When it comes to content marketing, we marketers are naturally results-oriented. We hit publish and immediately hope to see the views and downloads skyrocket. But the reality is that most content doesn’t drive results right away.
But does that mean we should give up and move onto something new? No, we need to have patience to build the right foundation. Trust me, it will pay off.
I typically promote content for at least four months. And that’s because I don’t get the same results in that first month that I get in the fourth month — or even the eighth or ninth month. Content marketing is not a one-and-done type of thing. You have to be in it for the long haul.
With that in mind, here are my top four strategies for building a strong content foundation.
1. Be mindful of the competition.
Do you know what your competitors are doing? I do. I constantly track my competitors’ content efforts, using Buzzsumo to track their links and Brand24 to track their mentions.
You have to ask yourself, “What are they doing that’s working?” Look at how they’re getting mentioned and where they’re getting links to and from. Also, keep track of how many times they’re mentioned. That’s the number you want to beat.
But be careful to not just copy what the most successful people are doing. For those people, what they’re doing today is not what’s making them successful. It’s what they’ve done in the past.
For example, you can’t do what HubSpot does today and expect to get their results. That’s because they began years ago, and they have so much traffic that they can pull off just about anything. You can’t just look at what HubSpot’s currently doing, because it’s probably their older stuff that’s actually getting the links. Same thing goes for your competitors.
2. Round up contributors.
When you’re just starting out, creating content on your own may not get you a ton of traffic. But when you combine your efforts with people who already have an established audience, you’ll end up growing your reputation and improving your results.
In 2015, I wanted to create an article on buyer personas, but I didn’t want to do it alone. Instead, I researched who was already writing about buyer personas, who the experts were, and reached out to them. I invited them to share their thoughts and contribute to my article.
Out of the 100+ people I reached out to, about 30 or 40 contributed to the article, which ended up getting about 15,000 visitors and 45 backlinks. Because there were so many names attached to this piece of content, it attracted more readers.
The process to create this piece was longer than that of a typical blog post, but sometimes investing more time and effort in a piece is necessary to achieve greater success.
3. Build relationships.
In every industry, there are movers and shakers. Whether they’re influencers or your competitors, you can build a relationship with them. But the key is to create a relationship that’s mutually beneficial, where eventually you’re scratching each other’s backs.
Over the last two years, I’ve made it a point to connect with marketers and practitioners through Slack, by email and in person. But I don’t just connect with them to promote my content; I connect with them because they’re doing something interesting.
Now these people are my friends, and they write a lot of content. I also write a lot, and because my friends know me, guess what happens without anyone even asking? I reference them, and they reference me.
But a reference shouldn’t be your main goal. Your goal should be to build the relationship, that way the links and references will come naturally.
4. Repurpose and reuse.
According to Buzzsumo’s 2018 Content Trends Report, the volume of content published continues to increase, and the industry only gets more and more saturated. If you’re constantly cranking out new content, you’re going to get burned out — and you’re not going to get great results.
A better strategy is to work with what you already have and repurpose old content. Update your older pieces, either by adding to them or repackaging them in a new way to make them better. This way your old content lays the groundwork for new iterations, and possibly leads to greater success down the road.
This process can take less time and effort than creating new content, and because you’re improving on it, it’s going to yield better results.