Due to the pandemic and its repercussions, content strategies looked very different than in years past. This may have included tackling new, COVID-19 specific topics, making marketing materials all-digital, moving events online, updating promotion strategies and many other adjustments. Look back to see what worked for you, and what fell flat. Now is the time to COVID-proof your content plan by preparing for a potential second wave.
From analyzing metrics to brainstorming campaigns and contingent content plans, Q4 is prime time to set yourself and your organization up for success next year. Here’s a checklist for the top tasks to check off your list by January 1st.
DEEP DIVE OF ANALYTICS.
Look at how various content initiatives did this year as compared to previous years. If you have a company blog, how have blog views done year-over year? Are they increasing? Decreasing? How have newsletters and emails performed? Which initiatives helped drive the most traffic to the website, registrants to webinars or downloads of your reports? Has your social media gained more followers and interaction, and has that interaction successfully driven sales?
Depending on how your strategies have shifted this year, these metrics may not have historical data to compare exactly. Decide how to best evaluate these initiatives, such as finding the most comparable historical data you have or comparing your metrics to those of a similar competitor, if possible.
Once you have these questions answered, brainstorm new strategies to increase these metrics in 2021. Evaluate what types of content and strategies to repeat or repurpose next year, as well as what to stay away from. Looking at metrics from a high level at year-end can help identify areas that need improvement and give you an idea of what to focus on for the year ahead.
UNDERSTAND OVERALL BUSINESS OBJECTIVES FOR 2021.
After this year’s health and financial crises, it is likely your company’s business strategy and goals have shifted for 2021. Is your organization moving into another market? Changing its target market? Adding or improving a product or service? The answers to these questions should inform the content you create in the year ahead.
For instance, you might focus on creating more value through different types of content for different clientele. You may also consider partnerships if your company is entering a new market with limited brand awareness. Is there another company or influencer in your space that you can team up with to create intriguing content? Similarly, is there an expert in your field you can interview in a webinar or for social media? Consider adopting new partnerships in the year ahead to expand your reach and offer your audience different perspectives. Then, create a plan to execute them and align content with the business’ goals.
Depending on the organization, the content you create could touch nearly every part of a company. As a marketer, it’s important to understand how to better support each group and work with different leaders. Ask for feedback from the various departments you work with. What did they wish they had more help with? What sales or leads came from content in 2020? What kind of feedback have they heard from customers? If others in the organization have content ideas for the year to come, encourage them to share! It can help you plan campaigns, themes and goals for 2021.
BUILD OUT AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR.
Once you've compiled the information, you need to decide on the direction of your content marketing strategy, it's time to put pen to paper and outline the year ahead. Build a calendar that illustrates which content will go where week by week. This will help you visualize what will be published and when. That way, you start 2021 knowing which topics or themes you’ll focus on at any given time. It likely will shift throughout the year, but the calendar will set a framework for what’s to come. A good editorial calendar should include blog topics and larger pieces of content like reports, white papers and webinars. In addition, evaluate major holidays and events affecting your industry and consider including content around those themes.
Consider also creating a mini contingent editorial calendar of content to repurpose in case of a second wave of the Coronavirus. After having to scrap initial plans this year to provide timely content, it is important to plan ahead for possible future scenarios as much as possible.
Instead of brainstorming solo or with your immediate team, involve other perspectives to get new ideas. This could mean pulling in more people than would typically be involved in a brainstorm to put their heads together and get creative ideas flowing or reaching out to people on other teams to pose a question and gather insight. The key is to make sure people who haven’t been part of a marketing brainstorm before understand the expectations and aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. At this stage, there are no bad ideas!
DO A WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT.
Especially this year, as there is even more emphasis placed on digital communication, it is important to take an audit of the content presented on the company website, social media and any other digital platform. Are there updates that need to be made? Do you need to refresh any of the information presented? Does your company’s online presence properly embody the brand? Making tweaks to the website and other online platforms is an important step to start fresh in 2021 with up-to-date information on your brand, products and services.
START DRAFTING CONTENT.
The best way to set yourself up for a successful 2021 is by starting now. Once you have created your editorial calendar, begin drafting content for next year ahead of time as much as possible. This helps ensure that you are maximizing your time now and are not caught off guard during the holidays.
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