Common Pitfalls of Content Marketing and How to Avoid Them

Common Pitfalls of Content Marketing and How to Avoid Them

October 2, 2018 by Will Robins0
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Content marketing has held the spotlight for years now and for good reason. According to Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. Making it one of the most effective marketing strategies available today. However, creating content that is relevant to your target personas and compelling enough to turn them into a lead is no easy feat for marketers.

We looked at the common content marketing pitfalls organizations fall into and ways to overcome them so you can achieve success with your content marketing strategy.

Marketing teams don’t have enough people or resources

Many small organizations or startups simply don’t have the in-house resources to create, polish and deliver the content their business needs. Outsourcing your content marketing efforts is a great opportunity to bring in fresh, new content and get it done without having to hire another person or team.

According to MarketingProfs, around half of the respondents in a recent study have small (or one-person) marketing teams that serve their entire organization. And in that same study, MarketingProfs found that B2B marketers are most likely to outsource content creation (47%), content promotion/distribution (23%) and measurement (11%).

Building an experienced, autonomous in-house marketing team is both expensive and time consuming. On the other hand, finding the right agency that matches with your brand and helps you get closer to your goals can be a challenge, too. Consider all of the pros and cons of in-house vs. outsourcing for your organization.

Outsourcing isn’t the only option though! Even with a small team you can create a lot of bang for your buck. Build on existing content, republish older content with fresh, new ideas added in to help keep your stack up-to-date with little effort. Hubspot calls this “historical optimization,” and the results speak for themselves. Long story short – Google algorithms reward fresher content by putting it closer to the top of search results, but people also tend to choose recently published blogs over older dates, regardless of the content.

Repurpose the content you have on your site in new ways. Multiple blogs or articles could be compiled together and morph into an eBook. Stats from a study or testing outcomes can be used for infographics or to inspire a new blog post. There are several ways you can slice and dice your existing content stack for new options that still provide value to your audience.

Use these tactics:

Repurpose content, slice and dice in new ways for new formats
Build on existing content, republish old blogs and update them
Outsource your content marketing to an agency

Content goes unused

We’ve all been there. The content we finish halfway but then forget about because of other, higher priority work. The content we start but don’t finish because the boss says to not write about that topic. The reasons are endless but the start-with-no-finish process doesn’t have to be.

60-70% of B2B content created is never used. The most cited reason why is because the topic is irrelevant to the buyer audience. – Content Marketing Institute

Start by establishing topics that are relevant and key to your target personas. Pick topics that both resonate with your audience and your business. These topics can be broad, like “branding,” or “lead generation.”

From there you can leave the cards open to your team or identify subtopics that will help direct the creation of new content. For example, within branding you might choose “brand development,” “style guides” and “identity positioning.”

With your topics established, create a content calendar that fits in all of your topics and/or subtopics. Define how often you will be posting about certain topics or subtopics to ensure that your content marketing stack has a well distributed variety.

47% of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Demand Gen Report), so it’s important for your business to have a variety of fresh, original content. Never delete your started content! There could still be valuable insights in what you’ve started that you can add to later or combine with a few other unfinished pieces. This tactic will also help when you’re short on writers or content ideas.

Use these tactics:

Establish topics relevant to your target audience
Create a calendar that is realistic for your team
Never delete! Piece together unfinished content

Uncertain Return on Investment (ROI)

In a recent Content Marketing Institute 2018 study, there were surprising statistics around marketers measuring ROI. 47% of respondents admitted they can’t measure ROI and another 18% responded that they aren’t sure. Leaving only 35% of content marketers able to measure the ROI of their efforts.

But what many marketers fail to recognize is that measuring ROI is about having the right goals, the right data and maintaining a clean, accurate marketing automation solution, or other marketing tracking tool.

Start by establishing the goals and measurements that are important to your organization. Marketing goals should be linked to overarching business goals. For example, if your goal is to increase Year-over-Year (YOY) revenue by 15%, your marketing goals might be to “meet or exceed monthly MQL targets and an overall 20% increase in MQLs YOY.”

Keeping a clean, accurate database will make the biggest difference in measuring ROI. Keeping your marketing automation solution, or other marketing tracking tool, “clean” requires regular upkeep and attention. If you’re really unsure about how accurate your data is, consider doing a marketing automation audit.

Utilize an ROI calculator to track your efforts and results. If you are using an automation tool you can leverage the system to measure and track ROI or you can create an Excel spreadsheet, set up necessary formulas and keep track of your results there.

A few key metrics you’ll want to add to your ROI calculator are:

Hours input for various content
Unused content
Traffic – like page views or visits
Conversions

Once you have your key metrics established, you’ll want to figure out the percentage of revenue that can be attributed to your content marketing efforts. A Gartner study showed that content marketing influences almost one-third of B2B buyer’s purchasing decision. In this instance, we would take the revenue generated after the blog post in question, multiply it by 0.32 and then divide by the cost of creating and distributing the content.

When you’re able to communicate the value that content marketing has on new sales and engagements, you can effectively showcase the importance of content marketing for your organization!

Use these tactics:

Establish KPIs
Keep track of accurate, “clean” analytics
Utilize an ROI calculator

Marketers aren’t optimizing

Regular optimization of your marketing efforts is like taking a $20 bill and magically making it into a $50 bill, without doing 2.5 times the work. This sounds like a no brainer standard practice on paper but going back and optimizing old content is not a regular practice for many marketers.

In the case study, HubSpot optimized 75 historical blog posts and increased the conversion rate on every single one (100% success rate). WOW! Hubspot made simple changes and improvements to their blogs periodically and still saw growth in performance. Optimization doesn’t have to be a large, lengthy task. Break it down into snackable bites and your efforts will be rewarded.

To get started, gather data about your blogs. What are your top posts and where do visitors come from to get to your site? What do they stay to look at? Do they browse at a few posts or stay on one page? The answers to all these questions are in your website analytics.

And sometimes the reason we aren’t optimizing is because we don’t know what to change to get better results. It is important for marketers to take the time for educational opportunities, especially in the constantly changing and evolving industry of B2B marketing. Reading other blogs and articles daily will keep you up to date with what is trending and being discussed most. However, taking the time periodically to go a little deeper into a topic is well worth the investment, too.

Pick a conference to go to this year, take an online course or join a weekly or monthly Twitter chat to regularly communicate and expand on ideas with other like-minded B2B marketers. Spoiler alert: you might actually have fun, too.

Use these tactics:

Gather website data monthly, bi-monthly or weekly
Understand the story your data is telling
Get involved in chats or conferences to learn more

Your content marketing strategy and execution doesn’t have to be a daunting task for your organization. With a plan in place and topics that are relevant to your audience, you can focus your efforts on creating content that will support your goals. Check in with ROI periodically to see how your content marketing results are stacking up against your revenue generated. And don’t forget to go back and optimize your posts for better results.

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Will Robins

Writer For Search Engine Journal and known guest blogger, Will focuses on helping clients rank sites. Have a great marketing project? Will is the person to talk to.

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