Lead Content Marketing Trainer, 10+ Years of Content Marketing Expertise, Content Marketing Trainer
June 6th, 2016
Have you been trying to improve your business’s digital footprint, but haven’t found any success with content marketing?
It can be hard enough for a business to turn away from the traditional means of marketing, and work towards attracting new prospects with incredible content online. And It can be very disheartening when their new direction fails to gain any traction.
At IMPACT, we’ve talked with thousands of businesses and content marketers that have been struggling to get their message heard by the people they want to connect with online. And over and over again these seven content marketing killers keep popping up in our conversations with them.
If you’ve been doing content marketing for a while with no real results, or plan on starting your journey off on the right foot, these seven things should absolutely be addressed. As a consulting company that works with so many organizations to achieve content marketing success, we’ve seen time and time again these elements are too imperative to miss. Here goes:
1. You don’t have buy-in
We’ve said it 1,000 times before, and we’ll probably have to say it 1,000 times more, but if your entire company isn’t behind your content marketing efforts, you’ll have a hard time achieving real success.
Content marketing doesn’t work well if only one person, or one department, in the organization believes in the efforts.
All too often, companies see content marketing as a marketing department specific strategy.
When this is the case, failure is almost certain.
A great content marketing strategy will require support, understanding, and participation from everybody in the company, especially management and most importantly-- the sales team.
REMEMBER: Content marketing works best when it’s seen as a company’s philosophy rather than a department’s strategy.
Whether people are helping create new content, bringing new ideas to the table, or at least making sure they know what content is readily available on the website so they can share that with prospects and customers, everybody needs to have some level of involvement to make things truly successful.
Even if you’ve got the buy-in you need and all hands are on deck to start producing content for your prospective clients, you’ll still have trouble achieving major success if you don’t know exactly what those results should look like or ought to be.
It’s one thing to say things like, “we want to attract more traffic to our website,” or, “we want to convert more leads.” But in order to make those things happen, you have to define clear goals, have an idea of the path that will get you there, and have some way to measure your progress and success along the way.
So what kind of goals should you set? SMART goals:
Specific- Rather than saying you want more traffic, say something like, “I’d like to see a 20% [90increase in traffic.”
Measurable- Have a plan for that goal, and a way to measure progress. Ask yourself questions like, “how much content will I need to produce to help me get that 20% increase in traffic?” or “how much time should be spent on social media promoting that content?”
Attainable- Your goals need to be realistic. Know your limitations, and know the effort that will be required to achieve those goals. If not, you’ll probably fall short. And if you fall short, you may feel deterred from trying again.
Relevant- Is this goal important to your company? Maybe your traffic is already doing pretty well, but you’re not converting any leads. Therefore, rather than pouring your efforts into getting more traffic, you might want to focus on converting more leads out of the traffic you’re getting.
Timely- Set reasonable benchmarks for your goals. If you want a 20% traffic increase, what is the reasonable amount of time this can be achieved in? Six weeks? Six months? A year?
What can you be doing today, this week, this month to reach your goal?
3. You’re producing the wrong kind of content
This is another common problem we see all too often, especially from those organizations that approach us with the line of, “We’ve been doing content marketing, we’ve produced a lot of content, but we don’t have anything to show for it.”
In this business, too many companies are creating content that isn’t attracting the people they actually want to/can do business with.
How can you tell if you’re producing the wrong kind of content? For starters, ask yourself if the content you’ve created thus far has brought in any leads, and if any of those leads have converted into customers? If your content isn’t influencing your bottom line, you’re probably producing the wrong content.
A lot of the mistakes we see made here is companies that create content that is more about what they want to say to consumers, rather than what the consumers want to hear. Your content should follow the 80/20 rule: 80% educational, 20% promotional.
Another mistake is when most of your content is entertaining and not enough of it is educational. Sure, you want to create content that people find interesting, and even entertaining, but if that’s all it’s doing, it’s not going to produce real paying customers.
Do you really want to know how to attract new prospects to your content? Produce articles and videos that answer the questions they’re asking. Many companies don’t want to answer those questions until they have somebody on the phone trying to close them as a customer afraid the truth will startle people off the line. But the truth is, when you educate your audience, you build trust with them, and most people would much rather do business with somebody they can trust.
If you want to learn more about types of content you need to be producing, check out this video on The Big 5.
4. You content isn’t SEO optimized
Writing great educational content isn’t always enough. You have to make sure that it can get found organically online. We’ve seen some pretty well written articles that never really got any traffic because the authors weren’t making sure it was search engine optimized (SEO).
Going back to number 3 on this list, the first way to make your content SEO friendly is to make sure you’re answering the questions people are asking. Not only that, but you should be thorough and honest in your answers.
Are there problems with your product/service? Don’t be afraid to address them outright. Are there other similar services people might be interested in? Compare them.
Great content will get people to want to read it, share it, link to it, etc. All things that will help it reach more people and establish your business as a thought leader of your industry.
There are other things you can do to make sure your content is optimized for search results such as using meta data, targeting specific long-tail keywords, using headers and sub-headers, having internal and external links, and many others you’ve probably heard about.
However, the number one mistake we see people making is with their titles. If you have a terrible title, you’re probably not going to get much SEO love.
Quite often people unfamiliar with how organic search works want their titles to stand out so they resort to catchy and clever titles. The kind of titles that might catch someone’s eye if they were reading a magazine or scrolling through their social media feed, but that they’d never find by entering a search query in Google.
For example, let’s say your business sells kitchen counter tops, and customers are always asking you about the differences between quartz and granite. You could write an amazing article explaining the differences, but if you title it something like: “Of Quartz You Wouldn’t Take These Styles for Granite,” you might pat yourself on the back for your wit, but chances are, nobody else will, because they’ll never see it.
Rather, save the wit and personality for within the article, and title it something like: “Granite Versus Quartz: Which is the Best Countertop Material?”
REMEMBER: If someone tells you not to worry about SEO, you can be assured (99% of the time) they understand very little about owning a business and content marketing in general.
5. You’re not consistent enough
Content marketing done right takes work. And by work we mostly mean you need to be publishing new content on a regular, consistent basis. Publishing regularly is great for a number of reasons:
First, it incentivizes search engines to crawl your website more regularly to index your pages as they notice you have a lively, active website.
When you don’t publish often, these search engines don’t need to regularly crawl your site, and will instead wait longer for a time when you have new content.
If you’re wondering why your awesome article you just published last week hasn’t started moving up in ranks, it could be because the search engines aren’t going to swing by for a little while longer.
Second, the more content you have, the more opportunities you have to connect with and engage potential prospects.
Third, you encourage your frequent readers to swing by your site more often to check out all the new content you’re continuously publishing.
Fourth, the more content you have, the more you’ll be considered a thought leader of your industry and the go-to expert in your field.
The problem many businesses have with consistency usually has to do with being too busy to give it the attention and care it deserves, which is why having a content manager is usually critical for success.
Either that, or they spend too much time writing, editing, rewriting, and editing some more, trying to get the perfect article that their content never hits the web. There’s a much debated topic of whether you should have mass production versus perfected content, but the truth of the matter is that it should be somewhere in between.
You want quality content, otherwise nobody will read it, or if they do, they won’t get value out of it. But at the same time, there comes a point where you need to stop polishing your article and just hit publish. You can always go back later and update it. But nobody will ever find your killer article if it’s just sitting on your computer’s desktop.
6. You’re not capturing leads
You could have amazing content and lots of website traffic, but if you’re not capturing leads, your efforts are all for naught.
Take a look at your articles and website pages; do any of them have call to actions (CTAs)?
How do your CTAs look? Do they stand out on the page? Are they enticing both visually and textually? Do they lead to offers relevant to the content people are reading? Are you using landing pages with forms to deliver your offers or are people able to download your offers without connecting with you first?
Being the go-to source for information in your industry is an amazing position to be in, but if your efforts are going to impact your bottom line, you need to have lead conversion opportunities so that you can foster and nurture relationships with your prospects.
7. You’re not following up with your leads
Just because someone searched a query online, found an article you wrote, and downloaded an eBook from your site, doesn’t mean they’re going to continue reaching out to you. They could be anywhere in their buyer’s journey and are vetting multiple sources to find the best fit for their problems.
You can’t expect just because they read one article and downloaded one offer that they’re going to immediately build trust with your brand. You’ve got to take the next step and continue to nurture the relationship.
What did they read on your site? What offer did they find valuable enough that they were willing to give you some of their information to receive? Ask yourself these questions, and then consider what other pieces of content do you have that they might find relevant?
Nurturing your leads can be a delicate balance between following up with them too much or not enough. Just because they gave you their email address doesn’t mean you can flood their inbox with every little piece of content you have.
Send too many emails, and they might mark you as spam.
Send too few, and they might find another company that suits their needs.
The more you can get a prospect to engage with your company and consume your content, the more they’ll begin to trust you as an expert and want to do business with you.
Hopefully by reading this list you’ve been able to identify some of the reasons why your content marketing efforts haven’t been seeing the fruition they deserve, and you’ll be able to make the appropriate adjustments to get on track.