How content marketing can save your marketing strategy
Let’s make one thing clear: content marketing is not the be all and end all of an organisation’s marketing efforts.
As a content marketing agency, we could go on forever about the benefits of our trade and how it’s superior to traditional advertising in any number of ways. But content marketing isn’t everything – as much as it pains us to say so.
Content marketing is most effective when used in conjunction with your broader marketing strategy. It’s just one ingredient in the big, complicated recipe. For some businesses, content marketing is the primary component of the dish. For others, it’s merely the garnish on top.
But what do you do when you notice the meal is falling apart? As your old Italian grandmother once said, add more content marketing.
The case for content marketing
Okay, so maybe Nana never said that – but she would if she knew what content could do for a failing marketing strategy.
When used correctly, content marketing can transform your business with a much-needed boost to the metrics that matter most. Want more traffic? Create content. Need to educate your audience? There’s content for that as well. Interested in moving users through the buyer’s journey more quickly? Not surprisingly, content can help with this as well.
One of the great things about content marketing is that it can be moulded to your organisation’s unique needs. Content is as useful in lead generation as it is in SEO and visibility. A comprehensive content marketing strategy can boost your brand and help you increase sales, but seeing results is all about finding the right balance.
Think about cooking again. If your dish is bland, you don’t just dump a bunch of salt in it. Skilled chefs take the time to see what’s amiss before taking action. Have you put in too much of one thing? Not enough of another? Only then can you determine how to fix the problem.
Uncovering the issues in your marketing plan
In marketing, these problems may be glaringly obvious or they could be hidden. An example would be a lack of ROI. If you feel like you’re spending a lot and seeing very little return, it’s time to reassess.
Your marketing plan might also suffer due to other issues and uncovering them is key. A good place to start is by running a SWOT analysis of your marketing plan. Examine:
- Strengths – What are your marketing efforts achieving? In what areas are you outperforming the competition?
- Weaknesses – Which areas do you struggle in? Which of your marketing needs are not being met?
- Opportunities – Are there areas where your strengths are not being fully utilised? Are you currently not competing in a sector where you could?
- Threats – What could damage your business? Is new competition emerging? Do you rely too heavily on one form of advertising?
If you don’t already have a content marketing strategy in place, this level of objective inquiry is a vital first step.
In marketing, most problems will fall into one of the following categories:
Visibility problems are fairly easy to diagnose. Simply put, you aren’t being found – whether that’s in-person or on the web. Online, you might notice low traffic, poor search rankings and an overall lack of brand awareness or thought leadership.
Most businesses can combat visibility problems with:
- PPC campaigns in search and social,
- Social awareness campaigns,
- SEO tactics – although these are remiss if you don’t have adequate content,
- Thought leadership campaigns.
Keep in mind, however, that a visibility problem might not be the whole story. While it’s easy to sum your issues up as a lack of visibility, it’s important to unearth the cause. Take the time to find out exactly where your online visibility is weak and what you can do to target that specific area. Tools like SEMrush and Alexa can help you perform a thorough competitor analysis and get to the root of the problem.
All too often, organisations wrap up a marketing campaign and shrug their shoulders. ‘It didn’t work,’ is the common response. But did the campaign really fail? Or do you simply lack a concise way to quantify your results?
Measurement problems occur when you don’t have the tools or systems in place to analyse your campaigns or test their effectiveness. This is characterised by a lack of:
- Clear performance metrics – ie. Google Analytics,
- Knowledge of website basics,
- CRM within the business,
- Lead tracking processes.
Marketing campaigns ‘fail’ all the time simply because organisations didn’t know if they succeeded. Without clear metrics in place, many businesses will stop doing things that were working while continuing to push practices that weren’t.
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) May 14, 2018
Finally, there’s conversion. No leads, bad leads, lost leads – these are all symptoms of a conversion problem. For one reason or another, people aren’t converting on your site. Often this boils down to a poorly optimised website lacking conversion features like call-to-action buttons, clear contact information, a newsletter signup strategy or special, user-specific offers.
Using content to tackle your marketing issues
Enough about the problems, let’s get to the solutions. Here are some red flags you might notice – and how you can address them with content marketing.
“We’re getting buried in search”
A lack of visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) can be devastating to a business. Naturally, many organisations try to fix this with various SEO tactics. But SEO isn’t enough. Google is smart and getting smarter. You can’t link-stuff and keyword your way to the top anymore. You need to have useful, valuable content if you want to rank.
Start with a content audit to plan out your content creation efforts. A content audit will help you uncover:
- What your content is about,
- How accurate and up-to-date it is,
- How people are finding and using your content,
- Whether content supports your business goals,
- How well your content is optimised for search,
- The tone, style and voice of your content.
Most importantly a content audit will show you what’s missing. If you’re suffering from this all-too-common visibility issue, it’s likely that you’re either producing the wrong content or too little altogether.
What’s the story with #SEO and #contentmarketing? Depending who you ask, one is always more important than the other, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s why. https://t.co/L5SNWGkpn4 pic.twitter.com/etJB4DEpqD
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) May 28, 2018
“Our social presence is weak”
Equally troubling is a lack of visibility on social media. Today, Australians are more willing than ever to follow brands on social media.
According to the Sensis Social Media Report, Australians are more likely to trust brands that interact with customers in a positive way on social media (up from 52% to 64%) and businesses with engaging and relevant content (up from 52% to 63%). Followers are most likely to be deterred by companies posting irrelevant or unappealing content, excessive content and too many ads.
Striking the right balance starts with content marketing. By tailoring your content strategy to social media, you can give your business an instant boost across various platforms.
— Grytics (@grytics) March 3, 2018
“There’s no clear way to track performance”
Content marketing used to be this niche activity that was super difficult to measure, but that’s no longer the case. Today, there are clear metrics and systems in place to help marketers determine ROI.
If your organisation isn’t tracking the performance of your digital marketing campaigns, it’s time to start. Analytics data can help you:
- Gain insight into your target audience,
- Understand whether you’re reaching your goals,
- Make more strategic marketing decisions,
- Increase ROI.
Content marketing can help you fix a measurement problem for this simple reason: it’s measurable. If you’re having a hard time weighing the effectiveness of your campaigns, it’s time to think about making content marketing a bigger part of your strategy.
“We’re not offering enough value”
Today, public perception of your brand is based almost entirely off your web presence. So make it a good one. If your content isn’t useful or valuable, people will naturally assume that your product or service isn’t either.
To this end, it’s important to create high-value content. Every business can write the standard blog post. While it’s a good idea to have some of this consumable content in your arsenal, you should focus on adding value in areas where only you can – particularly if you want to cement your business as an industry leader.
This doesn’t need to be a massive effort. Identify your strengths and unique selling points and build a content creation strategy around this. From there, repurpose content effectively to get the most out of everything you produce.
Contrary to the popular adage, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your marketing strategy. If you’ve got issues, work them out. Only then can you come up a plan of action.
More often than not, content will be a key part of that plan. It’s important, however, to ensure your content marketing strategy doesn’t experience the same pitfalls. Work with an experienced strategist when you’re first getting started. Otherwise, you risk running into many of the same issues with measurement, visibility and conversion.