You’re back! Either you could relate to the “3 Content Marketing Mistakes Newbies Make” or you just want to hear about my failures. Hopefully, the answer is both! On a serious note, did you avoid some pitfalls? If you haven’t read it, go read part 1 of the marketing blunder series before continuing; it provides invaluable insight, especially if you’re just learning the “way” of content marketing. Oh, and pay close attention to the two choices you must make with your own content strategy.
Here’s a recap. If you want to deliver great content your audience cannot wait to digest, you must be able to fill in the blanks below. Can you?
#2: Your Content Lacks ___ and ___?
#3: Your Headlines Don’t ___ _ ___?
Hint: If you don’t know, look here
What’s your grade?
Recall when I told you I would document my marketing “wins” and “failures” during my rise from marketing newbie to the sage of content marketing? Well, I’m about to give you an example of my epic failure last week!
As we both are fully aware, we’re continually being exposed to the impact content marketing has on brand reputation. And when a blunder is ignored, here’s what happens:
I had been brimming with a gold medal smile up until I presented last week’s post to Kim – El Presidente of Genoo. Kim, in all her infinite content wisdom, pointed out that my blog was saturated with humorous quips, obscure references, and free associations that would only leave the reader dazed,confused, and just plain worn out! The EXACT opposite of what great content should do. Oops 🙁
What I was trying to do was cover up my nascent knowledge of content marketing by injecting superfluous jargon that added no real value to the reader but made me proud of my witty style. I had destroyed that bridge to building relationships and valued connections with my readers.
This message resonated with me all week and has inspired me to continue helping you and me avoid the blunders.
Here are 3 more blunders…ready?
Blunder #4: Your Content’s Part of the Problem, not the Solution
The lesson really hit home after I read a quote by Ryan Robinson’s, a content marketing strategist, “Hands down, the biggest mistake I see brand marketers make is not creating content with the selfless goal of genuinely helping their audience overcome a specific challenge,” Robinson says. “Create content that’s selfless and not overly self-promotional, and you’ll be rewarded many times over.”
Back in its day, the Magic 8 Ball delivered answers to many of our probing questions. Yes, it delivered answers but they were shallow and failed on specifics. I parallel this metaphor to the many marketers who pump out surface-level content [as I have] that doesn’t deliver personalized answers and provides little to no value to the reader.
Think of Google as the Magic 8 Ball 2.0 — it delivers links, pictures, and videos that answers any question and solves any problem you have at lightening speed. So knowing this powerful machine is where most people go for answers, you must feed it with fresh, relevant, and consistent content. Understand that readers aren’t interested in your marketing goals; they’re searching for answers that will assist in making their lives better, answer their questions, and solve their problems.
For instance, if someone is searching for how to deep-fry chicken and your article is laden with the dangers of preparing it and the health precautions of consuming it, then you haven’t answered their question. Sure, it’s great that you’ve explained the dangers and detailed the consequences of eating this unhealthy meal, but you haven’t answered the reader’s how-to question. The reader now has to search elsewhere for that answer, which means you probably lost a potential lead or the chance to build a relationship with this individual.
How do you improve the usefulness of your content? This requires getting into the heads of your users, identifying the questions they’re struggling to find and answering those questions. When this beautiful thing happens, you’ll begin building emotional connections with your audience.
STOP! Before going to blunder #5, check out the Quick Persona Worksheet to test whether you know what questions your perfect customers need answering. That’s if you haven’t already.
Blunder #5: Your Content is That Teacher who Never Hears the Bell
Before we dive into this blunder, look over the Content Pathways Guide [to your right] to help you understand what content message is needed at each stage of the buying process. It will serve as a guide so you can design content that will resonate with the consumer at each phase of their buying journey. Plus, you’ll be able to create a content-specific calls-to-action to promote a specific purchase and have the ability to send them a distinct offer specific that aligns with their intent.
Did the content pathways guide answer your burning question of when your content should teach and when it should sell? The answer depends on where the lead is in the buying process. The mistake marketers make with their content is that they’re always teaching because they have no idea what that lead has been doing.
You’ve got a responsibility to lead and guide. If You fail to provide guidance when your teaching, your leads will look to others who will mitigate their unsupervised thinking. The truth is that leads want to buy — you just need to know when they’re ready. How will you know this? Easy, through lead scoring. Some of you may be scrambling to set up activity tracking and lead scoring on your current email service provider (ESP) but are struggling to find it. You’re not missing it, it’s just not available on most ESPs because they are list-based services and cannot track behaviors beyond an open and a click.
I’ll give you an example of how lead scoring and activity tracking are connected:
Say you own an online outdoor gear company. Someone clicks through your email promoting stand-up paddle boards. While on your site, they read a blog [tracked] about what to look for when selecting a board and downloads an infographic [tracked] on how to choose the correct board for a newbie vs. experienced paddler. For each action a person takes, it is tracked and attributed a score to those specific actions [e.g., 1 pt for reading a blog; 2 pts for downloading an attractor, etc…]. This system gives you a crystal clear picture of where the person is in their buying process.
Now you’ll know that if they’re looking at comparison guides and pricing sheets – they are further down their buying process than if they’re searching for “what’s most important for a newbie paddle boarder or to understand about paddle boards?” Is it now clear the difference in content related to where the lead is at in the buying process?
Don’t get me wrong, the primary focus of content marketing is to gain a competitive edge by building trust and loyalty, creating value, and inspiring people with your passion through content. But at some point during the engagement phase, you must know when to transition your content from teacher to seller.
Still struggling to get into the mind of a content marketer? This insightful blog on Creating a Content Marketing Mindset should add some much-needed light
Blunder #6: Your Content Expires Faster Than Bagged Lettuce
I know you’re busy and spread thin at the office, so you push out content that is dated. But beware, if you employ this “send it and forget it” strategy, once again, Google will punish articles that are not maintained and readers will no longer value your opinion. Bad combo! The bulk of your content should be evergreen.
You need to be cognizant of what data is NOT evergreen, so you don’t incorporate it into any nurturing sequences that may run any time of the year or for years to come. People put out studies that were done at a particular time or push out content on seasonal products. For example, sending emails about kiteboards in the winter as opposed to summer. But that’s ok! Just be mindful of seasonal articles; they can be super helpful… just don’t use them in an evergreen strategy — unless you use them in the right season.
Content is always greener on the other side! And it all comes down to having “enough” evergreen content so you can use it in your nurturing sequences. So make sure it’s not all seasonal or news-jacked, etc. because that makes your content marketing tougher to maintain. Design your content so that it makes your marketing more efficient and “automatable.”
Evergreen content allows you to market to your customers and possibly increase revenue without having to spend more time and money on marketing content.
Last week, I sent out a survey asking marketers what their biggest marketing challenge is. The answers were both shocking and insightful. The TOP challenge is how to increase lead engagement… so ask yourself, how do you know whether a lead is engaged or not? Then go click here and tell me. Don’t worry, I’ll bring you right back 😉