2019 is upon us — so if you haven’t planned your content marketing budget, drop everything right now, and do that!
If you have, good news! This piece was composed to help you steer clear of 6 content marketing pitfalls you should absolutely avoid, outside of not having your budget planned.
Let’s start with two intriguing content marketing stats:
- “Almost 40% of B2B marketers are using content with no particular strategy.” [Source]
- “Content creation is the area of content marketing where there has been the most reported increase in spending over the last 12 months (56%).” [Source]
Kind of baffling, isn’t it? We spend more money in content creation now, yet around 40% of us are squandering that money away, aimlessly.
Related Article: How to Customize Your Content for Account-Based Marketing
Here are a few possible reasons why.
Pitfall Number 1: Writing Blog Posts Without SEO
Image credit – Hubspot
Without a proper SEO strategy that aligns with your brand, you aren’t fully leveraging the power of blogs.
In this day and age, we have quickly moved from optimizing for rankings to optimizing for discoverability. It’s really about understanding user intent, emotion, state of mind, extrapolation of thoughts, semantic connections, understanding entity-relationship models, etc.
It’s about figuring out what your users want, even when they don’t know that your business solution can be the answer to their prayers.
With so much competition and information overload, it’s essential to make your B2B blog stand apart.
From my experience, content marketers usually focus on branding and tone (which is absolutely critical), but SEO always comes second – which always has been the most significant missed opportunity.
There are plenty of great online resources to help beginners who are just getting started with SEO.
But in many cases, the same people within a company who are responsible for blog content (not to mention other types of content such as infographics, videos, webinars, etc.) are also responsible for other online digital activities.
In such instances, its hard to find the time to appropriately focus on blogs. If that’s the case for you, it could be useful to look into SEO strategists that have prior experience in your industry – especially with blogs. Preferably, look for a content marketing agency, or an agency that does SEO AND creates content.
After all, companies that blog twenty or more times in a month, experience the greatest amount of traffic and leads. Imagine how much you can grow, with SEO in consideration?
Writing blog content is a heavy investment, so it’s a shame for all that work to go to waste. Don’t neglect SEO, and if you need it, look for outside help. Ultimately, 57% of B2B marketers expressed that SEO generated most number of leads, than any other marketing channel.
Pitfall Number 2: Not Having a Documented Content Strategy
Image Credit: MarketingProfs.com
What is a “documented content strategy” you ask?
In plain terms, it’s a living and breathing document that highlights your content marketing goals, the efforts you’d have to make to achieve those goals, and how you’d measure the success or failure.
But that’s only a good documented content strategy. A great documented content strategy addresses the roadblocks and challenges your business faces that prevent you from being number 1 in your industry, and how you’d use content to overcome those challenges.
I know what you’re thinking: This sounds like meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
Honestly, you’re right! It does. But the only solution here is to get started on this ASAP.
Time is money!
Have a documented content strategy that adapts and evolves, just as your organization does. It’s as simple as that.
Pitfall Number 3: Not Having Personas
This could also be a part of your documented content strategy.
77% of the most successful B2B content marketers use personas to create valuable content.
It makes sense.
They’re directly communicating with their customers to gain a deeper understanding of their target audiences’ needs and wants.
Plus, personas help with more than just content. It creates a brand experience that is unique to your business’s solutions, and could event help you attract the right kind of talent for the job openings you have.
While creating your documented content strategy, create personas too. In this particular instance, involving your sales or customer support team might be beneficial – as they’d have firsthand knowledge on how customers/leads reach out to your business.
If you have personas, evaluate if they’re on par with your marketing goals – especially with respect to content. If you don’t, get moving, now! And remember: personas need to evolve too, as and when your organization does.
Pitfall 4: Ignoring Changes to SEO and Search Algorithms
Image Credit: Source
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of B2B marketers expressed that changes in SEO/search algorithms are one of their top content marketing concerns.
Can you blame them?
After all, Google and all prominent social media platforms are designed for their users, not for websites. Further, Google ranks pages, not websites (a fine distinction that many marketers often forget).
Consider this: Have you ever encountered a top Google search result, where the page you went to only had a paragraph written?
Yet, it ranked number 1. Do you know why?
Google felt that the page is the best candidate for answering the user’s query. So is it always about writing long blog pieces, fluff, and producing content for the sake of producing?
Always keep one eye peeled for significant changes to search behavior. Again, if you’re getting started there are some useful online resources like Search Engine Land and Moz where you can stay up to date on the latest changes. If you’re outsourcing your SEO to an agency they should be alerting you to any changes and the potential ramifications — as well as how it should influence your content creation, if at all.
Writing good content per se often isn’t the number one problem. The challenge often revolves around doing so without falling afoul of the latest SEO trends (if you’re paying attention to SEO at all!)
To thrive organically, you need to have an SEO strategy that bolsters your content performance; it’s as simple as that.
Pitfall 5: Ignoring Videos
We live in an “instant gratification” world. In other words, if there’s a problem, we need a solution NOW!
What’s more, people are increasingly depending on video tutorials. For example, studies have shown that 70% of millennials watch YouTube to learn to do something new.
Videos are the best way to demonstrate how to fix a problem. That’s because unlike textual content pieces, videos directly present an answer; however, this can be tricky in the B2B world. You may not be able to easily record your product and present to your clients.
You need to have a teaser and show what your products or services can do, as opposed to revealing the entire system or solution. Still, video could be your biggest converting asset. In fact, video marketers get 66% more qualified leads in a year!
Without a doubt, videos are the perfect medium to communicate what you have to offer. I mean, haven’t we all gone to see a movie because we liked the trailer we saw beforehand?
Here’s the kicker. Videos aren’t limited to your products. You can incorporate them in your blogs, conduct interviews, create webinars, join discussions, appear on television, share company culture, etc.
If you don’t know where to start, ask! Tell your marketing department to look into what video development looks like and see what your competitors are doing.
Look into the infrastructure you have in place that will support your video marketing efforts. Do you need to get a CDN, do you need to buy more servers? What can you do with LinkedIn, and Facebook? Is it time to hire outside services for videos?
Aren’t sure how to start with video marketing? That’s fine, start with questions!
Pitfall 6: Not Thinking About Client Journey & Engagement With Content
Remember what I said about “optimizing for discoverability…”? Let’s dive into that a little more.
Often the biggest problem with content is that the top dogs in the organization look at content as a direct sales channel. There is a huge lack of patience here in terms of the time it takes before content does anything.
The issue really originates from the fact that a single content piece that is produced is primarily evaluated against how much money it has made (and how quickly), versus how much engagement it generates.
Wait, isn’t sales the end goal here, you ask? Yes, it is, but you need to be subtle about it with content; you need to nurture the relationship you’ve built with your audience and convince them that what you’re saying is beneficial.
To generate revenue with content, engagement is key. That’s really the essence of content.
Will users convert if they don’t find your content useful? Will they play your video if they aren’t curious? Will they click on that internal link to your product page, from your blog post, if they aren’t piqued to learn more about what you have to offer?
Also, will Google continue to rank a page in its SERPS if no one clicks on it? Will it also continue to rank a page if users quickly bounce? Will it rank a page that takes 20 seconds to load?
Pay more credence to engagement and user experience with content as a measurement of performance. Keep track of what kind of content creates most opportunities, what kind doesn’t, and what you need to do to optimize engagement, address user needs, and become a trusted voice in your industry.
Being perceived as reputable, trustworthy, and an expert is an intangible benefit. Have you ever had to look into reputation management or review services?
Here’s a challenge: go to your tools and use whatever method you’re using to track content performance. I’ll bet that in most cases, the content that made money, performed well or generated leads would be the pieces that had engagements.
If your content has had engagements but isn’t contributing to leads, the problem then lies with mismatched user expectations, which in itself is another investigation to find out the disconnect.
Write content for discoverability, engagement, and knowledge nourishment. Become the go-to source for your clients and your prospects (before and after you close the deal).
Revenue will follow these tactics! Change your thinking on how you evaluate content performance and remember money comes second. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you will make more money if engagement comes first.
Content will be a very big piece of the marketing puzzle in 2019. Use it wisely, but more importantly, stay in the hunt for unique content opportunities. Experiment and try new tactics and create an identity.
Content is an investment that will reap benefits in the long run.
To end, I’d like to invoke Henry David Thoreau, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Don’t fall into the 40% of people who do content without a strategy. Realize and introspect what you’re really trying to accomplish with content and what value you want to create for your B2B organization – through content.