Content marketing isn’t something you just do.
It’s something you plan, research and conceptualize. As you know, writing about things you find interesting on your company blog and hoping prospects take notice is NOT content marketing. In fact, if your goal is to increase qualified leads, you’d be better off hiring someone to dance on the sidewalk with your company sign.
Conversely, creating “gated content” in conjunction with an overall traffic generation plan IS content marketing. Also called “inbound marketing,” the method is quickly taking the business world by storm. According to Hubspot’s The State of Inbound 2015 report, inbound is now the preferred method for companies spending under $5 million annually on marketing.
If you’re in the beginning stages of planning your content marketing strategy – whether hiring it out or tackling it internally – it’s imperative that you set things up right from the start.
Sidestep These 6 Content Marketing Pitfalls:
Not Recognizing “The Buyer’s Journey”
The best content marketing plans recognize the fact that not every prospect who comes across your business will be in exactly the same place. Some are just beginning to realize they have a need, some are actively seeking information regarding that need and some are ready to buy. The solution?
Create content that answers the most common questions and concerns of each unique phase: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. As a reminder, content can take many forms: Blog articles, white papers, infographics, videos etc. As you’re creating phased content, consider which formats would simultaneously best feature your offerings and be best received by your prospects.
Finally, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask yourself, “What would be of most value to me now that I know information X? What’s the next step?” Other useful ways to segment content include tracking industry trends, profiling decision makers and showcasing past client results. Pro Tip: Create a spreadsheet that functions as an editorial calendar. Include segmentation goals alongside your topical ideas.
Not Determining Metrics For ROI
According to the previously mentioned report, proving an ROI was rated as the no.1 challenge among content marketers. Unsurprisingly, the ones that do manage to successfully prove an ROI, were twice as likely to receive a higher budget for their following project cycles.
Which begs the question: Why aren’t more business owners and marketers insistent upon developing ROI benchmarks? Probably because there are SO many choices when it comes to tracking – social engagement, content consumption, lead generation, customer acquisition etc. – that if you haven’t determined what is most important to the business at hand, time will be wasted on the wrong activities.
As a B2B, your primary goal when planning your content marketing lead generation strategy is likely lead generation. So, you’ll want to pay special attention to lead generating forms and originating traffic sources. You’ll want to determine:
- How many leads you average per month “pre-content marketing.”
- How many leads you average per month “post-content marketing.”
- Where exactly those new leads are coming from
(ie. which pieces of content are producing them).
Pro Tip: Use a program like Google Analytics to determine how visitors are interacting with your site and engaging with your content.
Not Knowing How You’ll Deliver
You know your buyers. You’ve created content for the unique stages of their journey. You know how you’re going to track your metrics for success. Now what? Now, it’s time to begin delivering content.
No content marketing strategy is complete without a plan of delivery. For most businesses, publishing social media and blog posts will not be enough. You’ll want to lean on a variety of on and offline methods for getting your content in front of the right audience. Possible options include founding online industry leadership groups on social platforms, engaging Google ad campaigns and SEO-optimizing your Website and content for increased organic search traffic.
Pro Tip: Use a multi-tiered approach for faster results.
Rushing Content Out The Door
The Internet is crowded enough with subpar content – do us all a favor and refrain from releasing any more. Unfortunately, rushing through content production for lack of time happens. A lot.
While publishing something may seem better than publishing nothing, it really isn’t. Better to remain mysterious and dignified, than appear unprofessional and unremarkable.
Again, one of the easiest ways to prevent such dilemmas is to create and stick to an editorial calendar. Informational fields on your calendar can include:
- What stage of The Buyer’s Journey the content is for.
- The dates of publication for various pieces of content.
- The dates of creation for various pieces of content.
- The topical direction of titles.
- The content formats to be used.
- Links to any resources needed.
Pro Tip: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, BuzzSumo and industry resources to generate content ideas. Aim to schedule 6 months worth of topical ideas in one sitting – that way you’ll NEVER be without something to write about.
Having Multiple Project Leaders
Every large company has it; a chain of decision-makers company materials must be passed through before they see the light of day. While the approach makes sense for certain documents, its overall effect on content marketing can be downright damaging.
Put simply, nothing’s worse than watered-down content going in a million different directions. Your content should maintain a consistent voice, ultimately reflecting the company’s brand as a whole.
Pro Tip: Decide on brand guidelines to be followed as a group (ie. tone of voice, core messages, known values, aesthetic style) before designating ONE content manager tasked with editing for consistency.
Not Knowing Your “Unique Selling Proposition”
Finally, the most common “mistake” made when planning content strategies isn’t really a mistake as much as it is an oversight – and that is not knowing your company USP. What makes you different than other providers in your division? Why should customers work with you?
For better or worse, technology has multiplied the buying options of consumers seemingly overnight, making the answering of such questions all the more important. Oftentimes, our clients have trouble articulating what makes them better than “the guy next door.”
Sure, they provide great customer service, produce high-quality work and offer affordable prices… But shouldn’t that be the standard for doing business? Developing a USP can be challenging, but is ultimately priceless when it comes to creating memorable content.
Pro Tip: Consider the one thing you most want to be known for, the benefits your offerings provide and the culture of your company.
Avoid these 6 common mistakes when planning your content marketing strategy and you won’t have to hire the teenager on the street to wave your company sign around.