3 Core Elements of a Sustainable Content Strategy

What is sustainability? Some dictionaries define it as “the ability to be maintained or continued at a certain rate or level for an extended length of time.” Of course, this term is quite commonly used to describe things like energy sources, farming methods, or economic practices.

Unfortunately, this word is rarely, if ever, used to describe marketing methods, especially by content marketers. In a study by LinkedIn, IDG and others, over half of B2B content marketers reported that producing content on a regular basis, with minimal lag time between posts, is their number one challenge. The same goes for B2C marketers as well, with 49% stating that strategic issues and lack of time had a negative impact on their content’s ability to successfully drive growth.

Studies show that posting on a consistent and frequent basis builds better engagement. HubSpot reported that when companies blog 11 times or more in a month, the leads and web traffic they generate are four to five times greater compared to companies that post four or fewer articles a month.

Source: HubSpot

However, keeping up with this frequency of posting could be next to impossible for some marketing teams that are already overwhelmed with the task of content creation. At the same time, there are also factors like information overload and me-too content to take into consideration. Creating content for the sake of content is never, ever a good marketing tactic.

Creating a sustainable content strategy means that it is able to be maintained for months or years to come. Burnt-out creators won’t produce great content but waiting too long between pieces to get them “just right” could have a negative impact on engagement rates and lead generation.

So how can marketing teams achieve the right frequency and quality of content that builds lasting brand-customer relationships? Here are some ideas.

Stay on Top of New Research and Industry Trends

Coming up with fresh topic ideas is one of the more difficult parts of the creation process, especially if your team is trying to churn out content on a regular basis. Brand marketers and PR teams are always on the lookout for making their content more engaging and interactive, but finding the inspiration for the next piece isn’t always easy. By monitoring new information or buzzworthy subject matter in your industry, content creators can craft more relevant and original content that captivates viewers.

News outlets, mainstream online media, and popular publications such as Wired, Fast Company, The Next Web, and Forbes are great places to start. However, there are other resources to help content creators keep their finger on the pulse of what is trending in their niche.

Many content teams find it helpful to check out forums to see what questions and conversations people are participating in regarding their industry. Monitoring trending hashtags on Twitter and following topics and conversations of interest on Quora can be a good source of inspiration, too. Finally, there are industry-specific blogs, such as Marketing Land for digital marketing, which can be one-stop resources to keep yourself updated on new developments in your niche.

Source: Marketing Land

Staying informed and creating content around the latest news and information can also help build a stronger reputation and establish your company as a credible resource. Brands that create original, reliable content relating to new research or recent developments are considered thought leaders.

This sort of informational content is viewed as highly credible and informed, which is why 97% of senior decision-makers in B2B base their purchase decisions on content from industry influencers and thought leaders, as per a survey by Demand Gen Report.

Source: Demand Gen Report

By keeping content fresh and focused on “insider” or authoritative information related to your niche, your blog and other online media properties can become trusted resources for your audience. It is up to you to translate it into sales.

Create Content That Your Audience Wants

You can take your content strategy to the next level by increasing engagement and interaction with your target user group and feeding content relevant to their basic needs. This lets you create a lot of unique and contextual content that caters to specific and in-the-moment needs of your audience.

This works when you’re not sure of your customers’ individual interests and passions, which is possible in B2B or niches where there is less data available on specific customer segments. In certain cases, you can use social data to collect supplementary data about targeted individuals, including self-posted personal information and relationships like friendships, work associations, and familial connections.

Once you have a baseline audience to target, you can let them guide your content. You need to incorporate interactive content that gives readers the power and opportunity to engage the way they want to. Consumers today have a strong desire to understand and control their purchases, and digital content formats have the potential to allow them to do this via question-answers, comments, polls, and choices. From marketers’ point of view, interactive content formats:

  • increase engagement levels and build and cement brand-consumer relationships,
  • gather valuable consumer data that can then be used in targeting and retargeting,
  • assist in conversions by personalizing the interaction and delivering spot insights.

One content format that checks all the boxes is webinars, which can deliver value to customers at all stages of your marketing funnel. In fact, three-fourths of respondents to an ON24 survey said that webinars let them tie marketing activity directly to revenue. Other benefits include:

Source: ON24

Webinars create real, powerful engagement with your customers by building on the strengths of live video and giving them options such as live chats, screen sharing, and quick polls for spot-interaction. Few other content formats can boast of this level of flexibility and effectiveness.

Further, evolving digital media and tools only make interaction better (and more commonplace). For example, a webinar and videoconferencing platform like ClickMeeting enables sales-focused storytelling with options like multi-user whiteboards and real-time chat translations.

Not only can you present strategic product demos to prospects halfway across the globe, but also hold virtual events with multiple speakers and scale them to reach thousands of simultaneous viewers. You can record webinars for later repackaging as videos, or stream them live on Facebook or YouTube, depending on your campaign goals and use cases.

Source: ClickMeeting

The best part? ClickMeeting lets you set up automated webinars that enable you to run a campaign on autopilot by setting up pre-recorded videos or slides to play at the scheduled time, including interactive elements like surveys to gather data, and adding strategic CTAs to lead attendees further down the funnel.

The key to keeping your marketing sustainable via interactive content formats is to funnel your audience into your CRM system and keep the interaction going by giving them relevant information or nudging them to convert at precisely the right times.

Document and Organize Your Content Marketing

Sadly, disorganization runs rampant within content marketing. Many large and small companies alike report that they do not have a consistent or integrated content strategy, which can lead to inefficiency and a major disconnect between branding, marketing, PR and sales efforts. Of course, a lack of processes can also limit the creation process, leaving marketers scrambling to find information or run campaigns on time.

There are three important things that content marketing teams must clarify and establish in order to design a system that works for them.

First, the internal structure must be clarified and roles must be appointed. Depending on the size and nature of your team, positions may vary. In general, there are seven essential roles that must be filled in a content team: content strategist, idea contributor, content writer, editor, graphic designer, and content analyst. The duties of each position must be crystal clear so that no tasks fall between the cracks or are delayed. Using a task management system may be best to keep teams on top of their requirements.

Second, content marketing milestones must be in perfect alignment with the overall goals of the marketing strategy. Doing so will require transparent communication and collaboration between the departments. Simply relying on emails may not be enough here; other communication systems can help to shut the barriers between these integral departments for a more consistent message.

Finally, the protocol from start to finish must be defined and followed exactly. For example, let’s say a guest post written by a content writer must be sent to the graphic designer for custom images, then edited by the editor before the PR or outreach team pitches it or submits it to the target publication. After the post is published, the social media team needs to get down to sharing it and maximizing impressions or readership.

Source: CoSchedule

Any glitches or missteps in this process could easily result in subpar output that jeopardizes the company’s credibility with the publication as well as its audience. For this reason, teams should have a clear system in place that is concise, easy to follow, and repeatable to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.

There are lots of project management and task scheduling tools that promise to help, but if they are not being used correctly or don’t line up with the needs of the team, they are just a waste of time, money, and resources.

The solution, then, is a specialized content marketing platform that spans the entire content lifecycle, such as Percolate, which lets you build extended content programs that integrate with different kinds of online and offline marketing campaigns. This enables content managers to standardize workflows and map deliverables to milestones, while providing visibility to the rest of the organization on the impact of marketing.

The Wrap

Content marketing teams are under a lot of pressure to churn out a high volume of quality content in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, if this kind of practice goes on for too long without a sustainable system, it can quickly lead to burnout, ultimately leaving a negative impact on the perception of the brand itself.

Therefore, consistency and sustainability in your content processes are imperative for achieving any marketing or sales goal, be it customer acquisition, brand awareness, sales, or customer satisfaction.