What to expect from your content marketing campaign

Content creation is a long game, requires heavy investment and dedication, and might not provide immediate results. Here’s what you can reasonably expect.

Content_Marketing_Expectations

When it comes to content marketing, patience is a must-have.

If you’re embarking on a content marketing strategy and expecting to see a ton of leads flood your site after you publish your very first blog post, then your expectations are way out of whack. Content marketing is a long-term strategy.

However, there are tremendous benefits for organizations willing to take the risk.

Results depend on your strategy

First, you must understand the different types of strategies you can pursue because, ultimately, they determine results.

  1. Thought leadership — If you want to build your credibility, you should create plenty of high-quality content in your name or in the name of your company’s subject matter experts. You’ll also want to focus on building up your social media profiles and using the content you create to build your network so you can start being seen as a leader in your industry.2. Lead generationYour sales team uses the content you’re creating to answer questions and help expedite the sales process, using inbound marketing tactics to move leads through your funnel, and converting on-site visitors.3. SEO — You want your content to make you more visible to your prospects. This means you need to have a website that is user-friendly and optimized, as well as an idea of what sort of keywords your audience is searching for so that you can craft content that uses them.

The power of consistency

Like a fine wine, your content strategy gets better with age. The longer you stick with your strategy, maintain consistency, and track the right metrics, the more results you’ll see.

Three months in content marketing world is more like three days in the real world. Content is an investment, one that you’ll see benefits you the most after you’ve been sticking with it for some time.

To get as specific as possible, here’s what you should typically see from your efforts three, six and 12 months out:

Thought leadership

  • At three months — Nail down a content creation process, create a documented content strategy and map out the publications that make sense for them to target. You want to ensure you’re building the foundation before you build the house, or their content initiatives will fall flat.
  • At six months — Expect to see more guest content published at this stage and have a steady stream of blog content going live every month as well. Share this content on social platforms and use it to apply for awards and speaking engagements for your organization or your subject matter experts. You should also see on-site engagement increase, so tracking time on site, finish rate and which blog posts are getting the most views is crucial in identifying success.
  • At 12 months — It isn’t uncommon to start booking some speaking engagements at this stage. If you’ve incorporated press mentions into your strategy, then after a year’s time, contributors might even be reaching out to them for commentary on trending news.

Lead generation

  • At three months — It isn’t realistic to expect hundreds of leads to pour in from one piece of content. Instead, effort should be focused on ensuring everything is in place to adequately track the leads that result from the content you create. This means offering gated content (e.g., whitepapers) on their site, using a CRM to track and store these leads so their sales team can organize outreach, and a using marketing automation to nurture leads with more content.
  • At six months — At this point, by publishing guest-contributed content, you can build links back to on-site content, and making sure that the on-site content has links to gated content. There is no hard and fast number here, but it’s common to see a couple of new leads per article. Make sure you measure how your sales team is using this content to nurture leads and shorten the sales cycle.
  • At 12 months — After a year, you should have established a pretty good understanding of what types of publications work well and have a solid bank of gated content built up.

SEO

  • At three months — Examine your website(s) and ensure they’re optimized. Weed out any broken links, pages that load too slowly and duplicate content. Perform some keyword research to understand what your clients’ audience is searching for online, which will help determine which terms you want to rank for and therefore use.
  • At six months — With SEO, it’s possible to see some quick wins. Make sure you create pillar blog posts, which will give you cornerstone pieces to focus on. Track the performance of these pillar posts to determine whether need to adjust.
  • At 12 months — Organic page views, entrances, bounce rates and total number of keyword rankings are generally all positively affected by this point.

There’s no guarantee that your experience will follow this breakdown precisely. A lot of these benchmarks are contingent on how nimble and efficient your team is and how well you can track success and adjust when necessary.

Natalie Slyman is the director of content and social media at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency. A version of this article originally appeared on the Influence & Co. blog.

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