Are you Content with your Content? 5 ways to fail in content marketing*

Yogi Berra famously said about a popular nightspot, “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Berra might have said something similar about the state of content marketing today –no one reads it anymore, it’s too popular.

There’s truth to that. Everyone is jumping on the content marketing bandwagon and creating more and more of it. As Yannick Bollore said in regards to Havas’ “Meaningful Brands” study, “every day 500 million tweets, 4.3 billion Facebook messages and 500 million hours of YouTube footage are sent, posted and uploaded”. And 77% of marketers plan to create even more this year than last.

There are obvious, and relevant, reasons for the growth in content marketing. Traditional marketing is declining in its influence among today’s opt-in consumers. Ad fraud, ad blocking and viewability concerns make display advertising suspect. Content marketing can cost significantly less than other forms of paid media. And, for a while, anyway, a brand that developed and owned great content could create direct engagements with its consumers – without paying intermediaries.

But the problem with content, when everyone is doing it, is that it gets more cluttered every day. The growth in Content marketing and the glut of content published has made it nigh impossible to get found, seen, read or viewed. This is what Mark Schaeffer of marketing blog “Grow” calls Content Shock. And because of this, so many marketers are not generating any benefit from their content marketing.

In this environment, it’s easy to get it wrong. Here are 5 major reasons your content fails:

  1. You don’t bother with a content strategy. It shocks me that only 35% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, according to Content Marketing Institute. “We need to be on Facebook” is not a strategy. Nor is “our competitors are blogging”. And “Let’s do a funny viral video” isn’t either. Your brand’s content is only a means to an end, not the end in itself. Know why you are producing it, and what you want to occur because of it. Have specific strategies for each platform. And the consistency and focus driven by a documented strategy will be critical to your growth.
  2. You aren’t maniacal about your reader’s needs, desires or behaviors. It also amazes me how many brands create content that’s more focused on themselves than on their prospects. Brands on Twitter or Facebook acting like millennials instead of the B2B customer they’re seeking. Or behaving in a way that flies in the face of the type of thought-leadership their industry would spark to. Instead, be slavish to understanding those you seek to connect with – what are their needs? What else do they read, do, like? What are the key challenges in their category? And what do you want them to do once they’ve engaged?
  3. You think quantity is more important than quality. There’s some truth to the fact that consistency, persistence and increasing the volume of your content helps grow engagement. But brands are much more well-served with fewer, higher quality pieces of content than content-for-content’s sake posts. As Eric Wendt at Brafton says, “do you want your website visitors to associate your blog with substantive, in-depth posts or a barrage of shallow content with keywords haphazardly stuffed in?”
  1. You believe that if you build it, they will come. This may have been true years ago. But today, a distribution plan is as important as a creation plan. Quality content simply pushed out on social platforms and owned channels has little chance of getting the attention and subsequent distribution necessary to drive results. So marketers need a coordinated distribution strategy including owned, earned, and paid (yes, paid) media that’s tailored to the audience and customized to their goals and objectives.
  1. They aren’t measure and optimizing. If anyone still says you can’t measure the success of content marketing, they’re wrong. Just like any marketing activity, if you can’t identify if and what is working or not, what’s the use of doing it? Of course, what you measure and optimize against will depend on what your objectives are – website visits, shares, leads, etc. So by all means, set objectives, measure and learn. Constantly.

Today’s content marketing landscape is challenging. So avoid these fails to find more content-ment with your content plan.

*Originally published in MediaPost’s Marketing Daily, 2.14.17

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