Content has officially become an essential part of any company’s marketing mix. From sales content that describes products to blog posts that drive social traffic, almost every brand is focusing its efforts on content and how customers react to it.
Unfortunately, not all of these efforts pay off. Some brands struggle to get people to read their content, while others can’t seem to convert readers.
To problem might be simpler than you think. Regardless of your size or industry, there are a few common problems that continuously seem to trip up marketers. Here are the 10 mistakes we see companies making all the time. If any of these are points you struggle with, you’ll find some recommended tools and resources to help you clean up your content plan.
1. You Create Content Without Customer Intent In Mind
Inexperienced content marketers tend to follow a “build it and they will come” strategy with their publishing outlets. This goes horribly wrong when customers tune out your messaging because it doesn’t speak to their needs. Instead, flip the script and create content based on what your audiences want, not what you want them to do.
“Any strategy you lead with should be underpinned by the intent of your audience,” the team at Digital Fuel writes. “Be keenly aware of how they want to consume their media, where they hang out online, and even how the trends predict this may change in the near future.”
How to fix it: Conductor has developed an Audience Intent Explorer exactly for marketers who want to better understand their customers. If you need to evaluate your own efforts to meet customer intent, consider creating one-question surveys through Typeform. You can easily see whether the content met customer goals and adjust your strategy accordingly.
2. You Ignore Visual Content and Video in Your Strategy
Many content marketers get into a rut with content creation. They can create written blog posts all day, but struggle to create visual content or don’t think they can afford it.
Content manager Michelle Krasniak reported that more than 60 percent of marketers believe visual content is absolutely necessary for their content strategies, a number that has continued to rise over the past few years. Even if this demand plateaus in the future, it still proves that the majority of marketers are responding to audience demand for video content.
How to fix it: Creating good video clips is as easy as grabbing your smartphone. As for visual creation, both Piktochart and Venngage offer tools for non-designers who still want to make beautiful graphics. Your competition is already switching up formats and following what audiences want, so why aren’t you?
3. You Create Content That’s Too Shallow
Viral content doesn’t always mean fast content. Some of the most successful pieces are long and in-depth. The challenge for most marketers in 2018 should be to dig deeper and try to thoroughly cover topics to provide value to audiences.
Through analyzing data from multiple sources, Snap Agency found the average length of top-performing content is between 2,250 and 2,500 words. This covers pieces that generate high levels of traffic and shares while having the staying power to keep people reading. This length provides plenty of flexibility to dig deeper with your content.
How to fix it: TipTop Technologies is a great place to start. Use it understand what people on Twitter think about certain topics, and use this hive mind to create your content ideas. Additionally, DrumUp will send you daily emails with the latest trends related to your keywords. You can use this to create content that’s relevant to your audience.
4. You Fail to Develop a Brand Voice and Style Guide
Your brand voice and style guide present your content as a unified package. Without it, your audiences are left wondering what you’re trying to say and how they should receive your message. For most web users, this is incredibly frustrating.
“One of my biggest pet peeves is when a company’s own website displays its name about 5,000 different ways,” Lauren Tellman writes at Influence & Co. “A content style guide … can help keep your branding consistent — and avoid confusing consumers.”
How to fix it: Some blogs have style guides that span multiple editions and chapters, but you really only need a few pages to get started. There are a few resources around the web to mimic templates or get started on your own:
- IMPACT: What Is a Content Style Guide? (+ Free Content Style Guide Template)
- GatherContent: A Complete Process for Developing a Content Style Guide
- Bonfire Marketing: 10 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Style Guide
As your brand grows and more people engage with it, a unified style guide will become increasingly important.
5. You Ignore Old Posts Once You Publish Them
One reason to track metrics is to see what content needs to be repurposed or recycled for better results. Savvy content marketers can save their resources by repurposing old posts.
Danielle Bilbruck, inbound marketing consultant, has a useful guide for repurposing content. She recommends breaking large ebooks down into smaller posts that have more shareability, and grouping smaller, related posts into whitepapers. Similarly, sharing older content in different ways on social media can have a big impact on how your audience receives it.
How to fix it: Along with Bilbruck’s guide, apps like Roojoom can help map the customer journey to see what content your audiences need. This allows you to take the content you want to repurpose and apply it to your marketing goals.
6. You Publish Without Setting Key Metrics First
Content marketing is both a left- and right-brain process. Along with writing and creating, successful marketers need to have analyzing and strategizing in their skill sets. The analysis side of your brain must set measurable goals before you publish and track rprogress as your audience grows.
Emily Culclasure at AgileThought clearly explains why metrics matter in content. “Data is necessary for continual improvement,” she writes. “By including a measurement strategy into your content marketing initiative, you can adjust your approach, delivery and determine all possible paths to customer conversion.”
Essentially, how do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are?
How to fix it: You don’t have to be a data analyst to set goals for your content. Along with Google Analytics, which offers plenty of guides and tutorials, apps like Oribi and Heap make it easy to set goals for your content and track data easily. Oribi in particular does a great job of differentiating between expert-level users and content marketers who don’t want to spend hours of their days analyzing data.
7. Your Content is Only Shared on Your Social Channels
One of the main reasons content marketers struggle to attract traffic is because they have a small social following. If you only have 100 Facebook followers, it’s harder to drive thousands of people to your content.
Instead, brands can turn to social media outreach to grow their traffic while they build their social brand. This is the process of reaching out to influencers and asking them to share your content with their audiences.
“You don’t have to be established on social media in order to start engaging with potential customers,” writes Aseem Badshah, CEO of Socedo. “Social media outreach allows you to build the right kind of following, with followers who are optimized for your content and product.”
How to fix it: The best part is that finding influencers and curating a list of names to reach out to is fairly easy with the right tools. For example, GroupHigh will curate a list of influencers for you and send monthly emails to base your outreach strategy from. Additionally, Crowdfire helps you find users to follow within your niche to grow your digital presence.
8. Your Brand is on Too Many Social Channels
If your content marketing problem isn’t about incorporating enough social media use, then it might have to do with too much. Some brands find themselves on too many social media channels, unable to stand out on one and trying to build audiences in the wrong places.
“The reason brands are on too many social media channels is that they’re worried they’ll miss out on potential business,” says Susan Guillory, president of Egg Marketing. “If they put all their energy into Twitter, what about all that money they’re leaving on the table over on Instagram?”
In reality, brands end up looking weak if they can’t maintain a social channel or end up spreading themselves too thin across multiple networks.
How to fix it: Instead of chasing the next big thing, focus on the networks your customers use the most. The team at Convert with Content has a list of 60 niche social networks that have small audiences, but could have higher conversion rates for your brand. Additionally, HowSociable helps brands identify where they are the strongest online for maximum impact.
9. You Don’t Have a Long-Term Plan for Your Content
Most marketers expect immediate results from their content efforts. They want a post to go viral and immediately attract hundreds of links. This is a huge mistake.
Kerry Jones, director of marketing at Fractl, says that most brands can expect to wait six to 12 months before they see the results they want. It takes time to build audiences and rank in Google, and the results often don’t come in the exact format they expect.
Jones shares a chart from one of Fractl’s campaigns that features a massive wave of viral traffic after the content was published, followed by a slow build of links over the course of several months. The content produced the results they wanted, but only because they knew the process would take four to six months.
This is why strategic planning is critical to your content efforts.
How to fix it: Most editors swear by tools like DivvyHQ or Kapost, which make it easy to manage various content types and strategies. If you’re thinking six months ahead and looking back at the past year, it helps to have a little organization.
10. Your Writing Isn’t Engaging
If your ideas are strong and your promotion strategy matches your audience’s needs, then the problem might be the content itself.
Michael O’Neill, content manager at Brafton, admits that writing online content can feel overwhelming. How can you write for SEO and generate sales while still creating compelling content? He encourages marketers to write for people first, knowing the search engines will follow.
How to fix it: Start by testing your headlines in the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. This tool encourages you to add uncommon words, adjectives and emotions to your headlines to make them catchier and more enticing.
Once you have a headline, consider analyzing the body of your content with the Hemingway App. You can reduce cliches and complex sentences that turn off readers and identify ways you can cover the material better.
The key to a successful content marketing campaign is to constantly improve. By using these tools, you can grow your content efforts and prove the value of blogging, influencer marketing and social media engagement for your brand.
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