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As you’re learning about content marketing and its many uses for your business, chances are, you’re wondering when you should start adding it into your marketing plan. Do you need to jump on it immediately? Do you need to wait until your product is established in the market? If you already have a product and it’s fairly established, do you even need to bother?

In general, the best time to start adding content marketing into the mix is when you can. Content marketing is a must-do, not a “would be nice to do”—especially if you’re looking to grow the amount of sales and leads that are coming from your website. As soon as you have a product and a good idea of who your customers are, you can start with your content marketing. What should your strategy consist of? Well, we have some great guides to get you started:

But, in general, all you need to know to get started is that content marketing is about getting useful information in the hands of your customers. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if you do that via video or blog posts or slideshows, as long as what you’re sharing is high-quality and actually of use to your customers or potential customers.

Of course, there are specific things you can try in different stages of your business, to get the most from your content marketing strategy. Below, I’ve outlined three stages with tips for each:

Content marketing during your prelaunch phase:

If you’re in the final stages of developing your product and it has not been released yet, you might not see the point in content marketing. After all, you don’t have anything to sell yet.

On the other hand, if you start your content marketing efforts now, you’ll learn valuable things about your potential customers. You’ll also start to build an audience so that once you do launch, it’s not to crickets.

What you can do during this stage:

  • Set up your company’s blog, even if you don’t have your product for sale yet. You can create a simple landing page or about page to let potential customers learn more about what you’ll have for sale, but set up the blog and start posting to it ASAP.
  • Experiment with different types of content. Not just the format (infographics vs. video vs. short blog posts vs. long blog posts), but the type of post, too. This is a great time to experiment and mix it up with tutorials, thought leadership articles, or inspiration, and see what works for you.
  • Make sure to track your results—more on that below.

What to track: The performance of the articles or content that you post. You can measure this in social shares, conversions to email list subscribers, or just visits to the page. Looking at this right now will give you an idea of what issues are the most pressing for your potential customers, which can give you insights into product features that should be tweaked or added, and ideas for the best ways to market your product. At this stage, you can use your content marketing to hone both your product and your marketing strategy, getting you closer to product-market fit.

Content marketing during your launch phase:

At this point, your product has launched and you do have something to sell. You’re also trying to make a big splash, since your product or business has probably just debuted in the last six months or so.

What you can do during this stage:

  • Put anything you learned during the prelaunch stage to use. If you got more traction from videos than text posts, post more videos during text posts during this stage, and keep tracking your results.
  • Go the extra mile. This list of 10 things you can do after you publish has some great ideas—try at least one item off the list with everything you publish during the launch stage.
  • Make sure you’re creating and implementing a social media strategy to go with your content marketing strategy. More on that here.

What to track: Now that you have something to sell, you should be tracking conversion rates and see if there’s a relationship between specific content pieces or types of content and people converting to customers. It’s still a good idea to look at email conversion rates, too, as people who turn into email subscribers are typically more likely to become customers further on down the line.

Content marketing when you’re established:

You’ve got something to sell and you’re not the new kid on the block anymore. How does that change your content marketing?

What you can do during this stage:

  • Start repurposing content. Once your business is moving along, it’s about leveraging your efforts and making sure they’re scalable, and repurposing content is a great way to do that. Here’s a list of repurposing strategies you can try.
  • Experiment with sponsored content. Sponsored content is when you advertise on another site with content that you’ve written or co-created with the site’s team. Now that you’ve got an established product and an idea of what your customers are interested in, it’s an ideal time to give it a try. To learn more about sponsored content, read this article.
  • Experiment with paid content distribution. Paid content distribution is a different animal than sponsored content, though they might sound similar. Paid content distribution is advertising your content on other sites, which then leads visitors back to your site. For more on how it works and how you can use it, head here.

What to track: At this stage, you’re continuing to track everything you’ve tracked up to this point. Keep reevaluating your content to see which pieces lead to more subscribers and buyers, and honing your content strategy as you move along.