It goes without saying that these are extraordinary times we’re living through. It’s very rare in life that something affects us at this scale on a global level, yet here we are.
How should brands be communicating at this point?
Creating brand content during a global pandemic is not on anyone’s résumé list of experiences. Brands now have to rethink their customers’ priorities to determine what’s worth communicating while balancing marketing goals with customer empathy.
This result has been businesses generating nearly identical messaging across site banners and emails. The content din makes it more difficult for audiences to discern one brand from the next.
Despite the challenges of adjusting your content marketing strategy for COVID-19, the guiding principles are the same. Here are some tips on common mistakes to avoid.
The Top 10 Mistakes of Content Marketing
1. No clear planning or strategy
Anyone can start a blog, but not just anyone can plan a marketing campaign. Content marketing is just as in need of planning, structuring, and a cohesive goal-oriented strategy as outbound or traditional marketing. Marketing is about creating and dispersing content, strategically, to get the attention of potential leads and persuade them to become customers. Without a plan, however, each individual piece of marketing is only a few images and words.
Your content marketing strategy won’t come together to create a conversion funnel unless you actually build a strategy. Once you have a strategy, document it. As many as 40% of respondents to a Content Marketing Institute (CMI) study reported that their business marketing plan was verbal only. Having a clear and defined content marketing strategy will not only help you create content but audit and set goals, improve content distribution and help evaluate and measure ROI.
2. Not knowing your customers
Your content marketing should be shaped by two things. The first is your brand and what you have to offer. The second is what your customers want to see and what they find persuasive.
Businesses often make the mistake of assuming they know their customers without actually taking in any data. You may know the business was formed and the purpose your product serves, but do you know what motivates your customers? Why have they chosen you over your competitors? What need are you actually fulfilling?
Knowing the answers to these questions and being able to create profiles of your key customers, will enable you to create compelling, data-driven content.
3. Managing SEO and social media in isolation
SEO and SEM are your means to get to the top of search engine results. Content marketing is a vital tool in your toolkit, creating a vehicle for keywords, link-building, and of course, sparking the interest of customers. Social media underpins your content marketing efforts.
Social media can leverage content marketing assets like blogs and videos, and with your business goals in mind, a well-planned marriage of your content marketing
and social media strategies can give back to you tenfold what you put in. Your social media campaign and your SEO strategy should absolutely be linked and working together, even if they also sometimes diverge.
4. No analytics or clear measurement framework
From the production of content through to placement and channel amplification, content marketing plans need to deliver clear results. But how do you know when your content marketing has been successful? How do you know which tactics are creating more conversions than others? How do you know if you’re getting your ROI on marketing spend?
The only way to know is to set up a clear measurement framework. If you can’t measure your success, then you also can’t optimise for better results. Every content marketing campaign needs analytics to determine what is working, what isn’t working, and how to get even more conversions by honing your tactics.
5. Producing less-than-useful content
Many brands mistake the need for quantity with a disregard for quality. The content you produce isn’t just to hold keywords or create clickbait. Whether it be to build
awareness or generate purchases, for your content marketing strategy to be effective, the types of content produced must be both satisfying and enticing. A click-bait article made of fluff isn’t worth anything if your readers click to another site immediately because they are bored or disappointed.
Low-quality content will cause you to shed leads as quickly as you gain them. Content that is not useful can be even worse. If a potential customer opens your content looking for insights and advice to find only common knowledge repeated on ten other blogs, they will lose interest in both the article and anything your brand has to offer.
6. Disregarding the impact of evergreen content
Evergreen content is happy, casual, and friendly content that doesn’t always relate directly to your product or services. Evergreen content might relate to lifestyle, casual advice, or interesting industry perspectives on current hot topics of discussion.
Evergreen content is often disregarded by “serious” brands because it is too casual and doesn’t relate to the products. But inbound marketing isn’t about purely writing about your products. It’s about getting customer attention and encouraging them to take action. When people are preparing to buy, they search for tangential topics and friendly advice, like the right socks for their soon-to-be-purchased shoes.
The evergreen content in your blog and social media is the gateway; to getting attention, providing useful information, and building a positive rapport with future customers by writing on topics that interest your audience and tangentially relate to your industry.
7. Failing to be an expert
The experts in your business are your greatest assets for content marketing. In addition to evergreen content, in-depth and insightful content from people who are experts in their fields is in high demand. Both in B2B and B2C markets, audiences love the insider and behind-the-scenes know-how of a real expert.
So many brands let their marketers develop content from a marketing perspective, but don’t waste the power of your own in-house expertise! Have your marketers interview your engineers, your lab techs, and your top experts. Bring that expertise into your content strategy and show off what your business really has to offer.
8. Being too promotional
Just as businesses often mistake content as a vehicle for SEO, they often mistake content marketing as a vehicle for promoting their products and their products alone. Marketing has evolved. It is no longer defined by ads and promotions to sell products and services.
These tactics are very goal-oriented but have lost sight of modern customers. Customers want brands to understand their needs and help solve their problems. By empathising with their customers, marketers can cut through the noise and prioritise activities that will deliver real value both to the customer and to the business. Empathy can also help you mobilise an army of brand advocates to help expand your marketing reach exponentially. By supporting your customers, you can dig into, ‘How and where can we be of assistance?’. The difference between helping and selling is just two letters.
9. Not investing in media to support content campaigns
Amplification is the magic sauce – it doesn’t matter how good the content is, it needs to find its way to the right people, at the right time, on their preferred channel.
Support your content with media spend.
Content amplification can take many forms depending on who you’re aiming to reach and why. Just one of the ways in which we amplify content at maxemus is via social media marketing. However, our toolbox is over-flowing and, if the strategy dictates, we will engage any number of social marketing tools to amplify your content, including native content amplification, influencer marketing, blogger partnerships, brand partnerships, content sponsorships, email marketing and guest posting.
10. Failing to test content formats
Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in a content rut. If you’ve found yourself publishing the same five rephrased blog articles or only publishing photos with captions in your social media, you are missing opportunities to generate more leads and sales. Experiment with different content formats.
Try your hand at infographics; a perennial format, the best infographics are in high demand. Try making a video, or translating data you surveyed or researched into new, easy-to-understand charts. Even rearranging how you format a text article into sections, using engaging images, and bullet lists can have a positive psychological impact on readers.
Creating and promoting quality content can take time, and experience is needed to achieve reliable results. Acquiring all the necessary software to track a content strategy can get expensive. By working with a content marketing agency, businesses can outsource the effort and reduce costs.
Ready to build measurable, predictable and reliable growth?
It’s hard to know which marketing initiatives and channels are contributing to the bottom line. We can help make sense of your data and develop strategies to increase your online visibility and return on marketing.