Outsource Content for Better Business Performance

Content marketing doesn’t seem like a big deal until you trip down the rabbit hole of keyword research or trying to tie your content to business objectives. Once you do, you’ll find that employees are more likely to abandon the project and never look back. Don’t let your company’s blog be one of those website fixtures that never gets dusted off. Learn why you should outsource content to a trusted partner and how this may bring you the success you were looking for. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

The Steps of Generating New Content

When I talk about outsourcing, I’m normally talking about content, because I’m a content consultant. That’s what we do at Defy The Status Quo. So we’re going to run with that as an example, but keep in mind that this applies to pretty much any type of service that you would consider outsourcing to a freelancer, company, or agency. 

Trying out Blogging

We’re going to go with blogging. I feel like that’s where most companies dip their toes in terms of content marketing. Blogging doesn’t seem like too big of an extra task. How much time can it take to write up a blog post? 

The Steps of Writing a Blog Post

You have to consider the content plan and what you’re actually going to be writing about. In order to develop the content plan, we need to do keyword research. 

We should also be tying content to business objectives. Your marketing director is probably pretty clear on the business objectives, but it’s not always considered necessary to share those in detail with your employees. 

So now we’ve got:

  • Creating the content plan
  • Doing the keyword research 
  • Tying every single piece of content to a business objective. 

We should also probably also have a downloadable or lead magnet of some sort, like a white paper, an ebook, a research report, etc.

We covered white papers in Season 1 and a white paper can easily take 20-30 hours to finish. And that’s normally over the course of 6-8 weeks. Who’s going to do that? But I digress.  

Continuing on, now we need a distribution plan for our content. We’ve got the content plan, and we need to have a distribution plan. 

Once you write it, it’s not a case of “build it and they will come.” It’s a case of “build it and then distribute it, so people know about it, and then they will come.” So you actually have to have a plan in place for that. 

Also, who’s checking our analytics to make sure that everything is performing the way it should? Someone needs to check analytic sources, like Google Analytics. 

The Return of Investment on Blogging

At first, it seems very easy, but then it easily snowballs. People are asking questions about ROI. We have someone spending 10 hours/week on blogging. What’s the ROI to the business? We’re paying them for that! 

Getting real ROI from content takes time, but there are short term KPIs that you can measure to help predict how content is going to perform over time. 

Content marketing builds momentum, and that’s another way that it generates long-term ROI. But the level of content marketing that generates real ROI may take up more time than the people in your marketing department have. 

Everyone is Doing Something

What I’m saying is that, even if it seems like the people that you assign this to aren’t doing anything, they are doing something with their 40 hours. I’m assuming that your marketing employees work 9-5, Monday-Friday. 

They need to be able to fit in the content, so there’s going to be some juggling of responsibilities. It shouldn’t be a problem, but it is something new. 

Starting a New Project

New projects might only be taken up halfheartedly. Big projects can have many points of failure, like blogging, white papers, and case studies. 

Oftentimes, for employees who are only half-heartedly taking on a project, one failure is enough to put the project on the back-burner. Especially if nobody’s checking on them. 

Time Over Zeal

You may have to give a project to an employee, not because they’re the best fit, but because they’ve got time. 

Maybe your best writer or your best video person, or social media person is engaged in another marketing project. So this white paper’s gonna go to John Smith because he’s got time. 

Then, it kind of goes back to point #1 about employees taking up projects halfheartedly. John Smith doesn’t want to do a white paper. He would rather be updating his resume on Indeed, so he’s not going to be happy about taking on this project either. 

Why No One Points Out Your Bad Ideas

Employees aren’t always going to tell you when you’ve got a bad content idea. I have to be honest: one thing that most of my clients tell me in the discovery call is, “I don’t know this stuff. I just want somebody to tell me what we can and can’t do. That’s a good idea. That’s a bad idea.” 

So there are two reasons why employees might not tell you: 

  • Nobody likes to deliver bad news. They don’t. 
  • They may not know enough to deliver bad news. 

That’s what makes having somebody who knows enough to tell you that you’ve got a bad idea so important. 

When you’re spitting out these content ideas at your marketing meeting, you’re developing a self-reinforcing bias within your marketing department because they don’t have the expertise to tell you that it’s a bad idea. 

Assigning Content To Your Employees

So when you’re looking at assigning content to your marketing people, you need to check:

  • Have any of them received content training?
  • Do they understand writing for search engines, and writing for your audience? 
  • Do they understand the sorts of market research that they’re going to have to do? 
  • Are they well versed in the analytics, and are able to report to you on the ROI? 

Invest in Your Employees

If none of them have received that sort of training but you have people who are interested, then I would go for it. I would definitely develop those employees. 

When you invest in your employees’ education and help them grow in unexpected ways, they value that. It can increase employee loyalty and retention in your company. 

If All Else Fails, Outsource Your Content

If you don’t have people jumping up out of their seat for this, you’re probably going to want to outsource your content in order to create the best long-term assets. 

The best way to do that is through interviewing agencies or solo practitioners like myself. All of our professional knowledge will translate to your content. We’ll tell you everything you and your marketing team need to know to create the best content. 

The Content Marketing Status Quo and How You Can Do Better

Content marketing is going strong. Every day more content gets created, via writing, video, audio, and photos. What’s the result? A content marketing status quo of mediocrity. What’s the good news for you? You can still stand out and above your competition by creating great content.

More businesses are getting excited about content marketing. And why wouldn’t they, when mega marketing influencers are saying things like:

“Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left.” ~ Seth Godin

“Content Marketing provides 4x the ROI of our traditional marketing spend.” ~ Julie Fleischer, VP Marketing, Neustar

“Content is king.” ~ Bill Gates

“Great content is the best sales tool in the world.” ~ Marcus Sheridan

In some of the latest research, we discovered some compelling numbers explaining why the content status quo is the way it is. Here are our big three takeaways.

Companies Are Churning Out Content Without Checking ROI

Companies are starting to understand exactly what content marketing can do for their businesses. They also realize that at least one of their competitors is doing it. So if they don’t jump on the bandwagon, they won’t reach their full potential. So what does this FOMO incite?

A LOT of content. Tons of content. Content about everything they can think of that relates to their product or service. And that’s the problem right there. They produce content about everything THEY can think of. Without checking what is actually working (or not, as the case may be).

What is their content actually doing for them? 91% of content doesn’t get organic visits. That’s right. All of the search engine queries lead searchers to just 9% of the internet. Now you may get some views from social media, or your email list, but that’s push distribution. Search engine traffic represents pull distribution…. Er, pull attraction?

When you have a new site, you shouldn’t expect to get much organic traffic initially. If you’re putting out great content, then you may get some if you have a strong content marketing strategy.

More Than Half Aren’t Measuring

51% of content marketers don’t measure their content’s return on investment (ROI). More than half of professional content marketers can’t tell anyone exactly what their content does for them. And that’s a mistake. With the freelance workforce expected to reach 16% by 2020, ROI has become more important than ever.

If you’re a CMO, then you need to be able to justify any of your outsourcing. You can’t? Then your company may find someone who will. Even the largest companies outsource, and it isn’t a problem. As long as you can prove value.

If you’re a contractor, then you may be asked to justify your services. Not because they’re trying to nickel and dime you, but because they hired you to handle “content”. That includes reporting on the results.

KPI’s to Check for Happy Site Visitors

I’m not going to bore you with the obvious answers (another affliction of the content marketing status quo) like “overall blog traffic.” That seems like a big “DUH”, but a segment of your site traffic should be very interesting to you. And that’s your returning site visitors.

Returning Site Visitors

You can find this pie chart under the Audience tab by clicking “Overview” in Google Analytics. Considering the Defy The Status Quo site is only a few months old at the time we published this post, I’m pretty happy with this result.

When site visitors come back, they’re telling you they’re happy with your content. They’re likely either on your email list or a member of your social media network. They saw you published a new post up, and they went to check it out. A returning site visitor doesn’t need as much convincing as a new site visitor.

Bounce Rate and Session Duration

Blogs often have higher bounce rates than other sites. Sometimes people find the answer they need early on and leave. If a site visitor only visits one page and then leaves, that counts as a bounce. Even if they read the whole article. However, a high bounce rate can also tell Google that people aren’t finding what they need.

When you land on your Google Analytics home page, you can see what your bounce rate for the last 7 days looks like.

This bounce rate is a combination of all of my sources though. If you want to see what your bounce rate looks like for your different traffic sources, you need to:

  1. Click on the Acquisitions tab.
  2. Click on Overview.
  3. Scroll down past the pie chart until you get to this table/bar chart.

As you can see, for the small amount of organic search traffic I’m getting, the bounce rate is a lot lower than my social traffic bounce rate.

In my chart, you can also see that my session duration is low, but as we add more content to the site, that will change. Internal linking on pages helps increase your “pages/session” number. That number tells you how many pages someone viewed during a single visit to your site.

None of these numbers can tell the story on their own. That’s why performing a comprehensive content audit on your content at least once per year is critical to measuring ROI. Quarterly would be ideal.

No Documented Content Strategy

Only 39% of organizations have a documented content marketing strategy. It’s even lower in industries like manufacturing, at 21%. Best-in-class marketers document their strategies because it helps them align the team with the company’s goals. Also, prioritizing which types of content to create and distribute becomes much easier.

How can you be sure that everyone is on the same page if you’re all not looking at the same page?

Only 42% of marketers feel like their content strategy is mature or sophisticated. This is likely because they’ve never taken the time to write it down. How can you measure and improve your content marketing if you don’t have a record of where you started?

An undocumented content strategy usually happens when your company is doing content because someone said you should. You’re blogging because “everyone” is blogging these days.

One of your C-suite executives says that you need to be on Instagram, so you’re posting pictures.

Or maybe a family member or friend insisted that you post on LinkedIn, because “that’s where all of the business people are!”

Tom Fishbourne create a great cartoon about this haphazard marketing “strategy” phenomenon. I thought about including it here, but the license is $50. So instead, I’m linking to it so you can go see it for yourself.

When you stop looking at content as something Millennials do for fun (the oldest Millennial is over 40, FYI), then you’ll realize that you have to treat your content like assets. Marketing assets, and sometimes, even sales assets.

You might be thinking, “Sales assets, really?” YES. Case studies and white papers are the most recommended content types for converting leads among B2B marketers.

What Goes Into a Great Content Marketing Strategy?

Creating a great content marketing strategy is going to require some time. If you have a team, then it should be a team effort. If it’s just you, well that’s okay too.

According to Julia McCoy’s book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, there are four keys to creating a solid content strategy:

  1. Discovering who you’re helping with your content
  2. Understanding what you need to do to help them better than your competitors
  3. Learning how to create content they actually see
  4. Analyzing your content performance by auditing, updating, and measuring

Need more direction to start creating your content marketing strategy? Download your copy of our B2B Content Marketing Workbook.

Not Putting the Reader First

I found some conflicting numbers from the Content Marketing Institute’s latest B2B research. Are you ready?

So 73% of marketers say they prioritize the audience’s needs over their marketing/sales message.

But…

Only 42% of marketers actually engage with their customers to confirm what sort of content they’re interested in.

And

56% of marketers increased spending on content creation last year.

Oh boy. This is a recipe for disaster. You aren’t sure exactly what it is your readers want to see, but you’re increasing spending and making MORE content? This ties back to the points about having a content strategy. You’ll know what content to create because you did the research needed to create the strategy.

So, 39% of marketers have a documented strategy. But 73% are putting the audience’s needs first? I don’t think so.

You’ll increase spending on content creation, and then be upset with the creators when that content doesn’t generate the ROI you expected to see. But you never laid the foundation FOR high ROI.

What do you do?

Buyer Personas: Know Who Your Ideal Audience Is

As part of your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to create buyer personas. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a target audience for your company. Most people think of basic demographics like age and gender. That’s true, but a buyer persona should also include your target audiences challenges and goals.

Even more valuable? Their key questions at the various stages of the buyer’s journey. With this information, you can create content that meets your reader’s needs at each phase of their buyer’s journey, gaining their trust along the way.

Thanks to the internet, there’s a lot of secondary research out there on a variety of groups and group segments. Secondary research is incredibly valuable for businesses who don’t have the budget to do primary research.

Primary research is when your company pays to have a survey or customer focus groups done to gather information. It can be very expensive, which is why many turn to secondary research. That is, a review of research already done or available.

If you can find this research online, then you can probably build buyer personas that can at least get you started. Or point your primary research in the right direction.

If you know your buyer personas, then you’ll know where they hang out online. Being in the same LinkedIn and Facebook groups, Reddit threads, and Quora topics can give you some insight straight from the horse’s mouth.

You can use social media engagement to guide your content marketing strategy as well. I’ve written blog posts and recorded videos based on great responses I’ve received on LinkedIn.

Consider the Content Marketing Status Quo the Bottom. Do Better

Depending on the size of your business, you might not be able to execute a comprehensive content marketing strategy. But whatever you do, you can stand out by doing it well. The content marketing status quo is mediocre content. It’s checking the box.

But the status quo leaves off some very important practices, like documenting your content marketing strategy, that best-in-class marketers just wouldn’t advise.

Your clients and customers deserve better than that. Give them your best, and you’ll earn their trust in return. Make your company memorable through content, and customer trust and loyalty will increase.

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