You’ve waited the requisite amount of time, but your content marketing efforts aren’t generating leads, let alone sales. But you know that it should be; you’ve seen the stats that indicate that it’s a good idea. So why are you getting little or no results? Well, it could be that you’re making mistakes that are sabotaging your goals. Below are four of the most common errors as well as suggestions for turning things around:
1. You’re selling instead of informing
A director of data governance once had an extremely negative reaction when I mentioned white papers as a source of information. It turned out that the majority of white papers he’d come across had promised useful information in their titles but had turned out to be blatant promotions of a product or service. Each time it happened, he felt tricked and frustrated. Now, he pretty much saw white papers as useless.
Note: The good news is that director is still in the minority. DemandGen Report’s 2019 Content Preferences Survey found that 56% of respondents saw white papers as valuable resources for the early stage of the buying journey. But it was a reminder that content marketing misdeeds can cause real problems for the rest of us.
In content marketing that’s not supposed to be about your specific products and services, (e.g., industry-focused white papers), you can still point out benefits of your type of product or service. E.g., If your offering automates a task or process, you can describe, in general terms, how that type of automation facilitates work flow. And if the piece is going to be used near the end of the purchase path, you can consider including a link to content that explicitly discusses how your particular product accomplishes the task.
2. You don’t have a plan/strategy
According to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 25% of B2B marketers don’t have a content strategy. If you haven’t taken the time to create a plan, your content efforts are much more likely to be haphazard. That’s because you’re much more likely to have only a vague idea of what you’re trying to achieve. And that makes it hard to know what working, what needs tweaking, or even what you really should be creating.
Write down your strategy. You’ve probably heard that writing down goals makes it more likely that you’ll achieve them. That principle holds true for your content marketing; documenting it will give you clarity, focus, and (hopefully) motivation. If you haven’t done this, the Content Marketing Institute can walk you through the process with their “A Simple Approach to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy” blog post.
3. You’re not promoting your content
While your content promotes your expertise, product, or service, you need to promote the content. In this world of information overload, taking a “build it and they will come” approach will just result in very few prospects ever seeing your content.
With all the online options available nowadays, you have an abundance of opportunities for content promotion. Identify the social media platforms and other online venues where you can find your prospects and customers and then adopt tactics such as those in Neil Patel’s blog post “17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content.”
4. You’re using jargon that confuses your audience
At the Techwell blog, software tester Justin Rohrman wrote about commonly-used phrases in the field having different meanings for different people. Many technology-oriented companies develop an internal language that differs from what others would use to describe particular processes, products, or concepts.
So double check that you aren’t using terms that will confuse your organization’s external audiences when you’re developing content for them (or indeed communicating with them in any way). Otherwise, that language confusion can cause them to doubt your expertise or just frustrate them.
If you want to use a term that you’ve developed internally, you’re going to have to spend time explaining it to your target market. For example, in the early 2000s, Leslie Eicher of Eicher Communications and Charlotte Andrist of Nickel Communications coined the term “Collaborative Classroom System” for a global interactive education vendor. Then they devised a program to position the vendor with regard to that term.
If you’ve found that any of these four are indeed sabotaging your content marketing efforts, then the good news is that you now know what to do to fix things! Get to fixing the mistake, and I wish you great content marketing ROI!