There’s a huge learning curve with content marketing. Actually, that curve has existed from the beginning because companies have almost always had to use the written word to convey their messages, at least to a segment of their audience. That has always required skill and talent that a company’s leadership may not feel that they possess. Then came social media, which meant more direct interaction with customers and another wrinkle to communication.
And now, in the age of content marketing, when we are all told to throw large amounts of content onto the web, it can be difficult to control and feel confident you aren’t headed in the wrong direction. Below are 6 pieces of advice from high-profile marketing sources on how content marketing can go wrong so that you can avoid the most common mistakes.
1. Not knowing your audience
You may have a sense of who your audience is, but it’s crucial to make sure that your content is directly meeting their needs, says Search Engine Journal. Knowing exactly who you intend to read (or watch) and appreciate the material will give you the focus you need to make your content compelling.
You want to make sure that your content is not filled with too much expert jargon or otherwise geared toward industry professionals rather than toward your prospects. SEJ provides the example of an accounting software firm that focused too heavily on using its products for advanced users. When they started focusing on more basic topics to which all their customers could relate, they immediately built a loyal audience.
2. Not establishing specific objectives
The Online Marketing Institute (OMI) notes that you should delineate what you are trying to achieve with your content marketing plan as specifically as possible upfront. Don’t just jump into the mix, or if you have, pause for a moment and consider your objectives. Examples include:
- getting more visitors to your website
- generating additional conversions
- branding yourself with potential customers
- increasing your pool of leads.
3. Not garnering the attention of the brand evangelists
Inc. interviewed Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute and shared his ideas on common mistakes, one of which is ignoring the potency of brand evangelism. An example of a business that realizes the value of an evangelist, says Joe, is the Cleveland Indians. When the organization’s marketing team became aware of John Adams, a local resident who has beaten a drum at their home games for the past 40 years, they helped him tell his story on their website and to the local press.
Inc. notes that the Indians’ strategy would be even more effective if they used Adams as a model for general fan interaction. They could have other fans tell their stories through their site and brand pages as well.
4. Not measuring your results correctly
Search Engine Journal also notes that revising and adapting your content strategy takes a great deal of care and finesse. Because just producing the content can feel like enough of a challenge, companies often focus more heavily on output than on the effectiveness of their efforts. Don’t get complacent. Continually adapt your keyword strategy and the metrics you use to understand the development of your content approach.
Remember that content marketing isn’t just about creating engagement. It’s about creating sales. Make sure that every piece of content you produce has a strong, well-articulated call to action phrase, as described in this Huffington Post piece.
5. Not truly engaging with your audience
We all know engagement is important. CMI reminds us that you can’t expect your audience to engage with you if you aren’t taking the initial steps to start the conversation. Don’t just present your ideas. Start a conversation. Once the conversation starts, learn as much as you can from your audience. It’s a golden opportunity to better understand who they are and what they want.
Try the following to create more meaningful engagement:
- Offer questions, and reply when you get responses.
- Be responsive to all incoming comments and questions.
- Reply to content on other social media profiles and blogs that are related to your industry.
- Recognize that you don’t have to create all the content yourself by sharing posts from others on your own profiles.
6. Not taking advantage of internal marketing
According to Pulizzi (via Inc.), the lessons of Don Schultz, who created integrated marketing, should not be overlooked in any marketing plan. Schultz suggests that you should get the people at your company on board with an idea before you present it to the world.
Gather as much information as you can from everyone on your staff so that all your players can strengthen the content (at least in a broad sense). Pulizzi cites the example of the HR outfit Kelly Services, which has their sales team publish content through their personal LinkedIn profiles.
A winning strategy
With content marketing, know what to do by knowing what not to do. Don’t forget to identify your audience, establish clear goals, use brand evangelism to your advantage, choose the most appropriate metrics to measure results, actively engage, and market first within your organization. Your website also needs a robust and highly scalable cloud hosting solution as you build your business. Atlantic.Net is an industry-leading provider of many hosting solutions, including managed and dedicated hosting options and popular one-click applications like cPanel hosting and October CMS cloud hosting; we also provide HIPAA WordPress hosting services.
By Moazzam Adnan; comic words by Kent Roberts, and art by Leena Cruz.