Strategy

The 2021 Content Marketing Checklist

Lately, it feels like 2015 again, and not just because I’ve spent the last four months comfort-rewatching Veep and the Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals. It’s because content is the hot new marketing buzzword again.

This makes a lot of sense; all marketing is digital now, and digital marketing just doesn’t work well without great content. And every marketing leader on earth needs to focus on developing their team’s content muscle if they want to thrive.

With the pandemic raging across the United States, it’s likely that in-person events aren’t coming back until the end of 2021, and that’s being optimistic. Even if a vaccine is rolled out at scale in the first half of the year, it’ll be some time before we can safely pack convention centers again.

In-person events make up over 20 percent of B2B marketing budgets on average, and upwards of 50 percent inside many organizations. Smart marketing leaders are planning to shift that budget to content; according to LinkedIn, a whopping 78 percent plan to up their investment in content.

Content from brands is going to get better as a result. And everyone is going to have to up their game to stand out.

The smartest will reevaluate their media budgets, and reinvest some of that spend in content to up their effectiveness overall. After all, great content lowers your cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-lead (CPL), and spreads awareness, trust, and affinity for your brand.

The first place to start? Display. As Branded has repeatedly revealed in its newsletter, many display campaigns end up in unsafe brand environments—surrounded by bigotry and misinformation—and simply don’t work. Headphones.com, for instance, recently reduced its display spend from $1200 to $40 per day and saw no drop in performance.

Starting today, every marketing leader should have this checklist in their head.

1. Content Strategy

Do you have one, and does it have all seven key components? Do you understand the type of content your audience craves, and have you identified the sweet spot where what your brand cares about and what your audience cares about overlaps?

content pillars

2. Creative Talent

Do you have the right creative talent at your disposal to create content that’ll truly stand out? Are you able to go beyond blog posts and create for the channels and formats your audience craves the most? And if the answer is no, how will you scale quickly? Will you build an in-house team, or join the new generation of content marketers scaling with top-flight creative talent to maximize their creative and budget flexibility?

3. ROI Model

You’ll struggle to get adequate budget if you can’t show how your content investment will drive revenue. Do you have an ROI model in place? (If not, this article and this webinar will help.)

4. Technology

Do you have the right technology in place to empower your content team to do to their best work? To give them the content insights they need, streamline their production process, measure what’s working and what’s not, and make it easy to improve with each round of publishing?

The marketing leaders who develop their content muscle are the ones who will thrive and survive next year and beyond. They’ll generate leads that are already evangelists, totally bought in. They’ll dominate search, and deliver compounding returns over time.

They’ll do marketing that’s actually worthwhile, and they’ll be rewarded.

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