Digital marketing gets more complex by the day. There are so many channels and tons of competing advice on what you should be doing. A marketer’s job has never before required managing so many moving parts.

Because of all the pieces, it can be hard to know where to start with content marketing. What is the best use of your time?

Fortunately, we can answer that question. No matter where your content marketing is at right now, this content marketing challenge will help you take it to the next level in only four weeks. And it won’t take a huge amount of your time either; the emphasis is on small changes for big impact.

Based on our own experience, we have identified the activities that will give you highest return on investment (ROI) and pull more customers to your website. We challenge you to take the next four weeks to work on the following activities and improve your content marketing!

Week 1: Keyword Research

In week 1: research keywords to generate content ideas that will draw people to your site.

Great content marketing starts with great research. High-performing marketers consider search engine optimization (SEO) as an input rather than an output. Put another way: they develop content that aligns with what people are searching for, instead of developing content and throwing in a bunch of terms they think will improve their SEO ranking.

At Main Path, we start every campaign with a detailed, 6-month content calendar based on our keyword research. This calendar guides our strategy for not only content, but our social and distribution channels – so pulling your keyword research is a very important step.

This week you will put the horse before the cart and do keyword research before coming up with any content. These keywords will help you focus on the right topics for your business.

Your assignment:

For extra credit:

  • Take a look at our favorite content research tools. Look at your organic search results and check out Answer The Public to find the keywords and phrases people are searching for.  

Week 2: Content Calendar

In week 2: Develop a content calendar to create a strategy for your blog.

Now that you’ve got a great list of content ideas based on your keyword research, it’s time to organize them. A content calendar gives you a schedule and due dates to keep you accountable to getting your content out in the world. It is also very helpful in keeping your marketing team on the same page.

The content calendar is one of the most important strategy documents used by the content, social, and distribution teams at Main Path. When creating a content calendar, don’t skimp on the details, and make sure your calendar is easy for everyone in your team to find and comment.

Your assignment:

  • Read our post with 7 steps to take when creating a content calendar.
  • Download and fill out the template found at the bottom of the post for the next 3-6 months of content.

For extra credit:

  • Share your content calendar with other members on your team to get their opinion and buy-in on topics.
  • Read this post and develop an approval process for future content.

Week 3: Guest Post Outreach

In week 3: ask at least five people to write guest posts for your organization’s blog.

This simple step could make a big difference in drawing eyes to your website. HubSpot found that in 2015, successful marketers were more likely to have content written by both staff members and guest contributors than were less successful marketers.

Guest posts are a win-win. It gives you more content without expending the same effort as writing in-house, while also making it easier to reach new audiences. Plus, it can be great for the guest author to have their name and content in front of your audience.

At Main Path, we ask everyone to contribute to our blog, to share their experiences and expertise. Sometimes Main Path team members even write whitepapers and in-depth content too!

When thinking of people to contribute guest posts for you, consider people who:

  • have a track record of writing good content elsewhere. You want guest bloggers to deliver high-quality content, because you don’t want to spend a ton of time editing it to get it up to snuff for your readers. The best way to know if someone will be able to write quality content is by seeing if they’ve written quality content before.
  • are influencers in communities you want to reach. With a committed social media following, your guest author can make inroads to communities that have never before heard of your organization. Think strategically about this — if your organization has recently launched an Instagram or Snapchat account, you could find a guest author with large followings on these channels, to naturally draw their audience to your Instagram or Snapchat account. If there is a particular demographic you want to know about your product, find a guest author who is well-respected in that community.
  • have expertise in an area of interest to your audience. Don’t alienate your core audience in an attempt to reach new ones. Make sure the guest posts are on topic and relevant to your audience.

These guest posters for your blog don’t have to be famous; you can also ask your your colleagues or team members to share what they’re working on, or what they’ve learned in their careers.

Your assignment:

  • Call or email at least one person every day this week to ask them to write a guest post for your blog.
  • Use the themes you developed in your content calendar to give them ideas for what to write about. Share your other blog post ideas to see if they help them think of something they want to share.

For extra credit:

  • Read this blog post about guest post outreach. Offer to guest blog at someone else’s site, which will also help you break into new audiences, promote yourself as a thought leader and provide SEO value back to your site.

Week 4: Tracking Analytics

Week 4: Track your analytics — and develop a template to report on them to executives

It’s true: What gets measured gets managed. HubSpot found that successful marketers were more likely to check their analytics than were less successful marketers. They also received higher marketing budgets.

We closely track all of our marketing efforts and provide clients with a detailed analytics overview at the beginning of each month. This helps us stay on track and continue to refine our goals as we work with our clients over time.

Tracking your website analytics will let you see what’s working and what isn’t, and then adjust accordingly.

Your assignment:

  • Download and customize an analytics report template you can use month after month. We like this one, but there are many out there. Find one that suits you.

For extra credit:

And that’s it! In just four weeks, you will make significant progress in improving the quality and searchability of your content, and in getting that content to new audiences. And you’ll be able to track the uptick in traffic as it happens.

 

After you’ve taken the challenge, leave a comment below to let us know how it went!

 

 

Author Bio: Heather Ferguson is an editor, project manager, and Content Manager for Main Path Marketing. She is an unapologetic supporter of early mornings, rainy Sundays, dark roast coffee, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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