The main challenge in content marketing today is achieving alignment between its three constituent elements:
Ideas: the world is saturated with content marketing. To win, you need to come up with content ideas that will stand out amidst the noise.
Process: managing a pipeline of content is a big task even for dedicated publications. Companies trying to build out content marketing teams need rigorous processes to get work done efficiently.
Distribution: getting your content out there through email, social, organic, and referred means is crucial. But the effectiveness of your distribution channels will always be in flux, and to achieve maximum signal you need to constantly review how your efforts are working.
With good ideas and good process, but no distribution, your blog is just a vanity project. With good process and good distribution, but no good ideas, your blog is just noise. And with good ideas and good distribution, but no process, your blog will never be able to grow.
But nail each aspect of the content marketing pipeline, and you’ll have an engine of growth that can drive your business for years to come.
Below, you’ll find some of our favorite content on content marketing — from how to come up with better ideas for your blog to templates you can use to start managing your workflow better today.
Content marketing strategy and ideation
You need to consider several different factors when putting together a content marketing strategy:
Your customers (What are their problems? What do they want to read about?)
Your competitors (What are they writing about?)
Your keywords (What can you rank for, and how quickly?)
The key to building a powerful content machine is to analyze these different factors, glean insights from this analysis, and feed those insights directly into your content marketing process.
"Making all of the information you need to execute on your content marketing strategy structured and indexed is the key to being able to publish great content at a high cadence."
"It’s important to get a good spread of both direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer a lens into how you could do better and make more revenue today because that’s who potential customers are spending your money with today. Indirect competitors help reveal opportunities down the line — while they’re not targeting your immediate customer base, or problem, they cover areas adjacent to your product where you might expand in the future."
"Your edge is what you do differently. Without that, you can invest tons of time and money into content and get nothing in return. That’s because in content, the key is to have your work become evergreen, timeless — if you want to do that, you need to be able to see into the future and do today what will distinguish you tomorrow."
"By using Airtable in conjunction with their own tool, the Zapier team is able to achieve their higher level goal of automating away repetitive tasks in order to focus on what really matters: developing a great product and helping their customers have amazing experiences."
Content marketing tactics
Difficulties abound on the ground floor of any content marketing operation. It’s hard to keep track of all the moving parts when you’re dealing with lots of articles being written written by lots of people.
Transparency in workflow can go a long way towards creating accountability and creating consistency in your publication cadence, but transparency can be hard to achieve in a system at scale.
"Sharing information and communicating about the different steps of production are key for creating great content. The right tools can ensure that you have a system that scales even when your team is still small. Setting up the right system early means you’ll be equipped to deal with the complexity that comes with a bigger team."
"Trying to communicate the context behind an article to someone who doesn’t work at your company can be a huge challenge. When the tools you’re using to manage your content workflow can’t properly express every dimension of a particular article, you wind up with lossy transmission of information."
"Accountability is a product of transparency. When your data is out of date and there’s no visibility into the pipeline, it becomes very difficult to even understand which pieces are being worked on, let alone whether they’re proceeding on schedule."
Content marketing tools and techniques
The editorial calendar is about as old as the news itself, and still today we have trouble setting them up. In the world of content marketing, these calendars are often stretched beyond their logical limits as editors try to fit an entire network of data around distribution, publication and keywords into them.
"With only a couple writers, it’s relatively easy to keep communication up manually. Writers simply email clients with article ideas, deadlines, and completed drafts. But as you expand your agency to include more writers and clients, stuff starts to slip through the cracks. Emails are forgotten; deadlines missed."
"Choosing the right research and analysis tools can help you choose the topics and keywords that will drive recurring, organic traffic to your blog… identify which types of content perform well across different channels… make your content writing machine more efficient, and help you move seamlessly from brainstorming ideas to publishing content at a steady clip."
"Editorial calendars are an indispensable tool for streamlining the entire publishing process and ensuring a consistent output of content. From brainstorming ideas, to sending drafts off for editing, to managing art assets, to scheduling and rescheduling articles — a good editorial calendar can make your publication-related tasks a whole lot easier."
"At first glance, the new Airtable collaborator field seems pretty straightforward: choose any collaborator on your base from an automatically generated dropdown menu, add them to a record, and they’ll get a notification. Yet the new field opens up a whole range of possibilities for managing projects and getting work done faster."
Content marketing case studies
We’ve worked with a wide variety of companies and creators who have made Airtable an integral part of their content creation and promotion workflows. Content creation can take many forms—whether you’re running a digital agency, a television production company, or making a movie—and these bases can show you how all kinds of content teams solve problems and do great work with Airtable.
"Tarazi had to source the props, including two dead frogs (which he found at a taxidermy store), a fish tank, a can of beer, Doritos, a dog bowl, and a Kiss poster. He also hired, for $1,000 a day, a bulldog named Diesel. The two-day shoot, at a rented, cramped Airbnb place in Los Angeles, was at times overwhelming."
"When it comes to helping propel business into the future, Huge thinks big. The company calls itself a global experience agency, which sounds broad for a reason. It does everything from build custom apps, like this collaboration with NBC’s Today Show, to creating complete customer experiences from scratch, from pop-up boutiques to immersive marketing campaigns for brands such as Nike, Benefit, Google, and Lexus."
"Our content agency had developed an in-house tool to manage all our internal and external operations, but over time we found that it became more and more difficult to get the information we needed. We needed some way to model the growing and changing relationships with our customers as we grew the business, so we developed this base."
"Is content data? Not really. A few years ago, I would have eye-rolled at calculating content in order to find the “right” answer. But with IA-heavy projects such as redesigns for thousand-page websites, the scale of information begs for process. I decided to scope out an approach where we pretend content is data. Information can be corralled into topics, and I started counting how often each topic showed up in auditing and research. If certain topics leap out of the data, that’s where your content strategy should start."
"Because we have so many projects going on simultaneously, it’s really helpful to have this base where we can have a thorough overview of what status each project is in. The most important tab on this base is the “Creative” tab where we can keep track of our team members and what they are working on to make sure that work is evenly distributed."
"In addition to keeping everyone on the same page for our launch plans, we found it unexpectedly useful to keep different people on different pages. For the marketing team, the actual public feature release date matters most, because that’s when all marketing collateral needs to be ready. For engineering, on the other hand, the feature deployment date is more important, and occurs before the public launch date (we do this through rigorous use of feature flags)."
"Fullscreen Media has a College Correspondent Program, which tasks students nationwide to collect (wo)man-on-the-street video interviews on topics that relate to the day’s biggest news — from celebrity social media controversies, to music trends, to news out of Washington, D.C. It’s our way of getting real voices and real opinion from our audience. As simple as the mission of the program is, there is a lot that goes into it from recruiting the students to managing the videos being created."
"Singularity Hub offers daily news coverage, feature articles, analysis, and insights on key breakthroughs and future trends in exponential technologies. To produce content every single day, we use this dedicated editorial calendar base to organize our content production across all different channels (our WordPress site, Medium, and YouTube) and our social media promotion."
"As an unscripted production company, we need to build relationships with all different kinds of organizations and talent. With our Airtable base, we can track all of our various relationships for access and locations into one spreadsheet divided into tabs. Within each project, we can monitor all the calls and contacts we’ve had with that organization."
Content marketing Airtable templates
To help you get started building out your own content marketing workflow, we’ve assembled this list of Airtable marketing templates. Get hacking away, and use these to create the perfect system of record for your content marketing team.
"We develop each Airtable template with one goal in mind: to distill the collective wisdom and best practices that members of our community, including the 30,000+ organizations already using Airtable, have shared with us so we can save you a little time getting started."