There are so many businesses blogging but many would admit their activity isn't yet delivering as they'd hoped. Why is it that some businesses manage to attract a large, engaged audience where others don't?
1. I write a blog, therefore I am doing content marketing
The lack of a properly defined strategy is enough to demonstrate a businesses' lack of commitment to content marketing.
Without following a predefined plan (relating back to an overarching strategy) blogging is not really content marketing, it's content publishing.
A content marketing strategy should be well-documented and include things like:
- Goals and objectives (making sure they're measurable)
- Who you're targeting, what is the audience and target customer personas
- What stage in the buying process the content will target, bearing in mind 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
- What forms and formats will the content be produced in
- How the content will be promoted
Content marketing is more than just publishing blog posts.
2. I should use my content to promote my product or service
If you're using your blog or your social media channels to endlessly promote your business, products or services, stop that right now.
This blatant form of self-promotion will massively limit your ability to grow an engaged audience. Why?
- Your messages will become repetitive and boring, no matter how wide your product range or how many times you reword the same message
- You're not adding value. When you look at the top online influencers they all provide content that teaches their followers something new, gives them an insight into a world they've never seen or inspires them to try something through emulation. The key thing is that all of this is offered for FREE.
- It's not aspirational. Again, looking at those influencers with the huge audiences, they provide content that inspires, educates, tells a story or evokes emotion. It's that connection with your audience that is needed.
Promoting your business should be a secondary goal.
Your primary goal should be to use your knowledge to add value to your target audience.
Be prepared to give away your knowledge for free.
3. I'll get more customers by blogging
You can (and will) if you do it right, but it's not that cut-and-dry.
Content marketing requires commitment, patience and a blend of skill sets.
It's important to focus on a long term strategy of consistent content development whilst also testing and measuring your content's effectiveness.
Your content must be well-written. This simple formula from HubSpot is a handy starting point to ensure your blog posts are well-structured.
4. Content marketing is a campaign
A creative and snazzy marketing campaign (award-winning or otherwise) does not constitute content marketing.
Campaigns ultimately have an end date, whereas content marketing is an ongoing, long term iterative process.
Content marketing is not a campaign - it's an approach, a philosophy, and a business strategy. (Source: Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute).
Content marketing should be an ongoing approach of planning, creating, distributing and evaluating content.
5. Content marketing is for SEO
It's true that Google holds the cards to helping your content get found, however writing purely for search engines is another sure-fire way to limit your overall audience growth.
Writing without a true human audience in mind can lead to boring, poorly-written blogs that ultimately don't engage people (even if you do manage to rank well).
Producing great content that will resonate with your target audience and evoke a response such as a like or a share, will also mean you reap the benefits from search engines.
Because of course: Google loves backlinks.
But wait! Before you ditch your SEO efforts, carrying out keyword research and optimising your content is still an incredibly important part of your content marketing activity and should be included at the planning and briefing stages.
6. Content marketing is for brand awareness
This year, more than 90% of marketers are either increasing their content marketing budgets, or at least keeping them the same.
Plus, on average B2B marketers invest 28% of their total marketing budget in content marketing. (source: Content Marketing Institute, 2015).
With all that financial investment, content marketing cannot just be for raising brand awareness, it simply has to produce an ROI.
To attract customers through your content marketing efforts you'll need a clearly defined strategy (see above),
Here are a few other content marketing hacks for generating more interest in your content.
Brand awareness is one of a number of other benefits:
- Positions you or your business as a thought-leader
- Creates loyalty and trust among your audience
- Builds authority and credibility
- Can reduce overall marketing spend as it's cost-effective
- Can improve your search engine presence and rankings
It's easy to get into the routine of publishing blogs whilst not following an overall plan.
Pulling together a basic content marketing strategy doesn't need to be a hugely time-consuming job, even just understanding who you're targeting with each piece is a good start.
Then focus your time on compiling a content calendar to keep your content production on track.
With the right approach and commitment content marketing can and will deliver results.