Summer is the perfect time to kick back, hang at the pool, and leave behind any worries you might have about the future of your marketing. Right?

Not really. Even if your audience members take time off for travel of their own, summer doesn't mean you get a free pass on your content. While you keep doing what you're doing and just wait for the next budget cycle to make any real changes to your content strategy, your competitors are building their brands and climbing to the top of your audiences' minds.

Content is a dynamic part of your marketing strategy, and marketing trends emerge all the time. You're going to need to check up on your performance and make tweaks to your plan more than once a year, and summer is a great time to assess your efforts and correct course if you need to.

Why You Shouldn't Give Your Content a Summer Break

By now, you should have at least a full quarter's worth of data on your content marketing strategy to review. If you put together a consistent content strategy, you should know how close you are to achieving the goals you set and which areas have presented the biggest challenges so far.

Not only do you have enough usable data, but you also have a competitive advantage when it comes to getting your content published.

According to "The State of Digital Media 2018," online editors across industries and niches need more contributed content in June, July, and August than almost any other time of year. You can meet editors' needs, engage your audience members, and contribute to your goals, all at the same time -- if your strategy is set up correctly.

And if those aren't reasons enough to keep up with your content and assess your plan, ask yourself: Would you rather know whether your content is effective now or when it's budget time and you don't have the results you need to lock in those dollars?

Make the Most of Your Assessment

I realize saying "take a look" makes this seem quick and easy. But content strategies rely on a lot of moving parts, and actually assessing your effectiveness can be challenging, especially if you don't have anything to guide you through it.

Thankfully, a content marketing assessment tool, like the one my team created, can help. It shows you exactly what kind of content works for your specific goal, helps you identify areas for growth, and creates a plan to measure and amplify results. To get started making changes that can impact your company for the rest of the year, follow these three tips:

1. Retrace your steps.

Go back to your original strategy and the goals you set. What metrics did you say you would track? How are you doing on that front so far?

Maybe your goal is lead generation. Did you meet your lead gen goal for the quarter? Or are you creating lots of content without seeing many leads? You could have seen good social shares this quarter and grown your Twitter following by 20 percent, but did your content actually help you reach the lead gen goal you set for it? Start by comparing your performance to the goal you want to reach.

2. Diversify your content.

Company blogs play a vital role in any content strategy, but if you lean on your blog to do all the work of a diverse content mix, it'll be nearly impossible to see the results you want.

Content is a toolbox, and you have so many tools at your disposal: blog posts, sure, but also press mentions, email marketing, guest posts, and more. Your blog can't do it all alone. Great content strategies use different types of content for different goals, so consider what you've tried so far and whether it's actually working, then test adding new content deliverables to amplify your results.

3. Stretch your work further.

Developing content is one thing, but using it properly is a whole other animal. Are you distributing your content and building links? Do you have a plan for how to go from content production to increased revenue or brand awareness? Do you have the tools you need to scale?

Don't stop at content generation. Put in the work to expand the reach of your content. From paid amplification to email marketing to SEO audits, invest in your content to get the maximum return on your investment.

Marketers have a responsibility to keep an eye on their content's performance all year, but summer is an especially good time to dig deep. Use the data you've collected, identify the gaps in your approach, and correct course for a more effective strategy throughout the rest of the year.

Published on: May 6, 2018