Content marketing has been the flavor of the season for a handful of “seasons” now. And by the looks of it, we’re going to enjoy its company for a long time to come.
A sure sign of its popularity is seeing every business, no matter how big or small, jump headfirst into the choppy waters of content marketing. A recent study by Content.ly showed that about a quarter of all businesses allocate over 50% of their marketing budgets to content marketing. Nearly 60% of businesses have at least two people devoted to content marketing.
However, not all of these content marketing efforts are actually paying off. If all content marketing was equal, every company engaged in content marketing today would be in the Fortune 500 list – but that doesn’t happen.
All too often the content created by businesses is well meaning but lacks the teeth required to cut through all the clutter on the web. Here are the top 6 ways content marketers go wrong, leading to content that never takes off.
1. Content Not Relevant
Content marketing is all about creating valuable content that your target audience would not just appreciate, but seek out. When you create content that has little to do with your audience and all to do with your business and promoting it, you cease being relevant to them and drop off their radar like flies.
The answer – Research your audience thoroughly. Build psychographic profiles of your ideal customer and figure out what they would be interested in the most. Tools like Oktopost and SocialMention help you listen in on conversations between your users and determine the topics that truly interest them. Create content around those topics with your brand subtly inserted into the mix.
2. Publishing on the Wrong Platforms
This one’s a real crime. After investing your time and money on creating good content, if you go and blow it all up by publishing the content on platforms your users don’t care about, you might as well give up on content marketing.
The answer – Refer to step 1. When you research your audience, also find out which platforms they prefer, what media they consume and create your content accordingly. Your users love original research, go create that for them. Is video their favorite type of content? Don’t waste time on tons of blog posts.
3. Content Too Salesy
The whole idea of content marketing is to convince a potential user to try your product without making them feel like they are being sold to. Users have an inherent distrust of paid advertising. When you turn a stealth marketing tool like content marketing into a wall-to-wall billboard for your business, you lose credibility and turn off users.
The answer – Tone down the urge to sell, sell, sell. Try subtlety instead. Believe me, it works better than you’d think. If you can’t go without injecting a sales pitch into your messaging every now and then, keep your general vs. sales-y content ratio to an 80-20 mix.
4. Content Not Good Enough
Why isn’t your content getting you results? It could be because it’s simply not good enough. By “good enough” I mean churning out any of the following types of content: plagiarized, poorly written, grammatically incorrect, uninteresting, factually incorrect – you get the drift. Google goes out of its way to punish “lifted” and duplicate content. Its Panda and recent Quality updates penalize sites with poor quality content and “thin content.”
The answer – Invest in good writers who can provide content that meets professional content standards in your industry. Strategize, strategize, strategize. And then monitor the execution closely. Too time consuming? Set up a collaboration tool like Wrike and get key members across departments to contribute pieces of content to your content marketing program based on their areas of expertise. Store all your in-house expert content in one place with the tool and co-ordinate with your expert contributors easily regarding content edits, deadlines and more.
5. Ignoring On-Page SEO
Your content is only as strong as the environment in which it resides. A great piece of content that sits on a poorly optimized blog is doomed to a lifetime of invisibility. If your users can’t even find your content, how can you expect that content to get you conversions?
The answer – Don’t be in a hurry to publish your content. Take the time and first fix the SEO on your blog to make it visible to search engine spiders. With your content, spend time in crafting the perfect title – one that encapsulates your main keywords and conveys the gist of the content clearly. Title tags are probably the most important component of on-page SEO. Some of the easiest elements you can optimize on your content pages include
- Meta description for the page
- Alt tags, captions and descriptions for images
- Header tags containing keywords
- Including semantic variations of important keywords at the right places in the body of your content
6. Not Enough Promotion
In the days of traditional marketing, all that marketers had to do was create ads, buy spots on media and blast their audiences with the ads across various platforms to get ahead of competition. On the other hand, content marketing is a more indirect method of promoting your business. For content marketing to do its job well, it needs to be spotted by consumers first.
The answer – Promote your promotion tools. Put your content in places where they’ll be easily found and consumed by your audience. Spend money on promoting your content so your users can “discover it themselves” across the various sites that they browse. Paid content promotion networks like Outbrain and Taboola are a great way to ensure visibility for your content. Tap into your email database and share your content with them. Publish it on the right social media platforms and promote it via paid advertising on social media. Reach out to influencers in your industry and get them to endorse your content.
Content marketing is an organic promotion strategy that builds relationships with your users instead of treating them purely like revenue sources. Steer clear of the content marketing misfires listed above and rest assured, your target audience will not just buy from you, but also grow to love your brand.