Content marketing has evolved from a buzzword into a major component of marketing strategies for companies of all sizes. Thirty-seven percent of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, and 61 percent of the most-effective business-to-business (B2B) marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team.

Content marketing can produce amazing results when done correctly, and with 2016 right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to make sure your strategy is mapped out. While you plan and adjust, consider these points.

Related: 6-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing in 2016

1. Think beyond just a blog.

Don’t assume that a blog alone will satisfy your content marketing efforts -- infographics, eBooks, vlogs, webinars and podcasts are all examples of different forms of content that you can mix into your strategy.

Last year the amount of video from people and brands in Facebook's news feed increased 3.6X year-over-year. Video is easy to share and a form of visual content that end-users love to engage with. The popularity of vlogging continues to rise as well, and I feel it’s a great way to let your prospects and target market into your world. I’ve got a vlog in development that will be launching mid-year in 2016 that I’m extremely excited about.

2. Don’t be afraid to give out information for free.

Content marketing is a great way to position your business -- and yourself -- as an expert. Don’t be afraid to give your audience valuable information for free. When you provide pure value time after time, without asking for anything in return, some those people that have been absorbing your content will begin to convert into warm leads and then sales.

Market Domination Media, my online marketing agency, maintains a blog full of helpful information for business owners. A recent blog post we did about getting found on Google’s local 3-pack is an example of content that provides value without asking for anything in return. If the reader wants to join our newsletter, there is an option at the bottom of our blog posts, but we never gate content or write advertisements disguised as blog posts.

3. Every business -- B2C and B2B -- can benefit from content marketing.

Content marketing can work for everyone -- both business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing efforts. While the concept is the same, you need to tailor the approach for each a bit differently.

A business-to-consumer customer can be won over with compelling stories that trigger specific emotions, but a business-to-business customer needs to see value and data-backed information in your content.

  • B2C example: Budweiser’s Puppy Love commercial that debuted during Super Bowl XLVIII won America’s heart by using a puppy to trigger emotions. It has been viewed millions of times and delivered incredible branding exposure for Budweiser without even including their product in the video.
  • B2B example: An infographic from a VoIP provider that highlights the benefits of switching to their cloud-based service. Performance benefits, money saved and features can all be highlighted in a fun, easy to digest visual piece of content that’s packed with data.

Related: 5 Marketing Changes Small Businesses Need to Make in 2016

4. Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you gauge the success or failure of your content marketing.

It’s not always easy to track the return on content marketing, as only 21 percent of content marketers say they are successful at tracking return on investment (ROI). Every business is going to have different key performance indicators -- it’s important that you identify yours before you start. Some examples of content marketing KPIs include:

  • Number of website visits: Total number of visitors you attract to your website via a particular piece of content or a specific campaign. Use Google’s URL builder and Google analytics to help you with this.
  • Content asset downloads: If you are using multiple pieces of content to push visitors to a download offer, make sure you track the number of downloads that originate form each content referral source. Pull poorly performing pieces of content and take note of what your audience responds to better for future campaigns.
  • Number of social shares: When determining what content is performing best for you, take a look at the number of social shares each receives. Use content that receives a high number of social shares as a benchmark -- these are the styles of content and topics that your audience responds well to. Remember, Twitter has eliminated share counts, so your overall counts won’t include shares from that social network.
  • Bounce rate: A high bounce rate means that your visitors are landing on your content and leaving right away -- and not visiting other pages of your website. This is an indication that your content needs to be a bit more compelling to trigger conversions and additional page visits.
  • Inbound links earned: Great content is shared and linked to by other websites. These are the types of natural links that benefit your search engine optimization (SEO) while staying within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Time on page: If you publish a large in-depth blog post and your analytic data shows that the average visitor stayed on the page for 15 seconds that tells you they didn’t find it interesting at all. Now, if the average time on the page is three minutes, then you know that piece of content is a hit with your audience, and it would be a good idea to make sure you have a very strong offer built into that particular page.
  • Cost-per-click (CPC): Let’s assume you spend $2,000 to promote a particular piece of content through multiple channels -- SEO, pay-per-click (PPC), social media, email, etc. If you generated 8,800 website visitors your CPC would be just under 23 cents.
  • Number of leads generated: It’s important to track leads from every piece of content. For example, you might find out that blog posts that feature infographics generate three times the number of leads that your regular blog posts produce.
  • Cost-per-lead (CPL): You need to know exactly how much your leads are costing that you generate through content marketing. When you have this number and your conversion rate then you can quickly determine whether or not content marketing is a viable (profitable) options for your business.
  • Conversion rate: Out of all the leads your content marketing is generating, what percentage of them are turning into paying customers?
  • Revenue generated: One of the most important -- how much revenue did your content marketing produce?

5. Make sure you diversify your online marketing.

Content marketing can produce amazing results, and it’s an incredible way to grow your business, but that doesn’t mean you should put all of your eggs in one basket -- you should never do that.

You should be building brand awareness and generating website traffic, leads and sales from multiple channels -- social media, email, pay-per-click, SEO and display ads are additional sources that you should be tapping into. This ensures that your business doesn’t come to a dead stop if one of the channels suddenly dries up.

Related: The 4 Easiest Ways to Supercharge Your Social-Media Marketing