Years ago, Seth Godin said ‘content marketing is the only marketing left.’ His sage observation was a only a little ahead of its time, but in 2014 the term content marketing is truly dead because now it is simply marketing.

Many are questioning the probability of a fast-approaching content glut that causes it all to implode. A future where your content can’t break through the tidal wave of information. Well, something like that is surely headed our way, but you can ensure that you continue to get results with your ‘content’ marketing. But, it’s more than just creating and delivering content.

If you’re an association then you have great content, solid content teams, and an engaged audience, but the stone cold truth in content marketing is that you can always achieve more. This year the content marketing opportunities are going explode, but so will the companies trying to fill the need.

Google is still the search engine to please and its changes in 2013 made it clear what matters: good quality, relevant content and lots of it, keep it coming. And that’s the same thing that your audience wants. How convenient.

Here are some key areas of opportunities for any content creator, aka marketer, to improve their game:

1. Better understanding of your audience’s perceptions of, after, and leading up to buying from you.

You know a lot about your audience, you have been serving them for some time, you survey them, you speak to them face-to-face, you know what interests them. But there are specific things that are critical to learn about your audience in order to be effective with your content marketing.

There is an entire discipline surrounding defining your buyer personas. There are many tools and processes to gaining a deeper understanding of their perceptions surrounding the decision to buy or not buy from you. Your day-to-day interaction with your audience is not a replacement for digging deeper. You need to know their candid perceptions surrounding their buying journey:

• What triggered their need to search for a solution like the one they did or ultimately didn’t buy from you?
• What do they expect from that decision?
• What are their hesitations or concerns about you product or services?
• What are the criteria they used to evaluate your product or services?
• What was their process to identify and choose your or your competitor’s solution?

If you don’t have the answers to these questions, then you can’t identify content with certainty that will meet their needs of today or tomorrow.

2. Develop a content strategy.

If you don’t have a content strategy, know that you are far from alone. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, kicked off Content Marketing World ‘13 sharing that most companies still don’t have a formalized content strategy. But that doesn’t mean that it works on any level, the companies whose marketing is performing have a content strategy.

2014 is going to deliver a high-pressure onslaught of content and if you have no strategy in place, you will create a gap for others to step in and more effectively grab the attention of your audiences. I bet you wouldn’t create any other marketing without a strategy. I can believe that it is hard to develop a strategy for work that you have been doing for years – you’re perhaps a content marketer from way back. But that was before there was so much competition.

Heck, it comes down to this, try listing the reasons why you don’t need a content strategy and see if you can persuade yourself. (And if you do create the list, please send it to me.)

3. More and creative repurposing of existing content.

If you create a lot of content, then you likely have some content that was not fully leveraged. Repurposing is a creative endeavor. It starts with identifying which content pieces were the most successful by whichever KPIs you had identified for them. A report that sold well is repurposed as an abbreviated presentation of visual graphs for Slideshare and YouTube; also a free ebook to include the report’s executive summary; can you re-envision it as a Vine video or perhaps an illustrated cartoon.

Look back at your content, can you identify ten successful pieces that can be turned into many new content assets? If so, you may have just repurposed your ten best hits into 30-50 new content pieces. Sure, it will take time but a lot less than it takes to create all-new pieces. Plus, creative reinterpretations will be good fits for new channels; the cartoon will be embraced where a report would likely be ignored (if it fit in at all).

This is where more is better because these are content assets that have proven their measurable value to your audience. And by repurposing them you can increase your penetration into your audience.

3. Close the loop on your marketing using the latest technologies.

World-class content marketers rely on software solutions to deepen their understanding and drive performance in each step of the content creation and delivery. Do you use any of these tools? You should, this is one of the areas that divide those who create great content from those who achieve greatness with their content.

Content marketing collaboration software (Compendium, Contently, DivvyHQ, GatherContent, Kapost, Zerys)
Marketing automation software (Act|On, Eloqua, HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot)
Curation tools (Yahoo! Answers, NY Times, Paper.li, Quora, AMEX Open Forum, Social Mention, Alltop)
Search keyword and analysis tools (Skyword, Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, Soovle, FreshKey, SpyFU, MOZ, SEOquake, YouTube Keyword Tool)

4. Identify the right KPIs for every content asset.

Why are you creating this piece of content? Each of your goals calls for measuring certain results or actions. No exceptions. None. Zero. (Nope, not even for that.) Her are some examples of goals and KPIs. Get your KPIs on your editorial calendar, pay attention to them, compare them. But whatever you do, don’t overlook them.

 

EXAMPLE GOAL

 

EXAMPLE KPI

Driving interest in your upcoming educational program. How many readers clicked the link to read more about your educational program? How many of those readers went on to register?
Nurturing membership leads. How many qualified leads for membership did your content deliver?
Building a platform of information to be the sole source for one or more of your buyer personas. How many of your members are repeat visitors? How does the retention rate of your content’s readers compare to overall retention?

 

So, there you have it, these are the key areas that we think can improve your performance. May 2014 be the year to move from creating great content to achieving greatness with your great content.

By Monica Bussolati
@bussolati

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