Okay, so you know content marketing is effective, and you know that you can't keep your strategy the same for too long. Still, actually taking the time to reassess and adjust your campaign can be tricky for even experienced marketers and entrepreneurs to overcome. One of the biggest and most difficult issues to address is also the earliest one you'll face in the process: merely telling whether your strategy is in need of updating in the first place.
Once you decide that your content strategy is in need of an overhaul, you can get down to business--but how can you tell your content strategy is suffering in the first place?
Signs of Wear
There are some clear signs of your content strategy tanking, such as a decline in readership or public negative backlash about your content, but you don't need advice to pick these signs out. Instead, you'll need to keep watch for much subtler signs that your content strategy isn't performing the way it should be:
- Stagnation in search rankings.
Take a close look at how your individual pages have been ranking in search engines. Have you noticed any stagnation? What have your organic traffic patterns been like over the last six months? A serious decline is an obvious example of an issue, but more often, it's stagnation that goes untreated. You can't guarantee growth forever, and steadiness isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you're striving for growth and you aren't seeing it, that's a problem.
- Stagnation in readers/followers.
Similarly, take a look at your readership. How many followers have you earned in recent months? How many new people have subscribed to your blog? How many commenters are you getting? If you're seeing the same-old, same-old patterns, or if you aren't earning many new interested eyes, it's time to revise your campaign to something more modern and crowd-pleasing.
- Fewer comments and engagements.
Engagements are a major factor for the success of your content campaign. Not only are these indications of reader interest in your material (the best form of positive feedback), they also contribute to the visibility of your content overall. A hit here isn't just a diagnostic tool; it could affect other areas of your performance. Pay close attention to how people are engaging with your material in the form of comments, discussions, shares, and responses. More is always better, and a decline is a bad sign.
- Low conversion rates.
This is easy to overlook, especially if you're seeing a relatively high conversion rate site-wide. Take a look at how your individual content pieces are performing in terms of conversions. Are your readers successfully purchasing your products after reading your articles? This is an indication of your content's persuasive power, and also shows how well you know your audience. If there's a decline, or even a lack of growth, it means you're missing something, and you may need to go back to the drawing board.
- Lack of recent changes.
Most of the items on this list already have something to do with stagnation, or a lack of recent changes. But a lack of changes almost anywhere in your strategy could be an indication that something is wrong. You want your campaign to evolve, slowly but surely, with the times. If you aren't changing, and if you aren't seeing different results, it means you aren't adapting enough to your changing environment.
- New competition.
This is a rare external factor demanding your content strategy to be overhauled. If a new competitor enters the field, or if one of your existing competitors steps up their content strategy, you'll need to respond if you want to stand a fighting chance of survival--it's as good an excuse as any.
How to Overhaul Your Strategy
If you've noticed two or more of the signs above, it's a good indication that your content strategy needs some work. Here are some of the most approachable and effective ways to go about it:
- Start conceptual.
Try not to get too deep in the weeds. Start from a conceptual perspective, and think high-level about what changes you could introduce to improve your campaign. Then break those concepts down into action items.
- Find new angles and new niches.
Sometimes, a simple adjustment is all it takes to breathe new life into your campaign. Are there new niches you can tap into? New angles that haven't been explored by you or your competition?
- Experiment iteratively, and with great diversity.
Just because you're "overhauling" your strategy doesn't mean you have to do everything at once. Instead, experiment with smaller changes, one at a time so you can accurately measure each one's impact on your overall results.
- Measure and analyze everything.
Speaking of measuring, make the effort to measure everything. Data is your best friend here, and without it, you'll never know if your changes were effective.
You won't need to totally overhaul your strategy very often--maybe once or twice a year at the most--but in the meantime, don't be shy about making adjustments. Few strategies and concepts are perfect to start with, and even if they are, your execution will be questionable. We're only human, after all. Take the time to regularly perform checkups of your strategy's health, both conceptually and practically, and make tweaks along the way to keep your performance in good shape and mitigate the need for another overhaul.