Everyone is in the content marketing business these days. Organizations large and small bought into the idea that content is the holy grail for creating digital marketing success. If you put the right information on Facebook and Vimeo and then Tweet it to your followers, hoards of customers will surely beat down your door. Right?
Well, not exactly.
It’s true that good content marketing helps build your brand, improve your service, and generate customer loyalty. It’s also true that GREAT content will knock your competitors on their backsides and keep them there. The graphic above shows that good content helps in creating digital marketing success. But, only a little over 10% of firms said they were satisfied with the ROI they achieved from their digital marketing strategy and nearly half couldn’t even tell you if they were satisfied because they couldn’t measure the ROI of their efforts. That’s not very good.
So, how can you improve the performance of content, thus creating digital marketing success? That’s a great question and the rest of this post shares some advice.
Using content and creating digital marketing success
If your content is bad, users exposed to your content figure your product probably sucks too. You know that this is not necessarily true. You may make the best widget in the world and have rotten content. The quality of your product will speak for itself, right?
Probably not because you’ll never get a chance to show how great your product is because your poor content turns off prospective buyers.
Your content is often the first impression a potential customer gets about your brand. Remember, that with products, as with life, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Or, your content is the lasting impression a customer has of your brand, which clouds their evaluation of your product’s performance. Either way, if it is bad, your customers will project that onto your product.
Unfortunately, too many companies put bad content out there. From blogs to videos, companies publish content that does not improve their brand, sometimes even publishing content that damages to their reputation. like the one below. This pissed off a bunch of potential buyers and customers as misogynistic.
Another advantage of content marketing is that content in the form of text is more often than not loaded with keywords. If you play it right, you can score some serious SEO points to boost your search engine rankings. If you know what you’re doing, you can really optimize your marketing performance not only through the quality of content you produce but also through how it is put together for search engine algorithms to pick up on. Suppose you’re developing content for hair salons, it would be quite easy to write such content in a way that includes keywords aligned to common searches on the internet. This way, clients with needs find you. This will make a world of difference not only in SEO success for hair salons but also carry a higher probability of a sale in that market.
So what can you do about it? First, you want to understand how to do content marketing right.
Creating digital marketing success with great content
So, what types of content should you post? There are many options, including posts:
- highlighting your values and/or contributions to the community
- celebrating partners, customers, and/or employees
- inviting your community to provide feedback such as suggesting new products or voting on a new logo
- creating entertaining content such as a meme or quote
- developing how-to videos
- addressing users’ questions
- sharing a case study using your product
- sharing content created by others
- hosting a contest
- sharing content from your blog, podcast, or a transcript of your video
- celebrating an accomplishment or holiday
- going LIVE
- and, lots, lots more. Try to develop content that helps move users down the conversion funnel toward a purchase such as this image showing how to layer content.
- DON’T talk about yourself endlessly. Follow the 80/20 rule which suggests that 20% of your content may promote your brand (at most) while 80% should focus on providing value to your community.
- Keep your content short and light. This isn’t a press release. Focus on a good headline and/ or hashtags that drive users to your website or another place where you gain value. But, ensure you provide value.
Ensuring consistency in your content marketing
It’s not enough to create great content, you need to do it over and over again. Below, you can see recommendations for how much content you should create on each platform every day (and that includes weekends).
That’s a tough ask but you can do it if you do it right.
First, only choose a few platforms that reflect where your target market hangs out (and, if you don’t know that, step back to build a marketing plan first) to keep your workload manageable. You can add new platforms as you gain experience and grow your team.
Next, create a content marketing calendar to make your job easier. To help, I created a content marketing calendar template to get you started in creating digital marketing success. I find it easier to create themes, such as Throw Back Thursday and Motivational Monday to make the task easier. Also, track national and regional holidays to create content around these themes. A calendar makes creating content consistently so much less stressful by starting you off with an idea for each day. I usually create a month of content ideas in the calendar at a time, normally around the end of the prior month.
Avoiding the big 4 content marketing mistakes
Even though there is a lot that goes into creating really good content, there are a few, very common mistakes that content creators make. Let’s look at the three biggest and review them…
1. Not having a plan
Creating content is easy. Write a post. Film a video. Tweet an article. You’ve just created content.
- How did the content fit with your overall content marketing plan?
- Was your content designed to help better serve your customers?
- Does it fit with any strategic service promises you offer?
- How does your content engage your target market, that’s the name of the game. Content doesn’t help unless users engage with the content or click through to your website or another site where you benefit, such as subscribing to your email list.
The list of questions goes on. But, if you create a plan that includes, the medium, the purpose, and the timing of each piece of intentional content you create, your content is going to become a lot more meaningful to your customers. Again, that’s a benefit of using a content marketing calendar to ensure your content hits the mark.
Another question you should ask about your content is how it helps move users toward your goals. Below, you can see how to use different types of content and different platforms to help move users from awareness to purchase to loyalty. This funnel focuses on the stages necessary for conversion but you can extend the funnel metaphor to encourage loyalty and even evangelism among customers. Vary your content so you work toward moving users in each bucket farther along the funnel. That may mean publishing different forms of content, different messages, or even different platforms to ensure your content works cohesively to drive users toward conversion and loyalty.
2. Creating the wrong content for your company
When you start creating content, it is very easy to get caught up in the process of producing stuff. But, it’s critical to remember that it isn’t all about you—it’s about your customers. Of course, you must create content relevant to your target market. Everything you create must answer the customer’s question, “So what?” Everything.
Customers can tell when you care about creating content they can use. And they tell you. So, if you’re not hearing anything good about your content (or worse, hearing only negatives), don’t panic. Step back, and engage your customers to figure out how you can give them the content they want. Listening to conversations across social platforms, following hashtags relevant to your brand, and monitoring the performance of competitors are all critical for finding content that works for your brand.
Content related to your brand is also important for social media marketing success. But, your content doesn’t have to discuss your brand or even your industry to find relevance. Dove is a good example. They created the “Campaign for Real Women” that draws attention to the poor body image perpetuated by most cosmetic companies. Dove broke with tradition by calling for women of all shapes and sizes to emphasize inner beauty. The campaign created huge sales increases for Dove.
Create a variety of different content types to optimize success. That not only means content topics and ideas but also forms of content, including:
- long-form content, such as blogs, posts on medium, and posts published on LinkedIn. This type of content garners more backlinks, as you can see below, which are a major ranking factor determining how close to the top your content shows up in search results (SEO). As you can see, the longer the better.
- short videos on TikTok or Instagram Reels as well as longer videos on YouTube. Consumers respond better to explainer videos or those containing text and illustrations than those that are solely text-based.
- Using relevant hashtags and fun emojis as part of your posts generates more interest and helps you reach new users
- Images on all platforms outperform content that’s text only, although the amount of lift provided by an image varies across platforms and implementations. Despite assumptions that images of faces outperform those on other topics, the evidence from a controlled experiment shows there’s no difference in engagement or attention, at least on Instagram. However, images of pets (maybe animals in general) do garner more attention and generate a positive image of your brand.
3. Reinventing the wheel
Learning by trial and error is a time-honored tradition. When you were little, you learned to tie your shoes by trying it over and over again. However, that is not the best way to create effective content. In fact, implementing your content plan via trial and error will probably cost you time, money, and customers.
The fact is there is a bunch of really great content out there already. It’s stuff that customers love. It’s stuff that has a meaningful impact. Most importantly, it’s stuff you can imitate. Below, you see some of the ways you can analyze visitor behavior to help generate better content.
We aren’t saying you should steal any information. Ever. But, if content exists whose form and style make sense for your organization, modifying it to fit your needs is not only smart, it’s effective. Imitation is still the most sincere form of flattery.
A word here about AI used for creating content, specifically ChatGPT. I’ve used multiple platforms including ChatGPT, but Grammarly and Hootsuite now offer AI options to subscribers. AI-generated content may seem like a godsend to overworked content creators and small business owners. However, AI content may not help with creating digital marketing success, despite the time savings it offers. According to Yoast (use the link to read the full content), AI-generated content lacks depth, originality, and nuances that may hurt your SEO and, since most websites get between 50 and 75% of their traffic through organic search based on SEO, this spells disaster for your online marketing efforts. My personal experience mirrors this advice. For instance,
- AI-generated content scrapes existing content to address your prompt but doesn’t include links to the sites used (which may violate US copyright laws). Publishing content without backlinks to high DA (domain authority) websites hurts your rank (or at least doesn’t help it) because search engines assume content containing these links is well-researched, so it gives that content and the website as a whole a bump in rankings.
- The resulting content is very general. Certainly, using a few general posts on your website is a good thing since it serves the needs of newbies to a topic area but a steady stream of general content means you don’t attract users who are more likely to benefit your brand, those who search for specific content.
- Search engines discourage duplicate content. While AI might pull from different posts, you have no idea the percentage of the posts that came from a single source and might be viewed as duplicate content by search engines if the percentage is high.
I still use AI to help with content creation by entering prompts to discover great headlines for new content, transform a blog post into a great social media post, and generate a DRAFT of a long-form content post. That seems to work well for me by cutting the time to create content while still delivering on SEO.
4. Ineffective monitoring
In a study investigating whether business owners were satisfied with the ROI (return on investment) of their content creation, 45% of respondents didn’t track ROI, so they had no clue, as you can see below. How can you go about creating digital marketing success when you aren’t tracking key metrics to decide what’s working and what isn’t?
The image shows that less than 12% of respondents were satisfied with the ROI achieved from their efforts. With the amount of data available, it’s costing your brand money if you can’t track the performance of your content marketing efforts. Especially because it’s so easy if you know what to do.
The first step is to determine key metrics to track because, frankly, digital marketing suffers from having TOO much data, unlike traditional marketing where there isn’t enough. Focus on metrics that translate into value for your brand such as conversion, conversion rate, average order value, new subscribers, and click-through rates. But, don’t forget those top-of-funnel metrics that lead to conversions over time, such as time on site, new followers, engagement, and low bounce rate. Some of these metrics are available through Google Analytics; some from individual social platforms. Create a dashboard containing the most important metrics, called key performance indicators or KPIs, and monitor performance on a daily basis.
You can get a more nuanced view of your performance by using tags that add tracking information to your social shares. When a user clicks on the link they found on social media, Google Analytics tracks the link using the tag so you can determine which content works best with your market on each platform. No longer must you settle for knowing that a click came from Twitter or Facebook but you know the exact piece of content that generated the click and can follow the click all the way to conversion or another exit action.
Now you know the major mistakes to avoid, so get out there and create some killer content. Your customers will thank you. Oh yeah, they’ll buy from you too.
What are your best strategies for content creation? What are your biggest hurdles?
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