If you’re tuned in to the marketing scene – even just peripherally – you know that content marketing is what everyone’s talking about. There are endless articles, eBooks, templates, marketing agencies, you name it – all designed to help you figure out how to craft the perfect content strategy.

But let’s take a step back for a second: Why is everyone so concerned with content marketing in the first place?

The Power of Content Marketing

The reason that content marketing has become such a major focus for marketers is because content provides a foundation for leveraging other marketing channels.

For example, social media is a fantastic channel for driving engagement, audience growth and lead generation. But if you don’t have content, what will you post to your social accounts?

Then there’s email marketing, which works wonders for nurturing your leads into customers. But unless you design your emails as pure sales pitches (a highly ineffective strategy, in case you’re curious), you’ll need some educational content in order to provide value to these folks.

SEO is also a great marketing tool because it helps you rank in search results and drive more traffic to your site. But what pages will search engines index if you don’t have blog posts and landing pages filled with the right keywords?

Not only does content marketing fuel the rest of your marketing efforts, it can even be a marketing channel in and of itself. Let’s say you build out a blog that starts picking up hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of views per month. Once you’ve optimized your posts to convert readers into leads, you will have just turned your blog into its own mini marketing funnel. 

Campaign-Based vs. Long-Term Content Marketing

There are a few different ways to approach content marketing, and it’s important to understand the benefits of each before choosing the best strategy for you.

If you’re designing a campaign to launch a product, release an eBook or announce a holiday promotion, content can be extremely useful. In fact, it may even be the very foundation of your campaign. For example, you may be planning to write a blog post as a press release. Perhaps you’ll create a piece of content full of tips related to a given holiday.

When you’re focused on a specific campaign, it’s easy to get caught up in the short-term goals and niche topics tied to those campaigns. This is especially true when it comes to the content you’re creating.

In fact, the reason many people abandon their blogs after a few months is because they don’t see any short-term benefits. You may have experienced a similar feeling of doubt and asked yourself, “Why am I putting in so much time and effort into content when it’s just not showing any returns?”

However, there are a ton of benefits that come from envisioning your content strategy with a long-term mindset. The reality is that content marketing is a long-term strategy. It’s not designed to convert leads immediately, turn you into an industry thought leader overnight or get you ranked on the first page of Google search results within two weeks.

But the good news: These are all results that you can gain over time.

Committing to the Long-Term

Now to be clear, it is okay to design some content specifically to support niche campaigns. For the most part, however, you should aim to plan and create your content with a long-term strategy in mind.

Here are a few ways you can commit to that long-term content strategy:

1. Plan ahead. You should have a high-level, long-term strategy for all of your marketing efforts – not just your content. Start by mapping out your marketing goals for the next year. What metrics will be top priority? Which parts of your funnel need to be improved? What keywords do you want to rank for? What social media campaigns will you run? Only then can you decide what types of content will support each of these efforts.

2. Write evergreen content. If content is “evergreen,” it means that it’s always relevant. When you’re deciding what topics to write about, keep in mind that content will be most useful if it is relevant in the long-term, instead of tied to a specific event. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about current news and events, but remember that these pieces are more likely to provide only a little bit of immediate value, rather than long-term returns.

3. Promote evergreen content. It’s tempting to focus your promotion efforts on the latest blog post or eBook you’ve written, but including some evergreen content in the mix gives you a much larger assortment of content to choose from, helps you build a strong brand voice over time and keeps the traffic flowing to these older content pieces.

4. Leverage older content for new conversions. If you’re driving a decent amount of traffic to your older, evergreen content pieces, why not optimize these content pieces to convert viewers into leads? If you’re following conversion optimization best practices, you should have a call-to-action at the end of every piece of content to entice readers to take the next step. Every few months or so, revisit these calls-to-action in your older blog posts and eBooks, and replace them with updated calls-to-action, such as a newer content piece or product.

While your focus should really be on planning for the long-term, the day-to-day is important, as well. You should iterate and improve constantly, and always have the right systems in place to measure the ROI of your content marketing efforts – both immediate and long-term.