Content marketing is a long game

Successful content marketing programs are built in months and years, not weeks — but the results are worth the wait.

By • Jul 26, 2022

Content Marketing is a Long Game

But the results are worth the wait. 

Marketing teams today have no shortage of channels to explore. Email marketing, video, paid marketing, social media, PR, events, content marketing, SEO, influencer marketing — there’s a lot to choose from. Small marketing teams often try to do a little bit of everything and see what works in order to decide which strategies to invest in, but this approach has its limitations. 

Some marketing channels can generate results quickly: an email highlighting an unmissable promotion on shoes, or targeted social media ads showing available last-minute vacation homes, or setting up a booth at a trade show where the leads start rolling in for weeks after the event.

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And for results-driven teams, it can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the quick wins and only investing in the channels that show ROI right away. 

But content marketing is different. Especially when you’re just starting out, the time and effort put into content marketing might only start paying dividends a few months down the line. But keep in mind that when it starts to work, it really works. It’s a slow burn that can easily turn into a roaring fire — but only if you keep stoking it. 

Creating a robust overall marketing strategy involves combining the quick hits with the slow burners. Allocating resources to the teams that instantly generate leads and quick wins can get the ball rolling, but to ensure long-term success and to lift your website to the top of Google results pages, invest in Content and SEO.

Why invest in content marketing?

Great content marketing involves creating helpful, clear, well-written articles about anything and everything within your industry. They’re typically housed on a company blog, and crucially, content marketing posts don’t center around developments about your company — that kind of content is better suited for a Company News page.

There are three major goals of content marketing:

  1. To help your community find answers to their questions related to your industry, increasing their trust in your business and positioning your company as a helpful authority in the space. 
  2. To strengthen the Domain Authority of your whole website. Great content marketing gets articles placed at the top of the Google search results page for relevant search queries, which vastly increases the number of eyes on your website. And when lots of pages on your website start ranking well in Google, your website Domain Authority increases — which, in turn, helps all the pages on your website rank higher on Google. 
  3. To encourage readers to take a specific action, like learning more about your products, requesting a demo, downloading a full-length guide, or signing up for an event or course.

These goals are easily achieved with a great content marketing program, whether you choose to build an internal content team or work with a content marketing agency. Some of the best and most successful company blogs include the Nerdwallet blog, the HubSpot blog, and Toast’s On the Line — click around and get inspired.

Measure content marketing results after months, not minutes

Every blog post isn’t going to go viral or become a traffic juggernaut — but every blog post will contribute to the overall strength of your blog as a whole. It’s easy to micromanage a content program and demand results from every post, but a much better indicator of success is the quarterly performance of key posts and of the blog as a whole.

Some things to measure on a quarterly basis: 

  1. Percentage of overall website traffic that’s on the blog
  2. Average monthly visits to the blog
  3. Average Google ranking across all blog pages
  4. Google ranking of key blog posts
  5. Number of shares of key blog posts
  6. Domain authority of the website as a whole
  7. Number of conversions on the blog as a whole
  8. Number of conversions on key blog posts  

Check traffic and conversions on each page monthly

It takes time for Google to crawl a new (or updated) blog post, pick out the keywords, and determine how well it’s written and how well it fits a search query. Publish your articles, distribute them across your best channels, and sit tight for a few weeks. In the meantime, keep working through your content calendar and building up your content library with new and updated posts. 

Then at the one month, two month, and three month mark, take a look at Google Analytics (or whatever other platform you use to track your website performance) and see what kind of traffic and conversions these posts are getting. It’ll take time to establish a baseline for what’s good, and that’ll likely shift over time as your domain authority increases and your pages overall start getting more views. It’s okay to start small and build slowly. 

Optimize pages that are underperforming after 1-2 months

Once you’ve established a baseline, you can start thinking about optimization. If a post is lagging behind and going largely unseen, don’t panic. You can try restructuring the post, making it a little longer by adding some more answers to frequently asked questions, adding (and linking to) additional or updated authoritative statistics and sources, or redoing the keyword research and seeing if anything has changed. Then, the waiting starts again: give it a month or so and check on performance again. 

How to create content that works

  1. Hire great writers. You wouldn’t ask a writer to code your website, so don’t ask a coder to write your blog posts. Many marketing teams believe that getting internal employees to write their content is a good way to kick off a blog because they don’t have to pay per article — but it’s a shortcut that won’t necessarily pay off. Google (and your readers) can tell when the writing of an article isn’t good enough, and there’s a lot of formatting nuances that help articles rank in Google that might be missed by non-professionals. 
  2. Use SEO tools. Mangools, ahrefs, or google search console are critical when building out a content plan. Going after keywords with medium to high search volume and easy to medium difficulty is a great place to start. Incorporate keywords and variations throughout the article, but don’t try to cheat the system with keyword stuffing — it just doesn’t work.
  3. Create a realistic content calendar and stick to it. Five short articles on a bare-bones blog won’t move the needle: content marketing requires a plan. Create a list of keywords and queries you want to write articles for, and figure out who will write, edit, build, and publish these pieces. Create a realistic timeline for publishing these pieces.
  4. Plan out your content distribution strategy. Will your articles be shared in email newsletters? Repurposed as social posts? Used in the sales process?

Content is complicated, but we’re here to help

Creating content is so much more than just writing a few paragraphs and hitting publish. There’s a lot of strategy and planning that goes into developing and executing a successful content plan — but we love to do it.  

Working with a specialized content marketing agency can help your marketing team lay the foundation for a robust, effective content program that boosts your site traffic and connects you with your community.

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