There’s something very optimistic about the people who make New Year’s resolutions every year. Rather than focusing on the failures of the past (hopefully), we look ahead, once again, to ponder the many ways we can improve ourselves and our lives. I’m one of these people. And even if I don’t always find at the end of every year that I’ve met my goals to exercise/eat healthier/volunteer/fill in the blank, I keep at it. Hope springs eternal.
This year, in addition to my usual list of personal resolutions, I’ve decided to add on a new list – a set of professional resolutions for myself as a content marketer. Here are the five New Year’s Resolutions for Marketers that I plan to try to keep in mind during 2016 and beyond. I’m sharing them to inspire other marketers to make resolutions of their own. I’ve also included some tactics that will (hopefully) help me achieve these goals.
1. Coordinate (and Collaborate) with Sales on a Regular Basis
I’ve read, watched, and even written a lot about the need for better alignment between marketing and sales teams over the past year. In 2016, I plan to take this approach to heart. Fortunately, I work for a company where sales and marketing generally operate in synch. But there are some tangible ways I think we can make continual improvements, including:
- Scheduling regular meetings with colleagues and counterparts on the sales team
- Creating a survey asking sales reps to measure the effectiveness of the content we create
- Planning out a comprehensive content audit to figure out what we’ve got, how it’s used, and where to find it.
- Create and update the content that’s driving the best results, and retire the rest.
If you want more information on ways to improve the levels of collaboration and integration of your teams, read this white paper on sales and marketing alignment. It’s not an easy process, but the results can be amazing, not only in sales and revenue but also in team morale.
2. Create More Data-Driven Content
Coming up with fresh ideas for content is a challenge. What should we write about next? Which formats get the best results? How can we create content that attracts the most likely prospects and retains the most valuable customers? I realize the answers are often to be found in the data, but I don’t always remember to look there first.
So next year, I plan to always check out the metrics that matter most to my organization before I start scribbling. Here are some ways I think I can make it happen:
- Look at our internal Act-On dashboard to see the status of current campaigns.
- Make Google Analytics my home page.
- Keep a list of the top-performing content on my white board. Update it weekly.
I’ll also make it a habit to check out industry trends to find out what’s top-of-mind for today’s marketers. The Content Marketing Institute has some great information, and so does eMarketer. I get their emails, but a lot of times, I’m too busy to read them. I’ve decided to block out an hour or two on my calendar every week to catch up on reading industry best practices. It’s not much, but it’s a start. By looking at the industry trends, while also getting more familiar with the content that resonates with our audiences, I’m confident I’ll be able to create more effective blog posts, eBooks, web copy, and anything else I happen to write in 2016.
If you need help jump-starting your own content development strategy, the resources in this toolkit can help you develop a content marketing program that gets results.
3. Focus on the Entire Customer Lifecycle
In order to make a change, first you have to admit that you need changing. And I’m ready to do it, so here goes: Sometimes I focus too much on building awareness and not enough on the rest of the lifecycle. I’m sure a lot of other marketers out there do this, too. It’s a traditional marketing role, but one that’s changing rapidly – especially for B2B marketers. In order to continually generate demand, we need to create the right kind of content for every stage of the customer lifecycle. And to do that, we need to understand exactly what our customers and prospects need as they as they enter and move through the conversion funnel – and become repeat buyers.
So I plan to do the following:
- Gain more insight into our buyer personas as well as what a qualified lead looks like and what the buyer’s journey is.
- Get a better understanding of the kinds of content that moves prospects through the middle and bottom of the funnel, such as product comparisons, ROI calculators, and testimonial videos.
- Track the conversion rate at each stage of the funnel, so I can find out how to improve overall performance – and understand how my individual actions contribute to results.
I’ve always enjoyed writing top-of-funnel content such as thought leadership blog posts and eBooks, as well as case studies, which are generally considered middle-of-the-funnel collateral. So I’ll add “create more bottom-of-the-funnel content” to my project list so I can get better at creating the types of information that can close the deal. If you’re interested in learning more about funnel optimization techniques, I recommend this tookit on the digital marketing funnel essentials.
4. Become (a Lot) More Social
Creating content only gets you so far. To succeed, you need to promote it, and social media is a great way to do just that. And while we have a team dedicated to social media here at Act-On, it’s also the job of individual writers to get the word out about their blog posts as well as any other content we create. I always thought I did a pretty good job of this – after all, I posted my blog posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. But then I read 26 Ways to Promote Your Blog Post and realized I’m not doing nearly enough!
So here’s what I’m going to do about it:
- In addition to the usual link sharing, I’ll try one new way to promote my blog posts – every week.
- Spend more time reading, sharing, liking, and tweeting other posts to build community.
- Start commenting on more blog posts. As a blogger, I realize how important it is to get feedback. (Leave me some in the comments – I appreciate it!) But I’ve also realized it’s important to provide that feedback for others, as well.
If you want help with your own social media strategy, here’s a great eBook with five things you can do right now to integrate social media marketing into your overall approach.
5. Make Time for Self-Improvement
Finally, I realize that all of these resolutions will demand more time, energy, and resources from one person – me. And in order to improve myself, I’ll need to use every opportunity that comes my way to educate myself. I recently had the opportunity to attend a talk at an SEM PDX meeting, and I’m hereby resolving to do more of that, and also to attend more online webinars and events. It takes time and effort, but there’s a big payoff for me – and for my company – when I do.
So, what are your marketing resolutions for 2016? Share your thoughts in the comments. And here’s to a bright new year of marketing success for all of us!