Content marketing is a valuable form of digital marketing that virtually any company can benefit from. But when your business is at its maximum output, how can you build a content marketing strategy that benefits your business and consistently gives your audience the content they need?
If this is your current situation, you might be thinking about scaling your content marketing strategy.
“Scale” is a hot marketing buzzword this year, but the term itself can be a bit misleading. Scaling your strategy does not necessarily mean making more content. You don’t just need more content, but more high-quality content.
The definition of scalability describes it as “a characteristic of a system, model or function that describes its capability to cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload.”
So, to scale your content marketing strategy means to develop and execute a plan that will help your business grow in an expanding market and continue to perform well. By “perform well,” we mean that your business has met all of its goals and achieved a positive return on investment (ROI).
Keep reading our guide for tips on how you can scale up a successful content strategy.
6 Potential Pitfalls to Watch Out For When Scaling
1. Inconsistent content
In order to establish trust with your audience, brand consistency will be a key step. This is a common issue that any business with multiple teams or employees has – the more people involved content creation, the higher the risk for inconsistency in tone of voice, keyword usage, or design styles.
You can fix inconsistencies by doing content audits, implementing a publishing schedule, and having an editor review each post. One of the simplest ways to ensure your content will be consistent is to make a style guide.
A brand style guide is like a content handbook for your company. It specifies what you need to include when writing and gives examples of what your brand should look like digitally, in print, and in broadcast. Some large publications like Buzzfeed have their own style guides.
Since we’re dealing with content marketing, let’s take a look at what a writing style guide includes:
- Grammar, spelling and punctuation: Use Associated Press (AP) style as a baseline for your style guide.
- Formatting: Include instructions on how bullet points, lists, hyphens and quotes should be used.
- Tone and voice: If your brand uses a casual tone in posts, explain and give examples of how to use it. You can also include examples of what kind of voice to avoid when writing.
- Additional details: Include a section on how to engage, words to stay away from, and any other details that are important to your brand. Use the brand personality spectrum below to get a better idea of what’s important to your brand’s written content.
If you want your brand to be easily distinguishable from others, then it’s paramount that you have a style guide. In addition, anyone at your company can use your style guide as a reference: when you incorporate a set of guidelines, your content creation team’s productivity will skyrocket, and they won’t need to spend as much time asking questions.
2. Not enough in-house resources
One of the struggles that small businesses may face is finding resources for their content marketing strategies, as hiring more people for a marketing team could be difficult or impossible in the beginning stages. Hiring in-house staff is more costly than outsourcing, and many new businesses do not have the initial funding to hire their own full-time employees. Overworking in-house staff may also result in lower-quality pieces that lack consistent voice and organization.
Fortunately, there are cost-efficient alternatives to a dearth of in-house staff. You can scale your content strategy by outsourcing some or all of your content creation, which allows an in-house team to focus on other parts of your content marketing campaign such as promoting and distributing the content. Outsourcing can save your business thousands, so this is an effective solution to not having enough in-house staff to create content.
3. Using a one-and-done method
A huge mistake that content marketers make is assuming that their work is finished once a post is published, then moving onto the next project. All the planning and research that goes into making your content is wasted when you don’t promote and repurpose it to the greatest extent possible.
Using long-form pieces is an easy strategy to get more for less out of your content. Take well-written white papers, for example. You can start with using these as a lead generator by distributing them in email newsletters, and then promote and break them down into different forms: a summary blog post of each chapter, social media posts containing quotes from the piece, infographics that focus on the major points, or videos that explain the topic.
Ebooks and white papers are the toughest types of content marketing to produce, as they are much longer than typical blog posts and require more intensive research. All the pieces that are based on ebooks and white papers won’t need the same amount of time and outlining. Use a call-to-action form in these smaller posts to direct readers back to the original.
4. Not considering your audience
You won’t be using the same forms of content or topics for all of your marketing campaigns. Remember who your customers are and what types of posts they would benefit from the most.
For instance, creating a how-to guide on using your service won’t be very helpful to someone who has already been a customer for a while. At this stage in their buyer’s journey, a more appropriate post would be one that discusses how your product will help them in the long run.
You can keep your audience interested in your product by organizing your content into each level of the buyer’s journey.
5. Using inefficient business processes
For new businesses, there may be some difficulty when it comes to assigning roles and distributing the work. For example, one employee might need to handle both marketing and sales at first. When you’re looking to scale your content marketing campaign, though, you’ll want to avoid this at all costs: the last thing your business needs is getting caught up on inefficient business processes.
Technology will be a necessity for these kinds of situations. Using content optimization tools (e.g., Scribe and Yoast) can assist with making sure your content is appearing on the web. For companies with tighter budgets, take advantage of free tools use to do SEO analysis, like Google Analytics and Facebook Page Insights.
Although scaling your content marketing programs may seem complex, you can power through any obstacles with the right methods: optimizing processes, specifically defining team roles, and utilizing all your internal resources to move towards a positive growth rate.
6. Not having a distribution plan
Creating content is just one half of the process. Without a specialized distribution plan, your efforts to scale your content marketing will fail.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to push their content on every social media platform out there, but this may not be ideal for your customers and readers. In the early steps of scaling your content strategy, focus on a few platforms that are relevant to your customers rather than trying to do it all at once. Then, once you establish a following on these channels, you can expand your options.
Steps to scaling your content marketing strategy
1. Create a beginning content marketing strategy
You’ll need a basic content marketing strategy if you don’t have one already – without organized and clear goals, your ideas may not even make it past the drawing board. When creating your 12-month content marketing strategy, (and yes, it will take months), first think about whether it will help your team in the following ways:
- Match content goals with buyer needs: How does your content help your customers? Does it address their concerns or needs? As mentioned before, not keeping your audience in mind is detrimental to your overall strategy, so it’s necessary to remember what will be most helpful to them.
- Allocate in-house resources effectively: An initial content marketing strategy needs to ensure that internal resources are accessible to all employees. Internal resources include style guides, training materials, or software.
- Achieve higher relevance: Will your methods help your content to rank higher? You can make your content more relevant by using methods such as newsjacking, or taking advantage of any major events that you can connect your content to. Creating evergreen content is another way to remain relevant for long periods of time.
- Fix any holes in your content: This means implementing user personas, choosing topics based on top keywords, or anything your content is missing. If you can patch up any gaps with your new content strategy, then you’re on the right track.
Having a detailed plan is ideal, but also be sure that it can be easily adapted. Creating an organized content calendar will also help your team to plan and track production.
2. Convince higher-ups to increase the budget
Increasing spending on content marketing doesn’t hurt – in fact, it will benefit your business in more ways than you think. With an increased content marketing budget, you’ll likely reach your business marketing and sales goals quickly. Companies with higher budgets will also have the chance to add exposure to their products and increase web traffic with more funding to content production.
Pitching for a higher budget isn’t always so simple, though. Your boss may not be sold on content marketing yet, or it’s just not affordable for the company. Be proactive and prepare your research for these conversations with coworkers – building trust and support among your the people you work with is just as important as creating the initial content marketing strategy.
3. Establish a content production plan
It’s crucial that you set up a content calendar when scaling your content marketing strategy: Figure out who will do what, when, and where early on in your scaling stages.
- Writers, designers, and editors: Everyone on your team should know who’s responsible for content creation and what their responsibilities are.
- Infographics, whitepapers, blog posts, and videos: These are just a few content marketing examples. Decide what type of content your audience would benefit from most and if your team is capable of producing the content.
- Publishing frequency: Set up a schedule for how often you’ll post content. Do you plan to put up posts daily, weekly, or monthly?
- Management software: You’ll need to stay organized when scaling your content strategy. Use Google Drive, Trello, or Jira to keep track of where all your content is and manage projects.
4. Match writers with a specialty
Whether you decide to use freelance writers or hire in-house staff, make sure that they can write efficiently and create technically-sound content. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to find writers that have expertise in subject they need to write about.
If you don’t have a large team, investing in training and educational resources for your staff can help develop their knowledge on certain topics. Assign projects based on a product or service, subject, or user persona. That way, a writer can focus on their specialty and work on gaining expertise in that area.
5. Have weekly meetings with writers and content production team
You can ramp up production by meeting with your production team regularly. With frequent meetings, you can coordinate with your team to do the following:
- Brainstorm new content ideas
- Come up with brand stories
- Identify what can be improved upon with current content and what works well
- Examine trending topics and how to incorporate them into your content
- Discuss content production strategies
For all ideas that are discussed in meetings, make sure whether it has value and consider any alternative methods. The more topics that fit into your overall content marketing strategy, the better.
6. Encourage community involvement
Another key step in scaling your content strategy is to bring your customers into your content marketing process. You don’t have to limit yourself to content created by your employees. Make use of user generated content or customer advocates – having them be a part of the production can not only make it easier on your staff, but also add a sense of authenticity to your content.
7. Recycle content
Don’t feel pressured to dish out new content every day. Instead, be strategic and repurpose long-form posts into other forms of content marketing. Spend more time on projects that will be valuable to your customers based on their point in the buyer’s journey.
Choosing not to recycle content can be a missed opportunity on gaining followers or sales. Combine, reuse or rethink content in new and unexpected ways to generate more with less effort. For example:
- Split larger content assets into blog posts
- Write a blog post based on one section of an infographic you’ve produced
- Map out a blog post series that could also serve as chapters of next month’s ebook
9. Keep track of your business performance
The final step to ensure your scaling plans are a success is to track your business’s performance through key performance indicators (KPIs). Use the KPI results to begin the next steps on improving weaknesses, building strengths, and calculating ROI.
Not sure how often you should be analyzing KPI metrics? Consider making a schedule like the following:
- Every day and week, use your analytic software to do a brief check for spikes or inconsistent drops, and examine the causes for it.
- You can record KPIs and search for trends and potential contributors monthly, quarterly and annually.
- For any new content campaigns or projects, do impromptu checks into your analytic software whenever necessary.
Your business will be at a competitive disadvantage if you choose not to scale your content strategy. Content marketing is proven to create three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing at 62 percent less cost. If you want to see a positive ROI, you’ll need to invest more.
Content should be a continually growing part of your marketing strategy. If your current approach seems unsustainable, this is a sign you need to change it up. Keep in mind that content marketing is constantly evolving, so you will need to prepare a strong team of writers, use integrated technology, and have an adaptable strategy to progress in your industry.