Still don’t have a content marketing strategy in place? You can bet your competitors do, and if they regularly post good content in their blog and social media, they’re likely to outrank you in search and to gain more trust and authority with your target audience through that useful content that they post.
However, you can’t just slap ANY content up on your blog, update it once every couple of months, and call it a job well done. With as many content marketing campaigns as there are today, the businesses that don’t put enough thought into developing a strategy are the ones who fail in content marketing and just lose time doing what they do.
So what are the main mistakes/problems with content marketing and how to avoid them:
#1: Not Knowing Your Audience and What Information is Critical to Them
This one is pretty straightforward: If you sell hardwood floors for instance you need to know all about your product and how people shop for it, what your customers typically ask before they buy (Ex: What’s the difference between solid and engeneered wood? What is the best wood option for living room or kitchen? What Floor Finish is Easiest to Clean? 3.5 Inch or 5 Inch Planks – What should I Pick? Do I need to Glue or Nail Hardwood Floors?… etc etc) If you know what questions and concerns your customers typicaly have build ypour content marketing strategy around answering them (create a knowledge center, blog, FAQ section, youtube channel). This type of helpful content available on your site makes you a go-to resource for people with these questions and eventually makes them think of yo as an expert, an authority in the niche whom they trust and are open purchase from. So don’t make a mistake of not knowing your audience, their common questions and painpoints – use this knowledge to create content that your audience needs.
Major Pitfall #2: Not Having a Clear Business Goal.
This is another huge problem—if you don’t understand the exact purpose of your content marketing campaign, then your audience isn’t going to understand it either. Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking that if they begin posting content on their site—any content—a clear purpose will emerge. To illustrate how wrong this way of thinking is, let’s look at a couple examples of failed content marketing campaigns from social media giants Facebook and Tumblr.
Content Marketing Failures: Facebook Stories and Tumblr Storyboard
2012 brought Internet users a site called Facebook Stories, a project designed to share anecdotes about “people using Facebook in extraordinary ways.” Facebook hired a prominent editor and had high hopes for the project, but one year later, people are still scratching their heads over Facebook Stories (and that prominent editor has since left). The site’s downfall seems to be that it doesn’t know what it wants to be—should it be a sort of community message board, a blog with weekly updates, or a niche news site?
Tumblr unveiled a similar project called Storyboard the same year. However, even its executive producer didn’t seem to understand its purpose, releasing the statement: “If you think of Tumblr like a city, then Tumblr Storyboard is like the local newspaper (though we’re more like a magazine) for that city.” This hesitancy and lack of a clear mission was likely why Internet users largely rejected the site, and Storyboard was shut down after a little less than a year.
Content Marketing Success Story: LinkedIn Today
In contrast to Facebook and Tumblr, LinkedIn has managed to succeed in the content marketing arena through the creation of social news platform LinkedIn Today. The site made its purpose very clear: to provide a content aggregator of news and articles shared by its users. Additionally, LinkedIn Today branched out with LinkedIn Influencers, a platform for successful entrepreneurs and leaders to share original content. The Influencer posts have been extremely successful, with the average post receiving around 30,000 views and the most successful posts receiving over a million.
So why was the LinkedIn campaign so much more successful than the Facebook and Tumblr campaigns? There may have been several factors at play, but one of the biggest ones seems to be that LinkedIn had a clear mission with their project: to draw people to their social networking site (and keep them there) by providing them with both a convenient way to share and view news and to read original articles by people who have been extremely successful in their field (and who LinkedIn users may aspire to be).
Creating a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
So how can you recreate the success of LinkedIn with your own business? Try following these steps to create a content marketing campaign that will get people talking in a positive way.
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your campaign. Set clear goals, so you can monitor progress and their accomplishement.
If you can’t think of what you want to accomplish, look at other successful marketing campaigns that your business has used. How can you adapt that to content marketing?
Figure out who your target audience is. Look at the blogs of other successful companies that have this same target audience, and see what kind of style and content they use.
Put someone in charge. Especially at smaller companies, owners sometimes try to run the blog themselves, or they make it a group project. The end result is that the blog falls by the wayside as more pressing needs take precedence. Assign it to someone as a part of their job requirements, or hire the outside help of a marketing company or freelancer to make it a priority.
Produce new, interesting content that relates to your product or industry. Comment on a current news story, take a different perspective, or answer a question that your audience may have been asking.
Produce content on a regular basis. Aim to update your blog with original content at least once a week, or else your audience will quickly lose interest—and you’ll sink in the search engine rankings.
Think beyond the blog. While a blog is typically the easiest way to start, it isn’t the only option. Videos, white papers, ebooks, podcasts, presentations, infographics, social media campaigns, and online courses can all be a part of your content marketing strategy.
Measure your results. Don’t expect results overnight, but monitor users’ engagement over time. Use the data you collect to make adjustments.
With some creativity and a time investment, you’ll be able to grow your company and increase brand awareness through content marketing rather than turning audiences away with an erratic and confusing site.