Content marketing has become more competitive than ever due to its effectiveness as a marketing strategy. Since it is not a brand new (and therefore attractive) concept, businesses are not wondering whether they should invest in it. Instead, they’re focusing on how they should frame a strategy to get the best possible return on investment.
Content marketing involves offering useful information that people want to know about so that they will follow your business and perhaps subscribe to your updates. The B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America report defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
A large majority (91%) of the respondents said that they use content marketing. And the most successful respondents spent 40% of their total marketing budget on content marketing.
Whether you are a beginner in content marketing or are well-versed in it, it is always helpful to review your content marketing strategy to ensure that it is up-to-date and effective. See if you’re making any of these 5 common mistakes when planning your strategy:
1. You focus only on blog posts.
Blog posts are not the only form of online content, although they are certainly quite popular. If writing is your strong point, you should start with writing blog posts and gradually move on to other types of content. Blog posts can also be re-purposed to provide material for other items like infographics, social media posts, webinars, and checklists.
eMarketer reports that 60% of marketers produce at least one item each day. This item can be a case study, a video, a whitepaper, a podcast, or a how-to guide.
2. You don’t know your target audience well.
You must have a thorough customer profile before you craft a content marketing strategy around them. A few superficial demographic details are not enough to acquaint you closely with your customer. A 2015 IBM study reported that 81% marketers felt that they had a “holistic” view of their consumers’ information, but the reality was that 63% consumers felt that they were not understood by their favorite brands!
In order to know your target customers well, you should do one or more of the following:
· Conduct customer surveys: Create 10–12 questions that will provide meaningful insights about your current customer base. Try to find out about their goals, if they have any preconceived notions about your product or your industry, why they came to you, and what are the reasons for hesitating before buying.
· Conduct phone interviews or face-to-face interviews: Everybody may not respond in a timely manner or may not respond at all when approached via email. Procuring interviews over the phone or even better, face-to-face, will help you gain valuable insights that may get diluted when receiving answers through email.
· Conduct exit surveys: A good point to gather insights is when customers are exiting, either to ask about their purchasing experience or the reason they did not make the purchase.
3. Your content is not helpful for your audience.
Once you have a thorough understanding of who your target audience is, create content that is ideal for them. You may find that you’re required to create super-specialized content in order to cater to your audience, which will help you hook the most engaged potential customers.
However, this strategy becomes a bit tricky when you have different types of people within your target audience. For instance, content written in basic language may be off-putting for senior people who are well-versed with the product/industry but is necessary for entry-level people with little experience. In such cases, it is best to create two content pieces with the same message, but different language to suit the needs of different types of people.
4. Your content is not of good quality.
It sounds quite obvious but putting out poor-quality content is still a common mistake made by many businesses. More content is not good if the quality of the writing is inadequate.
· Writing content solely focused on SEO will not get you the engagement you desire. That doesn’t mean that you ignore SEO, however you must first create value-based content and then focus on optimizing it for web searches.
· Publishing content only because you have a content calendar to follow is another no-no. Readers are quick to distinguish between content that is useful and content that has been published solely for the sake of it. Poor-quality content will harm brand equity and cause you to lose subscribers because they see no value in following you.
Ensure that your content has actionable points and provides valuable insights to readers. Repurpose one great piece of content into various formats to get the best response and engagement.
5. Your content is hard-selling instead of educating.
Always remember that content marketing is about educating the reader about your niche, not selling your products/services to them. You may be tempted to include not-so-subtle hints advertising your product in order to get quick results, but this strategy will backfire because it will put off readers.
Your audience reads your blog to learn new things, to find solutions to their problems, and to find information that makes their work easier and better. If you oversell your business instead of providing these things, you are sure to lose customers. In fact, you should not mention yourself or your business until the call to action at the end of the content piece.
Your goal is to persuade people to share your content such that you will appear as an expert in your industry who is paid to sell related products or perform related services.
Content marketing is both a cost-effective as well as effective method of marketing your business, when done correctly. When you create quality content, you increase the chances of being considered an expert in your niche. This helps gain more leads, boost sales, and grow your following.