Content marketing has emerged as one of the most effective ways for organizations to communicate with their key audiences.
Through content marketing programs, they can tell compelling stories, highlight their successes, and otherwise engage their current and future audiences.
It’s a marketer’s dream, right? Not always.
Many organizations, especially in B2B markets, struggle with getting content marketing to consistently deliver strong results. There’s something off with their approach—or the content itself—that’s not allowing them to connect with readers in the way they imagined.
With content marketing generating 126% more leads and 6x conversion rates than other marketing activities, it’s worth taking a deeper dive.
It all comes down to bad habits, and there are six common ones that marketers struggle with:
1. There’s no strategy. Most organizations have an annual marketing strategy, so why would content marketing be any different? Within this content marketing strategy, you need to:
- Establish goals. How will your content marketing strategy help your company’s business goals? What is the intent with this piece of content you write?
- Define your audience, including appropriate vertical markets, position in the funnel, etc.
- Determine what kinds of (and how much) content is possible based on your resources and budget.
- Define how you will measure success. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure frequently.
- Determine who will write your content. Many companies think they must do it all themselves while working with a third-party firm might be more efficient.
2. Your content is not focused. Another big mistake organizations make with content is taking a one-size-fits-all approach, i.e., thinking that one piece of content is appropriate for all of your audiences. Instead, marketers need to take the time to define their content marketing strategy by including a content map.
A content map can help you plot out what content is for top of the funnel prospects (those who are just starting out and need more “awareness” content), which is appropriate for those who are in the consideration stages, and which is right for bottom of the funnel prospects (those close to making a decision/purchase). Without a map, even the most seasoned travelers can get off course, and the same is true with your content. Provide your audience with a clear path to follow, and they will follow it.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create portfolios of content geared toward each of type of audience and continue to fill in those portfolios over time.
3. You’re not sharing your content broadly enough. If you’re just posting content on your website and hoping that search engines will pick it up, that’s the wrong way to look at content marketing. You need a distribution strategy, whether that be a social media effort, a company newsletter, or paid marketing opportunities. Creating content without a way to get it to your customers is rarely successful.
4. There’s no call to action (CTA). You can do everything right, but if your content does not end with a strong CTA, you’re missing opportunities to reinforce your expertise and connect with your customers. A CTA can be as simple as “Contact us”—or can link to an archived webinar, a recent white paper, or a case study in a particular industry. By leading your prospects down a path with consistently helpful content, you are drawing them closer to the bottom of the funnel.
5. You’re not measuring your successes (or failures). Your content marketing strategy included goals, but if you’re not measuring results, you’re wasting your time. Understand what you want to measure in terms of KPIs and track over time to see if your strategy is working and your goals are realistic.
6. You’re not repurposing your content. Once you’ve broken all of your bad content marketing habits, and developed a content library, it’s time to focus on repurposing that content over and over (and over) again.
Repurposing means exactly what it sounds like—taking one piece of content and using it in multiple forms and across multiple channels to increase return on investment. That means a white paper can be broken down to create blogs, contributed articles, social media posts, infographics, speaker’s abstracts, abstracts for news pitching to media and analysts, and more. For many of these, if you use a strong CTA, you’ll be able to link back to the original source for more detail.
For example, here’s how a white paper might be repurposed:
- Reframe the white paper per market vertical, for example:
- Health care
- Oil & Gas
- Draft sales lead outreach emails to personas along the buyer’s journey—sent by salespeople with white paper attached for free.
- Set up a lead generation site and include the link in press releases, blogs and other distributable content. Capture leads with an online form.
- Develop 8-10 short pieces for the company blog or contributed blog to a third-party site.
- Develop sales collateral from the white paper to be disseminated at a tradeshow or as a PDF online.
- Draft pitches to capture the attention of media and analysts.
- Draft speaker’s abstracts to capture the attention of event coordinators.
- Create an infographic if there are important statistics within the white paper.
- Create a short video series or podcast that pulls out the most important parts of the white paper.
There are common mistakes organizations make when they are trying to create a content marketing program.
One is thinking they need to handle all their content marketing in house, while many companies find success outsourcing content to third-party firms. Another common error is not having a strategic plan in place. Developing that plan, taking the time to get to know your most important audiences, creating a content map and determining your distribution strategy will make your content marketing initiatives shine.
Laura Borgstede is the CEO of Calysto.