Content Marketing Mistakes Many Tech Companies Are Making. Still.July 16, 2017
Reading Time: 6 easy minutes
Content marketing is the new normal. Few startups need to be persuaded that writing a company blog, releasing ebooks, whitepapers or creating webinars are powerful organic tools that ultimately affect the bottom line. As the leads generated through content marketing are filtered through the marketing funnel, the attraction of inbound marketing model becomes obvious to everyone involved.
Despite the well established nature of content marketing, mistakes are made. Constantly. Many startups keep on creating content, but then wonder why they don’t get any traffic, and even if they do, the traffic does not convert. If this keeps happening to you, read on.
The Three Pillars of Content Marketing:
Planning, Production and Distribution
Most content marketing mistakes fall into three broad categories: insufficient planning and research, poor production and inadequate distribution. All are avoidable, here’s what and how.
1. Insufficient Planning & Research
Not investing enough resources
Content often gets pushed to the sidelines and is prioritized last. As a result, resources needed for creating high quality content are simply not available.
In my experience, content can truly benefit from a collaboration with a subject matter expert. However, quite often, such experts are not made available to content creators. This leads to a predictable result of web-researched, low quality, endlessly rehashed content that provides zero value to its intended audience.
Want to create high quality content that converts? Then make sure to dedicate adequate resources to its creation. Do not skimp on any of the essential steps, research what your competitors are writing about, do in-depth keyword research and create a thorough content content plan and distribution strategy.
Bring back the strategy into the content strategy. You should be aiming for quarterly planning and weekly execution. Create a 3 - 6 month plan and stick to it. There should be a place for adhoc and newsjacking content items, but only as an addition to a well-thought out strategy, not as it’s replacement.
Making content for the sake of making content
When it comes to content, quality trumps quantity. Always.
Low quality, keyword stuffed content is not going to cut it anymore. You need to innovate, share ideas and contribute something new to the conversation.
Your content should be useful to your intended audience. It is better to release one well thought-out blog post per month, than a barrage of blogs that say absolutely nothing. Repeat after me: boosting your content quality should be the priority number one.
If you’ve created a strategic plan, this should not happen.
Not researching what your competitors are doing
By not thoroughly researching what content is already out there, you won’t be able to identify the knowledge gaps that you could fill. Finding a niche where you can become an expert is a valuable strategy for tech startups. Even is a saturated market, one can always find new angles or untouched micro-topics to tackle. It is worth to do your research before devising your content strategy.
There are great tools, such as BuzzSumo to help you find trending topic based on specific keywords, make sure to use them.
Having superficial personas
Personas are often reduced to a set of attributes: age, work title, salary. While this is all well and good, great content evokes an emotional response from the right audience. This can only be achieved if you truly understand whom you are writing for.
While this might sound like a trivial advice, it is astounding how often content marketers fail to follow it. You need to go deeper to understand the underlying motivations and challenges of your personas in order to create content that they will actually read. Get on the phone and have an actual conversation, conduct in-person interviews, use survey pop-ups on your website. Dig deeper.
For example, if you are writing an industry blog for time poor and stressed professionals, shorter content that is well segmented with very clear titles is going to be digested better than long blogs that dissect every facet.
Insufficient keyword research/SEO
Basing your blog topics on a hunch is not a way to go. For online content, keyword research and SEO is a crucial step that cannot be ignored. Always was, always will be.
Going too narrow
It is great that your product is highly specialized, but hey, if nobody is searching for your specialized terms, it is best to widen your focus and go beyond your niche.
Encompassing a wider audience is especially valuable for companies that have created a new product category within their own industry. If market education is the focus, having a mix of niche and general purpose content is a good way to go.
2. Poor Production
Not having a style guide
Consistency is key. Returning visitors should know what to expect, rather than having to get to know your brand anew with each new blog release.
The essential elements of the style guide
- Follow your company branding - Content is a direct subset of your brand. What you write about and how. Clearly define the desired style and tone of voice for all your content. Are you all business, serious enterprise or a whimsical, humorist startup? What style appeal to your target persona?
- Formatting- provide a rule book for key formatting and grammar expectations. For example, American or British English; use of abbreviations and buzzwords; cybersecurity or cyber security? etc
- SEO optimization- provide a list of essential keywords and a short overview of your SEO strategy
- Things to avoid - are there specific terms you wish to avoid, or sites you wouldn't want to be linked to? Let your writers know. For example, avoid referencing competitors’ articles or quote their executive team.
While having several voices and styles on your blog is sensible for some companies, e.g technical vs general articles, each type of article should be consistent with the ones that came before it.
Neglecting the power of editing and proofreading
If your blog is full of inaccuracies and grammar mistakes, it reflects badly on your entire brand. If your visitors have to battle through spelling or grammar errors, they are going to quickly lose sight of your overall message. Make sure that each blog post is thoroughly proofread. By a professional.
But good editing goes far beyond proofreading. It is essential that you are articulating your message consistently and that the style and tone of voice is spot on.
Make sure you have a solid process in place when it comes to editing and reviewing all your content.
Staying limited to blogs
Repeat after me: “Content does not equal blogs.” Infographics, interactive content, quizzes, slideshares, videos, webinars all should have place in your content strategy. Yes, even on a low budget. There are plenty of tools for content creation, such as canva for images and infographics, or for video creation check out this list of easy to use tools.
3. Poor Distribution
With over 83 million posts published every month on WordPress alone, you can’t just produce content and expect the traffic to start flowing in. If you focus on content creation but ignore its distribution you will be underwhelmed by your content marketing performance, to say the least.
Not having a distribution plan
Distribution should not be an afterthought. A well thought-out distribution strategy will allow you to squeeze everything out of each piece of content you create.
By staying limited to three major social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter you will have hard time driving traffic to your blog. Do your research to find out where your personas hangout and where they go to consume knowledge. Explore other options. Reddit is a great network for B2B startups (if used correctly) and so is Quora, Slashdot, Dzone and many others.
Look for link sharing websites that are relevant to your niche, such as datatau or HackerNews. Medium is also a good option to reach a wider audience, especially if your blog is newly launched. Make sure to link back to your content, and if the posts you share are relevant, you will see results immediately.
Also, do not neglect your employees as a distribution channel. Incentivize your team to share blogs, PR news releases and social updates.
How do you know if your content is successful? Make sure to set up quarterly KPIs and S.M.A.R.T goals, and monitor your progress regularly. Learn from the past and adjust accordingly. What keywords get most hits? What kinds of content are being shared the most? Capitalize on the past successes, and learn from mistakes.
Failing to capitalize on blog traffic
If your website is not optimized for conversion, the visitors will come, read your blog, and disappear into oblivion forever. Make sure that you have compelling CTAs and valuable content offers on your website.
Popups get a bad rep, in my opinion quite undeservingly. They are a great tool, especially when it comes to building your email list for lead nurturing, but, as is with everything else, is best used in moderation.
Not optimizing already published content
Oftentimes marketers will forget about the blog post once it has been published and pushed on social media once. Revisiting existing blogs, optimizing titles, meta descriptions, keywords and images should become your second nature… especially on those under performing articles . If you will keep on updating successful blog posts and resharing them, they will keep on giving.
Content marketing is a long-term commitment and is not designed to convert leads immediately; it is all about building long-lasting relationships. When you decide to go content marketing route, expect to be there for the long haul. It is a mistake to expect short-term boost in ROI, as opposed to a sustained and steady increase in marketing qualified leads.
Effective content marketing requires significant planning and research, high-quality production and well thought-out distribution.Before deciding that content marketing has failed you, make sure you are not guilty of the mistakes listed above.