Investing in a content marketing plan is a big step to take. If you’ve been reading the other articles in this series, you’ll be aware that it has the potential to do wonders for your business, but it requires a serious commitment of time and resources. If you’ve been making that commitment and you’re not seeing results yet, it’s natural to be worried. After all, a lot of businesses don’t see any gain from such plans at all. But why don’t they? Is it possible to pinpoint where they’re going wrong?
Nine times out of ten, the answer is yes. Most content marketing failures are caused by the same fundamental mistakes. If you can avoid these, you have a very good chance of success – it just might not happen overnight.
There is no quick fix
They say that good things come to those who wait, and that’s certainly true in content marketing. This isn’t an approach that will make your business famous overnight. If you’re planning a short, intensive marketing campaign, it’s unlikely to deliver the results that you want, but if you can keep working on it over time, it will help you steadily grow traffic and turn casual buyers into repeat customers. If you’ve only been doing it for a few months, you may simply need to wait to see it work. Be patient, be prepared to make an ongoing commitment, and don’t give up on it too soon.
It’s not all about SEO
Good content marketing will generate SEO naturally. It’s also good content in which to embed long tail keywords, but you shouldn’t try to squeeze in any keyword more than once every 250 words. This is because you could easily fall foul of search engine filters if you’re perceived as cramming. It’s also because keyword-packed writing doesn’t usually read well to humans, and content marketing is all about communicating effectively with human visitors. If you’re producing good-quality content on subjects relevant to your business sector, don’t force the SEO – let it take care of itself.
You don’t know who you’re talking to
Content marketing relies on forging a connection with a specific audience – your target customers. To do this successfully, you need to know who they are, and what interests them. If they don’t show much interest in what you’re publishing, it‘s probably because you haven’t done your research. Start by defining your target demographic and searching the web for free information about it. Consider investing in your own tailored market research. Use surveys and polls to find out more about your visitors, and don’t forget the comments section at the end of your articles, which can be a great source of ongoing feedback.
You’re asking too much
Even if they enjoy your content and are interested in your products or services, people won’t be comfortable on your site if you ask too much of them at once. Don’t make them feel pushed into sharing their details just so that they can read your articles or watch your videos. Instead, persuade them to part with information over time by doing things such as creating competitions that they can participate in if they share their name and email address. Make sure they feel that every time they give you personal information, there’s a sensible reason for it.
You don’t have a coherent strategy
Sometimes, when people start talking about their content marketing strategies, it emerges that all they have is a strategy that involves publishing content. They may not have put any thought into how that content works together. To be effective, the individual articles in a content marketing campaign need to be thematically connected so that people have a reason to want to read more if they enjoy the first one they find. You’ll need to embed links that lead people from one to another, and you’ll need to make sure that they cover the full range of important topics relevant to what you’re selling.
If you want to sharpen up your content strategy, one good way is to use the SMART system. Look through this list of goals and see if they all apply to what you’re doing.
- Specific. Your strategy should be precise and focused. What are you trying to achieve? Why is it important? How will you go about it? Who is involved, and when will specific actions, such as making posts or reviewing your progress, be taken?
- Measurable. How well can you track your progress? Can you set defined goals along the way, such as website traffic targets? If you’re promoting your content on social media, are you tracking things such as click-throughs and likes?
- Achievable. How realistic are your goals? Are they too high? Are they actually too low? Can you find out how well other people in your industry have done when using similar techniques?
- Relevant. How well does your content marketing strategy fit into your long-term plans for your business? How well do individual pieces of content fit the rest of your strategy? Are you catering effectively to your target market?
- Timely. Have you set rules for the time management of your project, and are you sticking to them? Are posts being made on an organised schedule? Are goals and review periods sensibly scheduled?
Using the SMART approach can help you understand what managing content marketing has in common with managing other business matters. It can help you to focus what you do and get better results.
Sometimes, marketing is treated as a mysterious art that nobody really understands. It’s true that it depends in part on luck, and that you can’t expect to win all the time, but this doesn’t mean that it can’t benefit from a grounded, practical approach. Stay practical, stay focused, and you can make your content marketing plan a success.