Content marketing is a long game, which is why establishing a three-year roadmap is one of the top success factors for content marketing strategy. We’ve helped many clients through this process, from defining marketing priorities across audiences to planning for resource investments to operationalizing and scaling.
The major benefit of the roadmap is to aid collaboration with multiple stakeholders, who then agree and support your efforts. You can also use the roadmap to manage up and keep your executive team in the loop on your aspirations (and when you’ll be asking for more support and resources).
To help you start thinking about your three-year roadmap, here is an overview of the top areas to allow you strategize and document your content marketing priorities and milestones. Your organization may not need to focus on all of these areas, but they are good to consider as you evaluate your priorities, resources and opportunities. You can think about each one in three phases:
- Phase 1. Prepare and operationalize: During this initial phase, think about how you will establish your brand and content in the first year or phase.
- Phase 2. Personalization and pilots: During this execution phase, you’ll be focused on carrying out the plans you’ve prepared for and operationalized around. You’ll learn a lot and then carry those insights into phase 3 …
- Phase 3. Scale: Take the learnings and frameworks established in the first two phases and execute at a broader scale to drive greater impact. Also use this phase to optimize and evolve your content marketing strategy into a sophisticated program that has measurable business impact.
Now without further adieu, here are seven areas to consider as you build out your three-year roadmap.
Establishing a vision for your content marketing program will ensure you have a clarity around your purpose and areas of focus. It is important to establish the vision with your internal stakeholders in mind. They need to agree with the vision. Simply put, the vision should include what you are trying to achieve, how you plan to get there, and lastly how you will know when you get there. This will also give you an idea of the resources you’re going to need to deliver on your vision. You should look at the vision annually to ensure it is lockstep with your overall business plan.
2. Digital Ecosystem
Consider your brand’s digital footprint across owned, earned and paid channels. Are the channels you plan to use the same that your audience want you to use? Think about this broadly, not one channel at a time, but all together. In that way, your ecosystem will come together by design, rather than by default. Aim to have a strong owned and earned strategy that allows you to engage your audience, without having to buy media. This also provides the benefits of having a stronger data basis to work from: first party data, like email, and your own cookies. It also allows your audience to deepen their content consumption within the same session. Our results have taught us that content consumption of 3+ pieces of content is predictive of significant improvements in brand scores and conversion to important actions. Don’t forget your retail and customer service channels where content can play a critical role to meet your audience’s needs. While channel choice continues to proliferate, your roadmap confirms which channels you focus on first, and the others you will come to later.
Many content marketers rely on engagement metrics to evaluate their content efforts. Your roadmap should address how to establish the methodology to attribute harder business measures of success. Ideally this should be done in a way that is consistent with other marketing investments. Your ultimate goal will be to connect digital engagement to incremental sales, and customer lifetime value.
4. Audience Insights
Audience insights are the foundation for successful content efforts, especially customer journey maps. Defining customer journeys is a necessary step to evolve your broad content to truly personalized and individualized content. With the right technology partners and tools, you’ll be able to derive new customer segments from behavioral data and then optimize your content creation and delivery to engage those segments at an individual level. Your roadmap should address which audiences you focus on and at which stage.
Now it’s time to establish the pilot opportunities. Use your audience insights to consider where content can really help. You should balance the likelihood to succeed with the ease of implementation. Start with the pilots that most align with top business objectives and the learnings you’ll need to optimize your content marketing programs. Once you have a long list of pilot options, you should rank them in a scorecard against criteria, weighted if necessary for emphasis. Then you should pick the ones that rise to the top, and hold onto the remainder for future waves of activity. Importantly, aim to find success early to build confidence and momentum
6. Operations and Infrastructure
As your plan matures, your marketing technology stack will need too, as well, in order to support your long-term objectives. With a solid vision in place, you’ll be able to start evaluating systems and partners and start solidifying budget, buy-in and an implementation roadmap. Be sure to fully utilize the technologies that are already in-house. Typically, only 15% of technology is ever used. Your internal IT team should be an important ally in your efforts.
7. Content Creation
You can’t have a content marketing strategy without content. Start with an in-depth content audit across the business. Use those insights to identify gaps where content is needed to improve the customer experience. Drive content development at the audience level, while keeping your channel strategy and plans for individualization in mind. Consider the operational model to create content that is both high quality, and at a reasonable price. In-house versus outsourced content creation will be the subject of a future blog post.
From aligning on a strategic vision to identifying audience insights to operations and infrastructure planning, our team of experts will ensure that you’ve got the roadmap in place to fuel your content marketing efforts and to find success.
Click here to learn more about how OneSpot can help you build a three-year content marketing roadmap.
David is Chief Strategy Officer at OneSpot.