The latest buzz word in online marketing is “content marketing”. I’m seeing it pop up as a new service from companies ranging from SEO firms to printing firms and everything in between. In short, content marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses creating some sort of content and publishing and/or distributing it, most commonly on the internet.
While content marketing sounds easy, it definitely isn’t, and here’s our top 5 reasons why your content marketing strategy probably isn’t working, and more importantly tips on how you can get it on the right path.
The Content Isn’t Authoritative
As a business owner who also maintains our company blog, I understand how easy it is to push blog writing to the back burner or to try and push the blog writing off to an online marketing company (like us) or a freelance writer. There’s one problem with that: the content will never be of the same quality nor will it be as authoritative as if it came directly from you.
The reason people read content is to gain information, and if the content isn’t authoritative then it’s going to fail to achieve it’s main purposes of:
- Educating a prospect
- Proving your knowledge for your subject matter
- Furthering that prospect in the sales cycle
Think about it this way: We have a client who is an electrician. While I could easily change out a ceiling fan or swap out an electrical outlet and could probably write an article about it, I certainly couldn’t write an article outlining the top mistakes homeowners make with their electrical system or write about ways to fix major electrical issues.
Basic information is available everywhere on the internet, what a site visitor or prospect really wants to see in your content is that you are authoritative. If I wrote an article saying you need a good website to do well online, I wouldn’t be impressing anyone. But when I write an article about the 25 elements that make a high quality website, it gets shared socially, attracts natural links, and it even landed us a new client who was impressed at our detailed approach to building websites.
The bottom line is content should come from the horse’s mouth in order to establish authority in your niche. Once you’ve established yourself as an authority, you’ll be well rewarded for the time that went into producing all that fantastic content.
The Content Isn’t Being Distributed
Writing an article and posting it on your blog is fantastic, it’s way more than what most business owners do. But the problem is you’re only going to get attention from people who already visit your website and go to your blog, which likely isn’t as many people as you would like it to be. This is where content distribution comes in.
Most small business owners and even many online marketing firms don’t properly distribute content. When we work with a client, there’s a variety of different ways we help them distribute content, ranging from automated processes like automated social postings, RSS feed readers, and syndication sites as well as manual methods like newsletters, manual link building, press releases, and content outreach.
A good content marketing strategy is exactly that — marketing — not just writing content. That content, no matter how great it is, needs to be properly distributed for it to gain any traction and recognition. And at the end of the day, we’re all writing content and keeping our sites updated to attract new eyes and increase our brand awareness.
The Content Isn’t Optimized For Search Engines
This is probably the #1 pitfall for DIY content marketers as well as firms that are now offering “content marketing” because it’s the latest buzz term. Search engines will always play an integral part in a content marketing strategy.
Here’s a snapshot from last month for a client who is working on a content marketing based online marketing campaign with us, and as you can see well over 60% of their site traffic is coming from search engines. This is because we’ve properly researched and optimized every piece of content they produce to make sure it drives organic traffic to their site.
Many content marketers write about anything under the sun and don’t research it first. When we work with a client on a content marketing campaign, the first step is always extensive research to identify topics that can be blogged about with a moderate level of search activity but a low level of competition. This long tail keyword approach to content marketing allows us to write about great topics yet at the same time get the maximum organic value out of our articles.
You Aren’t Producing The Right Content
Large companies spend millions of dollars a year on researching who their target audience is and trying to craft the right message and content to properly reach that audience. While this works great for large corporations with deep pockets, it isn’t ideal for small to medium sized businesses.
Perhaps the number one element that allows us to level the playing field is a blog. With a blog, a business can inexpensively produce a wide variety of content, with different messages appealing to different audiences. Then, using a variety of tools available to online marketers, we can track the engagement with that content, visits, page behavior, and other elements to determine what type of content works best at achieving your goal with your target audience.
Another advantage of a blog is you can actually target different audiences by writing content geared towards different groups and segregating it into different sections of your website. For example we recently helped LowCards.com with better distributing their blog posts based on category, and were able to break up their daily postings into several sub-categories to help target different audiences for different purposes:
You Aren’t Using An Email List
This is one that we’re guilty of up until recently, but not using an opt in email list to promote your content is an enormous mistake that could be costing you an enormous amount of traffic.
It’s important to collect the email addresses of as many people who come to your site as possible. Why? Because the reality is even the best designed websites have only 20-30% of their visitors return time and time again (with the exception of household names). An email list allows you to capture the other 70-80% of people who would likely never come back to your website and keep in touch with them via email.
We’ve seen email newsletters improve return visitor percentages dramatically, and they can even lead to referrals, forwarded emails, and other ways of attracting attention to your site.
So there you have it, the 5 top reasons why your content marketing strategy isn’t working along with tips on how to get it on the right track. At the end of the day, working with a content marketing expert will help ensure all these tips and more are consistently followed in your strategy to help build your company’s brand and website traffic through content marketing.