Content marketing is a valuable tool to spark interest and build relationships with an audience, but too many marketers develop digital content without a strategic plan in place. A staggering 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy.1 In an environment ripe with competition, you need a concentrated, focused, and strategic approach. When mapping your content marketing plan, you’ll want to avoid these five key mistakes.
1. Lack of purpose
Invest in content marketing because you have ideas to share, not just something to sell. Conventional marketing wisdom says that every piece of content needs an explicit call to action. I disagree. Every piece of content needs an explicit purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to encourage the audience to take action, and other times the purpose is to create awareness, generate a certain feeling, create buzz, or spark interest. Too often, brands are so busy trying to fill space in a blog, website, or newsletter that they forget their purpose. If you’re using content marketing just to create linkbacks to your site or fill an editorial calendar – stop! Take the time to deliver content that is fun, creative, informative, controversial, valuable, and most importantly, purposeful.
Marketing gurus claim all content needs an explicit call to action. Instead, give your content an explicit purpose.
Maintaining a consistent presence and consistent quality is key to a successful content marketing program. Set a rhythm and stick to it. Your content cadence will depend, among other things, on your creative resources, budget constraints, and business objectives. The key here is to establish a pace that you can maintain without falling into the aforementioned habit of cranking out mediocre content just to meet a deadline.
3. Ignoring a distribution plan
One way to quickly nullify your content marketing efforts is to ignore a distribution plan. Will anyone read or interact with your content? They won’t without an automation or distribution plan in place. What has sometimes been referred to as the digital marketing trinity is your email list, social media presence, and search engine rankings. These three elements are the basis of your distribution plan. Build your email list, grow your social following on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and earn higher search engine rankings by consistently delivering quality content that is optimized and shareable. Also, make sure that you support your strongest pieces of content, if not all your content, with adequate demand gen funding. That could come in many forms, including sponsored social posts, banner ads, and search engine marketing.
4. Forgetting your audience
If you’re consistently producing content with an effective distribution mechanism in place, you’re all set, right? Wrong. If you’re creating content without understanding your audience, you run the risk of doing more harm than good. It may be time to create or update your buyer personas and study your target audience. Spend some time mapping your customers’ journey and measure how your content fits into each stage of their buying process. This activity will help you measure your effectiveness, and may also uncover gaps in your content plan.
5. Ignoring Analytics
No one data point can determine if your program is working. You’ll need to develop a comprehensive array of KPIs and metrics that track consumption, shares, engagement, and lead generation. When you start thinking in terms of dollars and not just eyeballs, analytics become a lot more important. How are your consumers sharing your content with others? Are you reaching key influencers in your industry? How is your content driving revenue? You’ll also want to differentiate between metrics that indicate the quality of your core content (e.g. time spent on page), the quality of your demand gen content (e.g. click through rate), and those that could be influenced by both (e.g. social shares).
As content marketing continues to disrupt traditional marketing methods, it is imperative you routinely audit your program to ensure you’re not making these five mistakes. To truly differentiate your brand, you must consistently produce content that adds value and speaks to customers. Take full advantage of the digital marketing trinity, remain patient, and don’t overlook the importance of analytics. Content marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, but over time, real commitment can pay off.