In today's noisy marketing landscape, ever brand needs to make its unique voice heard or it risks a fate worse than destruction -- being ignored. To weave their stories, every brand must therefore become a content producer and marketer. To carve their niches, the best companies are providing consistently great content on all the platforms popular among their users in a way that grabs their attention, reels in their interest, creates a desire around the product or service, and inspires action.
The content marketing landscape, we must remember, is constantly evolving, so there is no fixed template for any brand to adopt for guaranteed success. That said, we can still learn from our own experience and the strategies of some thought leaders like Hubspot, Buffer, orKISSmetrics. Pay a little more attention to your efforts and see if any of the mistakes below are putting a nasty dent in your returns.
1) Not Having a Content Strategy
So you've decided you're into content marketing -- welcome! Now, what are your goals?
Are you trying to be more visible? Maybe you're aiming to acquire new email subscribers. Is your motivation an upcoming product launch? Is it traffic that you're after, or specifically sales?
Be clear about your goals, and have a plan for getting there.
Each organization has its own unique DNA, with unique strengths and challenges - demanding its own strategy. If you're building brand awareness and traffic, you might focus more on guest blogging and social media marketing. Aiming for thought leadership and lead generation? Think about writing an ebook or creating an online course. For acquisition and engagement, content distributed by an email drip campaign could be your best bet.
Whatever their plan, the best-in-class content marketers have a clear, documented strategy. They think about:
Who am I trying to engage?
Where are they active and when?
What are they thinking when they get there?
What message should I craft to move them along my conversion funnel?
And how much money do I have to support this campaign?
They go by the plan. They have a dedicated team which looks after their content marketing efforts and makes sure all the processes and actions are in accordance with the documented strategy.
2) Not Experimenting Enough
Ask yourself if this seem familiar: 15 Facebook posts, 10 blog-posts, 25 tweets, 2 e mailers, comments on 4 forums -- and you are done with your content marketing strategy for a month. Really? If this is the set template or "calendar" you have been following and growth is plateauing or slowing down according to your analytics, it is time to shake up a few things.
Simply said, you are not experimenting enough. Consistency pays, but even the world's best brands keep a window open for experimentation.
For insporation, let's look to Coca Cola's 70/20/10 principle.
Keep 70% of the content consistent – keep it the way it has been working.
The next 20% should be reserved for giving a new twist to the content you have been providing, it could be a new way of presentation – think of it like a new wrapper on your favorite wine.
The 10% that remains is for magic. This 10% is your space to create and innovate. It is this space that gives you freedom to test and fail, liberty to try out new ideas – one of which could turn out to be your winning idea that then earns its place in that stable, bread earning 70% of future. This way you do not check the depth of water with both feet.
3) Ignoring Social Time
Successful content marketing on social media is both an art and a science. The art lies is creating the most effective message and the science is needed to deliver the message to the right recipient on the right social network, for which you might use tools like Canva for design or MOZ for keyword testing.
But what many content marketers miss is the science.
You do not have the ears of every one you want your message to reach all the time, so you need to reach your customers when they're ready to listen. This doesn't mean being aggressive, but rather, doing a little research to find out where your readers are from and delivering the message during the part of the day when they're most likely to be tuned in. And repeating it, of course: for content marketing, promotion is the necessary evil.
And this is where automation comes in. Automation tools like Hootsuite and Buffer help your business become location independent in true sense, and time content for your audience exactly when they're most likely to see it. Tweriod helps you nail it down to the minute.
4) Not Using User-Generated Content
If you can facilitate user generated content, it would be a big mistake to not use it. User generated content help you build the community tweet by tweet and comment by comment by telling your brand story from different angles. This digital word of mouth marketing is more relatable to customers, and your brand can ride a wave like this to better visibility and credibility. Studies have proven this: according to an Ipsos MediaCT study, millennials engage with and remember user generated media more.
User comments and feedback can help your company understand your users and their problems better, and even inspire new ideas. Heineken realized that people were looking for something innovative from the 150 year old draught beer brand. In 2012, Heineken rolled out the "Reinvent The Draught Beer Experience" contest in which it invited fresh ideas on repackaging the beer.
Hundreds of customers submitted their ideas and as a result Heineken was able to improve its packaging, while the exercise itself helped retained the waning interest of its customers.
GoPro uses this consumer evangelism in the best way possible: it curates the videos of its consumers and shares them on YouTube. Today the videos of GoPro evangelists have dedicated viewership, which has made the brand a household name among adventure and thrill seekers.
Now, Over to You
The numbers say it all:
• The ROI is of content marketing is three times that of paid search. (Kapost)
• Content marketing generates three times more leads than traditional marketing. (Demand Metric)
• Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. (Demand Metric)
There's reasons to invest your time and resources in content marketing - and our the advice above will help you avoid the biggest missteps of all.
What's your content marketing plan? Let us know in the discussion.