If businesses are ever to be successful with content, they will need to learn that it requires more than just showing up.
Like most things in life and in business, if you don’t have a vision for success and you don’t fully commit to it, you’re likely to fail in the long run. A good example of that would be exercise. You might buy a gym membership or hire a personal trainer but if you want to lose weight you’ll still have to workout, nobody can do that for you.
What? wait a second, are you telling me I bought this amazing active wear and expensive gym membership and I still have to work out? Sorry to break it to you.
You might think your business is boring but truth be told, most businesses have something to offer the world. They have important experience, expertise and insights within their industry and the answers to many questions. Unfortunately, when online marketeers told you ‘content was king’ and gave you a license to share, most businesses chose to share crap.
So let’s talk about the 11 reasons why your content will never be read.
You Ignored SEO – Contents Most Valuable Channel
Without content, it’s incredibly hard to earn the types of links that will confer domain authority & rankings in search engines – Rand Fishkin
Believe it or not a percentage of those 6 billion searches in Google, shown above, are your potential customers, people who are begging to find products just like the ones you’re selling.
You have the ability using your experience, expertise and insights within your industry to create relevant content that pulls your ideal customers towards your brand. Every customer searches in a unique way and while you think they mind find your website using “plumber Melbourne” they might actually find you searching for “how to detect water leaks?”.
Search is critical because it’s for people who are in “do things mode” rather than “browse things mode”. They are searching with a purpose.
What you don’t want to do is create content for the sole purpose of ranking in search engines, over optimised keyword heavy crap that sounds like gibberish. Create content that is informative, valuable and relevant to your target customer and ensure that first and foremost you’re writing for the reader.
Secondly do some keyword research or use predictive search to highlight the terms people are using and optimise your content as a final step.
As Rand Fishkin describes it “SEO is like the rising tide that lifts the SEO ships” and by that he means that with each link you receive to your content it benefits every other piece of content on that domain too.
You Invested in Content Creation, But Not Amplification
Content marketing not about convert 1st visit, only foolish humans think it work like that – Rand Fishkin
Don’t fall into the trap of investing in content and then forgot about promotion. Good enough content can be promoted successfully if there is an existing audience in place, but it most cases businesses are trying to build from scratch. If you’re content marketing is failing to have an impact it might be because you’re not promoting it effectively.
Many companies implement one of the three forms of content amplification forms but often fail to define a strategy which ultimately generates results.
Broadcasting covers areas like email marketing, social media or promotion at business events and conferences. It’s typically the action you take when you’ve created a new form of content and want to promote it to your audience.
It’s often the form of marketing that fades the fastest too each piece of content typically has a limited time span as the noise of new content arrives. Content can be broadcast more than once as long as it’s not repetitive.
1:1 covers areas like in person, direct social contact and outreach. This is an area of amplification that can be very affective when identifying influencers who will promote or link to your content. Although effective it is a technique in itself and you’ll need to master the art of persuasion and building relationships. This is a form of amplification that doesn’t scale well so expect it to be very time heavy on you or your staff.
Paid amplification covers sponsored articles, remarketing, pay-per-click campaigns and more. With the growth of online marketing there are many niche specific or business focused websites that provide a plethora of paid amplification options.
We discuss more on paid amplification methods in targeting customers in different stages of the buying life-cycle.
You Promoted Content in A Form That Wasn’t Native To The Platform
“No one would ever think it was a good idea to use a print ad for a television commercial, or confuse a banner ad for a radio spot. Like their traditional media platform cousins, every social media platform has its own language.” ? Gary Vaynerchuk
I’m a big fan of repurposing content and Gary does it very well too. To be honest most small businesses can’t grasp the importance of written content, like your blog, let alone creating content native to a platform. The problem with written content, although great for SEO, is that it often can’t compete with the noise of the more entertaining and visual content on social platforms.
Understanding that each platform has its own language is the key to successful content marketing. Facebook visitors for example are in “entertain mode” therefore posting a written article about “how to fix a leaking tap” is little bit like forcing someone to watch grass grow knowing full well you’re in the middle of the worst drought on record.
Remember you’re competing with videos of animals doing incredibly cute things, do you really think you can compete with that?
Gary says it well, if you get the native language wrong it’s like using a print ad for a television commercial. It’s like going on YouTube and narrating your last blog post.
You Didn’t Define The Audience That You’re Trying To Attract
Everyone is not your customer – Seth Godin
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to appeal to everyone. I often ask businesses who their ideal audience is, only to be told it’s everyone.
You need to establish a crystal-clear picture of your ideal audience. Understand what their problem is, how they feel about it and what they currently do to try and solve it. When you understand that you also gain better insight on how to serve them.
Let’s say for example that you’re a plumber and you create content on “how to fix a leaking tap”. Throughout the video you show potential customers exactly how to fix it, which products you use and more. This type of content isn’t serving your business well if the aim is increase the number of customers that want you to do it for them.
It’s a little bit like Golf, your aim is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest shots possible. If you’re aim is bad then you might not get on the green and even worse, you’ll have a very poor score. If you keep hitting holes in one, because your aim is perfect, you’ve got a much better chance to win the game.
You Want to Sell To An Audience Rather Than Build One
“There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
In his recent book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk tells marketers and businesses what boxing can teach them about marketing. The book highlights that most marketers develop social media strategies around delivering a massive “right hook”— by that he means going straight for the sale or conversion. However, in reality it is the series of smaller ‘jabs’ leading up to the right hook that are often more important.
Marketing should look more like “Value, Value, Value, Sale”.
A good example of this is when you visit Facebook. In most cases we visit Facebook to find out what our friends or family are doing or because we want to waste time and be entertained. More often that not we’re not in “buying mode” we’re in “show me something interesting mode”. If you content marketing strategy is built on the premise of “buy, buy, buy” then it simply comes across as spam and your engagement will be low.
Content marketing is about providing continuous value to your audience, the jabs, while building trust and developing preference so when your audience is ready to buy they buy from you (the right hook).
You Think Your Content Kicks Ass When In Reality It Sucks
Insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results – Albert Einstein
To be totally honest most businesses are struggling with content – big time.
I often speak with businesses that feel hard done by, like the internet owes them something. You’re more worried about the lack of vanity metrics, such as rankings and Likes, you received than the actual content itself that you’ve been using to earn them. I feel like a broken record but it’s so true. The majority of content put out from businesses is so self-serving and boring there is no reason why anybody would want to engage with it.
If you want to make an impact on your rankings, your engagement or your social shares then stop producing crap content. It’s simple, just don’t expect change to happen overnight.
Here is something all businesses hate to hear, you need to start out by serving the needs and desires of your target customers and focusing on nothing else but value packed content. In other words focus on continuous jabbing don’t try to sell anything at first.
Secondly, business owners are stubborn. They don’t take criticism well, especially when it involves creativity and their desire to keep their personality on show. Customers don’t care if you like pink buttons more than green, they care about how your business can serve their needs.
Don’t lie to yourself. Acknolwedge that your content is sub-par.
Use tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs and Buzzsumo to research topics that are gaining a large number of social shares. Find out what ranks well on search terms such as frequently asked question, creat econtent that answers those questions better.
It’s a little like being a musician. How many musicians have you heard speak harshly of the music industry and how they never made it? In reality however it’s less to do with the opportunity and more to do with the fact that nobody liked their music.
You Don’t Have A Strategy For Your Content Marketing
Failing to plan is planning to fail – Anonymous
Every business should have a strategy for their content. Content strategy concerns itself with the vision—the ins and outs of how and why your content will be created. It might also discuss the type of content you’ll create and the frequency of such content.
Again, it’s a lot like hiring a personal trainer. The personal training will tell you whether today is an arm day or a leg day and provide guidance for the level of weights and repetitions you need to do in order to achieve your goals.
A personal trainer can’t work out for you, it’s up to you to follow the program and ensure you execute.
Content is the same, know what you want and set yourself a goal of X pieces of content per week. If you can only do one piece then do one, if you can do five pieces even better – just don’t compromise on quality. When you’re crystal clear on your strategy it simply comes down to execution and patience.
Your Industry And Level Of Competition Is Sky High
If you continuously compete with others you become bitter. If you compete with yourself you become better – Anonymous
Occasionally you’ll run into an industry or niche when the competition is literally sky-high, online marketing is a good example of that. You might also be up against the Goliath of competitors who has more man power and more money than you do, so what do you do?
Firstly, don’t back down.
Out of the 6 billion searches that occur each day there is always an opportunity for you to gain exposure. If you’re in this situation then you should be focused on quality versus quantity. Don’t try to out work them when they have bigger budgets and bigger teams but instead you need to work smarter.
Brian Dean defines a strategy called the Skyscraper technique. He outlines three simple steps:
- Find link-worthy content
- Make something even better
- Reach out to the right people
Firstly, regardless of what content is already available each and every one of us has an opportunity to improve on something and make it even better.
Secondly, if you’re competition is tough then focus more on outreach and amplification. Create best available content that is relevant to your audience is like having bait when you go fishing. The more influencers you can find that are happy to share and link to your content the more visibility your brand and content will have.
You Don’t Track The Performance Of Your Content
If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business – Marcus Lemonis
One of the many reasons why businesses give up on content marketing is because they have no idea whether it’s doing anything.
Using Google Analytics Goals you can configure the goals that you want visitors to take. For example it might be to:
- Enquire with your business
- Join the mailing list
- Buy your products
- Comment on the article
In order to filter this more easily you’ll also need a trackable page path such as domain.com/blog/ so that you can easily filter your analytics down to blog posts only, you could even create a custom dashboard.
You can also use other metrics such as avg session duration, pages per session, bounce rate and many other metrics to understand whether visitors are engaging with your content.
John Romaine from SEO Point has an excellent guide on how How to Track the Performance of Your Blog Using Custom Dashboards
You Focused On Quantity Over Quality
Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles – Steve Jobs
It’s so easy to go onto Fiverr and find and outsource your content, you could get a 400 word article for your website for just $5 bucks. For $500 you could get as many as 100 articles for your website. Sounds good in theory?
There are two problems with this scenario:
a) If you aren’t writing your content then who is?
Do you they have the experience, expertise and insights within your industry to create value for your audience. If it isn’t valuable you’re wasting your time. Are they native speakers of your language and does the content make sense?
I can’t tell you how many business articles I’ve read that literally sound like gibberish, if you’re too lazy to write it then at least have the decency to proof read it for gods sake.
b) Quantity and restrictions
If you take the quantity approach it means that you’ll be producing a much larger amount. Like anything you only have so much time, so in order to produce more you need to spend less time on each or have a bigger budget to build a team. If you want to be competitive you need to be comprehensive in your approach, this is almost impossible to do when you place restrictions on the type of content you produce.
400 words articles are a restriction your competitors don’t have.
Set yourself standards with your content in the same way you set standards for the quality of your products and services.
You Lacked Consistency and Gave Up Too Easily
I find that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have – Thomas Jefferson
I see this all the time — people get excited, start to create some content — then a few months later, they just stop.
It’s like trying to build abs on your body, you exercise for a week before giving up because you don’t have results. If you want something bad enough, guess what? You’re going to have to work bloody hard for it.
Content marketing isn’t easy either, anybody that tells you that is lying. Each individual and brand is better and different forms. For example some people are introverts and lack confidence in front of a camera and others failed English and can’t write to save themselves.
Find your strengths and like anything in life you need to practice to become great at something. Writing and developing content is no different.