December sometimes feels like fitting one month into two and a half weeks. For many of our clients, this is the busiest time of the year. Tis the season to draft and pick apart marketing plans, finalize and submit next year’s budget, and catch up on expense reports and timesheets. Everyone’s preparing for the big pause: the holidays.
You might be considering pausing your content strategy. But first, consider the different roles of your content plan.
A content strategy must fulfill a few different roles. It highlights your thought leadership, marrying your offers and services with the needs of your prospective clients. It’s essential for nurturing early stage leads into paying clients. When emailed, it behaves as a vehicle to get your database back on your site and engaging with more of your thought leadership. It turns your c-suite into thought leaders. And it is also especially important for SEO strategy.
Your content plan and SEO strategy
Search engine crawlers crawl your site whenever you produce new content (you should be using the Google Search Engine Console if you’re not already). The more frequently search engines index your content, the more likely you are to receive higher rankings on search results pages.We know that the ‘freshness factor’ is key to how Google indexes and prioritizes sites. Sites that regularly add new pages at a higher rate than, say, your competitors, are considered ‘fresher’.
Of course, when I explain the importance of frequency in SEO strategy, I’m met with a reaction that is almost always the same; “That’s easy, let’s go ahead and publish a paragraph every day!” Publishing a paragraph each day isn’t great SEO strategy – not to mention a terrible nurturing strategy. When you and your competitor are publishing at the same frequency, search engine crawlers will prioritize the number of words it can index. So, a content plan that is built for SEO strategy should have a constant balance of frequency and volume.
The impact of the holidays
Your team is probably having one of their busiest months as they end the year. As you discuss and build a content plan for over the holidays, consider that you likely only have a couple of weeks available for your content team in December to publish four weeks of content. The risk here is bottlenecking, overloading your content team and either publishing no content at all or publishing content that isn’t high quality. And low-quality content can leave your content marketing worse off than no content at all. We discuss how to measure the quality of your content in an upcoming episode of Consider This.
Additionally, what we’ve seen is a lot less engagement during the holidays with your digital system. People might be checking emails at the airport, but your target audience is likely more focused on the vacation they’re headed to. At this time of the year, decisions on who to partner with are likely already done. Without the immediate nurturing aspect of publishing new content, is it worth having a content plan that publishes content over the holidays?
Automate as much as possible
The answer is yes, but with a few adjustments to move some of the workload off your content team. With a combination of setting up a repository of posts, investing in marketing automation software and being creative with content generation, you’ll ensure the content plan survives the holidays.
- Build a repository of content. Is someone on your team feeling particularly inspired to write something up that’s not currently part of the plan? Always let them and make sure it’s quality content that is aimed at a particular audience. Having a library of ready-to-go content items will not only help with holiday posts but it’ll also help when someone doesn’t meet a publication deadline. Remember that publishing content regularly is essential to SEO strategy, so having a few in your back pocket for a rainy day – or the winter break – allows you to keep up with the frequency and volume you’ve committed to following.
- Get creative about content generation. Did one of your thought leaders book a talk? Did they co-host a webinar with a partner? Did you hold a workshop? See if you can record it and post it to the site with a transcript. If the topic aligns with your target audience’s needs and your services, it’ll be a great asset to your content plan and one less post to have a content team member write up. In our next webinar we share how to leverage your team’s communication styles to write better content.
- Automate, automate, automate. If you haven’t already, you should invest in a marketing automation software, such as Act-On. When integrated with your digital system, you’re able to send out emails at specific times, which will help you send out any emails you’d like to send over the holidays. Most CMSs will also allow you to schedule the publication of a content page which means you can set up the page to publish before you head off to the holidays. Act-On also allows you to schedule the same post to all your different social media accounts. So while you’re away, your system publishes content to your site and them promotes it via social media and email.
You can publish content over the holidays by following the steps above – but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of content that is high quality and targeted towards a specific audience. For many content teams, this means not publishing at all during two weeks of December. When you have a content plan that is routinely followed, hitting your publication dates as planned and promoting it accordingly, a two-week gap won’t be so impactful on your overall site engagement. However, when your content plan is still starting or hasn’t quite taken off, it’s worth investing in the steps outlined above to keep the strategic plan going through the holidays.