Content marketing strategies, as well as the format content takes - webinar, e-book, blog post, infographic, case study, etc. - are variable. Similarly, the vehicles for distributing content are diverse.
But despite the various forms content marketing can take, successful content marketing campaigns all bear one thing in common: proper execution. Failed content marketing strategies often share a similar list of should haves. Here are six of the more common failures we see (and have made ourselves!)
1. Forgetting to Tie Back to a CTA - Planning a Call-to-Action (CTAs) is foundational to every marketing strategy, and yet surprisingly, it is often found to be completely missing. Pushing out random, one-off posts over different social media channels is not sufficient to fueling a successful campaign. Each type of content should be strategically developed, published and promoted with the intent of supporting a main lead generating piece of content. Every blog post, tweet and Facebook post should be planned out in advance with the idea being that they help guide visitors along a series of steps that arrive at the end goal - a conversion opportunity.
Example: Boss Billiards Company is looking to attract new customers and publishes a series of YouTube videos that relate to the game of pool. Rather than planning for videos that relate to and drive a common thread - like a series on maintenance tips for billiards equipment that can be used to promote a lead generating DIY guide for homeowners that own pool tables - they release a random set of unconnected videos that do not advance in a logical progression for the viewer. Viewers may enjoy one or two videos, but do not have an idea of what to do after they watch the video. If the calls-to-action are not clear and tightly related to the content, customers will often find no reason to continue engaging with the brand.
2. Focusing on Eye Candy When They Want Food for Thought - Not every piece of content needs to take the weight of a PhD dissertation or philosophical lecture, but good content needs to enlighten. By the end of the blog post, video or infographic, the audience should have learned something new or realize something that they didn't before. If that doesn't happen, then they will be less inclined to engage with your brand in the future. If your viewers can do a quick Google search and easily find the information you're presenting, then it will not be extremely effective. People engage companies and brands that offer exclusive information or special content that they cannot find anywhere else.
Example: Boss Billiards publishes a YouTube video series consisting of a product highlight reel showing off their new tables and nothing more. The product probably looks great, but if there isn't some additional aspect to the video past being just a sales video, the customer probably won't become engaged. However, videos explaining what materials are used to make the tables or information regarding how the table is built to proper pool table specifications, may garner interest from people looking to purchase billiards equipment.
3. Going All In On Lousy Odds - Failing to create a consistent flow of content happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is due to laziness or forgetfulness, but it can also stem from a desire to chase virality - that homerun video or blog post that attracts millions of views - which can result in marketers spending all of their efforts working on a single big project while neglecting to produce a steady stream of consistent content.
Chasing virality is a big gamble and can be likened to winning the lottery in the world of content marketing. Banking all of your time and resources on one piece of content - a longshot project - is never usually a sound strategy. The better strategy is to build up an engaged audience with regular high-quality content, and slowly work on big projects over a long period of time, allocating resources properly.
Example: Boss Billiards plans on releasing a 3-part comedy video mini-series about a young guy who buys a pool and becomes popular. The video campaign is being designed around the hope that if the mini-series is funny enough, it will entertain and attract a young crowd and go viral. The problem is, the mini-series is 10 times more expensive than any other video they've ever produced and will take eight times as long to put it together. In addition, their resources will be drained during production and they won't be able to create any other videos or content during that time. Unfortunately, the chance of the videos going viral is slim to none and as time passes, their audience loses interest and stops visiting their page because of inactivity in regards to their posting frequency.
4. If a Tree Falls in The Forest, But No One's There to Hear It - For most companies out there, the great content they publish won't get found if it's only posted on a company website or blog with little regard for how potential customers might discover its presence. If you haven't created a strategy for social media, SEO or other searchability factors, you're failing to diversify your methods of distribution. Writing an amazing blog post is only the first step in a longer battle that also includes planning a strategy for that blog post to be found online by your potential customers. Engaging, entertaining content that exists in a vacuum is useless if no one is seeing it.
Example: Boss Billiards has written several engaging blog posts about the upcoming World Billiards Championships, but doesn't share them across any social media channels and doesn't employ thoroughly researched SEO keywords or meta-tags. Though billiards players around the world care about this event and would love to read about it, the blog posts Boss has invested in writing won't serve a purpose or reach the eyes of billiards players because no one will ever be able to find it or even stumble upon it.
5. Over-highlighting Solutions While Ignoring the Problem - In order to convert site visitors or content viewers into customers, they'll need to be made aware of the problem your product solves. They need to feel that you're offering a product or service that they actually need. Without this understanding, it doesn't matter how informative or entertaining your content is, viewers will likely not engage your brand to the point of purchase. This is where good planning and salesmanship comes into play. Content marketing exists to draw people to a useful service, but they need to clearly understand why it is useful to them. A solution without a problem is useless. Sell the problem.
Example: Boss has a line of new, innovative pool cues to sell. These cues are expensive and will require careful promotion, so Boss releases a new video specifically pertaining to the cues. While the video offers details about why these cues are superior, they never sell the audience on the difference between these new cues and the standard versions. This creates a situation that makes it difficult for the customers to see the rationale behind spending more money for a different type of cue when the one's they already use are working just fine. A better strategy would be to promote how the new cues don't bend after prolonged use, unlike the older, standard cues, and how spending a bit more now can save money over the long term for regular billiards players.
6. Failure to Interact - Blog posts have comment sections for a reason. Social media is "social" for a reason. These channels offer the opportunity to interact with your audience. It is important to actively answer questions, address concerns, provide extra information, and demonstrate an approachable face to your business. Engage your customers, connect with them, people want to know that there are other people (and not robots!) behind the companies they do business with.
Example: Boss Billiards finally creates a Facebook page and gains a few hundred loyal followers. A Boss employee shares links to blog posts and other content on the page wall and there are followers who leave comments with questions about products and services, but Boss never responds to any of them. Customers become discouraged from leaving comments, unless they are negative, and slowly lose interest in visiting the page that appears to be auto-publishing content and doesn't seem to have a real person on the other side of the screen.
Mistakes will happen along the way as you undertake any new marketing strategy, but the mistakes listed above are the type that can be addressed and resolved quickly to avoid wasting time and harming your company's image.
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