These days, the words “content marketing” allow specific ideas to come to mind. You probably have a good idea of what other businesses are doing, and of what content marketing strategies you have been using. In fact, chances are you hear about it every day, as 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. More importantly, since this field is ever-changing, many content marketers have recognized the need to keep up, and so should you. During the second annual B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing this 2015, entitled That’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg If prioritizing content marketing for sales and following everyone else’s content marketing strategies were enough, you would be king of the hill right now. However, from all the groups that were studied by the CMI, manufacturing marketers had the most difficulty tracking ROI on their content marketing, and a mere 9% say that their content marketing has been useful. This probably makes you wonder if content marketing is worth such effort. But just because your content marketing hasn’t worked just yet doesn’t mean you should give up. Read up on these 12 Reasons Why Content Marketing Fails to Deliver on Brand Value: What Does Brand Value Have to Do with It? Whether you like it or not, generating content means storytelling. The larger story of all your content pieces says a lot about who your brand is and what you stand for. Take a look at Chipotle’s Scarecrow video. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE[/youtube] For video content, it’s slightly more melancholy than usual, but it effectively conveys brand values regarding nutrition, animal rights, and corporate ethics. It has also generated 13.5 million hits on YouTube and inspired its own gaming app. The problem with content marketing is that it often fosters a gap between the content produced and what good it brings to your brand. The Media Center at Forrester acknowledges that B2B marketers struggle to connect content marketing with business value. As such, their content production leads to the following problems: Failure to highlight how offered products or services can help people achieve success. Only 3% of marketers say that their content features case studies are a primary focus of their efforts. There are not enough forward-leading insights that lead to action. Among surveyed marketers, only 12% use publishing research as the focus of their content marketing, while none admitted to engaging external experts to validate ideas. There’s not enough focus on building relationships. Only 5% of the respondents frequently prioritize communicating to their consumer base, meaning most marketers focus on acquisition instead of brand loyalty in the long run. What’s Stopping You? Before you throw your hands up in exasperation, take a look at the nuts and bolts of your content marketing. For it to work, you must make sure that it is a well-oiled machine that has a clear purpose. Start building your brand through content marketing. #1. You Forgot that Content is Part of Branding No matter the kind of content you produce, make sure of one thing. It should reflect your brand positioning, how you communicate your brand message, and how you present brand experiences to target audiences. #2. Your Strategy Needs Some Serious Stepping Up A strategy is not a mere plan. It is a long-term investment for the content you produce. This is why it is important to use revenue-driven digital strategy. Unfortunately, the CMI, together with Marketing Profs, has discovered that only 66% of successful marketers use a document content strategy, while only 11% of the unsuccessful marketers used a documented content strategy. This is a mistake you should veer away from, for the following reasons: Knowing your Key Performance Indicators or KPIs and track them, you need to know which numbers matter — numbers like your shares, views, CTRs, traffic, and conversions. Strategy isn’t static. Whenever you realize that your strategy isn’t effective, consider changing it. Simply publishing content doesn’t mean you have a strategy. When you have a content marketing strategy, you can paint a bigger picture that consists of your brand, profit, revenue, and audience. Having a revenue-driven digital strategy means being able to pinpoint which decisions have proved futile. It ensures evolving as necessary and knowing what to do with it once you publish something—but more on that later. #3. You Need to Spend More on Your Content Marketing You can only reap the benefits if you’re willing to pay for them. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the most effective Content Marketers dedicate as much as 39% of their marketing budget on their content marketing, compared to the 16% that the least effective dedicate to their content marketing. To be cost-effective, there are some steps you need to follow: Scrutinize your content marketing efforts and spend more on those that generate the most ROI. Focus more on choosing a good content marketer than your content marketing. A good marketer would know where to put your marketing budget to generate your ROI as well as improving your tactics. #4. Your Content was a Parrot in a Previous Life There’s not much use in joining the content marketing game if your content is lousy to begin with, or if, indeed, you just settle for repeating yourself. And over the noise of 1.6 million blogs, 2 million videos, and 5 million images generated daily online as discovered by Contently, you stand no chance of being heard by repeating yourself. Awesome Content Needs to be Searchable Content Good SEO is essential to making your content great. For your content to be searchable, you need to make sure of two things, according to Wordstream: Your content should be easy to find from inside your site Your content should have high ranking from outside your site; it needs top ranking on Google search, for instance Awesome Content Needs to be Organized Content A site map would be extremely helpful for users to find specific pieces of content. An optimized information architecture also helps you become more searchable on Google. Make use of a left navigation menu so that users get an idea of where exactly they are as they navigate your site. #5. You’re being a Snob to Your Users The best way to encourage interaction among people online? Give them quality and user-friendly content. User experience is crucial these days, especially since many changes in the online landscape will affect the way you generate your content and how this content will reach your intended audience. To do this, you need to consider two things: one, the quality of your content and two, how you present it to users. For the first consideration, forget about purple prose and jargon. If your target market wanted fiction, they’d have stayed glued to their Kindles. Keep it simple, understandable, and light. Next, take a good, long look at how your business goals and purposes are conveyed by your content. Does your content really funnel the user path to your site? Study the way your content works on different channels. Oh, yes, that’s crucial. For instance, according to Hootsuite, Google’s new algorithm in 2014 will prioritize value-driven content rather than those that are merely promotional. Meanwhile, Facebook has implemented changes so that its News Feed will focus more on interesting content rather than promotional Page posts. Not only that, this is a demand that was made by Facebook users themselves. Moreover, a mobile-first strategy is necessary for reaching out to today’s audience. These days, users will become ever more dependent on their mobile phones. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Online Masters in Management Information Systems states that by this year alone, 1 billion smart phones will be sold—a number that is double that of PCs purchased. Just this 2015, in fact, 268 billion downloads are expected to occur via mobile. As a marketing manufacturer, you need to keep this in mind while working on your website. Make yours mobile-friendly with a responsive design. This will allow your developers to create a site that perfectly matches any screen size and configuration. #6. You’ve been Forgetting to Share User-Generated Content That’s right; some of your content has to be user-generated, too. This gives your brand a more human feel. When you let your audience tell a compelling story, it makes them feel cared for. UGC, or user-generated content lets them know that you listen to them. An emotional connection doesn’t just let the audience empathize, it also fosters deeper loyalty between a brand and its customers. Consumers are intelligent. They want a passionate brand that has a strong cause behind their name. For instance, Ban Bossy is geared toward allowing girls to be assertive without having to be labeled “bossy.” Their website has content that talks about the confidence gap in girls, and features the real-life story of young women who have left their mark on sports, science, and even politics. Their site also features tabs for users to take a look at their merchandise, which all of course, reinforce the passion and humanity behind Ban Bossy. By relying on UGC, your insights are not limited to industry leaders and their target market. Instead, you gain insights from real people. #7. Your Content doesn’t Call Anyone to Action Remember, you’re not in the classroom passively teaching information. Your content should be inspiring enough to encourage action. Focus your efforts on developing long-term relationships, not just short-term sales. You need to work on fuelling conversion. Content Plus has determined that content marketing is an integrated approach, the force behind successful online marketing, what with 70% of consumers who prefer to use content rather than ads in getting to know different brands. Trigger desired action by using powerful action words. To solve any tension points in your market and narrow demands from your audience, rely on your content so that users will focus on your brand. Use your content to communicate your value propositions. It’s a great way to build your credibility and attract not only potential but also loyal customers. This helps to build your brand through content marketing. #8. You’ve been Producing Unreportable Content It’s impossible to meet business goals with unreportable content. Let’s take a few steps back. Keep in mind that each piece of content should point to a particular goal. But goals sometimes overlap, which makes focusing on every piece you generate difficult. To learn if you are actually meeting your goals, consider reportable content. It’s much more difficult to measure how great your content is if it isn’t reportable. Besides, excellent content can only lead to more excellent content. Success can be repeated and failures avoided when you report your content. With reportable content, it becomes easier to track the following: Traffic Engagement Conversions #9. Your Content is Torture Sure, you might have great content, but readers won’t stay for it once they see huge chunks of text. Never underestimate the power of brief content that’s easy to scan. Use concise paragraphs. There are countless other things to catch the attention of your readers. If you make it difficult for them to find what they want to read about, you’ll lose them for sure. Know when to use content-embedded text links. Such links encourage users to read more content. Note, however, that when you have longer content, add text links relevant to the topic as necessary. Use less links with shorter content. You may want to use a bulleted list of text links at the top of your page. This eliminates the need for readers to scroll all the way down the page. Here’s an extra piece of advice: rewrite and reformat sentences with multiple commas. These will work better as a bullet on a clickable list. #10. You’re in a Pretty Tough Niche Your niche can be tough if you’re in an industry – Where people don’t usually go online That isn’t well known, mostly B2Bs That don’t easily go viral, such as welding or plumbing But that doesn’t mean everything you do on content marketing will fail. Make sure to list down the most effective kinds of content for your niche. Forget about copying what everyone else is doing. Find what works for you and keep strategizing. #11. You aren’t having fun Mary Poppins was right: In any job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Loosen up and add some humor to your content. After all, you need to engage your audience in a conversion, and branded content won’t engage anyone in the long run if it glares at consumers. Although each brand requires a different element of fun, here are some basic ways for you to start: Use fun examples – HubSpot advises the use of “unicorn examples.” Every once in a while, entertain your readers with a hypothetical situation—using unicorns. Let them imagine what the market for unicorns might be like every Christmas, or what kind of mane concerns these mythical creatures might need over the summer. A word of caution: the unicorn example will only work if it remains relevant to what you want to tell your readers. Make sure that you resort to this kind of example when you’re trying to relate to different personas, as it can level the playing field. Choose a meme and hijack it – A meme is any idea that goes viral on the internet. It mainly consists of an image and some text, but can also be hashtags, links, or puns. Memes, by nature, are engaging and funny. Try looking at a detailed blog post on the subject and try out some memes which you think are a perfect fit for your brand. Try Easter eggs – An Easter egg is “an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature.” Readers are drawn to content that has such clues because it lends the user experience a sense of exclusivity. This tactic also makes consumers feel clever whenever they discover an Easter egg on your content. A great example is the launch campaign for the return season of Arrested Development, in which microsite codes were created for the campaign. The show’s marketers basically concealed quotes from one of the show’s characters, Tobias Fünke in those codes. To maximize this tip, make sure that your Easter eggs not only add fun to your content, but actually enhance it. If it doesn’t call your audience to action in the long run, for example, it might be best to use it another time instead. #12. You don’t promote your content well enough It’s easy to believe that simply generating content will mean people will read it and the path to conversion is as easy as pie. Wake up from this dream! Content generation is only half the battle: Don’t forget the ‘marketing’ in content marketing! For every content you produce, consider the following: Email newsletter Marketing email that leads to a landing page Tweet and ask for retweets Try Google+ posting Post on Facebook Share it on LinkedIn Ask influencers in your industry to share it Ask bloggers and site owners to share your content Mention your brand’s content when you visit and comment other sites Ready, Set, Content! You may point out that it will take some time to avoid all these 12 reasons, but so long as you keep them in mind, you will be able to build your brand through content marketing. With a revenue-driven digital strategy and your own dedication to avoid such mistakes, conversion will soon become a reality. 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