Jan 10, 2017 / by Katie Gaab

Not only does content marketing drive three times as many leads as traditional marketing, but it also costs more than 60 percent less. But in order to reap those benefits, you need the right approach.

How does your brand’s 2017 strategy look?

We turned to Cision’s Senior Content Manager Annemaria Nicholson and MarketingProfs’ Senior Program Manager Kerry O’Shea Gorgone for tips and best practices. During their “Create Better Brand Content…All Year Long” webinar, they explored how to set up a centralized content plan, watch out for avoidable legal pitfalls and prove success with data-driven insights.

Whether you’re fine tuning your strategy or starting from scratch, here are a few words of advice to keep in mind as you leap into the new year.

Know Your Audiences

Before you start planning what to write and when, you must take a look at who you’re talking to. Break your audience down by personas to know what tone to use and what topics to cover. Another factor to keep in mind when segmenting your audience is the sales funnel stages.

This will especially help you down the line when planning out your calendar, says Annemaria Nicholson. “By assigning audience personas, I know which audiences I’m trying to reach with which piece of content.”

Don’t forget that people trust their friends and family first, and influencers are playing an increasing part in connecting brands with their audiences. As such, ensure you target influencers whose audiences and goals match yours. One goal you’ll always want to meet before finalizing a partnership with an influencer is a written disclosure agreement.

“What the FEC will do is find the brands working with influencers who aren’t disclosing their connections and fine them,” says Kerry O’Shea Gorgone. “Let influencers know you insist on this and design disclosures that will make sense to people in a hurry.”

Doing so will not only prove the connection between the influencer and your brand, but also circumvent future fines that could damage your brand’s reputation and marketing budget.

Set Timelines


Start by mapping out major events that won’t change, like national holidays. Nicholson suggests working with a quarterly strategy to start. “This allows you be agile enough to switch content out if need be.”

Then, think about publishing your content in order of priority. With a content catalogue, you can quickly and easily determine which content pieces can be recycled for promotion if the need arises or a deadline is pushed back.

Before you give content final approval, take another look at what visuals you’re including, especially for blog posts and social media. Do not copy and paste from Google searches. Instead, look for third-party content with a Creative Commons license.

“The trouble with that is you can’t be sure the person that posted that picture was the original creator,” says O’Shea Gorgone. “What’s even better do is to create your own images and do your own videos. People like behind the scenes content because it makes them feel closer to you and your brand.”

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Test Your Distribution

Communications takes ongoing maintenance to reap big benefits, and reporting performance is key to ensuring you reap what you sow all year.

Nicholson highlights the need to include specific UTM codes for each type of content and channel so you can track not only which pieces of content worked well, but which channels drove the most engagement, shares and leads.

“I love running A/B tests to figure out the optimal mix for publishing the right content on the right channels at the right time,” Nicholson says. “Ask yourself, how many pieces of content can each channel promote each month? Knowing which channels have the largest capacity gives those smaller ones something to work towards when testing.”

One channel to pay particular attention to when experimenting is live streaming. Whether you use Facebook Live, Periscope or Instagram Live, plan it with a storyboard just like you would a traditional shoot.

One question O’Shea Gorgone suggests always asking pre-production is: what can viewers see? Make sure there isn’t any confidential or internal information listed anywhere.

“In this age of internet trolling, be mindful of what you put out there,” O’Shea Gorgone continues. “People could view the livestream on a huge screen, not just their mobile devices. The best promoters take risks, but not unnecessary risks.”

(Images via Pixabay: 1, 2)


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About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.