Is your content marketing failing to deliver the results you expect? Review these 5 typical points of failure, and how to learn to create more successful content.
The first step towards improving your content marketing is identifying the need for change.
Why isn’t your content marketing working as well as you would hope, given the time and effort you are investing in the creation and promotion processes? I know many businesses are disappointed when their hard work in creating content is not rewarded by the results they were hoping for.
So, in order to improve your content, you first need to identify what change you want to see happen and then focus your energies on delivering that change.
The changes and improvements you need to make with your content marketing typically meet one or more of these 8 marketing objectives:
- your content gets consumed, that is to say, your video is watched, your article is read, your podcast is listened to
- your content drives engagement, with comments and feedback
- your content reaches new audiences by getting shared on social media or discovered in the search engines
- your content leads to data capture building lists of potential clients or contacts or partners
- your content drives leads and enquiries to fill your sales pipeline
- your content reduces business costs by helping customers to help themselves, or reduce marketing spend in other areas
- your content nurtures customer loyalty as a “keep in touch” mechanism to update and inform your customers
- your content builds your brand reputation by positioning you as a thought leader in your field
Here are the 5 ways you can improve your content marketing:
1. People can’t find your content
Depending on your industry sector, the search engines will be driving more than 50% of all the traffic to your website, and if you are in business services that figure will be much higher.
That means an essential part of your content marketing has to be search engine optimisation (SEO). You need to be generating the kind of content that users are searching for, and ensure you are giving your content every chance of ranking well.
You need to take the practical steps required for formatting your content in a way that assists the search engines in indexing and ranking your content.
You can undertake SEO for a wide range of different forms of content, and here are 4 useful guides for you:
- Articles and blogs contain rich content – here is our guide to optimising your blog posts
- A guide to optimising your videos for the search engines
- You can also optimise your reports and PDFs for the search engines
- Infographics and photographs rank well in the search engines – here is a guide to optimising images
2. Your content isn’t helpful
One sign you’re not generating the right kind of content is when it fails to get shared or commented on or mentioned in the kinds of influential circles where your customers hang out.
In my experience, the number one reason for this is because your content is not helpful.
We need to consider the concept of “helpfulness” in its broadcast context. Content that is helpful might:
- be useful to me in getting my job done
- beneficial to me in teaching me something new
- enable me to look good in the eyes of my peers when I share it
- give me an emotional lift and make me feel good
It isn’t difficult to identify the kinds of content that aren’t helpful, and it is easy to fall into these traps particularly when you’re generating content at volume. It is also particularly problematic when your content is being generated solely with a sales and marketing focus:
- your content is a thinly veiled sales pitch
- your content isn’t as clever or as witty as you think it is
- your content is not written by the experts in your field and the lack of subject matter knowledge is transparent
- your content doesn’t have a clear purpose or objective. Ask yourself “why am I writing this?”
- your content doesn’t drill down to specifics, and is shallow or consists of broadly sweeping generalisations
3. Your content just isn’t good enough
The internet is awash with content, some of it of exceptional quality but the vast majority of dubious or even worthless value.
Your content needs to be not only of high quality, but of a better quality than your competitors, and better than other trusted sources. At its simplest, your business and the content you generate needs to position your business as an expert, authoritative and trustworthy in your niche.
What exactly do I mean by “not good enough?”
- it could be badly written and in need of checking for something as simple as spelling and grammar
- it could give a bad user experience, for example being slow to load
- it could just not give that “Wow” experience in terms of design.
4. You’re not making the best use of your existing great content
In the quest to be constantly creating new content, we risk ignoring high-quality content that we already own.
Most businesses will have archives full of evergreen content. Evergreen content is the type of content that is always of interest to your readers, doesn’t tend to get out of date, and is always relevant in the same ways that evergreen plants keep their leaves all year round.
Examples of evergreen content include tips, FAQs, “how to” articles and expert advice. It can take the form of articles, of videos, infographics and of podcasts.
If you refer back to the 8 typical goals your business has for its content marketing, then evergreen content will tick all the boxes. It is often search-engine friendly, it is useful for prospects and existing customers, and positions your business as an expert and leader in its field.
One way to identify your highest performing evergreen content is to refer to your Google Analytics, and research which content gets the highest traffic levels over the longest period of time.
In order to take the fullest advantage of your existing evergreen content, your marketing tactics include:
- linking to and from other pieces of freshly produced related content that you have created
- refresh the content in terms of current developments in your niche sector
- share the content periodically on your social networks
- periodically refreshing and updating the content to ensure it is accurate on an ongoing basis
5. You’re not doing your homework
At some point, every business has created a piece of content that fails to deliver on the expected promises. It is disappointing, and to be honest, costly, to discover that what you thought was a brilliant content idea falls flat.
In many cases, this failure to launch is because you have not done the necessary homework and preparation for a successful content marketing campaign.
The very first step to creating successful content is to ensure you have a robust understanding of your target audience. By creating a customer persona you are sure to have a robust understanding of your target audiences’ motivations, needs, pain points. As a result, you will be more likely to create content that will drive the 8 content marketing success measures.
Another step in the research process is to get a solid understanding of current activity in your content marketing space. There are a number of techniques and tools you can use:
- Google Trends is a research tool to help you get a deeper understanding of your competitor landscape
- There are a number of keyword research tools which can help to shape the SEO strategy for your content
- You should be researching the key influencers in your sector and engaging with them and building relationships
- And you can be monitoring your competitors and industry leaders to give shape to your own content strategy
And then finally, in terms of your homework and preparation and planning your ongoing campaigns, you should be measuring the effectiveness of the content you’re generating.