According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute in 2017, 46% of companies don’t have a documented content strategy. Lacking a content strategy is equivalent to driving across the country without a map—you might get there, but you will get lost along the way, spend too much money, and waste a lot of time.

Developing a Content-Creation Process

Even if you’re starting with a single-person team, you need to develop a strategy to help align the marketing team with the goals of your company and create a well-defined content-creation process so that it can easily be repeated and scaled. Think of your content marketing as an engine with gears—if one gear breaks (i.e. one of your employees leaves), then another can be found to take its place and keep the engine humming along. Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) marketing goals. Be specific in what it is that you want, determine how you will measure progress, ensure that your goal is realistic and relevant to your company’s overarching objectives, and give it a deadline so you can later break it down into smaller milestones that map out how you will reach your goal. Some examples of SMART marketing goals include:

  • Generate 200 marketing-qualified leads in Q1 of 2018.
  • Grow our Facebook following by 20% in Q1 of 2018.
  • Increase organic website traffic from 4,000 to 5,000 visits/month in Q1 of 2018.

A great way to stay organized and give your content strategy a clear direction—the “how” of your SMART goal—is to create a content compass. A content compass will allow you to set SMART goals, mapped to specific themes during a certain time period, and break down all of the pieces of content that will be created on a month-by-month basis. Your content compass should look at least three months ahead. Depending on the velocity of your content-marketing initiatives, the compass can be a simple or extensive document and contain all your blog posts, white papers, ebooks, emails, social media posts, sales campaigns, webinars, infographics, and much more. Here is an example of a simple (three-month), high-level content compass:

The content compass is not to be confused with your editorial calendar, which is a way to keep your content and deadlines organized in more detail. This planning document helps maintain consistency with content output, and details content ideas, draft and publishing deadlines, and social media posts, and can also note who’s assigned to what. An editorial calendar can be as simple as a spreadsheet with these items, or you can use various project-management tools to streamline communication and have everything saved in the cloud so your team is always kept up to date.

Choosing Content-Marketing Tools

There is no shortage of tools to help you manage your time, content strategy, and communication both internally and with customers. Those listed below are options we have used and loved and recommend for your business.

Web Analytics

Google Analytics – The industry standard for web analytics.

  • Experience Level: Beginning – Advance
  • Starting Price: Free up to 10 million hits/month

SEO Tools

SEMrush – Competitive intelligence platforms with robust SEO, social media, PPC, and video-advertising search features.

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Experience Level: $99.95/month

MOZ – Inbound-marketing and marketing-analytics platform with a huge online community. Perfect for keyword research, link building, site audits, and site optimization.

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Starting Price: $99/month

Email Marketing

MailChimp – Cost-effective, user-friendly way to manage your email list that is highly recommended for beginners and beyond.

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Starting Price: Free

Marketing Automation

Hubspot – Amazing educational resources, and built-in CRM and sales-management capabilities.

  • Experience Level: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Experience Level: Free and $800/month marketing automation

Salesforce Pardot – One of the biggest benefits is integration with the SalesForce suite of products, including SalesForce Sales Cloud..

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Starting Price: $1,000/month

Marketo – Really robust features from the ability to clone marketing programs to account-based marketing, personalization, and much more..

  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Starting Price: $1,995/month

Website Content-Management System (CMS)

WordPress – Open-source platform, most popular web-creation platform on the market with thousands of plugins, templates, and integrations..

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Experience Level: Free

Communication, Collaboration, and Project Management

G Suite – Gmail, Documents, Drive, Calendar, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, and more.

  • Experience Level: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Experience Level: $5/user/month

Slack – Awesome platform for team communication with chat rooms (channels), private groups, direct messaging, video, and screen sharing.

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Experience Level: Free

Asana – Project management and team communication.

  • Experience Level: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Experience Level: Free

Trello – Project management with boards, lists, and cards..

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Experience Level: Free

Social Media Management

HootSuite – World’s most popular platform for managing social media across all social networks.

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Experience Level: Free

Buffer – The second most popular and very simple platform for social media management.

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Experience Level: Free

 

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