Failing at content marketing? Here are 7 ways to fix that
In my years as a content marketer, here is one thing I have observed – there are more businesses that fail at content marketing than those who can make it work. A seemingly common complaint of business owners and marketing teams is that content marketing was perhaps a little overhyped and sometimes it didn’t seem to justify the amount of money and resources that was being spent to achieve the desired ROI.
So here is what I would like to tell people. Content marketing needs to loads of patience and expertise. It also needs to be done correctly to achieve the results.
Infact, only 29% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing to be “very effective”, whereas 54% think their strategy is “moderately effective” and 10% think that they are minimally effective, according to the latest CMI (Content Marketing Institute) industry survey.
Source: CMI: Content Marketing Institute
I am not surprised by this result.
Content marketing seems to have caught the fancy of every brand/business. Most business owners and marketers want to do content marketing to improve leads, traffic, ROI. Most companies are also allocating a significant part of their marketing budget on content marketing. Almost everyone is doing it.
But the question here is – “Are they doing content marketing right?”
According to the Smart Insights, “As many as 72% of marketers rated their content marketing as “limited,” “basic” or “inconsistent,” in a research conducted in 2016.
As an informed marketer, you might be curious to know what else is needed to succeed in the content market, apart from a documented content strategy. The random information available online may baffle you.
So, I have put together all our research and experience in content marketing and condensed it into a list of 7 actionable tips – Seven things that should be done differently in order to succeed at content marketing:
1. Know Your Audience at a Deeper Level
Have you ever heard of “confirmation bias”?
According to Science Daily, “In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.”
Most of the content marketers make this mistake. They base their decisions based on their own initial assumptions or some glamorous metrics rather than conducting a thorough research about their audience – their habits, likes and dislikes. This leads to confirmation bias and statistical errors in decision making.
In order to prevent it from happening, you should get to know the demographics of your audience — not just at the surface, but at a deeper level. This includes their needs and wants and what type of content will catch their attention.
Most of the content marketers just have a basic understanding of the buyer personas they are targeting; however it doesn’t work in this competitive age.
To have a better insight into your target market and ensure success at content marketing, you can do the following:
- Interview your prospects
- Analyze their search behaviour
- Eavesdrop on the conversations taking place on social platforms such as Reddit and Quora
- Watch your competition and
- Talk to industry influencers
The idea is not to hit the publish button until you are sure that the content you are creating is going to add value and improve your customer experience. Develop buyer personas and create compelling content to engage with your audiences.
Here is a simple template on how to create a buyer persona that I found on Buffer that was really quick and helpful.
So there you go. This exercise should help you understand your target audience and make you familiar with what they are looking for.
2. Value Maximization
Investing heavily in creating quality content is a good idea, but you’ll not get the maximum ROI on it, if you are not using your “existing content” smartly.
For example, if you’ve spent $200 on a piece of content, and used it once on your website, you’re missing out on a plethora of opportunities. The same content can be repurposed and used on different platforms and websites in different formats while saving you money and time.
You can maximize the value of your content and improve ROI on your content marketing dollars through these steps:
- Create Evergreen Content
- Repurpose your content into videos, podcasts, interviews, infographics, slide decks, downloadable PDF documents or ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, quizzes, images, animated GIFs, Vlogs, and Webinars, etc.
- Syndicate your content
- Revisit your content and update it frequently
3. Focus on Quality and Not on Quantity
As mentioned above, only 29% of B2B marketers consider themselves “very effective”. This also means that 71% of them are not doing it right. So, what are these 29% marketers are doing differently.
They are creating really good content. They focus on quality and not just quantity. They are sharing information that is of value to their customers. That is where content marketing thrives. That is where Google crawlers starts noticing you and you start getting more traffic.
And that’s the basic of content marketing – The content that you create.
It’s time to look closely at the kind of content you are creating. Is it run-of-the-mill stuff? Can it easily be found on the web? If that’s the case, chances are you will not really be scoring high with your content marketing efforts.
So, make sure that the content you are creating is unique, is something that your audience needs and that it “solves” their problems. Such kind of content will attract eyeballs and bring you valuable back-links and traffic.
The world has exploded with content. There are over two million blogs published each day. So, if you are creating the stuff, which has already been published many times before, nobody will be interested in it until ofcourse you are saying something different.
Courtesy: How much data is generated every minute?
A glance at this infographic will tell you that there is an enormous amount of data that is being generated every minute of every day. Hence more reason why you need to stand out with your content.
You can create epic content even on a tight budget, if you focus on quality and not quantity. Remember, 80/20 rule is applicable everywhere; i.e. 20% of your content produces 80% of the results.
4. Content Distribution
Now this is a very important point.
Sometimes marketers are able to create extraordinary content, but they make a grave mistake of ignoring the distribution and promotion part. Amplification is the key to success in content marketing. You should not assume that people will flock to your content just after you hit the publish button. In fact, the most successful marketers spend 80% of their time distributing and promoting their content.
You’ve to blow your own trumpet in order to get noticed. You can’t always trust the syndication sites, as most of the syndication sites bring little or no traffic.
For effective distribution you can try the following content distribution strategies:
A. Professional Networking
Network with bloggers, guest posters and widen your publishing contacts. It will dramatically increase your outreach and the best part of it is that it often comes free of cost.
B. Engage with Different Communities
Find out relevant communities that match with your customer persona and engage with the participants. Apart from popular social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and SnapChat, etc. Quora and Reddit are also great platforms, where you can find relevant audiences.
However, meaningful contribution (with occasional back-links to your website) is a better strategy on these platforms as compared to blatant self-promotion.
C. Tap Lesser Known Influencers
Use tools like Buzzsumo or Impactana to find and tap the lesser known influencers. They will easily accept your offer as compared to the well-known ones.
D. Republish Your Content
Republish your content on Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, and other media outlets for maximum outreach and do massive networking to promote your content on these platforms.
No matter how much content you are creating, it always makes sense to repurpose that content and republish. The greater number of times you break up your content, the more number of times you are reaching to different readers.
A blog could turn be turned into an ebook, or an infographic, an article could be turned into a video or a slideshare, a white paper can become blog posts or a video.
Here are the various content formats. You can pick and choose which formats are suitable to you for repurposing the content.
Maximizing your reach
The most successful distribution plan combines a good mix of organic distribution and paid distribution
Let us first look at how you can distribute your content organically.
I. Organic Distribution
This basically refers to channels or methods you can use to reach out to an audience without spending any extra money. This is usually done over a period of time using social media, search engine optimization, email outreach and free content platforms.
Use your social channels like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest/Instagram to distribute and share your content as much as possible. This will drive users back to your website.
A couple of things you can do here –
- Share in relevant groups, esp on Linkedin
- Engage with your audience
- Submit to content communities
Optimising your content for the Search Engines basically means using relevant keywords and themes to help your content appear in search engine results. By using a focused keywords strategy, you can easily make your content more searchable in Google.
A couple of things you can do here –
- Create content around keywords that rake in high traffic for your kind of business. For eg, content marketing agency or content writing services are high traffic keywords for our industry and hence it would make sense to write blogs around such keywords. Take the help of Google Keyword Planner to search for the top keywords for your industry.
- Use Google Trends to create content around a topic that are trending and are likely to be shared more.
- Create high-quality long form content that give out loads of information and create value for readers.
Free Content Platforms
There are several free content platforms that help you to distribute your content and reach out to a large audience without spending any extra money. Each of these platforms like Youtube, Slideshare, Medium, Vimeo, etc have a large audience and help to generate the necessary backlinks to your content.
A couple of things to do here –
- Change formats of the content – from doc, to pdf, to video to infographics.
- Distribute by leveraging platforms like docstoc, scribd, medium, reddit, pub.lish tumblr etc.
There is nothing like simple emailers to your database of customers reminding them to look at your content.
II. Paid Distribution
Paid advertising is used when you need a reliable volume of traffic to jumpstart engagement of any article or content campaign. It’s also extremely effective in revitalizing a piece of content that has already been published and has done well. However, paid advertising gives returns only as long as you invest in it, so our recommendation would be to use it with organic distribution strategies.
Social Ads are used by marketers to usually reach targeted audience. The huge reach of social media platforms like Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Instagram is what the marketers want to leverage. Through Social Ads, your content is likely to reach a lot more audience than you would normally reach.
Here is a quick glance at the most popular Paid Social Ad formats used.
With search PPC, we use keywords that show up as sponsored results when people search for them. The most well-known search PPC network is Google AdWords.
Content discovery networks are the engines behind content PPC. They serve up articles and videos on websites, often through widgets. We propose to use Outbrain and Taboola.
5. Try A/B Testing and Experimentation
It’s great to use different analytical tools and identify certain patterns, trends and practices that maintain positive ROI to your content marketing efforts. However, it’s also imperative to do some a/b testing and experimentation to discover new avenues and to maximize your ROI.
It’s applicable to the following areas:
- Frequency of posts
- Style of content
- Subject Matter
Continue experimentation and keep on trying new topics and new promotional strategies even if you’re not sure they are going to work. Though it sounds risky, it will open new avenues for you and will also keep you ahead of the pack.
6. Communicate Frequently With Your Teams
Collaboration and communication are the keys to success in content marketing. It’s very important to consistently communicate with your teams. While running a campaign, the CEO, content marketing director, sales team, copywriter, content strategist, creative director, graphic designer, and public relation manager etc. should be on the same page. Your sales team can leverage content marketing to close more leads.
The last but not the least, one should regularly use analytics to know how successful their content marketing strategy is. Analytics will tell you exactly how your content is faring among your audiences. It will also tell you where you stand compared to the competition.
Metrics to look at (Paid distribution)
- For all PPC used on Social, metrics can be tracked through the individual networks’ analytics.
- For Content PPC, the platforms will be sharing analytics.
Metrics to look at (Organic Distribution)
Everything comes back to the website. And that is we need to track page views, crawls, bounce rates, traffic, inbound links etc.
For everything, Google Analytics is a must.
We can use analytic tools (paid) like Sprout Social, Raven etc to track shares, follower growth, traffic etc.
Facebook Analytics can also be used to measure performance.
While glamorous metrics can be misleading sometimes, the marketers should scrutinize their assumptions.
Some of the tips given in this article may actually surprise you but those could be the root causes why your content marketing is not that effective.
The good news is content marketing is a long-term game. The long-term gains can offset short-term losses. So, audit your content marketing strategy and amend it to be the best in business.
How are you faring at your content marketing? Write to me at [email protected] or leave a comment below if you want to share your thoughts or need our help to share a better content marketing plan.