7 Mistakes Companies Make with Content Marketing
Back in 1994, fewer than 3,000 websites populated the digital landscape. For those special few, it didn’t take much effort to gain attention from readers.
As of 2014, more than 1 billion websites exist on the Internet. That’s significantly more competition, especially for small businesses and startups that must hang out their shingles in the intimidating shadows of Fortune 500 companies.
One way small businesses can set themselves apart is to create compelling, engaging content. Avoiding these seven perplexing problems and employing simple solutions can help those businesses rise above the competition and carve out niches for themselves in their chosen industries.
1. Failing to Create a Clear Goal for Content Performance
Businesses can use content to reach a myriad of goals, from increasing traffic on their websites to boosting conversions on landing pages. Some businesses want to increase brand awareness or improve customer retention.
When business owners fail to establish specific and actionable goals for their content marketing efforts, they fail. The content they produce lacks direction and focus, which means readers find it irrelevant.
Content marketing goals should reflect the business’s goals. If a company wants to establish itself as an authority in its industry, for example, it must produce well-written, well-sourced material that makes validated assertions.
The Perplexing Problem: The content campaign lacks a specific vision and, therefore, fails to produce measurable results.
The Simple Solution: Businesses should create clear goals for each content campaign. They must decide what results they want to achieve, then determine how to measure the results using metrics and analytics.
2. Failing to Grab Readers’ Attention With Titles and First Paragraphs
According to Slate, approximately 38 percent of web readers “bounce” after they land on an Internet page. They decide the content has nothing of value and they move on to something else.
How can content marketers keep readers’ attention? Compelling titles and first paragraphs. In these two essential elements of a piece of content, the writer has just a few seconds to engage the reader and convince him or her to read on.
Hubspot offers a simple formula for creating engaging headlines and titles. Content creators can start with a boring, uninteresting title, then beef it up with strong language, curiosity-piquing questions, and SEO optimization.
The first paragraph requires similar treatment. Leading with compelling facts or anecdotes will grip readers from the first word.
The Perplexing Problem: Readers don’t engage with the content and quickly click away.
The Simple Solution: Content creators should double the time they spend crafting headlines and first paragraphs. Writing and rewriting those portions will polish the text until it becomes irresistible.
3. Failing to Commit Sufficient Resources to Content Marketing
Most small businesses don’t have millions of dollars set aside for their content marketing campaigns. In this industry, however, financial resources aren’t the only game in town. Businesses can rely on human resources, technological resources, and other assets to bolster their efforts.
Business owners must commit themselves fully to content marketing. If content only exists as a half-hearted effort to copy what every other business is doing, the campaign won’t survive.
Whether it’s money, people, technology, or other resources, entrepreneurs have to treat content marketing as a critical part of their overall strategy. In many cases, it’s the most valuable component of any marketing strategy.
The Perplexing Problem: The content doesn’t elicit a response from readers or result in conversions, so it eventually peters out.
The Simple Solution: Business owners who treat content marketing as a crucial element of the business plan usually experience better results. Approaching it professionally and strategically will give the content marketing campaign more power.
4. Failing to Find the Right Audience
A business’s target audience plays a pivotal role in helping a content marketing campaign succeed. If a business targets the right audience, those readers will share the content, leave comments on articles, and interact with the content on social media.
When a business doesn’t find the right audience, however, the content falls flat. Readers don’t understand how the content applies to them, so they tune it out.
A successful content marketing campaign is built upon the needs of the target audience. What do they want? What problems do they experience? How do they interact with products? Answers to these questions should inform every aspect of a content marketing program.
The Perplexing Problem: Readers don’t comment on content, share it with their tribe, or respond to it in any way.
The Simple Solution: Business owners must spend time with their audience. Joining industry forums, participating in Twitter chats, and researching consumer life cycles are just a few ways businesses can find their audiences.
5. Failing to Employ Alternative Types of Media
Everyone consumes content on the Internet differently. Some readers like to read blogs on the bloggers’ websites, for example, while others would rather read blog articles via email.
Knowing this gives business owners powerful insight into content consumers. If an entrepreneur understands that readers will respond to different facets of content, he or she knows to experiment with diversity.
Tweets that contain images receive 150 percent more re-tweets, almost 40 percent of B2B buyers exchange infographics over social media, and 70 percent of today’s marketers intend to increase their visual content efforts through 2015.
Text still matters, but visual content is gaining ground. Businesses that combine the two can expect far greater returns-on-investment and much more interaction from their target audiences.
The Perplexing Problem: Readers don’t seem to engage with the content, and the same readers return to view subsequent content, but no new readers seem interested.
The Simple Solution: Content marketers can add visual elements to their traditional content efforts. Photographs, infographics, illustrations, and videos enhance the text and help it appeal to more readers.
6. Failing to Create Content That Resonates With Readers
The most powerful content pushes emotional buttons. It reminds readers of what they don’t have, what they want, and what they fear.
It also encourages readers to share that content with others. If they feel like they’ve connected emotionally with an article, they expect their friends and colleagues to feel the same way.
Unearthing readers’ pain points, telling moving stories, and addressing known fears can up the ante on content. It’s all about creating a connection.
The Perplexing Problem: The response to content remains lukewarm, with no spikes in traffic or social shares.
The Simple Solution: Injecting emotion into content can make it come alive. Content marketers should spend time with their audience and let their observations drive the emotional notes they hit in their content.
7. Failing to Assemble an Efficient Content Team
Content marketing teams exist in myriad forms. Some businesses assemble in-house teams consisting of writers, editors, strategists, designers, analysts, and other professionals who work exclusively on that business’s campaign.
It’s a solid strategy, but it’s also prohibitively expensive for most small businesses and startups.
Outsourcing offers a more attractive solution. Businesses can take advantage of third-party content providers who already have talent on-hand to produce engaging content. It’s a cost-effective option that won’t break the bank.
The Perplexing Problem: The content lacks the professional touch because of a lack of human resources.
The Simple Solution: Businesses don’t have to hire big in-house teams of content marketing pros. Instead, they can leverage an outsourcing model that provides them with top talent at much lower prices.
Very few content marketers succeed with every initiative, but learning from the mistakes of others can help small businesses launch their content marketing campaigns with more confidence. Avoiding the above mistakes will allow business owners to profit from content marketing using proven, strategic methods.
This article was co-written by ArticleBunny