Content marketing is a strategy that’s practiced by many, but perfected by few. In fact, a 2014 study found that only 9 percent of B2B marketers surveyed said that they were very effective at content marketing, while the majority of respondents (41 percent) said that they were only marginally effective. Yikes.
What is it that sets the elite few apart from the rest of the pack? What produces content marketing in some and hesitation in others? Is it creativity, imagination, work ethic?
Often, the reason boils down to, simply, habits. Those legitimately crushing it at content marketing have cultivated efficient habits that allow them to run their campaign at a consistently high level. This allows them to accomplish more in less time and with minimal friction.
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Here are some specific habits of the most successful content marketers.
1. They have a game plan, and they've probably written it down.
Hardly anyone who succeeds blindly launches a campaign and simply hopes for the best. More specifically, Social Media Examiner reports, “Among the most effective marketers, 66 percent have a documented strategy, compared to 11 percent of the least effective marketers.”
Notice that word “documented.” To me, that means that they wrote it down.
This documented strategy may include deciding which social networks to utilize, how many blog posts to create each week, which topics to cover and so on. I’ve found that it’s equally as important to continually review your content strategy. The internet is a dynamic place, so perpetual tweaking is usually necessary for sustained growth.
2. They stay organized. (Otherwise, they’d lose their minds.)
When you’re posting content to your blog or social networks, or you're guest-blogging, yada yada, things can get messy in a hurry. I know that in my early days of content marketing, I often found myself overwhelmed with the process.
If you’re the type of person who already struggles with organization, you may find this problem being confounded. You may find it difficult just to keep your head above water.
But staying organized is essential if you ever expect to prosper. Fortunately, there are several tools that will keep your campaign flowing seamlessly with your sanity intact. This list from Kissmetrics highlights some of my favorites, including Trello and Wunderlist.
3. They write down ideas as they come.
Let’s be honest. No matter how creative you are, ideas simply don’t flow on command. As much as I wish I could just snap my fingers and come up with a brilliant idea, it doesn’t work that way. That’s why I’ve gotten in the habit of writing down ideas all of the time.
Some are home runs and some are strikeouts, but I’ve always got fresh ideas to incorporate into my content whenever I need them.
4. They keep a pulse on their industry.
Most industries are perpetually in flux. Lagging behind on trends makes a campaign stale and shows that a brand is out of touch.
But savvy content marketers are always in the know and at least one step ahead of the competition.
I’ve found that knowing what’s going on within my industry allows me to deliver the content my audience wants. I remain relevant. They remain engaged. To accomplish this, I use resources like Alltop, Feedly and Paper.li. They simplify the process and save a ton of time.
5. They network like crazy.
Relationships are an integral component of content marketing. Knowing the right person can help you land key guest-blogging opportunities, get brand mentions on Twitter and much more. That’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to be continually networking, engaging with others in your industry and reaching out to new people.
Building relationships with thought leaders and influencers can be especially powerful.
6. They are sticklers for high-quality stuff.
Lackluster, mediocre and and subpar are three adjectives that you’ll never associate with the content of a successful campaign. Those who pick up serious momentum are not only diligent about upholding rigorous quality standards, they usually obsess over it.
With so many industries and even smaller niches becoming hyper-saturated these days, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out. But when a marketer is fully committed to quality, he or she will put in the work to ensure his or her content is always on another level.
7. They pore over analytics.
Analytics allow content marketers to extract raw data and repackage it in a way that helps them make smarter, more informed decisions. In turn, inefficiencies can be reduced, and an overall campaign can become more effective.
But successful content marketers don’t pay attention just to vanity metrics that make them feel good (e.g., a lot of page views and traffic spikes); they pay attention to metrics that actually help them make better decisions.
For instance, they’ll look at conversion rates and which forms of content are ultimately bringing in new customers.
With content marketing costing 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generating about three times as many leads, it’s easy to see why it’s a top priority for so many marketers. In fact, it’s basically a no-brainer.
In order to truly gain traction and get results, it’s not enough to throw your content against the wall and see what sticks.
Instead, it’s essential to develop the right habits and stay the course. What are you doing in this regard?