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In today’s episode, content marketing expert Ross Simmonds walks you through the content life cycle, and how you can use it to ensure that the content that you’re developing quarter after quarter, month after month, year after year, is actually maximized for ROI, results, and impact.
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Howdy, Moz friends. It’s Ross Simmonds from Foundation Marketing, and in this video I’m going to be talking to you about something that I care deeply about, how to maximize your content.
We’ve all produced content. You’ve probably just produced a piece of content within the last few days, the last few weeks, maybe last few months. You’ve prepared and developed pieces of content that you believe will serve your audience. Congratulations, you’ve taken a big step. This is a big step for you because you’ve created something. It’s an amazing situation to be in. Not a lot of brands do it. So if you’ve done it, congratulations.
But what I want to talk about in this video is how you can ensure that the content that you’re creating, the content that you’re producing, the content that your team is developing quarter after quarter, month after month, year after year is actually maximized for ROI, maximized for result and impact.
The lifecycle of content
So let’s talk through the life cycle of content, how you can ensure that the content that you’re producing is actually going to drive results, and how you can set your team up for success to leverage that content consistently so you are impacting your audience in a meaningful way.
So how do you start all of this? You start pre-launch. Before you press Publish on a piece of content, before you launch that landing page, before you roll out a series of new landing pages, before you roll out a handful of comparison pages between your product and the next, landing pages that are going to educate people on keywords related to your industry, before you do any of that, you have to do research. You have to research your audience. You have to understand the intent behind the things that they’re typing into Google. You need to understand the problems and the pains that they’re trying to solve.
You need to invest time in researching the channels that your audience are spending the most time on. Why? Because what you’re going to do is not take the typical approach of pressing Publish on pieces of content, giving yourselves pats on the back, and calling it a day. No, you’re going to embrace this model, a model where you are actually going to distribute your content in channels where your audience is spending time, and you’re going to maximize the ROI out of your content because of that.
But first, you have to create content with intent. You have to understand the intent of the assets that you’re creating. You don’t write blog posts for the sake of writing blog posts. Somewhere along the lines, we’ve gotten into this trap where marketers have kind of thought, oh, all content just needs to be published. If you press Publish on content, the world will be yours.
That’s not enough. You need to have, with your content, clear intent. You have to know exactly why you’re creating these assets. When you do that and you root it in research, then you’re ready to launch. You’re ready to launch a piece of content that you believe is going to resonate with your audience. You’re going to launch that piece, and you’re going to be excited about it, and you should be. This is an amazing moment.
But the next thing you do, after you press Publish on that piece of content, is typically what’s going to make or break that asset. It’s what’s going to determine if your content soars or if your content flops. Typically, what people do is they just share them on channels that they own, and then, yes, it tends to flop.
Understand your distribution channels
What is this? What does this mean? Money channels. Money channels are one of the four different types of channels that you can distribute your content on.
There are four different channels that every brand should be able to understand and map out as it relates to the places in which they distribute their stories, their content, and the way in which that they distribute that content after it goes live. We have money channels, we have rocket channels, we have ghost channels, and we have questionable channels. What are each of these channels?
So when you look at this entire grid, you see audience fit and competition. In channels where you have high audience fit, high competition, we consider those money channels. What does that mean? It means your competition is already there. Your competition has identified that this is a channel where they too can generate revenue. They too can generate ROI. It’s also high audience fit. If your audience is there, your audience is spending a lot of time on this channel, this is a money channel. It’s a channel that you probably already own.
Maybe you’re on LinkedIn because you’re in B2B. Maybe you’re on Instagram because you’re in B2C. You know, with confidence, on these money channels, that every single time you distribute your stories, every single time you distribute your content, you’re going to see an impact, you’re going to see ROI, and you want to leverage these as much as possible.
Then we have our rocket channels. Rocket channels also have high audience fit. These are channels where your audience is spending a ton of time. These are channels where you want to be because you know that your audience is there. But it has low competition. Shh, don’t tell anyone. These are the channels that you don’t want your competitors to know about, because your competitors don’t realize your audience is spending a lot of time on these channels. To the rest of the world, they might seem very risky. Ooh, you’re using Reddit. Ooh, you’re leveraging Facebook groups. This is a very risky channel.
What they don’t know is that all of your audience is there. So it’s a money channel. I mean, it’s a rocket channel. A money channel would be if your competitors are there. If your competitors aren’t there, then it’s a rocket channel. These are my favorite. I love rocket channels because it means that there’s not a lot of competition, which means that your content and the stories that you produce might be, for a short period of time, the only stories and assets on this topic and in your niche that your audience is getting exposure to. If they’re doing that and they’re getting exposed to your brand consistently, you’re building a true brand connection with an audience that really wants your content. So that’s what you want in a rocket channel.
Then you have low competition and low audience fit channels. What are those? Those are essentially ghost channels. Nobody is there. Your competition isn’t there. Your audience isn’t there. It makes absolutely no sense for you to leverage these channels. It’s okay for these channels to exist. They’re going to happen in every single niche. Some people just aren’t going to be leveraging a certain channel, and that’s okay. You can ignore them. Don’t go on them. It’s all right. Avoid them at all costs.
But then, there are going to be some questionable channels that are actually going to just completely make you scratch your head. These are channels where your competition levels are very high. Tons of people are using this channel in terms of your competition, but no one is there as it relates to your audience. So it makes you scratch your head. Why are they there? Why is my competitor spending time on this channel?
That provides you with two insights. One, maybe you need to research and understand whether or not there’s some real opportunity there that you’re overlooking, or two, maybe you need to ask yourself, is this just some legacy efforts that are happening where your competitors are using this because it used to work in the past and they haven’t caught onto the fact that it’s no longer working. Those are the questions you need to ask.
Optimize your distribution engine
Now, once you have an understanding of that, once you have an understanding of money channels, rocket channels, ghost channels, and questionable channels, the next step is to ask yourself how you can leverage this information to create and optimize your distribution engine so you can really maximize that content.
So you start to go to those money channels. You send that content out on the money channels that you own. This is typically where the life cycle of content distribution within most brands ends. We press Publish on a piece of content. We share it on Twitter. We share it on LinkedIn. We might even share it on Facebook. We’ll send it out to our newsletter and the people who have subscribed to our list. That’s it. We call it a day, and it’s over.
That all happens typically within one week. Then we start the process all over again with new content, and we continue back and forth, back and forth, doing this cycle, just like it’s Groundhog Day, instead of recognizing that there are plenty of other opportunities that you should be leveraging to maximize your content. Most brands just embrace this, money channels and that’s it.
What you’re going to do is different. You’re going to start to embrace rocket channels. You’re going to start to think about how you can distribute your content in channels and in areas where your audience is spending time that your competition has overlooked. You want to ensure that you’re spreading your content in sites, in communities, in forums, in newsletters, in sponsoring newsletters, in leveraging newsletters, leveraging in product opportunities. You want to be thinking strategically around how you can distribute your content in ways that your competitors are overlooking.
Then you want to maintain that momentum. We no longer are thinking about this in a short period of time. You’re trying to maintain momentum, and you’re launching this content over and over and over again. You’re keeping the hype going as it relates to your content.
Then, you’re going to start to experiment. You’re going to experiment and try things that other people would say is too risky. You’re going to try things that might not even take a lot of energy and a lot of time but could ultimately unlock for you a new opportunity. Maybe you’re going to experiment by taking a blog post and turning it into something new. Maybe you’re going to connect with an influencer and see if they’ll talk about your content. Maybe you’re going to send a DM to someone. Maybe you’re going to experiment where you’re going to run an internal campaign where your entire team is going to amplify a piece of content for 24 hours on social. Everyone is going to be encouraged and trained and taught how to leverage social to distribute that content, and you’re going to make a splash. You’re going to experiment.
There’s no such thing as an idea that is too wild when you are embracing the experimentation status point in this engine and in this time frame. You want to experiment with your content.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to start repurposing it. That blog post, that article, that essay that you created shouldn’t live and die in just one format. It should be repurposed. Can you turn that blog post into a YouTube video? Can you turn that YouTube video into a podcast? Can you take clips of that YouTube video and then share 30-second clips on social, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on Twitter, on TikTok, on all of these different channels?
How can you repurpose your content? Can you take that content and potentially turn it into a new infographic, a carousel, a story that is interactive? What can you do to repurpose your content so it doesn’t solely exist in one format?
Once you start to do that, you might even turn it into something like a Twitter thread. You might find that one of those pieces of content that you repurposed takes a whole new life where it’s generating more engagement, more dialogue, more stories, more narratives that ultimately give you the opportunity to connect with more people.
You’re also going to share that content. A lot of people, again, make that mistake. They share it once and then they call it a day. You’re not going to do that. You have to recognize that the people who happen to be online on Monday at 3:00 p.m. aren’t the same people who are online on Thursday at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. That is why resharing your content is important.
Even that same newsletter that you sent out two months ago, two weeks ago, and you plugged an article that you were so excited went live, guess what? Some people were on vacation. Some people didn’t open it. Some people happened to be caught up in watching “PAW Patrol” at the time, and they didn’t get a chance to see your content. That’s an okay situation. You want to leverage that. Leverage that as an insight to understand why you should reshare your content because people are busy. Not everyone saw your piece of content as much as you would like to think on the day in which it went live. So reshare your content, repost it, and reshare it frequently.
Then, you’re going to think about syndication opportunities. This is how you can scale your content consistently across a handful of different publications, a handful of different URLs that you know your audience is already subscribed to, that you know your audience is following and reading and consuming, and you want to syndicate your content through these channels.
Now, it can get very meta, because if you repurpose your content into a YouTube video, you can take that YouTube video and embed it directly into the blog post that is ultimately now being syndicated into one of these communities, and then you can reshare that piece. It all starts to work together. That is how you maximize your content.
Optimize and update
Now, at this point, you might be thinking, whoa, this is too much. I’m done. I can’t continue. But I beg you to please continue because there’s one more major step — optimizing that content. You want to optimize and update that content for two key reasons, one SEO, two, CRO.
You want to optimize this content so it is more likely to show up in search. If you created that content with intent and you had the intent of ranking for some keywords that are informational, or you had the intent of ranking for keywords that are going to be educational to your audience, you want to optimize it. You want to optimize that content based off of new trends and behaviors that you’re seeing in the market. You’re going to check out the SERP and see what new questions people also ask and update that content to reflect new insights and new information.
You want to make sure that you’re optimizing and updating this content with new data, with new graphics, with the new assets that you might have already developed and you start to embed them in there. You might start to take graphics that you leveraged in a piece of content that you repurposed and start to update it with that as well so you can leverage Google images. You’re going to put the YouTube video in there. Google and YouTube are in cahoots. Of course, they’re all one entity. You want to leverage that to optimize and update your content on a regular basis.
This is maintenance mode. This is when, every 6 to 12 months, you are doing a refresh of your content. Why? Because you recognize the importance of maximizing your content. You recognize the idea that a piece of content shouldn’t just live and die within the first week of being published. It’s something that should be maximized. It’s something that should be optimized, repurposed, syndicated, distributed, and leveraged so you can unlock rocket channels that will ultimately give your content the opportunity to go to the moon.
Thank you so much for checking out this Whiteboard Friday. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m Ross Simmonds, and I would be happy to connect with you on social. I’m @TheCoolestCool, and I would love to connect with you there. Take care.