If we learned anything from 2015, it is content marketing is stronger than ever. According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Report, 76% of marketers have stated their organization will produce more content in 2016 than they had the year prior.
Over the past few years, organizations have begun to see the impact content marketing can have on their business and have moved to strategies built more on storytelling than direct selling. While some companies have embraced this movement with ingenuity and creativity, there are still many who struggle to create compelling content.
Personally, I read a lot of content. I tend to be what I affectionately refer to as a “white paper hoarder.” The marketing industry is continually changing and as the Senior Marketing Manager for gShift, part of my job is staying on top of trends. I will download and read ALL THE THINGS produced by leading authorities in the digital marketing space. I have consumed incredible content… and I have consumed content, which left me wondering if any strategy went into it at all.
Using my own experience and with insight from the very wise people on our digital services team, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid with your 2016 content marketing strategy.
1. Never, Ever Create Stranded Content
In a rush to create more and more content, many marketers can find themselves with a lack of proper strategy and thought around each piece. This all too often results in a piece of stranded content, which lacks any internal linking to drive the reader deeper into your other content or website.
Any piece of content you craft should always contain an anchor to at least one other piece within your web presence. This doesn’t mean each blog post has to be part of a major campaign, but there should be a call to action or link to another piece of related content, product or service.
To combat stranded content, brainstorm and develop a conversion path around any content outlined in your current calendar. Ask yourself, after the user has read this piece, where would you like them to go next? One you have the path established, find creative and inviting ways to embed links to those other destinations. This can be done with a simple hyperlink, an image or a call-to-action button or banner.
Seriously though, you should download our Mastering SmartURLs Guide. It will help you avoid pitfall number 3.
2. More Content Does Not Equal Good Content
This statement has the entire marketing world sounding like a broken record. We all know quality trumps quantity when it comes to content marketing. Yet, we still have hoards of marketers producing a high volume of content for the sake of creating content.
My fellow marketers; let’s make a collective resolution. Let’s make 2016 the year when we actually stick to the quality over quantity rule and only create content with purpose.
Marketers 2016 Resolution: This year we stick to quality over quantity rule & only create #content with purpose. Tweet this.
Define the tone and voice you want to have as a public company and be as true to it as you can be. Try to identify the 2-3 areas of your industry you want to gain authority on and primarily create content speaking to these areas.
I know this can be easier said than done. Sometimes content is created to support a specific product without adding value to the audience. Sometimes content is created to meet the demands of various departments of the company. There are many situations, which can leave marketers creating content they do not fully believe in.
At the end of the day, it comes down to creating content to add value to whichever audience it is intended for. Therefore, don’t feel dismayed about having to create content clearly based on selling for your Sales department. This content is necessary, but for your Sales department to use internally. Help the requester to see the value in reserving sales content for use with landing pages and direct communications, as opposed to publishing it on your blog.
3. Content Distribution Without Insight
We have spent quite a bit of time in the last few months discussing the off-site content marketing challenges digital marketers are currently facing. Content needs to live and thrive well beyond your site. However, tracking and understanding the metrics of your off-site engagement is still foreign to many content marketers.
When distributing content through various channels, it is vitally important to track and measure what is having an impact and what is not. Distribution takes effort. A lot of effort. You want to ensure you are exhausting those efforts in the channels which will gain you the best ROI.
This tracking can take metrics from several different sources, including:
- Using a unique smartURL for each piece of content, for each channel and for each influencer
- Web presence analytics to track on-site and off-site content for traffic, referrals, social signals, etc.
- Native social media analytics – impressions, clicks, engagement, etc., directly from each social media platform
It All Comes Back to Content Strategy
As with all things in marketing, it comes down to having a solid strategy. In the sake of time, strategy can be often overlooked. We bury our heads and get creating without picturing the full potential story the content has to offer.
To avoid the pitfalls listed above, ask yourself the following questions when developing your strategy for each and every piece of content:
- What related content do we have to support this new piece?
- When a user has read/viewed this, where do we want them to go next?
- What is our end goal for the user who engages with this content?
- Does this content answer a question or concern for the industry?
- Who is the audience for this specific piece?
- How does this content add value to the audience?
- Which channels will we distribute to?
- Which metrics do we need from each channel?
Creating a plan may seem like extra steps, but you will thank yourself in the long run.