Are you spending most of your time and resources creating new content to fill your website with blog posts, landing pages, Ebooks, and videos? If you’re only focused on filling a content quota, you may be missing out on opportunities to optimize the content you already have and improve your overall findability. Take a little time out from creating new content to look back and see what content received a lot of attention initially but has fallen in the rankings. Spend some content creation time refreshing older content to keep it current and working for you.
While you’re evaluating content performance, take a look at how well you’ve been able to meet your strategic content marketing goals, evaluate your progress toward end of year goals, and perhaps revise some tactical elements based on performance so far. Use search data to review your editorial calendar, refresh your audience persona profiles, improve content performance, and evaluate landing page stickiness.
Review the editorial calendar
With 76% of B2B organizations planning to create more content moving forward, according to CMI’s Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends for North America, the editorial calendar is becoming a necessity in most organizations. But, for many, the tool is underused. Now is a good time to step back and look over your editorial calendar and evaluate its effectiveness for planning and executing content assets.
First, let’s look at what’s included in your editorial calendar. At the very least you should have a plan for frequency of your blog and other types of content. Beyond that, the editorial calendar can help you to decide who is responsible for the tactical elements of content creation and to set deadlines and workflow for content review, publishing, and promotion.
If you aren’t already using the editorial calendar as a way to track content performance by medium, method, and message; consider including engagement and success metrics as part of the calendar as an easy way to review content effectiveness and future content creation and content lifecycle decisions.
The medium you choose for your content is the type of content you’re creating. Are you using video, podcast, blog, landing pages, eBooks, slide deck presentations, printed materials, or other types of mediums to carry your message?
Create a place on the editorial calendar to notate the type of content asset associated with each message. Track engagement with content mediums to determine how your audience likes its content served up. It’s too difficult to track engagement if every type of content, every campaign, or every message has its own calendar. Merge all your calendars into one and include your measurement metrics to get a quick review of what’s working and what’s not.
Before you decide to stop creating a specific type of content, consider how video, podcast, or eBooks fit into your overall content ecosystem. Try making some changes to the way you deliver or promote various mediums before completely abandoning them.
The method is the channel where you distribute your content. Track what topics and what mediums are getting the most social shares, retweets, and likes on specific social channels. Include email metrics and referral data to determine where your audiences are engaging with your brand.
Match the medium with the method to see what kind of content performs better on your various channels. Maybe your email subscribers prefer blogs and your Twitter audiences like video. Knowing what your audiences are responding to will help you to revise your editorial calendar moving forward.
What messages are resonating with your audiences? Do they like listicles and how to instructions, or do they prefer to be entertained? Look over your editorial calendar results to see what the most popular topics were. If you find a particular topic that’s been underserved by your current content offering, you may want to add some content creation around that topic for the second half of the year.
Match your top performing messages to the keywords associated with them. Dive a little deeper to discover the long-tail keywords and associated topics. Once you know what topics your audiences are really responding to, create content on different mediums, or distribute on some different channels to see if you can increase engagement for those subjects.
Get more out of your editorial calendar
Reviewing your planned editorial calendar against your content metrics will help you to make adjustments along the way. The editorial calendar should be a living document to help your team visualize and deliver the content strategy to meet marketing goals. If you started the year using an editorial calendar to schedule your blog, expand it to include:
- Review process
- Publish date
- Writing and editorial task assignments
- Subject lines
- Content to include
- Target mailing lists
- Review process
- Writing and distribution task assignments
- Ebooks, white papers, slide deck presentations, newsletters, etc.
- Approval process
- Graphic requirements
- Production requirements
- Writing and creative task assignments
- Videos and podcasts
- Guest Speakers (if appropriate)
- Approval process
- Production requirements
- Writing and creative task assignments
- Social Media
- Writing and publishing assignments
Don’t forget to assign responsibilities for each step along the way and deadlines for things like approvals. Keeping your content, email, and social media messaging all in one place insures that every team is adhering to the content mission statement and coordinating efforts to create a unified message and singular voice.
The editorial calendar should also reflect timing of product announcement and promotions, events, and marketing campaigns.
Scrutinize audience personas
How long have your audience personas been in existence? Have you made changes or updated your audience profiles since you first started your content marketing initiatives four years ago? If not, it might be time to dust off your persona descriptions and review them for relevancy. If you haven’t created your audience personas yet, now is a good time to get started.
If you’re using your editorial calendar to track engagement, you should have a pretty good idea if your content is resonating with your audience, or not. Take it one step further and check to see what keywords your audience is using when they’re searching for your solution and make sure those keywords are reflected in the topics you have identified for future content.
Look at the questions your audiences are asking and match those pain points with which pieces of content they’re sharing to get good insights into whether you’re producing content that really fills your audience’s needs or not. Look at past pageviews and website visits to conversions associated with content to determine if you’re just attracting more people, or if your content is actually attracting people who will ultimately engage and convert.
Improve content performance
Looking back over the last six months, chances are that every piece of content you and your team created hasn’t gone viral. For those blog posts or other content assets that have been disappointing, take a deeper dive into what could have gone wrong and can be improved with a little work.
Here are some ways to get more SEO value from content:
- Optimize the title to include long tail keywords that reflect your audience’s intent.
- Use target keywords in the first 100 words of the page or post.
- Repeat target keywords in the conclusion.
- Include internal links to related posts.
- Optimize images with alt descriptions to make them findable.
- Add interesting or new facts.
- Make sure the title tags are under 55 characters.
- Consider publishing in a new medium.
Use keyword insights and keyword discovery tools to match which keywords you’re already using versus which keywords your audience is using and you don’t have content to match. Where appropriate, update keyword usage or plan to create content using keywords and topics that are popular amongst your key audiences.
Evaluate landing page effectiveness
When looking at content effectiveness, don’t overlook your website landing page engagement. If your landing pages are attracting visitors that bounce after visiting just one page or if one particular page has a high bounce rate, you’ll want to look back and see why. If you’re going to spend a lot of time and resources driving traffic to landing pages, you’ll want to make sure your landing pages improve your inbound efforts and convert visitors.
Think of your landing pages as the destinations for prospects and customers as they move along the buyer journey. Understanding where the audiences who click on those pages are in the journey will help you make sure the content is engaging and relevant at that point in their search for information and answers.
There are five questions you should ask yourself when reviewing landing pages and considering updating or optimizing them to meet your goals:
- Who is the landing page created for?
- Understanding your audience will help you determine if the page is actually meeting the expectations you set when you drove traffic to it.
- Where is the traffic coming from?
- Keyword phrases used to find your landing page will clue you into where audiences are in the buyer journey.
- What pages do audiences most often visit after visiting a landing page, or do they bounce?
- Enhance user experiences by creating a clear navigation path that leads visitors logically to the next step without creating undo frustration.
- Does your layout and design enhance the user experience?
- Even if you have great content, no one is going to read it if the page layout is confusing and the font size, color, or style is hard to read.
- Is your landing page optimized for SEO?
- Make sure things like titles and tags include target keywords and exist.
- Optimize page structure and crawlability
Analyze progress toward content marketing goals
For many types of businesses, summer is typically a time when business slows. If you’re only halfway to your end of year goals, are you behind? You won’t know until you compare progress year to year. Look at historical analytics data to determine your trends year to year. If fall is typically your highest performing season, this is a good time to get ramped up in preparation for that. If you are behind in your forecasts, make adjustments and plan for a targeted push to end the year.
If your overall efforts haven’t been as successful as you’d hoped so far this year, perhaps this is a good time for a complete site and content audit. While looking at editorial calendars and individual pieces of content and landing pages can help you fill in the holes left by a few instances of underperforming assets; if you’re not reaching your overall goals, the problems may be more systemic. At this point, a site and content audit can help you course correct and amp up your efforts to meet end of year goals.
As marketers, we’re often focused on the next thing, the next piece of content, the next event; whatever is next on our editorial and campaign calendars. Sometimes, it’s good to take a look in the rear view mirror to determine what we’re getting right and what needs to be tweaked. Look over your plans and tactics for the first part of the year and make the adjustments and optimizations required to join the 30% of marketers who say their efforts are successful, according to CMI. Hit refresh and get ready for the second half of the year.