Three Mistakes of Content Marketing Execution
Before we get to the list of mistakes people make when executing content marketing, let’s look to Wikipedia for a definition:
Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action.
There is a buzz about Content Marketing and with buzz comes a rush to experiment. We’re all for innovation, but we’ve been at this work since 2009, so we’d like to share some common mistakes. Things that we’ve seen in the market and insights we’ve gleaned from our client work, in the hopes that you will be able to avoid these pitfalls.
Fundamentally, content marketing is about changing your approach to the market. It’s not broadcast, and it is not about bombarding your audience. Content Marketing is not plastering your message everywhere. Instead, it’s a shift – from interrupting your audience with brute-force messaging to designing quality, aligned content and using targeting to deliver it to interested audiences in a manner that adds value, frequently when the audience is already in “content consumption mode”.
The primary reason for the spike in and focus on Content Marketing is the fact that brands now spend more money on digital marketing compared to traditional. (Wired wrote about offline newspaper ads earlier this year). Increasingly, effective advertising campaigns use content to fuel customer engagement and awareness about the product and brand messaging. Attention is a rare and precious commodity these days and Content Marketing is no easy task. If you don’t do it right, how your customers or potential customers view your product and brand can be damaged.
So without further ado, here are SMG’s top 3 common content marketing mistakes:
- Failing to Think Holistically about Content
Marketers with tunnel vision miss out on the significant Content Marketing integration opportunity. We see this all the time – from both agencies and our clients. Some all-too frequent scenarios:
- Content created in earned media activities (both mainstream media relations and influencer outreach) doesn’t get integrated into social network conversation calendars to be shared on Twitter or Facebook
- Content created in support of a promotion (e.g., a Flash game developed at not insignificant cost to the client) sits abandoned on a mini site once the mass media advertising stops running
- Marketers have two choices: either the branded content disappears from view, or the life of the content can be extended through integration and cross-promotion with other marketing initiatives.
- Promoting content that sucks
Readers won’t engage with content that doesn’t resonate with them. The mistake we see is marketers enamoured with content that the audience simply will not consume. For content to resonate and for readers to react it must educate or entertain, be novel or amusing. For the user to take action upon consuming content means that you’ve hooked their interest enough for them to spend more time on your site, sign up for your newsletter, share the article with their friends, or even give you a simple social gesture – a Like, +1 or Digg.
Your branded content needs to be in a shareable, consumable format, even more important that it not be overly promotional. Content leveraged in Content Marketing shouldn’t sound like a pitch or include a hard sell; it should add value and provide service to the audience. You can’t mask an ad as a blog post without most people thinking they have been duped. The worst thing for a brand to do is drive a user to content through an ad or link, only to serve overly promotional fluff pieces, present the user with a registration wall before they can consume the content, or present it in a format that doesn’t immediately hook them and reduce barriers to sharing. They won’t be engaged, and they won’t come back.
- Only Considering Bottom Line Results
We live by the mantra ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, but depending on the nature of your business and objectives of your campaign, not every online initiative can be directly tied to the bottom line. For example, there is tremendous value in awareness campaigns, but they are difficult to tie directly to sales offline or online.
That is not to say that Content Marketing isn’t measurable. Like all things digital it provides incredible opportunity to measure – SMG frequently tracks Content Marketing efforts through to conversion for our clients.
Here’s the rub – Content marketing typically reaches customers further up the marketing funnel, much closer to awareness than hard conversion. You are, after all hooking people with content. They may not be in the market for your product, but they are interested. This interest moves from passive to active through their actions once the content is consumed. Patience is required to determine the length and process for bringing leads in through Content Marketing channels and where they enter your funnel. Conversion is an achievable target, but the cycle is different – it means close collaboration with your analytics team, and requires integration with other marketing tactics.
Although instant purchase conversions do occur using Content Marketing, typically ROI on content engagement is more of a long tail process. It creates an immense amount of awareness – not just “impressions”, but real awareness – message consumption and depth of understanding, which brings customers to your channels where they can engage, interact, and eventually convert to a sale.
So that’s it, those are the three common mistakes we see with Content Marketing executions. It is an exciting area of digital marketing and one we believe is certainly here to stay.
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Find Out More!
- Content Marketing Webinar – Recording
- Content Marketing Whitepaper – Part 1
- Three Mistakes of Content Marketing Execution
- WOM Recommendation, Sharing and Influencers = Win for Marketers