Businesses use content marketing to deliver valuable information to customers, providing more than a simple advertisement for their services and brands. Leyl Master Black of Spark PR describes content marketing as the following: “creating and distributing relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage your target audience.” Content marketing could include a link to valuable information in a Facebook or Twitter update, a how-to post on your company blog, or a fascinating YouTube video showing your product in action.
Why Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a critical component in creating brand awareness, retaining customers, and generating new leads. Each of these are among the highest priorities of B2B marketers according to a 2010 content marketing survey conducted by MarketingProfs. The first two priorities rank high for B2C marketing as well.
You can’t afford to do content marketing poorly. In fact, if there’s one thing you CAN afford to do, it’s content marketing. Here are five practices to avoid:
1. Producing Content Without a Strategy
The content you produce reflects your brand, your values, and your organization. Before jumping into content marketing, a great deal of planning is required in order to make sure you nail your targets. If you don’t even know what your targets are, you now have the topic for your first strategy meeting.
Newt Barrett of Content Marketing Today points out that a strategy starts with a company-wide focus on goals and customer expectations. He writes, “It’s not enough to determine what you need to provide. Just as important is determining who will be delivering all that content. Moreover, you need to establish a process workflow so that their contributions will show up just the way that you want them and exactly when you need them.”
2. Remaining Aloof and Impersonal in Your Communication
Content marketing is more about effective communication with individuals than it is about slapping up an ad on a billboard or in a newspaper. Your goal is customer engagement. If you expect people to take the time to interact with your company, you’ll need to show that you’re available and interested in replying to them.
Joe Pulizzi writes at Business 2 Community that companies should even appoint a Chief Listening Officer in order to better facilitate the conversation with customers who respond to content marketing efforts.
3. Failing to Understand Your Customers’ Needs
At the heart of content marketing is the desire to meet the needs of customers. According to Junta42, content marketing is summed up in the following way: “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.” Therefore, the greatest challenge is to identify the needs of customers and to provide the content they require.
This is good news, since businesses should already be aware of their customers’ needs. Such information needs to be applied to a coherent content marketing strategy, rather than viewing a website or Twitter feed as an information dump for bland press releases.
4. Making Your Online Content Difficult to Share
Content is what feeds a social media strategy and to a large part it can make or break social media marketing, but you need to make it a no-brainer for customers to share your content. This means integrating simple social media sharing buttons on your website and posting your best content on your Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus accounts. In fact, recent studies suggest that Facebook “likes” can improve your rankings on Bing and Tweets or your blog posts will help Google index your website faster.
5. Ignoring Keywords for Website Content
Get used to looking up keywords and phrases for your content. Check out tools such as Keyword Discovery to get a better handle on what you’ll need to include. The trick is to write a solid web page that is readable, while strategically placing keywords throughout your subtitles and text.
Page titles are where you can hit it out of the park with keywords, provided you can arrange them in a compelling title that will also generate clicks from readers. Heather Lloyd-Martin of SEOcopywriting.com suggests that many websites fail to optimize their page titles.
Every company wants to engage more customers without having to break the bank on marketing. Creating content that is a customer-friendly, coherent, and valuable will drive up customer engagement without significantly driving up marketing costs.