companies. In 2016, marketing teams in the U.S. spent $10 billion on content, while $40 billion was spent globally, estimates Forrester analyst Ryan Skinner. B2B marketers spent an average of 29 percent of their total budget on content last year. 45 percent plan to maintain the same level of content spending in 2017, and 39 percent plan to increase their content budgets this year.

Reliance on content marketing has grown because it gets results. No matter what your business is, there’s no denying the value that content marketing has to offer. Growing your online presence, increasing brand awareness and increasing conversion rates are all byproducts of a successful content marketing campaign.

But how do you start a successful content marketing campaign? If you’re new to content marketing, you might not be sure where to begin. Here’s a four-step plan to help you launch your first marketing campaign.

Establishing Practical Goals and Themes

A successful content marketing campaign begins with clear goals in mind. To be practical, these goals should align with your company’s overall marketing and business goals.

For instance, your company may have set a goal of increasing revenue by penetrating an emerging marketing niche that your market research team has identified. You may be aiming to rebrand your company by emphasizing a benefit of your products or services not emphasized in previous advertising. You may intend to boost awareness of your brand on social media. You may want to increase traffic to your website. You may be preparing to promote a new product line. Or you may be trying to trim marketing expenses by shifting your budget from traditional advertising to content marketing in order to achieve a higher rate of return on investment. Whatever your goals are, articulating them clearly will help you focus your content marketing efforts.

Your goals should include a decision about what themes to highlight in your content marketing. For instance, if your goal is to penetrate a new market niche, you will need to decide what keywords to target. If you’re trying to rebrand your company, you will need to produce content that highlights whatever unique selling proposition your marketing team has developed for your target market. Or, if you want to boost social media awareness of your product, you will need to select a theme that addresses trending topics among your intended audience.

Forming a Content Marketing Team

To pursue your content marketing goals, you’ll need to assemble a solid team. A content marketing team typically includes several key members who perform different vital functions. In some cases, multiple functions will be performed by individuals on your team. Depending on the size of your company and your team, some of these responsibilities can also be outsourced to people who specialize in these types of services.

Your content marketing strategist sets the overall direction of your content campaign. They analyze your campaign’s target audience, select the topics you will target and determine how you will measure the success of your campaign.

Your content strategist implements your content marketing plan. They flesh out the demographics of your target audience, as well as what types of content will be most compelling to them, and identify which channels will most effectively reach them.

Your strategists work in tandem with one or more editors. Editors may help contribute ideas on how to implement your strategists’ goals. They also serve to coordinate your strategy with your creative team, supervising writers and designers. In many cases, an editor serves the function of a project manager.

Graphic design is also important for successful content distribution, so the creative part of your team will also include designers. Designers help match graphics to written content in addition to developing content to be distributed on social media.

If your campaign includes video marketing, your team will also need a video production crew. Depending on the complexity of your videos, the members of your video production team may range from a single individual with a webcam to a full Hollywood-style crew that includes a producer, director, actors and other specialists. Such a team may operate as its own outsourced or in-house unit within your overall campaign, or it may work closely with your editors, writers and designers.

You will need content promoters to distribute your content online. Your content promoters will help manage your website, email lists and social profiles to ensure that your content gets distributed through all applicable channels.

Your content promoters will rely on support from community managers. Your community managers will boost audience engagement with your blog and social profiles, as well as monitor discussion and moderate spam.

Finally, your team will need a content analyst to review analytics for your content. Your content analyst will provide your team’s strategist with metrics to measure how well your content campaign is doing.

Allocating Resources

Your team will be responsible for allocating your content campaign’s resources. These fall into several categories.

First, there are budgetary resources. Your team will need to decide how much of your budget to spend on each target audience, topic and channel.

Second, there are personnel resources. For instance, your editors will need to determine which of your writers to assign a given topic to.

Third, time is another resource that must be allocated. Your strategists and editors will need to have a reasonable estimate of how much content your creative team is able to produce within a given time frame in order to set deadlines, delegate assignments and manage schedules.

Setting up Metrics and Tracking Processes

Finally, to keep your content production projects on schedule and measure the effectiveness of your content marketing campaign, your team will need to set up metrics and track your campaign’s processes.

Externally, your content analyst will need to track metrics that measure the performance of your campaigns and relate them to your goals. For instance, if you’re trying to increase traffic to your website, your analyst will use tools such as Google Analytics to track metrics such as visitors per day and time spent on page. If you’re trying to grow your social media following, your analyst may use a tool such as Facebook Insights to measure metrics such as the number of people your posts reached, the number of people who clicked on them and how many reactions, comments and shares your content generated.

Internally, your strategists and editors should also track the team’s performance. For instance, keeping track of how many pieces your writers produce per day will help your editors accurately estimate deadlines and keep production on schedule.

Keeping a close eye on all of these metrics and processes is a surefire way of ensuring that your campaigns are netting a positive return on investment.

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