Content marketing has been a buzzword in digital marketing communities for about 5 years now. Millions of dollars have been spent on it, but for every overwhelming success there are 10 that haven’t seen an ounce of success. Content marketing is like any other strategy. It takes time, effort and money to succeed and many businesses haven’t put any of those into their content marketing efforts. This goes for both content creators and content publishers.
But don’t worry, it’s not your fault. You’ve been brainwashed by countless blog posts, YouTube videos, and keynote speakers telling you how important content marketing is. Your immediate conclusion is “pshhhh, I can do that. I’ll start posting blog posts Monday.” Common mistake.
In order to explain why your content marketing isn’t working, let’s first take a look at what you’re doing wrong.
Understanding Content Marketing
One of the biggest reasons people fail at content marketing is they don’t understand what it is. It’s not just your weekly blog post or your Facebook status updates. It’s everything. It’s your email marketing, blog, white papers, newsletters and videos. If you created something for people to read and learn more about your company, product and services, then it’s part of content marketing.
If you’re using only one avenue, then you’re missing out on opportunity. Don’t put all your eggs in your blog basket and instead expand. If you’re not going to bring out you’re A game, then there’s no point in joining the content marketing bandwagon.
Strategy is Everything
When you started your business, did you just open a store one day or create a website and rush forward without a plan? Probably not. You had a plan. You spent months or even years before opening creating a strategy about your website, inventory, advertising, budgeting, etc.
When you purchase advertising for your company, you don’t just create an ad and see what happens. You put thought and effort into crafting a campaign that maximizes your reach and monetary investment.
Content marketing is no different. You can’t just create content and guess the best way to market it. You need a plan that details everything from content creation to promotion. You expect a return on your investment and that comes from creating an efficient and effective strategy. Publishers need a strategy too. Businesses aren’t going to use your platform if they’re not seeing a return on investment. You need to work on getting your content in front of the right eyes and within budget.
Know Your Message
Before you can create your content, you need to know what you’re going to say. What’s your company’s message with your content. Don’t be afraid to let your company’s personality shine through in your content. Many types of content are informal and allow you to go beyond facts and figures. According to Entrepreneuer.com, only 9 percent of business to business marketers think they’re efforts are very effective.
Knowing your message also helps refine and target your content, so it’s not all over the place. Content should have a purpose and not just posted because you had a few minutes of spare time. Your message is part of your strategy and should be targeted to your specific audiences.
Quality Over Quantity
You can have the best content strategy in the world and an infinite budget, but if your content isn’t any good, it won’t matter. Larry from accounting may know his stuff and can rock a PowerPoint presentation, but can be craft an entertaining blog post or an in-depth and informative white paper?
If you hire a professional writer, remember that you get what you pay for. A cheap writer will likely create cheap content that won’t impress your customers. Instead, invest in a writer that either understands your business niche or can quickly learn and adapt. It will cost you more, but the odds of it paying off over time is much greater.
According to Forbes.com, you also need to be consistent with your content. Content marketing doesn’t work if you’re sporadically and randomly creating content throughout the year. If you’re creating a newsletter, then release it at the same time every month. If you’re crafting blog posts, post them the same time every week. Your customers will begin to anticipate their arrival and eventually look forward to it.
You’ll never be able to create a relationship with customers if you write three blogs in August, one in September and not another one until Christmas.
It Takes Money to Make Money
Many businesses are willing to spend money on advertising, but ask them to put money towards content marketing and many balk. We talked before about the importance of hiring a good quality writer, but that extends throughout the content marketing process. You need to be willing to pay a graphic designer to create an effective and attractive email marketing template. You need to pay for content distribution whether it’s a for a platform like Outbrain or for a press release service.
Your content is worth your investment, so create a budget for content marketing. If you have a good strategy, then your investment will be worth it. Also keep in mind that content marketing isn’t an instantaneous ROI. According to Kissmetrics.com, it can take weeks or months to see an impact. Content that is evergreen can bring traffic to your website for years after originally published.
Many businesses give up on content marketing if it doesn’t show results right away. It’s not like Pay Per Click where you see results on the first day. It requires time to gain traction.
Have a Plan for Promotion and Distribution
Your content isn’t going to bring much traffic or sell many products if all it does is sit on your website. You need to know how you’re going to get it in front of people by sharing on your social media channels, guest blogging, putting your blog content in your email newsletter and more.
You can use existing content and create infographics and share them on Pinterest and Instagram. Don’t be afraid to invest in sponsored posts and tweets to extend your social media reach or in services such as Outbrain to distribute content around the Internet. The key to effective content marketing is the marketing. If you have great content that people want to read, then finding a home for it and getting it out in the world will be much easier.