You've heeded the admonitions to produce more content. You understand that publishing fresh, original ideas are an important part of your marketing plan. You also know that quality matters. But how do you know if you're "doing it right?" Are you producing enough new content? Probably not.
Let's settle this issue right now. To make a real difference in your niche and grow your business, you must, without fail, produce at least 1500 words per day. Yes. One thousand five hundred words. Per day. Every day. You can take weekends off (if you're a slacker).
Does that sound high? For most website owners and small business marketers, that probably seems like more than one could reasonably handle, given limited time and resources. However, for a medium or large business that employs actual writers, 1500 words is no big deal. Guest bloggers ensure this very blog on Search Engine People far exceeds that number.
Now, before you fall into a deep despair about the futility of it all, I made up that number to prove a point. There is no such number. 1500 words to achieve what exactly? It just isn't possible to find a single rule of thumb that could apply across business types and industries. And it's entirely possible that a less prolific writer can produce better marketing results than one who writes for volume. So, here's how to find your very own number, and make it count.
1. Determine Your Highest-producing Marketing Channels
Which marketing sources earn you most of your revenue? Not sure? Then get some help setting up Google analytics, and at the same time ask every single customer how they found you. You have to have a firm handle on where your customers come from and how much they spend in order to chart a path forward.
Is it direct traffic through search, and if so, what keywords? PPC ads? Referrals from other sites? Your affiliate program? Once you know what kinds of numbers you're getting from your top sources, proceed to step two.
2. Determine Your Most Efficient Marketing Channels
In other words, what takes the least amount of time, effort and expense to earn you new business? Simply add up what you spent in each channel and divide it into the revenue you earned from each one, remembering to assign some hourly rate to the effort expended as well. (Blogging all day for SEO purposes might preserve cash compared to paid ads, but anything that takes up your time isn't really free.)
Your most efficient channel may not be the one that leads to most of your revenue. It's possible that a pay per click campaign brought in the most business, but it might not have been as cost-effective as a display ad campaign on a few targeted sites that your prospects tend to frequent. And that ad buy might not have been as cost-effective as the guest post you published on one of those sites. But your affiliate program might beat them all in terms of cost-efficiency.
The lesson here is that there are things that make you money, and there are things that make you money efficiently. Don't assume that content marketing could or should be your best source of business. Content helps to improve the effectiveness and profitability of your marketing channels, "content" isn't exactly a channel.
So rather than ask, "Should I produce more content and how much?" get specific. Like this:
3. Choose The Channels Where You Could Improve Profitability With More Content
This is where a content strategy starts to take shape. Staying focused on your most efficient marketing channels, what are you going to write about, where and why?
If you want to rank better for a specific keyword phrase…
plan out the topics of static pages, blog posts, guest blog posts and other blocks of content that would help that section of your site move up the SERPS. "Better SEO" is not a marketing goal, by the way. You have to decide what your business should rank for and whether you have a reasonable shot at winning for that term and related topics.
If you want to create more sharable content to improve your social presence…
research the types of content, interactive media and topics that are getting legs in your industry to emulate and expand upon those. Again, don't start posting status updates because it's the bee's knees. Do it with a purpose and a measurable goal in mind.
If you want your affiliates to market your products and services more effectively…
create useful insights, instructions, a free ebooks or other guide that make it easy for them to write about you, share useful content and send more prospects your way.
If you want to improve your quality score for your Google Adwords campaign…
so you can achieve better CPA, and therefore improve the cost effectiveness of your ad spend, improve your depth-of-content on the landing page, on sub-pages, and build links to the landing page with internal links from other relevant pages on your site, and external links from guest posts on other sites. Content can help improve ad performance, so long as you know what you're trying to improve.
If you want to scale your blogging or email newsletter production…
consider ways to include more writers from your company, guests, industry insiders and even freelancers, while also curating important information about your industry and related topics, rather than trying to write it all yourself.
Content marketing isn't something you do because you "should." It's something you do to move the needle in a specific marketing channel. So don't get caught up on effort, design your plan on specific results. To reiterate: which kinds of content, in what areas are going to get you the biggest, fastest marketing boost? Focus on those, one at a time, and your content plan suddenly seems manageable.
As a content marketer myself, I love making the point that content lives online forever, and it's effects compound over time, but that doesn't mean creating content is always the best way to spend your marketing resources today. Whatever you can accomplish on a daily basis, which helps you get a leg up on your competitors, that's your ideal marketing focus, because being a content production machine isn't the point– growing sales is.
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Mike Sobol is Partner and Co-Founder of Guest Blog Genius, a guest blogging service for SEO professionals, and Content BLVD, a content writing service for busy bloggers and site owners. Building businesses since 1999, Mike's passion is to create effective new services to fulfill unmet needs in a variety of niche markets, which include internet marketing, content creation and SEO.