Katie Tweedy, Content Marketing + Strategy Supervisor at Collective Measures
Content marketing is not a silver bullet. It’s not a quick fix. It is not a vehicle for fast sales, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Content marketing is, however, the most sustainable way to grow demand and a loyal audience. If you’re in need of immediate results, content marketing is not for you. But if you’re after long-term success and growing your audience base, you’ve found your match.
Industry-wide, marketers now understand the importance of content for overall success. But many marketers are still unaware of the time and effort successful content strategy requires and often expect fast returns, abandoning their efforts when they don’t see immediate success. Don’t be one of those marketers.
Here are 5 common content marketing pitfalls to avoid:
- Expecting immediate results.
Organic content on any channel is a slow burn. It takes Google time to crawl and index content, anywhere from 3-9 months. And if you’re trying to build SEO equity for a broad topic by producing lots of quality content that targets longtail subtopics? It takes even longer for those niche topic pieces to be indexed, ranked, and finally build collective equity for that high-level topic. The same thing goes for other channels — It can take time for emails to break through the clutter. It can take social algorithms months to recognize consistency and steady, climbing engagement.
- Execution without a strategy.
It’s understandable when marketers just want to get started, but execution without a plan can do more harm than good. Conflicting messages, a fragmented user experience, and even cannibalized visibility and engagement means you can be working against yourself.
This is when new sites are thrown up for a small one-time event, or subdomains are added to support an app, or a new Facebook account is created and used for three months before being abandoned. These don’t follow best practices, often don’t provide a great user experience, and can negatively impact overall equity. Agency partners often get pulled in at this stage, when the clients have been working at breakneck speeds, trying to publish content they know is important but lack a plan to guide the work. This leads to my next point…
- Strategy based on internal feelings, not data.
Data is your friend! Marketers often know their audience, but it can be easy to get stuck in your own bubble. Using your own customer data supplemented with external data is crucial to ensure the strategy is guided by reality rather than perception.
Look at content performance altogether to understand what’s working for you. What content has good visibility? Good engagement? Does some content not perform well for conversions but perhaps acts as a net to attract people to your other high converting content? What topics resonate best on each channel, and with what audiences? What asset types are performing well for you? From there, look at the outside landscape. What are people looking for? Where is the demand? Where are there gaps in the competition where you could more easily succeed? Layer that data on top of your own to understand gaps and opportunities, and then prioritize efforts by channels, audiences, asset types, topics, and more.
- Set it and forget it mentality.
Even the best content marketing strategy needs a refresh. Audiences change, platforms evolve, and what was best practice a year ago might be completely wrong now.
Take 2020 for example — What could have been an excellent, data-backed strategy back in January was likely no longer appropriate come May. Regular examinations of your audiences and content success are needed to understand if and when it’s time for a shift.
- Lack of measurement.
Figuring out how to measure content marketing success can be tricky, but it’s crucial to support continued work and optimizations. Creating a strong, flexible, and easily managed measurement strategy is a crucial complement to content strategy.
Measuring content success at regular intervals can help you update and shift the strategy based on what is working and, perhaps more importantly, what’s not. Finally, measuring your content strategy can prove its worth and validate the spent time and money creating it.
If you approach content marketing with a data-backed strategy, measure performance to make regular tweaks, and set the expectation that success will be slow and steady rather than immediate, you’ll be well prepared for sustained content-driven growth.