Heading into 2018, many of us are evaluating our past year and making New Year’s resolutions. Be they personal or professional, our resolutions are things we want to be better at, ways to improve ourselves and goals we want to reach. For each of us, those goals look different. But as any weight-loss goal-setter who’s dived head-first into a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s mid-January will tell you, it’s all about defining specifically what your goals are rather than speaking in broad generalities that will keep you motivated for the long haul.

The same is true for your content marketing goals. You need to begin any content marketing campaign with defining exactly what success means to you. This definition of success might look very different this year than it did last year, it might look vastly different than what your competition is up to and it may even go against what some experts are preaching. And that’s okay. You need to carefully evaluate your current content marketing situation, determine what you want to achieve and break that end achievement into manageable and measurable success goals.

Here are six tips for achieving your content marketing goals.

1. Realistically Determine a Specific, Measurable Goal

Much as we all want our goal to be “more revenue,” that idealistic notion can’t be how you define success. That sort of broad-brush definition of success is doomed to fail. It’s akin to your buddy saying his New Year’s resolution is simply to lose weight. Specificity wins the day. Just as the person who wants to lose weight has a higher chance of succeeding if he transforms a broad goal into a specific goal by saying, “I want to eat smaller portions and exercise 4 days a week to lose 5 pounds in three months,” so you too will be more successful if you get specific.

Are you looking to drive traffic to one particular hot spot on your website? For example, do you know that historically if people hit page A and watch video B that they are 10 times more likely to revisit and eventually turn into a conversion? Then success to you might mean getting 40% more visits this year than last year to that website page and 20% more video views. Success might also mean developing a full-scale and long-term social media strategy around that video that results in X number of engagements, with engagements being defined as watching or sharing the video.

Have your salespeople told you that many clients who end up purchasing mention the influence a certain spec sheet had on their decision to purchase? One of your goals might be creating a social media strategy to promote that document and then growing engagement with that campaign by 10% each quarter. Engagement may look like a certain amount of time spent on site or downloads of the spec sheet.

Think in terms of percentages and incremental growth for very specific items or tasks that have proven over time to translate into increased market share and revenue. Think also in terms of timeframes. What is reasonable to achieve by when? Try to include both when defining what content marketing success means to you. Gather historical data on which content in what venue has brought results in the past and set measurable goals for growth against past performance.

2. Ditch What Needs Ditching

Once you have clearly and specifically stated your end goal, be prepared to make changes as needed to prepare for achieving that goal. Do you need to make changes to your website and social media reporting so that you can get a handle on what’s working and what’s not working? Do you have content and content processes that are inefficient, using outdated technology or just boring? Consider the people you have in place, including external advertising and marketing agencies. Do you have the best and brightest bringing you outstanding ideas each day, or are people working on your content campaigns simply bumping along and checking tasks off their to-do lists?

3. Prepare for Heavy Lifting

If you have set a realistic, yet challenging goal, you’ll have some work to do. And if you have identified what needs ditching, you’ll probably have even more work to do. That’s okay. This just gives you more chances for change and increased possibilities for success. Break your goals into a series of achievable steps, creating a project plan by assigning leadership and responsibility for various pieces and parts. Then give those leaders the resources they need to achieve the goals in front of them.

Part of the heavy lifting in front of you might be convincing other people in your organization what content marketing success can and should look like. You may find yourself educating others within your organization, and this requires repetition and patience, as well as excellent relationship building skills.

Last, make sure your measurement processes are firmly in place. If you don’t have top-notch, back-end reporting so that you know which website, blog and social media content is engaging and converting, start immediately with that heavy lifting. Hire someone with the right skill set to be able to understand what needs to be tracked and to work with you to start tracking immediately.

4. Be Patient

It’s easy to catch the excitement of a new content marketing campaign and to expect instant success. Instant success, however, is generally the exception and not the rule. Content campaigns take time and nurturing, and a dedication that stands the test of time. Give your content campaigns time to mature and perform, but don’t get lazy. Establish A/B tests and plan for regular evaluations of content performance so that you know where you can make changes as needed. Celebrate small wins in short time periods. These will build on each other, and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating big wins!

5. Embrace Failure and Change

Don’t be afraid to fail. If you’re doing your job correctly, you will make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of the process, so plan to learn from mistakes rather than penalizing yourself for making them. It’s much easier to make small tweaks along the way and to identify where changes need to be made as you test and try new things than setting your content marketing course on autopilot and doing one large quarterly or end-of-year review. Similarly, if upon evaluation you realize you’ve set the wrong goal or defined success incorrectly, don’t sweat it. Simply readjust your definition and steer your ship in that new direction.

6. Celebrate Success

It’s important that you take time to celebrate your content marketing successes and to celebrate the people that are working hard toward those successes. If your team can feel that what they are doing matters and that it’s contributing to the overall success of your company, then they’ll bring even more creative energy to future goal planning sessions as well as daily execution.

Celebrate, but don’t sit still. No sooner than you’ve defined what success means to you for 2018, it’ll be December and you’ll be looking at another new year. So get started now, gather the content troops and brainstorm your New Year’s content goals.

Need help defining your goals and what success means to you? Contact us today for an audit and strategy to guide your content marketing down the right path.

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