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Content Marketing ChecklistContent marketing is the word on every digital marketing professional’s lips, but like many new buzzwords, the meaning often gets lost in the excitement. Content marketing is simply using content, whether text, video, or other mediums, to communicate your value to online users. This can be done in a number of ways from starting a blog, to creating a white paper, to hosting a video series highlighting common problems in your industry. With content marketing, your aim is to show that your company can add value to visitors’ lives. Use this checklist to make sure your content marketing launch is on track for success, and to come up with a plan of action going forward.

Have you identified your audience?

Every company should know who they’re selling to, and this is especially important in content marketing. Take some time and develop your customer personas, or the typical person who would come to you for answers. What is this person’s profession? How old are they? Where do they typically live? How much do they make every year? What are their pain points? Developing personas helps to guide your content in an actionable direction.

Does your content solve a problem for your audience?

Founder of Content Marketing Institute Joe Pulizzi once said, “Your sweet spot mixed with your customers’ pain points is where the truly valuable stories are.” Before even writing a piece of content, you should know what your company’s “sweet spot” is and how you can use it to solve problems for your readers. This is the realm of expertise that you’re the most knowledgeable, authoritative, and passionate about.

Is your content attractive?

Boring is death in content marketing. Lack of usefulness is also death. You have to strike a balance between being relevant and being at least somewhat entertaining. This can be tough to do, especially if you don’t work in a fun and happening industry (and even those industries have their dry topics). Your ideal content should:

  • Use an attractive headline that draws an audience in
  • Contain useful, actionable advice
  • Be scannable to readers thanks to headlines, bullet points, lists, and graphics that hold attention
  • Use an engaging, conversational tone

If you’re having trouble with any of these, consider hiring a professional writer. It’s well worth the investment.

Does your content coincide with important company goals?

You should always start content marketing campaigns by setting specific goals that compliment larger company goals. For instance, Oikos might have a goal to sell more of their nonfat Greek Yogurt. The goal of their content marketing would then be to showcase just how versatile their product is in the kitchen. They’ve created a page dedicated to Greek yogurt recipes created by celebrity chef Michael Simon, which in turn attracts people who have an interest in trying new healthy recipes.

Is your content centered around one or two important keywords?

You should perform keyword research well before you begin writing, taping, or illustrating. Keywords are not strictly for SEO purposes. They should envelop your brand, and accurately reflect how your company has positioned itself. How would you describe your business to an outsider? What are its core values? How would you describe company culture? Who are the key decision makers and influencers?  This is the best place to start when it comes to keyword research. The next thing to do is to glean feedback from your customers. Surveys are a great way to do this. Find out what keywords they would use to search for your company, or information about a certain pain point. Keyword research tools should come after you’ve gathered all of your human input. After all, it’s humans who you’ll be marketing to.

Is your website fit for presenting your content?

You’ve hired a brilliant writer who has created copy so ingenious and alluring that it’s worthy of a standing ovation. But if you have an unsightly, user-unfriendly website, it’s just like displaying the crown jewels out of the back of your trunk. A properly designed website with great usability is vital to a content marketing strategy.

Will you or can you eventually make an offer?

Though the aim is to be helpful with your content, the ultimate goal should be to get your prospects through the sales funnel. After you’ve proven your expertise and helpfulness, people are more likely to take advantage of your products and services. So be ready to make an offer.

Are you using social media to promote?

This step should come later in the process, when you’ve developed content worth sharing and have generated a considerable amount of buzz around it. Trying to get a million Facebook and Twitter followers beforehand is putting the cart before the horse, and will only leave you frustrated. Treat social media as a stage. You don’t go on stage before you’ve developed and practiced your act.
Your content should also be shareable across relevant social media platforms. If your content is picture intensive, utilize Pinterest and Tumblr. Post videos to sites like Youtube, Vimeo, and Daily Motion.

Are you staying in touch with people who like your stuff?

You should start building an email list as soon as you start content marketing. There’s no better way to stay in touch with your fans than through their email inboxes. Regularly contacting your list subscribers keeps your brand in front of people who find your content valuable enough to subscribe to.

Are you keeping inventory of your content for future use?

Content curation is another buzzword worthy of your attention. It’s a very valuable aspect of content marketing, yet it often goes overlooked. You can curate your own content in a variety of ways, including:

  • Publishing an annual blog post showcasing your most popular posts of the past year.
  • Putting together a white paper with useful statistics you’ve presented over time.
  • Collecting related articles to create an ebook.

Content curation also goes beyond your own content. You can see this on Twitter, where users often retweet articles and blog posts they find useful. You can put together a weekly roundup of industry news, make a list of favorite blogs, do a countdown of your favorite TEDTalks, or anything else along those lines.
Content marketing certainly isn’t rocket science, but it does take a good amount of planning and strategy. Brainstorm ideas, bounce them off of your colleagues, and know when to bring in help if you need it (e.g., a freelance writer or videographer). With careful planning and consideration, a content marketing launch should yield considerable returns for your business.

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