Originally a guest blog for The Forward Marketer

You know what’s concerning? The fact that 89 percent of B2B and 86 percent of B2C companies use content marketing, yet less than half are clear on what an effective content marketing program looks like. For the least successful of these organizations, this number drops to as low as 13 percent.

But should we really be so surprised? After all, only 65 percent of even the most successful organizations believe they’ve reached content marketing maturity. For the least successful, this number is anywhere between 2 to 5 percent. Ouch.

This means that companies are doing content marketing without a complete understanding of how it works. That’s scary, considering that an average 30 percent of overall marketing budget is spent on content marketing—not to mention countless hours worked and endless effort exerted.

The unfortunate truth is that you’re never going to succeed with content marketing if you don’t know what an effective strategy looks like. Allow me to clarify what a successful plan should consist of…

Openly and Frequently Communicate

It’s vital that your team openly and frequently communicates about the progress, impact and direction of your content marketing program. How often you communicate is up to you; however, research shows that:

  • 36 percent of companies communicate weekly
  • 16 percent communicate monthly
  • 14 percent communicate only when necessary

Document your Strategy and Progress

Spreadsheets, emails, Google docs…whatever tools you use, it’s vital that you document your content marketing strategy. And remember that it’s not enough to simply document what you’re doing; you should also be tracking progress and results. This may require an analytics professional in addition to your internal content team.

Today, 48 percent of organizations have a content marketing strategy, but it is not documented. Meanwhile, 32 percent have a strategy that is documented.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

High-quality content is currently the No. 1 driver of content marketing success, listed by 85 percent of organizations. Eighty percent list content quality as the No. 1 factor contributing to increased success over the last year. Overall, 76 percent are committed to always prioritizing quality over quantity. In other words, you’re better off producing one amazing blog per month verses five not-so-great ones.

Go-to Tools for Effective Content Marketing

Of course, effective content marketing consists of several tools for achieving various goals and objectives. Use the below list as a benchmark for your program:

  • Analytics tools
  • Dedicated email platform
  • Editorial calendar
  • Social media calendar
  • Brand style/tone of voice guidelines
  • Buyer personas
  • Social media guidelines

Also keep in mind that blogs, eNewsletters and social media content were listed as the most critical content marketing tactics for overall success this year. Meanwhile, when asked which channels they plan to use to distribute content, organizations ranked email and LinkedIn as their top two choices.

Want more tips for content marketing success? Check this out.

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