[Guide] Successful Content Marketing: Topic Ideas, Operations and ROI

You actively invest in content marketing.

Publishing regularly is a key part of your marketing strategy because… well, it works.

Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog. – @impactbnd

You know the importance of a growing content library. By accelerating content creation, your email list grows faster. Each piece of content will promote your brand at an increasing rate.

Although brand marketing requires patience, the returns are massive if you invest in publishing content often. Build a larger pipeline of opportunities – with shrinking customer acquisition costs.

With larger, long-term benefits, you’re building for compounding effects.

Source: kapost

The number of blog posts published monthly would affect traffic and leads

More likely than not, you already appreciate these points. You’re here because you want to stay consistent and grow even more aggressively.

So, how often do companies need to publish?

If we look at benchmark data, businesses publishing more than 16 posts per month bring in almost 3.5x more traffic than businesses publishing zero to four articles.

Companies that blogged 20 or more times in a month saw the most return in traffic and leads. – HubSpot

At the same time, you have to be careful about the quality of content you’re pushing out. Substandard high-frequency posts can lead to unsubscribes, reader fatigue, and lower engagement.

“Unless you have the resources and skills to sustain a higher frequency and create consistently valuable content, you should settle for publishing a lower amount of quality content.” – Neil Patel

When it comes to branding, you want to invest as much as you can afford. This applies to businesses or personal brands that are built with the years to come in mind.

It’s a matter of allocating budget for long-term growth while generating immediate sales to afford this month’s rent.

You’re the right candidate for brand marketing if the business is stable and you’re looking to amplify the proven formula.

Balance quality and quantity based on your brand marketing budget.

Craft a Content Plan

If you want to publish regularly a content plan or calendar is critical. Decide on a plan for at least a month. If you can anticipate for 90 days, that’s even better.

It should cover multiple channels, such as:

  • On-page – blogs, landing pages
  • Off-page – social, newsletter, forums, email outreaches

A configuration for a brand’s monthly plan can look like this:

  • Daily social posts
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Weekly 2k-word blog posts
  • 3 Quora answers per week

Check and evaluate performance every 30 days. Fine-tune your approach based on market response.

Also, let me reiterate thinking about 30- to 90-day content plans.

Have a behind-the-scenes look at Pat Flynn’s content calendar.

His calendar features different topics and themes for an entire year across multiple channels (blog, social media, YouTube, etc.). He suggests to plan ahead to stay consistent.

Take note: at NorthStories.io, we heavily bias towards authenticity.

Instead of merely chasing keyword opportunities, we encourage discussions about what’s getting your team inspired.

This would be related to:

  • Lessons learned
  • Personal opinions
  • The team’s experiences
  • Product development process

Now, you can’t always plan ahead when it comes to inspiration.

For example, you might have scheduled the creation of a new lead magnet regarding “how to choose the right operating system”. Before you get around producing that content, an event at work might inspire you to be more interested in a topic like “Why Android Works Best for Our Team”.

Feel free to change up your content plan based on your business operation realities.

It’s not about firming up very specific details for the long term. You can adjust topics or word counts.

The key is to envision the broad strokes so you can plan budgets and forecast KPIs.

This is about systematic execution as opposed to haphazard initiatives.

For example, if you committed to publish 7 articles but only completed 2, this failure to execute should calibrate your expected results.

To add your brand and team’s unique stories, ensure that you work with the right editors who are interested in personalizing your content.

You don’t have to write the words yourself for the story to be based on your unique flavor. Ensure that you hit the publishing targets required to generate the number of leads you’re looking for.

Keep Up With The Content Calendar

Okay, you already appreciate the value of branding. You’re looking to go big because that’s the essence of growing your online authority.

However, you may be struggling with consistency. For example, you’re interested in publishing 4,500 or 7,000 words on your blog every month, but fail to meet the target.

You find it difficult to stick to the content calendar. Inspiration comes and goes. You’d also want to better measure progress, seeing evidence that investments are contributing to the bigger picture.

For your brand, execution is a bigger problem than knowledge. You know your digital marketing stuff… you just need to get content actually published.

To grow your brand with ongoing and effective content marketing, consider delegating to content creators who specialize. Here’s why:

  • Disciplined Execution: It’s tough to stick to a constant schedule. Perhaps, you target 6,000 words for your blog every month, but you’re running out of ideas and struggling to consistently publish quality content. It’s starting to become a chore, and you’re losing authenticity.
  • Writing Expertise: You may not be writing specialists. You’re more focused on product engineering and on your own vertical, or you are an agency that needs a specialized writing partner.

You may already have in-house writers. Perhaps, as the CMO/founder, you personally write and edit as well.

The key is to step on the gas pedal by setting up accountabilities with others who will turn your vision into content assets.

As the founder or chief marketing officer, you could be the originator of the brand voice… but you do not have to write the words yourself. That unnecessarily slows down your publishing. Your time should be spent on strategy.

Your focus should be on the bird’s-eye view of things–not getting sidetracked churning out content.

You need content to be written. You don’t have to write it yourself.

You just need your vision to be executed by specialists who will be designated for helping you accelerate your production.

Again, you want a big and growing content library… or don’t invest in brand marketing at all.

Save time and energy keeping your sites and social media accounts alive.

This content marketing scale checklist shows you how to scale like a boss:

  • Repurpose your archive.
  • Invite guest writers.
  • Recruit 3rd party help.
  • Hire in-house talent.

Improve Your Content Idea Generation

Where do you find ideas for content your audience will love and link to?

This is a usual bottleneck for ongoing publishing.

Whether it’s generating blog, podcast, newsletter, Youtube channel, or social media content ideas, there are two main sources you can use for inspiration.

Content from Market Research

These tactics include SEO keyword research to find popular search terms, forum research for understanding niche communities, and Quora research for finding out questions asked by your target audience.

Reverse-engineering based on market demand validates your content even before you write a single word. You end up actually serving the market demand with an article that addresses their intent.

Content from Your Experiences

The internet is chock full of generic content. You’ll always find another Guide to Facebook Advertising or yet another Event Planning Checklist.

Give your audience a peek behind the velvet curtain. Look at any topic and add your brand’s personal flavor to it. Discuss topics you feel strongly about. Any content creator can produce an iPhone Photography Guide, but your personal take makes it unique.

Let me share my favorite approach…

The best kind of content combines market research and your experiences. It features your brand’s unique story plus popular market demand.

You can start by talking about topics related to your product development, recent lessons learned, or existing thoughts and opinions.

After sharing stories from your business journey… you can add SEO research. Tweak the title and sprinkle keywords. Match market demand to your natural way of thinking.

Cool, right?

You can come up with content topic ideas based on your interests… and produce more powerful articles in the process.

“Position your brand as an authority through personalized and powerful content.” –
Kristopher Jones, Search Engine Journal

Your Content Strategy’s ROI

Each piece of content produces a unique set of results.

We have the honor to have worked with clients across industries and different business sizes. Mileage varies.

Unsurprisingly, folks who see content marketing ROI tend to be inclined to keep publishing.

Why is this relevant to you? Performance management would help you publish.

Here’s an example outline for a brand that’s interested in publishing social media posts regularly:

  • Publish often on social media
  • Inspire engagement, brand awareness, and website traffic
  • Drive more opt-ins
  • Convert sales out of opt-ins

Now, each brand has its own funnel and strategy. The idea here is to have a sense of the bigger picture whenever you look at smaller content pieces.

Why? If you can sense ROI, you’re encouraged to step on the gas pedal.

You might focus on podcasting. It can be Google Adwords. It can be in-person conferences.

It doesn’t matter what the strategy is…

Whether we’re talking about content marketing or not, seeing ROI inspires execution.

Brand marketing is different from direct sales.

You have to be more interested in quarterly or yearly strategies because of the slow-burn nature.

While monitoring ROI encourages the execution of any plan, branding & awareness need a special combination of patience and vision.

It takes 6 to 8 touches to generate a viable sales lead. – Salesforce

You invest in brand marketing to speed up lead generation, nurturing sales-ready contacts at scale.

Given the large gains for the company’s lifetime, you appreciate how this takes iteration and investment.

Put building blocks together to see ROI.

Brand content gets amplified.

Combine the following:

  • Newsletters
  • Paid traffic
  • Growing content archive
  • Links between your articles
  • Growing SEO performance
  • Community management
  • Relationship building via influencer mentions

With the infrastructure to mix these factors together, your brand is better suited for growing a content library.

Focus on topics with high commercial intent.

Do you sell video production? You can blog about shooting on your iPhone.

Do you sell running shoes? You can publish a guide on healthy diets.

Both examples above are… poor.

They’re not the most relevant in terms of commercial intent.

If you sell running shoes, talk about something like “Find the Right Fit: Guide to Buying the Appropriate Running Shoes”.

You want topics that are far more related to purchasing your products:

  • Comparisons (vs. alternative brands)
  • Shipping information
  • Deals & discounts
  • Buyer’s guides

As a brand, you want different types of content to build a bigger marketing funnel. Some are closer to the buying conversation. Other content topics are intended for growing your audience reach.

A good amount of high commercial intent topics will inspire your team to keep publishing content because you can sense the economic benefits.

This is especially relevant when your stakeholders are more interested in faster ROI due to cash flow reasons.

Measure performance.

Ultimately, you want to see sales. However, not all campaigns are focused on that part of the funnel.

Effective content marketing is based on an organized content strategy, well-defined targets, and constant analysis of the results.

There are different ways to measure varying types of content: social media posts, newsletters, blog articles, lead magnets, videos, and more.

SEMrush suggests these essential content metrics to interpret, analyze, and measure performance:

  • User Behavior – unique visitors, pages per session, page depth, bounce rate, new and returning users, and traffic sources
  • Engagement – likes, shares, mentions, incoming requests, comments, and republications
  • SEO Outcome – organic traffic, dwell time, backlinks, keyword rankings
  • Company Revenue – existing leads touched, conversion rate, new leads generated, ROI, cost per acquisition

If your opt-in page is built for lead generation, focus on that metric. Don’t confuse this specific campaign with traffic, revenue, or referrals.

Fight the recurring temptation of designing campaigns that magically do everything for you. Some pieces of content are designed for the top of the funnel, generating brand awareness.

Other pieces, like ‘Thank You’ email autoresponders, may focus exclusively on upsells or referrals.

Knowing what to expect, you’re in a better position to publish and iterate towards massive brand growth.

Over to You

When it comes to strategy, never go with any haphazardly.

Do you foresee your brand lasting for at least the next couple of years? If so, brand marketing is for you. You can grow your online footprint through content publishing.

And when you do choose to invest in content, go big or don’t do it at all. Invest your marketing budget as long as cash flow allows you to operate nicely.

Plan your content for at least the next 30 days. Envision broad strokes for the next 90.

Execute big. Evaluate results.

Based on what you learned, execute big again. Iterate.

Rinse and repeat.