20 Ways Content Marketers Should Prepare for 2024

by Katy French

We’re not gonna lie; content marketers took a bit of a beating this last year. As the economy tanked, algorithms changed, and AI came out of nowhere, it was an adventure (to say the least). But with a new year ahead, it’s time to take a step back, clean house, and refocus your efforts. 

Luckily, whether you’re rebuilding your entire strategy or looking to enhance what you already have, there are a lot of things you can do to improve the way you work and the results you get (especially if you’re one of the 58% of content marketers struggling with a lack of resources).

That’s why we’ve compiled this handy list of 20 things you can do now to help your 2024 turn out a lot better. 

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How Content Marketers Can Make 2024 Better

Whether you’re a two-person marketing team or a massive department, tackling these to-dos (to whatever degree you can) will help you work smarter and more effectively next year.  

1) Revisit your Content Strategy. 

A lot of things can happen throughout the year that shift your strategy in one direction or another. A product launch, a company change, a surprise announcement—these are all things that need to be immediately addressed, but they can also nudge you a little off course. 

It’s important to build a content strategy that is both solid and flexible, as you will inevitably need to adjust throughout the year. But starting the new year with a documented strategy is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success. 

Tip: To make sure you have everything you need, download our free content strategy toolkit and guide to get it on paper. Additionally, you shouldn’t only review your strategy at the end of the year. Get into the practice of reviewing it once a quarter to make sure your team’s efforts are on track. 

2) Make sure your goals are measurable. 

We’re still shocked by how many content marketers don’t document their content strategy—especially their goals. Without articulated goals, you have no North Star to work toward. And if you do have goals, but they are vague and not easily measurable, it’s even more difficult to prove your success. (Without that demonstrated success, when it’s time to ask for more budget or buy-in on future projects, it will be that much harder to justify your ask.)  

Tip: To get your goals on paper, see our free guide to set goals you can actually measure

3) Measure the right things. 

Although your goals should be measurable, you don’t need to measure every single thing. (That’s a great way to paralyze yourself with data.) Focus only on the most insightful and relevant data—and make sure you have the infrastructure to gather it. 

Tip: See our guide to choose the right metrics for your content strategy to identify the best things to measure.

4) Audit your tools. 

With so many tools available, marketers have plenty of support—especially now that AI is on the scene. But success relies on choosing the right tools for you. 

  • Is everything working the way you need it to? 
  • Are you using everything consistently?
  • Are there more efficient tools available? 
  • Is there something you’ve wanted to experiment with?

A proper audit will help you identify areas where you may be wasting your budget or can use what you have more effectively. 

Tip: If you’re not sure what tools you might add to your arsenal, check out these 100+ tools and resources to improve your content marketing.

5) Spend your remaining budget. 

The end-of-year accounting mantra is always “use it or lose it.” If you haven’t used your whole budget, it’s time to spend it. Whether you want to create some seasonal content or experiment with a new tool (as we just mentioned), make the most of your remaining budget to help you hit your goals. This is also a good time to try something bold or experimental, especially if you have the budget to burn.

Tip: If you’re looking for opportunities to spend your budget, here are 10 ways to use it up.

6) Ask for more budget—the right way. 

Budget is always a touchy subject, especially in these last few years. But if you can demonstrate a solid need, you may be surprised by the results. Whether you want to create more content next year, expand your team, or invest in some additional support, you simply have to approach your ask strategically.

Tip: Try these tips to get more budget next year.

7) Take a day to look at what your competitors are doing.  

If you want to know how to strategize for the new year, it’s good to catch up on what other people are doing (or have done) well. You may find some good inspiration in their sites or social feeds (or realize that you’re creating content that is a lot better than theirs). Either way, knowing what competitors are doing will help you strategize effectively. 

  • Did your competitors do anything particularly unusual or unique this year?
  • How does their content compare to yours?
  • How are you positioning yourself differently?

Tip: To help you assess your competitors, check out our competitive analysis template. The questions outlined can help you document the similarities and differences you find. That said, you can also find inspiration from people outside of your industry. For example, find out what B2B marketers can learn from film directors.

8) Check in with inactive contacts.

In the spirit of “out with the old, in with the new,” it might be time to let go of some ineffective practices—and contacts. After all, content marketing isn’t about quantity; it’s about quality. Also, most marketing automation software charges by the number of contacts, so cleaning out unengaged subscribers can be cost-effective.

Give people an opportunity to stay or go with a simple check-in email. 

  • Use a distinct subject line like “Still want to keep in touch?” or “Are we breaking up?” 
  • Emphasize that you love sending stuff their way, but acknowledge that you want to be respectful of their time and energy.
  • Include two buttons: one to stay subscribed and one to unsubscribe.

Tip: Chances are your inactive people won’t open the email, in which case you might want to check in with them once a quarter or twice a year. (We count inactives as people who haven’t opened an email in 2 months.) 

9) Check in with engaged subscribers.

Naturally, you want to provide the best experience for the people who are happy and willing to stay with you. Use this time to check in and send well wishes. (The holidays are a great excuse for this.)

  • Let them know you appreciate their support this year. 
  • Ask for feedback/ideas about how you can help them or provide the content they need.
  • Tease exciting things you have in the works. 

This is a great excuse to stop “marketing” and remind people you’re here for them and care about providing real value. 

Tip: You might also want to send a recap or roundup of your best pieces of content. 

10) Check for broken things. 

There are all sorts of things that can detract from your brand experience, and it’s often the little things that can turn someone away or diminish your brand in their eyes. Broken links, 404s, buttons that don’t work—these are exasperating for both the user and the marketer. (We know this firsthand, as we’ve found broken links—or links to the wrong resource—on our site more times than we’d like to admit.)

If you have some extra time as things are winding down, take a day to double and triple-check landing pages, contact info, ads, functionality, and all those other seemingly small (but very big) things. 

Tip: Use tools like broken link checker, and test your page speed to flag any loading problems.

11) Clean up your own inbox. 

Content marketers are absolutely inundated with content, and clocking into an overwhelming inbox is not the best way to start your day. Feel free to go on a merciless unsubscribing spree to clear up your brain space and consume only the content that is actually valuable to you. If you have a “someday I’ll read this” folder with articles that are a year (or two) old, either take this time to read it or clean it out. 

Tip: To make life easier, see this roundup of tools that can clean up your inbox for you. 

12) Subscribe to one new publication or podcast.

Once you’ve done your cleanup, search out new sources of inspiration. You don’t even have to subscribe—you can bookmark if you prefer. Again, the content you consume should always offer value. New ideas and inspiration are incredibly helpful to spark your creativity, which is probably waning as we head into the holidays.

Tip: We’d recommend subscribing to Column Five’s Best Story Wins podcast, where we interview industry experts who are winning hearts, minds, and market share. We also love the thought leadership the Content Marketing Institute puts out. 

13) Hold a postmortem. 

When you’re working on content marketing day in, day out, it’s hard to take a step back and look at your efforts as a whole. That’s why it’s helpful to do a proper review of this year’s marketing to identify what worked, what didn’t, and where you have the biggest opportunities to improve. 

  • What were the most and least successful pieces you published?
  • What did the most successful pieces have in common?
  • What subjects did people gravitate toward?
  • What formats worked best?
  • How can you improve or experiment going forward? 
  • What content gives you the most ROI (e.g., e-books, articles, infographics, videos)?

While it’s easy to find flaws during this process, remember to celebrate everything your brand has accomplished, too. Even if you took a risk that didn’t pay off, you still tried something new. 

Tip: See our guide to conduct a content audit.

14) Flag content to repurpose or reuse.

If you want to get more mileage from the work you’ve already done, look for low-lift ways to get fresh eyes on older content. You can repurpose that content into a different format or boost a campaign to increase visibility. This is especially helpful if you had a particularly successful piece of content. 

Tip: Going forward, find out how to use a divisible content strategy to maximize everything you create. 

15) Share your end-of-year findings with other teams.

If this isn’t common practice, be vocal about what your department has been doing. This level of transparency is good for your company culture, helping other departments understand what exactly it is you, uh, do here. 

For example, we create a quarterly report to track our progress, share our wins, deconstruct our fails, and keep people in the loop about what we’re doing. At the end of the year, these reports give us a holistic snapshot of our content marketing success—and help us get buy-in when we have ideas that involve people outside of the marketing department. 

Tip: Coworkers in other departments can contribute to all sorts of great marketing, especially when they know what you’re trying to achieve. Follow our tips to turn them into content creators. 

16) Optimize your content creation process.

A good content machine doesn’t work without the infrastructure to support it. Luckily, there are a lot of ways you can improve. Reassess your entire production process to identify pain points or inefficiencies that can be fixed in the new year. 

Tip: See our guide to optimize your content creation process at every stage of production.

17) Poll your audience about what they want to know more about. 

You have a whole year of content planning ahead of you, and sometimes you’re just plain out of ideas. In addition to your postmortem, ask your audience what they want to see directly. You might send out a poll in your newsletter or ask a daily question on Instagram. (When we did this last year, we got great insights on the content subjects and formats our audience prefers.)

Tip: No matter the subject, your content should tell a strong brand story. Follow these prompts to brainstorm better stories that will connect with your audience. 

18) Pick one new thing to try. 

You don’t have to massively overhaul your content strategy to see better results overnight. (It’s unlikely you have the time or budget to do so anyhow.) But short, simple experiments can give you valuable data to improve your work. Whether you want to try a new format or storytelling style, incorporate one new thing into your content strategy for next year. 

Tip: If you want to get out of your head, try our quick exercise to brainstorm 30 ideas in an hour. This can help you come up with different ideas, angles, or takes that you may not have thought of otherwise. Then, once you’re ready to bring those ideas to life, see our guide to run successful campaigns.

19) Think about ways to simplify your buyer journey. 

One of the biggest saboteurs in modern marketing is noise. People are facing an endless stream of content, and AI will only make that worse as content marketers produce larger volumes of content using these tools. But one of the greatest gifts you can give your audience is a simple, streamlined, and noise-free buyer journey. That means clearing obstacles, providing the right information, and making it as easy as possible to move from one step to the other. 

Tip: See our breakdown of ways to simplify your buyer journey, including what types of pain points to look out for. 

20) Find the right partner. 

While there are plenty of things you can do in-house, outside eyes can offer some refreshing insights. That said, a good content marketing agency is a collaborative partner, and not every agency will be the right fit.

Tip: Find out what you should look for in a content agency, and follow these tips to find an agency with the right expertise for you.

Final Thoughts for Content Marketers to Keep in Mind

A new year of content marketing always comes with its own challenges, but sometimes we find that content marketers can be their own worst enemies. As you continue to build and implement your strategy, keep an eye out for these common pitfalls.

Most importantly, don’t get down on yourself. Marketing is an ever-changing field that takes a lot of savvy and grit to navigate. If you survived this year, you’ll survive next year—and work smarter while you do it. Good luck.

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