Lauren Kaye

Like a romantic pursuit, when you strike up a new content marketing relationship, things are initially great. You’re excited about all of the outcomes you might reach and you’re dreamy about the possibility that this strategy is the one that’s going to get you results you’ve always wanted.

Unlike a one-night stand or a summer fling, content marketing a lot like a long-term relationship. It takes time to strengthen and mature.

Love at first sighgtStage 1: 

Everybody is chasing after content marketing these days.

According to the CMI, around 92 percent of companies use content marketing to reach their business goals and they’re all looking for the same things: Intelligent and unique content that’s engaging and consistent. They want their website content to make them look good and drive results.

As with dating, there are lots of places to chase your content marketing dreams:

  • There’s the good-old fashioned way (DIY), but if you’re like 69 percent of marketers, you don’t have time to strategize and produce, distribute and measure all of the resources you want to create. And if you’re in the majority (94 percent), you admit that you’re not yet a “content marketing master” and could use some guidance.
  • There’s the freelance approach, finding a writer/subject matter expert who can fill in the production gaps with content. But will he be reliable? How much control do you have over the project and will it support the rest of your strategy? What if he decides to move on and you have to start from scratch?
  • Then there’s the outsourcing option, and there’s a growing pool of agencies willing to provide custom content. Around 43 percent of companies outsource at least some of their content marketing and there’s a level of safety in this approach. Agencies offer you the full support of a team and creative talent to execute diverse strategies and then report on the results.

Once you’ve found the right fit, things can seem …  pretty perfect. You’ve got content to share with your audience, you’re building resources and working toward the goals you’ve always wanted to achieve. Plus, you can finally get back to your regular duties without haggling your teams for blog posts or scrambling to create content on a somewhat consistent basis.

Stage 2: The comfort zone

As with all relationships, the newness will eventually wear off. You start to see a sign or two that things aren’t going exactly to plan. You start to get antsy for results and wonder if you’re getting as much traffic and as many conversions as most companies do during this stage of a partnership.

If you’re not – should you intervene and make sure you’re on the right track?

Resist the urge to panic and keep in mind: Content marketing and SEO results take time. We’ve seen it with our clients, where it takes about three months to see the noticeable and consistent growth.

If you’re still not convinced – Other data suggests that there’s an ‘incubation period’ during which your site builds ranking signals and gains traction with search engines and target audiences. If you’re impatient, you might reach the next phase faster, but the most patient marketers reach the third stage of content marketing relationships eventually.


Stage 3: 

At some point in any partnership, you start to wonder if the grass is a little greener on the other side.

Does your content really support your business’ needs and goals as much as it could? Is there a different approach that could be working faster or better?

This is a normal part of a content marketing relationship. You should embrace this time as an opportunity to step back and re-evaluate. The better defined your goals are, the more likely you are to reach them.

Here are the most common goals for marketers, according to the CMI:

content marketing goals

As it stands, only half of marketers are confident their content strategies are effective. That leaves a lot of room for self-doubt, but you have to remember that this is an investment in a long-term payoff that will provide dependable results.

If you’re looking for a quick win, you’ll end up with a strategy that will love you and leave you. Then you’ll have to start over, pursuing a new option that will hopefully get you what you want.

Reach a resolutionStage 4:

There are two outcomes from stage four. You either realize that you can resolve the differences with your content marketing strategy because you’ve already invested a lot of thought and resources into it, or you decide it’s time to walk away.

The CMI also noted that the average company invests in around 13 different content marketing approaches, which means there might be opportunities to “trim the fat.”

If daily written posts alone aren’t providing the results you want, would it be worthwhile to shake things by substituting video blogs or interviews every once in a while?

If your attempts at resolution don’t stick, and you find yourself in constant conflict with your content marketing, it may be time to cut your losses and try something new. There’s no shame in going back to the drawing board and seeing what other options are out there.

Stage 5: The happy ever after

When you do find the right content strategy and you give it time to grow, you’ll see how rewarding it can be. Content that truly hits the nail on the head and gives your customers the answers they want will continue to drive traffic, engagement and conversions years after it was published.

Sure it will change – your approach will evolve as your company expands and shifts its focus – but it will be the keystone that lends support to other new and exciting marketing endeavors.

You won’t reach this kind of symbiotic dynamic overnight – nor should you. If a set-and-forget approach worked from the start, your strategy wouldn’t reflect your love of puns or distaste for sentences that end in prepositions. It wouldn’t know that you need something eye-catching to survive the summer when most clients are on vacation or that you have a weakness for animated videos.

When you treat content like a ‘trial,’ or you pull the plug too soon, you’ll only see short-term results. But when you commit to a content marketing relationship, you’ll end up with an ongoing campaign that’s an extension of your brand.