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The past few months I’ve been talking about how to create a new content marketing program from scratch. The last article described how to build a content marketing team and create a workflow map to ensure that your content is published and distributed on a regular basis.

Today I’m going to conclude the series by discussing how to generate topic ideas, whether or not you should curate content, how to promote your content, and the importance of measuring the results of your content marketing program.

Generating Topic Ideas

For many organizations, the biggest challenge to maintaining a successful content market program is generating a steady stream of topic ideas. Countless programs have died on the vine because no one was responsible for creating an editorial calendar.

There are no shortcuts here. Making sure you have enough good topic ideas to feed your content engine will take time and effort on the part of one or more team members. It might make sense to assign this task to several different people and hold regular brainstorming sessions to kick around ideas. This will remove the burden from one person and help ensure that you get new ideas from several different perspectives.

The best way to keep your idea funnel full is to stay on top of the latest news and trends in your industry. Subscribe to industry trade journals and newsletters. Regularly visit industry websites. Listen to industry-focused webinars and podcasts. And attend seminars and trade shows that discuss issues pertinent to your industry.

My focus industries are business and finance, so I have a subscription to The Wall Street Journal and read it every day. I also cover several niche industries, including automobile dealerships, so I stay on top of developments here by subscribing to industry newsletters and blogs and regularly visiting industry websites like WardsAuto.com and NADA.com.

It’s helpful for me to maintain idea files for the different industries I cover. Whenever I see something that might be a good topic for one of my clients, I print it out or save it in an Outlook folder.

Curating Content: Pros and Cons

Content curation is the process of compiling and organizing content created by others to share with your readers. For example, an e-newsletter or landing page might include links to a number of different articles, blogs and videos that are all related to a certain topic.

While there might be a place for some curation in a content marketing program, I don’t recommend using this as your sole method of content generation. There’s only so much value you can add to a bunch of links that you’ve copied and pasted from somewhere else.

If you do opt for content curation, make sure that the material you link to is of high quality and relevance to your audience. It’s usually a good idea to add your own commentary to the content so you’re offering readers something more than just a long laundry list of links.

Promoting Your Content

The greatest content in the world won’t do you much good if nobody ever sees it. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to promote your content so it’s viewed by as many people as possible.

Most e-newsletter publishing platforms include buttons you can click to automatically share your content on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. (In Constant Contact, it’s called Simple Share.)

But don’t stop here — there are numerous other ways to promote your content, both online and offline. For example, you can share links to your content in forums and discussion groups, print and online ads, press releases (both digital and physical), direct mail pieces and emails. Also build relationships with industry bloggers and influencers who will help promote your content for you.

Measuring Results and ROI

One of the best things about content marketing is your ability to measure the results. This can help you gauge the return on investment (ROI) for the time, money and effort you’ve devoted to your program.

Go back and review the business objectives you set for your content marketing program (read the first article in the series for more on setting goals and objectives). For example, do you want to build brand awareness, boost customer loyalty and retention, generate quality leads or cross-sell products and services?

Based on your objectives, decide which metrics you’ll use to measure ROI. These might include things like:

  • New subscribers
  • Online form completions
  • Resource downloads
  • Social media shares and comments
  • Qualified leads
  • Website metrics (e.g., page views and time spent on the site)

Remember that not all the benefits of a content marketing program can be measured by digital metrics. For example, it’s hard to put a number on the value of enhanced brand awareness. The most important things to remember when gauging the ROI of a content marketing program are: 1. Give your program enough time to generate results, and 2. Choose metrics that are directly related to your business objectives.