7 Habits of Highly Effective Content Pros
Here at DivvyHQ we have the joy and privilege of working with organizations both large and small. This gives us a front-row seat to the content planning efforts of the savviest marketers on the planet.
No matter your size, industry, or mission, many of you face the same challenges when it comes to planning, producing, and coordinating content. You’re busier than all heck, you can’t find the time to collaborate, and you’re struggling to keep up with the breakneck pace of content production.
Which is exactly why we embarked on our first ever industry study, the 2017 Research Report: Content Planning Challenges, Trends & Opportunities.
In our research, we uncovered common challenges, bottlenecks, tactics, and most importantly the “habits” of the most successful content professionals. The following 7 stood out as the most likely to help you improve your content planning, content strategy, and overall content production efforts.
Habit #1: Combine Proven and Emerging Tactics
As marketers, content professionals, or social media practitioners, we tend to drool over the latest tactical trend. As marketing continues to rapidly evolve, chasing the next silver bullet tactic is a draw few can resist. And why wouldn’t we? It’s harder than ever to get in front of customers, so bring on the silver bullets!
The truth is, there’s merit to leveraging tried and true tactics and channels for reaching customers, as long as they still work. In our research, we asked marketers to list their top content marketing tactics, and they said:
- 89% still leverage email
- 88% write blog articles
- 80% include video
This is no surprise. Email, blogs, and video are all wonderful methods for reaching your target audience, and you should not abandon these tactics. But the smartest marketers balance tried-and-true tactics with emerging methods for engagement.
We dug a layer deeper into our data and found that those who report having the most success with their content planning also plan to use the following tactics in the coming months:
- 81% say influencer-driven content
- 84% say original research or surveys
No matter the emerging tactics you choose to test, don’t abandon what’s already working for your organization.
Habit #2: Plan 1+ Months in Advance
Advanced planning is key to the success of any marketing strategy. In our research, we found that 73% of the most successful content practitioners plan content 1 month, or several months in advance.
When it comes to content planning, you’ll want to strike a balance between advanced topical planning, and creating newsworthy content in real-time. While it may feel daunting to develop a content calendar more than a month in advance, it’s truly well within your reach. Agree on a weekly cadence, get ahead on your calendar, and focus on execution.
Habit #3: Meet Weekly as a Team
Conducting productive team meetings takes great skill and coordination. If all else fails, resort to donuts. While many of the more introverted content professionals would prefer to avoid meetings, getting together to discuss content is imperative to success.
In our research, we discovered that the most effective marketers meet daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the complexity of their content programs. We also discovered that marketers who reported ineffective programs meet less regularly than their successful counterparts. Consider the following:
- 62% of those that report being extremely or somewhat effective meet weekly, or monthly
- 67% of those that meet weekly, or daily report meeting most or all of their content planning objectives.
It’s obvious that meeting on the regular to discuss objectives, performance, cadence, and concepts is a key habit among highly effective marketers.
Habit #4: Collaborate for Improved Performance
In our research, we discovered that a full 59% of marketers say they are “too busy” to collaborate. In our experience, collaboration is key to content planning, and creating incredible content. As more content professionals wade into developing interactive, visual, and video content, collaboration will be a linchpin for successful teams.
We also found that a full 80% of marketers plan to create video content in the coming months. The truth is if content teams can’t collaborate, they will simply fail to create compelling video content.
Habit #5: Stay Organized with Online Content Planning Tools
We’ve witnessed firsthand how spreadsheets can ruin a perfectly good content strategy. Rows and columns beget more rows and columns. The proliferation of documents, tabs, or separate process documentation are unavoidable. Teams that struggle with version control get out of sync.
You don’t do your taxes, employee payment processing, or even calculate a tip manually anymore. So why are you managing your content strategy like it’s still the stone age?
It was no surprise that in our research we found 80% of marketers who reported being effective with content overall also use online content planning tools.
The most effective marketers are modernizing their content strategy and planning and reducing process cost by using online tools to reduce inefficient email collaboration and bring real-time visibility into the planning process.
Habit #6: Document a Process
Each year Content Marketing Institute releases annual research on content marketing trends in both B2C and B2B industries. In their 2017 study, they reported that just 37% of B2B and 40% of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy. This means the majority of marketers don’t get their strategy down on paper, or don’t have a strategy at all, when it comes to content.
Which is exactly why, as a part of our research, we asked specific questions about content planning process documentation. We found a correlation between documenting a process, and success in content planning; with a full 72% of the most successful at content planning, also reporting they follow a documented process.
Your process doesn’t have to be fancy. The main thing is that you get it documented, and explicitly communicate it to your team. Wondering what to include? Here are the basics:
- A content mission statement
- A defined target audience
- A sustainable topic/subject
- A defined and sustainable publishing frequency
- A defined planning schedule and production workflow process
- A measurement plan
- A promotion/distribution strategy
Perhaps you’ve been somewhat successful “winging it” in the past, but times are a-changin’ folks. Documenting these elements and getting your team on board will significantly impact your ability to execute consistently and sustainably.
Habit #7: Track the Right Metrics
There’s no shortage of metrics that marketers and content pros can keep tabs on. Frankly, in today’s complex media landscape there are too many data points for any one team to make use of.
So what are the top marketers tracking? We found that 67% of those who rated their content planning effective also say they track conversion metrics including some, or all of the following:
- Goal completions
- Assisted conversions
- Email subscriptions
- Social conversion
In order to define a true conversion, you must first hone in on specific goals for your content. After that, focus on just a few key conversion points to demonstrate whether your content is working, or missing the mark.
For even more habits, trends, and research on content planning best practices download a full copy of our 2017 Research Report: Content Planning Challenges, Trends & Opportunities.