I think we can all agree that content marketing is both practical and potent.
It’s the ultimate form of inbound marketing and makes total sense when you need to reach 21st century consumers.
I could even spout off a laundry list of stats that prove just how big of an impact content marketing can have.
There’s the insane volume of leads, minimal financial investment, increased audience engagement, high ROI, and so on.
But if there’s any area where content marketers run into trouble, it’s the inherently time-consuming nature of the process.
Creating epic content takes time and energy. And not everyone has the time to devote to this marketing strategy.
And this doesn’t even include the additional effort needed to manage a campaign.
In many cases, it can take so much time that it hinders your ability to oversee other areas of business. Not good.
Here are some stats that put some perspective on just how time-consuming content marketing can be.
- “72 percent of marketers are producing more content than they did the previous year.”
- “Most B2B marketers use at least 13 content marketing tactics.”
- “60 percent of marketers create at least one piece of content each day.”
- “76 percent of B2B marketers will create more content in 2016 versus 2015.”
If these trends continue, the time investment required for content marketing will keep growing and growing.
And of course you have to consider that competition levels will continue to rise as well.
With more brands catching wind of the potential of this technique, it will become increasingly difficult to make your campaign stand out from the masses, requiring even more of your time.
What’s the solution?
As a person who’s incredibly busy myself, I’ve figured out some effective ways to run a content marketing campaign that requires the least amount of time but still achieves maximum results.
The content quality remains stellar, but I don’t have to perpetually “stoke the fire” to keep things running smoothly.
In other words, my campaign requires less time (and stress), but everything still operates at a high level.
Here’s how to create a content marketing system that runs on autopilot.
Campaign structuring and organization
In my opinion, a well built campaign starts at the top and trickles down.
You need to keep chaos at bay by having a clear game plan and making sure that all of your team members are on the same page at all times.
How do you do this?
I recommend using an online collaborative content calendar.
Although your basic spreadsheet can be helpful, I’ve found it’s seldom sufficient to meet my needs.
However, an online collaborative content calendar allows you and your team to:
- Systematically plan and coordinate your content
- Make edits that can be viewed in real time
- Keep track of deadlines
- Monitor progress each step of the way from conception to completion
I also prefer this to a spreadsheet because of the visual element. I just find it easier to keep my ducks in a row when I can visually see what’s happening and what needs to get done.
By staying organized, you can streamline collaboration, spend a lot less time scrambling to find information, and reduce your mistakes.
Some tools I recommend include CoSchedule, Buffer, and HubSpot.
I’ve found that half of the battle of content marketing is simply coming up with new ideas for blog posts, white papers, videos, etc.
There never seems to be enough new ideas to “feed the hungry content monster.”
One way you can expedite the brainstorming process is to have a handful of idea-generating resources at your disposal.
I personally love BuzzSumo because it’s perfect for pointing me to articles on practically any topic under the sun.
Take content marketing for example.
By entering “content marketing” into the search bar, I instantly get access to a long list of articles written on this subject.
As you can see, BuzzSumo also shows you how well each article has performed based on social shares so you can see which topics are clicking the most with readers.
Some other content aggregators and helpful resources I recommend include:
You may also want to create a spreadsheet of all relevant industry blogs that you can quickly reference when you need to brainstorm.
I actually wrote an article about how to never run out of ideas, which offers further insight on this topic. Check it out for more details.
This is without a doubt the more laborious part of the content marketing process.
You’ve got to actually sit down and consistently pound out quality content. Or do you?
While I definitely write a lot of the content myself, there’s just no way to keep up with the demand while juggling everything else that’s involved with running a business.
That’s why I recommend outsourcing at least part of it to freelance writers.
In fact, “64 percent of B2B marketers outsource writing.”
Some may only outsource a small fraction of it, while others outsource nearly everything.
It really just depends on your budget and content needs.
If content marketing is your go-to marketing strategy (or writing just isn’t your forte), you’ll probably want to outsource a significant portion of your content creation.
I’ve found outsourcing to freelance writers to be a positive thing, and many other brands feel the same way.
In fact, a big reason for the success of KISSmetrics was skilled writers we hired.
I even wrote an article on how KISSmetrics grew to 793,858 visitors a month by using this formula.
However, you don’t want to leave your content and brand reputation to just anyone.
You need to be sure you hire writers who are highly skilled, understand your brand/style/tone, and create quality content that resonates with your audience.
That’s why you need to make sure a writer has these six skills before you hire them.
This term is defined as “the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging and publishing information.”
As you can tell, this sounds incredibly arduous. And it often is.
But it’s a staple of most content marketing campaigns.
Studies have even found that 95 percent of marketers share other organization’s content in some capacity.
The problem is it’s like panning for gold. You have to sift through all the dirt and debris just to find something of value that you can share with your audience.
If you’re just blindly curating content without some type of a game plan, it’s going to be a massive time-drain.
But the way I look at it, there are two main options to streamline this process:
- Hire someone else to do it
- Utilize a tool to make it quicker
The first choice is good because it can save time, but you lose a bit of control.
The second choice gives you maximum control and still saves time.
No matter what approach you choose, it’s still going to be much more efficient than manually sifting through piles of content just to find the diamond in the rough.
If you’re looking for a tool that works well for content curation, check out DrumUp.
It “analyzes tens of thousands of stories every day from across industries, interests and niches,” so you can quickly find great content to share.
Even if you’re in an extremely small niche, this will help you find suitable content for your audience without having to painstakingly search for a needle in a haystack.
The final piece of the puzzle is posting.
If you’ve only got one or two accounts, this is no big deal. You simply post your content manually and boom!—you’re done.
But what if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and more?
Posting the same piece of content across multiple channels can quickly eat away at your time.
This is especially true if you’re posting nearly every day.
Fortunately, you can automate much of your content distribution by using a tool such as Zapier.
This easy-to-use platform connects your apps and allows you to post content across multiple channels with only a couple of clicks.
In turn, it can eliminate a lot of tedious busy work (while saving your sanity).
Creating an effective content marketing system involves addressing five key areas:
- Organizing and structuring your campaign
- Expediting the brainstorming process to come up with new ideas
- Creating the actual content
- Efficiently curating content
- Automating your posting
By taking measures to simplify and streamline these areas, you can create a system that essentially runs on autopilot.
This isn’t to say that it requires no effort or maintenance on your end whatsoever. But you can definitely eliminate a lot of the tasks and dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend on the tasks you still perform.
The outcome should be a content marketing system that produces equal or even greater results than the ones you’ve been achieving so far—while spending only a fraction of the time managing your campaign.