At the end of 2014 we wrote about the top content challenges we see for 2015.
Six months have passed – so now is a good time to come up with a few solutions we’re using, or heard good things about. I think this graph played a key instrument in our approach:
It is estimated that 78% of CMOs see custom content as the future of marketing, and over 90% of marketers use it – so organizations are placing a good portion of their efforts in the content wagon. In fact, according to DemandMetric, on average marketers now spend more than 25% of their budgets on content marketing. Clearly, there’s a lot of effort put into creating content to help brands get found online and engage with their audiences. Regardless if you’re on the content marketing wagon already or still considering jumping on board, here are the top 3 challenges with it and how to beat each and every one of them:
1. Creating (the right) content
The goal of content marketing and inbound marketing is to spread your name out there so your audience will find you and get to know you. To do that you have to build “enough” content. The question is How Much Is Enough? There was a formula published once for larger organizations in an article on Forbes.com that suggested on average 720 content items and variations each year. For small organizations we believe 70-80 content items a year is a good start. In this formula we include a blog post a week (52), case study + brochure for each product/solution, and some premium lead generating content like eBooks or Webinars. Still this is not something to take on lightly and requires an ongoing, continuous effort.
Here are some ideas to facilitate this crucial yet grueling undertaking:
Plan your content strategy: By having a coherent content strategy backed by an editorial calendar and plan you can make sure that every effort you put into a new piece of content will be maximized and will match your buyer personas (See Buyer Personas, Segmentation and Personalization explained in our post here). For example a series of blog posts can become an eBook as well as optimize your blog for SEO on a new search term that is of importance for your business. In short, this can help you get more results from each and every investment you make and help you reuse each content piece to the maximum – which will hopefully help you create less content and have more time for other things. In addition having a plan and calendar will help you avoid writer’s block and create a higher quality content. If you do still run into writer’s block see our recent post “The blog writing inspiration checklist”
Hire some help: The great thing about current time in content marketing is that there are so many great options to get outside help for content creation – all you need to have is some budget…Alternatives ranges from content marketing specializing agencies such as Relevance to dedicated writers communities such as BlogMutt to the generic freelance hubs such as Elance.
Partner: If you have partners that can help you and take some of the workload based on your content strategy and calendar than why not? Invite them to the party and let them syndicate their content on your website or blog in exchange for recognition. This way you get the content and associated benefits and they get some referral traffic. Good deal for all involved…Potential partners can be industry bloggers, resellers or professional services partners, non-competing businesses in your industry such as lawyers or accountants that specialize in your vertical and create content etc.
Monitor and repeat: In order to make sure your content is working and to gradually improve your content effectiveness you need to monitor and analyze results. Couple of ideas for you below and you can also see our recent post on this here:
Successful content: Try to do more of what works. If some content items or posts work better (Get more visits, shares, generate more leads) – analyze their success
SEO rank: See that on SEO keywords that are included in your content strategy your ranking is improving.
2. Distributing your content
So you created your content. Regardless if this is Open Content (SEO friendly) such as articles or blog posts or Locked Content (eBooks, Webinars) created for lead generation – How do you make sure your audience knows that your content exists? According to research by Altimeter, only 26% of marketers invest in content distribution.
Here are some tips on how to increase your content distribution:
Twitter: If you haven’t already setup an account now is a good time to start. Whenever you have a new blog post, video, infographic or eBook you can post the links and brief description on Twitter. Few things to note:
Make sure to use the proper hashtags. If there are several options you can try different ones and repeat the tweet across several days
If your employees have accounts ask them – but don’t force them – to share the content, too.
LinkedIn: You likely have a personal profile, as well as a company page, in which you can share updates. Again few things to keep in mind:
Leverage all possible LinkedIn profiles: Personal, company’s, employees
Sign up to LinkedIn groups with relevant audience as these groups allow sharing of content between group members
Signing up to groups allows you also to send a message or connect to group members which is another way to increase your circle of distribution
FaceBook: Similar to LinkedIn you can use your personal FaceBook account as well as open up a company’s account to share updates and increase visibility.
Quora: Quora is a popular Q&A website. You can join and look for relevant discussions for your audience and industry and post responses that include links to relevant content
Industry websites/bloggers that accept contributed articles: Depending on your audience and industry look into websites that are popular and accept contributed articles. Some examples are Reddit.com, Inbound.org etc.
3. Helping your audience get to your most relevant content
Practicing Content Marketing means you now have more marketing content than you can fit on a typical Web page. This means that when prospects are doing their online research on your website or blog, you can’t make sure that they benefit from all of your relevant content. With attention spans diminishing you can’t really trust your audience to spend the time and effort to sift through your content. As an example per InboundWriter just 10-20% of a company’s web content drives 90% of its Web traffic and a mere 0.5% drives more than half its web traffic. But since content marketing is passive by essence, to be more effective you need to make your content come to your anonymous audience.
Here’s how you do it:
Use dynamic content recommendations: With these you can offer your audience the most relevant content items across every online interaction.
A/B testing: Test content offers on pages as a way to optimize what you have in case you can’t offer dynamic recommendations and must stay with static ones
Remove ineffective content: Trim the content tree to help your audience focus on the latest and most effective content. Even if you have a busy Resources section making it more focused on your best content items will help your audience navigate it more easily
Content Hubs: Consider using content Hubs from vendors such as Uberflip as a way to make your content more accessible and to get more results from your content.
To learn more on how real time personalization and content recommendations complement marketing automation and content marketing see “HubSpot Customers Integrate BrightInfo for Automated Personalization to Anonymous Visitors”