Essentially Fool-Proof Content Marketing Tactics from CMO Essentials
From broken boat trailers (yes, plural) in the back-woods of Maine, to a computer conking out on me only a few weeks after being issued, I’ve gotten pretty used to dealing with things that don’t work like they’re supposed to. Usually, with a little elbow grease, some ingenuity, and the occasional roll of duct tape, I can get things back on track, but needless to say, I’m more accustomed to things falling apart than coming together.
That’s why when we launched our online marketing publication, CMO Essentials, for the Aberdeen Group, my aim wasn’t just to get things up and running, but to build the site and our overall strategy around firm, yet fixable foundations. Today, with over 18 active guest contributors, a secure spot among the top three sources of referral traffic to Aberdeen’s research content, and a steadily growing and engaged readership, I’m admittedly much less paranoid about things falling apart, but as anything that can go wrong eventually does, it still never hurts to be prepared. Keeping Murphy’s Law in mind, I’ve outlined three of the key factors behind our own success with CMO Essentials, and how you can use them to fail-proof your own content marketing efforts.
A Clear Vision with a Measurable Path
When Maribeth Ross, Aberdeen’s Chief Content Officer, deputized me to direct CMO Essentials, the goal was clear: grow Aberdeen’s marketing, sales, and customer experience readership communities by creating and distributing valuable, easy-to-consume content. Along with the clear objective, we also established defined metrics for success; namely driving referral traffic, and ultimately, subscriptions to Aberdeen’s research content.
As we were operating in uncharted territory without any existing data on the site to benchmark against, having both a clear vision and a measurable way to pursue it allowed us to avoid any kind of analysis paralysis, while executing on achievable, pass/fail steps. Fortunately for us, things worked out as planned, but had anything fallen through, we would’ve been able to quickly react and reconfigure our tactics to move forward. In general, I think the trick is to have a vision that maps out where you need to go with your content, and metrics that (like a compass) indicate whether or not you’re going in the right direction.
Takeaway tip: Don’t wing it. Set a written editorial calendar with specific milestone goals. Even if you can’t plan every piece of content, you can plan your cadence and how many people you expect to reach. This will give you a good sense of the range of topics required to meet your goals.
Keeping It Simple
Admittedly, creating marketing content for content marketers to help them in their content marketing efforts doesn’t sound all that simple—let alone tying content to sales and customer experience as well—but what makes it simple is the fact that that’s what Aberdeen is all about. From the design to the strategy, the focus of CMO Essentials is to use content as a vehicle for delivering value because that’s the value Aberdeen research delivers to its customers. In other words, we show what we do simply by doing what we do. Even when we branch out to feature various content forms like infographics, videos, reports, etc. we have a kind of stable rhythm and form—almost like muscle memory—that keeps everything aligned and consistent.
It’s nothing all that clever, to be honest, but I think what often derails many content marketing efforts is the temptation to overcomplicate content with technologies, trends, and other forms of media that aren’t aligned to the simple function of serving a target audience. If you’re not confident in the simple things you do well, there’s no amount of bells, whistles, fanfare or flare that can save you. Moreover, each added piece or component in your content that doesn’t tie back to a solid foundation is only another variable that could potentially go wrong.
Takeaway tip: If it takes 15 slides and 30 minutes to explain your content plan, take a step back. Pick one goal to hit, identify your target audience clearly, and focus on good, quality writing. Once you have the rhythm going, then you can start to experiment with new content types.
Safety Nets in Stakeholders
In the end, though, one of the biggest reasons for our success with CMO Essentials (and my own personal hedge against things going wrong) isn’t in our own content, but in the content created by our guest contributors. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, with our goal of growing our readership community, the external reach and exposure into the networks and audiences of our guest contributors directly expands our own reach, and allows us to earn net-new community members who find value in our own content.
Perhaps more importantly, though, in having active, insightful, and often entertaining content creators alongside our own content, we gain a kind of third party validation in highlighting and sharing insights from thought leaders outside of Aberdeen. Not only do our guest contributors add to our own credibility by association, they also have stakes of their own in ensuring the success of our site as the exposure we provide is beneficial for them as well.
At the heart of this strategy is something I believe to be the soul of effective content—the ability to create meaningful connections. Whether it’s establishing trust, fueling emotion, or instilling a feeling of involvement or participation, good content is all about connecting to what people value most. Even in unexpected complications, unintended mistakes, or other unforeseeable mishaps, if content connects with people on the right level, it’s never really wrong.
Takeaway tip: Recruit guest contributors. It’s the single easiest way to generate more high quality content.
How do you keep your content marketing machine running smoothly? Share your tips in the comments.
As a Content Marketing Manager for the Aberdeen Group and Editorial Director of CMO Essentials, Andrew Moravick is responsible for content initiatives which support inbound, outbound, and sales enablement marketing programs. With past experience working for both B2B and B2C companies like Eloqua and PUMA, Andrew combines analytical business insights with affable yet informative stories.