As we head into July, I’m willing to bet that at least one or two of those New Year’s Resolutions that you started with back in January have evolved or been abandoned altogether. Be honest here. How many times have you really hit the gym? Or opted for your inexpensive brown-bagged lunch instead of heading out with your coworkers? A lot can change in six months — priorities shift, the environment changes — and so should you. The same could be said for your content strategy. What you put down on paper back in January likely will not be (and probably shouldn’t be) what you end with in December.
It’s time for a mid-year assessment. Here are some questions to ask yourself as we head into the second half of 2017.
What’s working and what’s not? Every content marketer should have a handle on all of the essential KPIs to know how well content is performing. This includes the obvious engagement metrics as well as the less obvious revenue-centric metrics, like the length of your sales cycle, to determine if the content you are producing is helping to move prospects down through your funnel faster. Still, take it a step further and determine how or if your customers’ needs have evolved over the past six months. Even if you are generating a solid amount of inbound leads, would your sales team consider them to be quality leads? Is the content that you are producing specifically solving their problems and providing value? If not, it’s time to scrap the poorly performing content and start with a fresh approach.
How can we realign our resources? (And should we?) Regardless of if you are winning or losing at the six-month mark, what you have learned so far should have a dramatic impact on the remainder of the year. Take a look at what it’s costing you to produce the content that’s working and determine what it will take to maximize it. It may be necessary to shift dollars around to other marketing initiatives or even supplement your in-house teams with freelance talent or an agency resource.
How does where we are compare to last year? Often, one of the best indicators of success is a year-over-year comparison as it’s often a close “apples to apples” comparison with similar outside factors and seasonality already accounted for. Even better, a YOY comparison will allow you to make predictions about what to expect in the coming months, like website traffic dips, that you may be able to plan ahead for and make up for with a targeted campaign or third party content syndication.
How is the sales team performing and how can I help them to perform even better? Almost without fail, the most effective marketing departments are the ones with the closest relationship with sales. That’s because sales obviously plays a huge role in closing all of those marketing-generated leads that the marketing department has been tracking so meticulously. So, at the mid-year mark, take some time and determine how your sales counterparts are doing when it comes to hitting their numbers. Are they on track to meet goals? How are the close rates? How quickly are they contacting a marketing-qualified lead after it hits their queue? How are they following up and are they using a marketing-generated script? There are likely a number of ways that the marketing team can be proactive to get these numbers up before year-end. It may mean generating some specific auto-generated emails with content aimed at deals sitting in one phase of the sales cycle or revamping the team’s go-to PowerPoint presentation.
What do we need to get rolling on for next year? It’s never too early to get the ball rolling when it comes to your next year’s plan. Start to think about all of the major “must-haves” for 2018 and start to lay the foundation for the more laborious pieces now so that you won’t be scrambling in January. This could mean getting a jump on scheduling and conducting interviews for a long-form piece of content or even negotiating contracts for paid content placements (often, you’ll get a discount for committing early).
So how did your content strategy hold up? The good news is that regardless of where your strategy has landed so far, you’ve got six months to turn things around for the better.