More content than ever is being produced today as more businesses are understanding the need to operate as a media company.
And that’s fair. The results from content marketing cannot be denied:
So the question is this: how do you create a self-sustaining content marketing engine? An engine that can operate efficiently with all the moving parts flowing as one?
I’ve gone through this exercise a few times (and failed in the process).
In this post, I’m going to give you a template to build your own content marketing engine. Every business is different, so take what makes the most sense and integrate it into your company.
If you’re going to create a content marketing engine, you’re going to need help. One person can’t do it all alone.
Here’s an example of how a team might be set up for a small company:
Let’s talk about these roles for a little bit:
The editor is responsible for making sure your content is up to par, gets scheduled, and follows your content process. In a sense, they can be seen as the executor of your content machine. For larger companies, you might have a Content Marketing Manager, Director of Content Strategy, VP of Content or Chief Content Officer.
Where to find good editors:
The designer helps make the imagery of your content look nice. Keep in mind that how your images and graphics look reflects upon your brand and that content with great imagery gets more engagement
Where to find good designers:
Social Media Specialist/Individual Outreach
The social media specialist will listen to and engage with your audience. They’re also responsible for curating content that your audience might be interested in. If you’re wondering what your self promotion to outside content ratio should be, I suggest going with 1:4. This means that for every self promotional share, you should have four curated shares.
Individual outreach involves reaching out to:
It’s tedious work finding the right contact information and then e-mailing people, following up, and repeating this over and over. In an ideal world, this would be a role in itself. Probably somebody more junior.
If you are part of a smaller team, I suggest training this person in individual outreach and paid content promotion. Smaller team members need to wear lots of hats and these responsibilities fit this individual best.
Where to find great social media specialists:
Paid Advertising Specialist
The paid advertising specialist will help promote content on paid channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Gmail, LinkedIn and more. Promoting content through paid advertising is a growing trend and I think it’s the way of the future.
For example, right now we are paying for cold traffic to come to our blog posts and we’re collecting e-mails for $2.88 per e-mail. That’s a GREAT deal for us.
Where to find great paid advertising specialists:
For a more in-depth look at how a content marketing team should be organized, take a look at this post by Content Marketing Institute.
Here’s what their ideal workflow looks like:
Draw up a mind map of your workflow in MindMeister.
The next step is coming up with fresh ideas for your audience.
Here are a few good ways to get started:
Swiped.co contains many marketing swipe files that you can use for inspiration. You can pull landing page/image inspiration for your own purposes.
I also regularly use Evernote to clip evergreen blog posts so that I can refer back to them.
Feedly is also a great place to keep an inventory of your favorite blogs. With Feedly, I can scroll through my feed really quickly and look for inspiration. Here’s an example:
One of my personal favorites is using Twitter lists to keep tabs on certain industries. For example, I made a list of venture capitalists that I like to follow and I always get value from checking up on it every day:
Making good use of your team is one of the most powerful ways to come up with great ideas.
Moz has a great set of tips for running a great brainstorming session right here:
Look For What’s Working
Utilize tools like Google Trends and Google Display Planner to see what’s trending. Keyword Tool is another great way to see keyword volume not only on Google, but on YouTube as well.
I personally love using SEMrush to take a look at what competitors are doing in terms of PPC and SEO. BuzzSumo is great for looking at how content is performing socially.
Here’s an example use case for BuzzSumo:
Let’s say I’m interested in looking at top performing content for ‘link building’. I’ll go to the ‘Content Research’ tab in BuzzSumo and enter “link building”:
Because we’re in the ideation phase right now, I’d like to
a) Export all these results, and
b) Create an alert for this phrase so I can continually monitor it.
Just thinking off the top of my head, maybe I can create an alternate version of the first result. How about ‘How to Use Pinterest for SEO: Link Building’? Might be worth a shot.
Look For What’s Working in Terms of SEO
Although you can use BuzzSumo to see what type of content is being linked to, its specialty is not in SEO. Instead, I turn to Ahrefs when I do my SEO analysis. Ahrefs is a paid SEO tool (minimum $99/mo) but I think it’s well worth it for the insights that it provides.
Let’s continue to build off of our search for top ‘link building‘ content:
Similar to BuzzSumo, I’d create an alert and export these results. The only difference here is that Ahrefs is focusing more on SEO metrics such as ‘Domain Rank’ rather than social shares.
What’s Working Well in Other Industries?
Check out this ad by Squatty Potty:
The ad is pure genius because it’s a product that isn’t necessarily easy to advertise. Who wants to talk about optimizing pooping?
But that’s exactly what they did. They even have me talking about their poop product right now.
The ad is funny and educational. And remember: ads are content marketing too.
Watch this ad and think about how you can create something funny and educational. And keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a unicorn pooping out rainbow ice cream! 😉
The third step is promotion. I’ve covered this extensively in my content promotion piece. If you’re pressed for time, here’s the high level:
Every quarter, take a look at your processes and make adjustments accordingly. Things change quickly in the online world.
The best technologies of today might be inferior in 90 days. A search algorithm change may put a wrench in what you’re doing.
Constantly tweak and refine your processes or your content engine will start falling apart. It’s the same thing as maintaining your car.
Here are some tools you can use to keep your processes in one spot:
Put in the effort to track all the work that your team is putting in. Moz has a fantastic case study about simple KPI dashboards right here. Here’s a little more insight from their founder, Rand Fishkin:
When you have created your dashboards, get your team together and walk through each metric and its importance. After that, assign each dashboard to stakeholders and revisit the numbers each month. Everyone should take a look at the numbers and have input on what they’d do next.
We’ve selected a few tools that make our lives easier when it comes to content marketing:
Creating a content machine is an investment that will start to pay dividends down the road. As your content team continues to grow, it’s important to create a self-sustaining process so that everything flows smoothly.
What are some other important content marketing processes you’d add?