If you ask me, content marketing is probably one of the best long-term marketing strategies that you can adopt for your business. For starters, there is enough evidence that it works. And there is research to support what I just claimed. As per research, content marketing is actually three times as effective as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
And yet despite the fact that content marketing has been transformational for so many businesses, many brands still look at content marketing with skepticism and suspicion. For eg, a small business owner very recently declared to me that the whole content marketing thing was a sham and nothing really works. Turns out that he had hired a small-time agency who had promised great results through “a foolproof SEO and SMO content marketing package” and significant results are still to come in after 3-4 months in the game.
And there are many like him who are simply not sure whether they should invest in content marketing when the results won’t come for days or even months.
The reason for this hesitation and skepticism is not unfounded. The fact of the matter is that many companies who do content marketing get it completely wrong and struggle for months, if not years. This survey found that a whopping 96% of respondents believed that content marketing isn’t very effective. At Justwords, we’ve have met several clients who came to us saying that they’ve been publishing content regularly but they don’t think it’s having any impact.
However, what people don’t realize is that content marketing is just like any marketing effort. It can be broken down into a number of logical steps. If any of those steps are being neglected or followed incorrectly, chances are your content marketing will fail dramatically.
So in this article, I have broken down these important steps so you can see where you’re going wrong and take action to correct it immediately.
Problem 1- You’re executing without an effective strategy
This may seem basic, but it is one of the biggest problems we’ve seen over the years. Most companies are vaguely aware of the benefits of content marketing so they start publishing a blog post twice a week and then wait for the magic to happen. Even worse, they hire writers who start churning out content without any basic content strategy in place.
The biggest mistake with content marketing is to start executing without a proper strategy. You have to begin by outlining your goals as clearly as you can at the very outset. The next step is to define the content formats and communication channels that you will be using to achieve these goals. Then use this strategy to prepare a weekly or monthly content calendar so that every piece of content is now aligned to the marketing and publishing plan and the overall goals.
Simply put – If should know for what you are generating content for, which platform you are using and why, how are you publishing and marketing that article, where is that content piece sitting in your marketing plan and what is its final goal. Once you know this, you have a strategy in place.
Problem 2- You don’t have a brand voice
There are many companies that are churning out content regularly. The problem is, far from going viral or even creating a ripple in the vast ocean of the internet, most of this content goes by unnoticed. With over 2 million blogs being created every day, it’s easy to think there’s just too much competition and creating content is simply not worth the effort.
But, there is also the fact that people’s capacity to consume content has also increased manifold. In fact, there are new blogs building a following and becoming wildly popular every single day. So what are they doing right? The answer is two-fold. First, to stand out, your content has to be truly exceptional. Ask yourself if you’re actually solving customer pain points in a clear and succinct manner, preferably in a way that hasn’t been done before. Secondly, there has to be a seamless flow between your content and your brand. In order to achieve this, you need to focus on what your brand voice is all about, and then create content consistent with this brand voice.
Problem 3 – You’re using the wrong content format
This is a very easy one to get wrong; especially if you haven’t focussed on audience research while building your content strategy. While it’s easy to follow some standard patterns— for instance, lifestyle brands should use Instagram stories while newsletters are a great idea for B2B brands — there are other nuances which need extensive research.
Invest the time to understand what content is working for your competitors, what is the format in which your audience regularly consumes content, and so on. You really don’t want to waste time drafting blog post after blog post when an Insta story is what your audience needs or vice versa.
Problem 4- You’re not being guided by metrics
It’s great to go by your gut, but it’s not nearly enough to be successful. Your content marketing will only work if it is also backed by solid data and analytics. Unless you inculcate a culture of scientific, data-driven decision making, your content marketing strategy is unlikely to work. It’s important to have objective metrics to evaluate every single piece of content and alter strategy accordingly. Conversions, article views, CTR(Click Through Rates), shares, etc are all important metrics to track. Google Analytics is great for basic insights and you can also use specialized tools like Kissmetrics for more detailed analytics.
Problem 5- You’re doing everything yourself
This is one of the biggest traps smaller organizations fall into. The founder might kickstart the content marketing journey by writing a few blog posts, but it’s nearly impossible to sustain this. From content planning to strategy to metrics, there is far too much for a founder or marketing manager to manage by themselves. By trying to do everything yourself, you will most likely compromise your content marketing to the point that it is rendered ineffective. If you don’t have the resources in-house, hiring a content marketing agency is a good starting point.
Problem 6- You’re not listening to Social Media signals
If you’re stuck wondering what kind of content your audience is looking for, then you’re probably not listening hard enough. Today, there are so many tools that allow you to understand your customers better by monitoring conversations happening on social media. Comments on popular posts, Quora answers, surveys, FAQs, etc. are all good ways to tune into what your audience is thinking and what content resonates with them.
At the end of the day, content marketing is not an esoteric art that only a few lucky businesses can crack. It can be broken down into a precise set of steps, all of which need to be examined and followed meticulously. If you’re wondering why your content marketing isn’t working, go through all the steps in this article and figure out what exactly which areas you need to improve on.
If you are still in doubt, give me a call and let’s figure out how we can achieve the desired results.