“Content Marketing” is a hot topic these days, but many companies struggle to get beyond the buzzword and incorporate it into an effective marketing strategy. Only a few years ago, content marketing was simply jotting down a couple paragraphs packed with keywords. But as search engines have become more complex and their algorithms more savvy, the requirements for a comprehensive and impactful content marketing strategy have heightened as well.

Create (don’t just write!) Your Content. Starting with the basics, the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” I want to call out the fact that marketing is not just written content – rather, it covers all kinds of material. This could range from social media to infographics, to white papers and beyond.

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut – Diversify. The variety of content has grown considerably as marketers attempt to reach and engage many audiences. When considering your content marketing strategy, diversifying is always a smart move. Different audiences are interested by different approaches, and using multiple formats of content can help you reach more people and maintain their interest.

Make it Easy to Find. Once you have your portfolio of content, the next step is to maximize the number and types of marketing channels used for distribution. Understanding how your audience finds and looks for information is crucial to making the most of your content. Does your audience find you through social media networks or search engines? Do they prefer email updates or RSS feeds? These important questions will help you strategically place your content where it’s easy for the audience to find it.

Use Data to Your Advantage. Running analytics on your content can help reveal valuable insights into audience interests. The more data you have, the better. Discover where you get the most viewers, what types of content they’re consuming, when they’re accessing it, and what information sparks their interest or leads them to convert. This kind of data can be used to influence aspects of your future content – content type, post time, channel of distribution, etc. Many people are surprised at just how data-driven content marketing is.

Remember, Quality over Quantity. Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that quality is more important than quantity. There’s no need to spin your wheels trying to produce massive amounts of content. While it’s good to make sure your content is fresh, it’s even better to make it relevant and meaningful to your audience. You can re-use a strong piece of content over and over again, reaping benefits long after the initial investment.

At the end of the day, content marketing goes way beyond whipping up a white paper, blindly pushing it out, and hoping for the best. Rather, a successful strategy demands many of the same skills required of today’s search marketing pros. For example, take your SEO skills and boost your search engine rankings with a really solid blog. Or put your PPC expertise to good use by giving your evergreen content staying power. Applying your skills and data-driven mentality to content marketing is the quickest way to success.