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Common Reasons for Content Marketing Failure

*The original article can be found in ASPE’s ROI November/December Newsletter. Interested in more articles like this one? View the most current newsletter here.*

As content marketing continues to grow in popularity, the number of companies implementing this strategy will also rise.While some organizations have a clearly defined plan in place, others take a scattergun approach and hope for the best.

Has your content marketing strategy come up short in the past? Are you looking for a way to change your fortunes in the future? If you answered yes to either question, you need to know what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and how to make the appropriate adjustments as you continue forward.

No two content marketing strategies are exactly the same. However, regardless of your company or industry, there are reasons why this part of your marketing plan may have failed you in the past. Here are five common reasons for content marketing failure:

1. Taking a “half in, half out” approach. Just because content marketing is the “in” thing doesn’t mean it is the only way to market your business.

If you aren’t all in with content marketing, you should stay on the outside for the time being. Anybody can create a blog, but not everybody has what it takes to keep it fresh.

It takes time to create high quality blog posts. Not only that, but it takes creativity to continue with the content creation process on a regular basis.

Simply put, if you don’t have what it takes to blog regularly, you will find it challenging to gain traction. Your readers want to hear from you consistently. Are you able to give them what they want?

2. Believing that longer is always better. Google has made it perfectly clear that it is uninterested in websites with little or no original content. Here is what the search engine giant has to say about this:

“One of the most important steps in improving your site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.

However, some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content. Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.”

This has led many to believe that longer has to be better. This may be right to a certain degree, as longer posts give you the chance to provide more detailed information. At the same time, you don’t necessarily need to compose long pieces of content, such as those in excess of 1,000 words, in order to achieve great results.

What you should care about the most is this:

  • Providing value no matter what you are talking about
  • Making sure your content is unique
  • Building trust among your readers

Rather than focus all your time and attention on hitting a particular word count, take a stronger look at the quality of your content. This is what matters most.

3. Keeping the best content for your blog. When you come up with a killer idea for a piece, you have some big decisions to make. Most importantly, you have to answer this question:  where will you publish the article?

It is a common belief that your best content should be published on your site. While this may help your site grow, there is something you need to consider:  there are other places that may be better suited for your best content.

Don’t hesitate to hold off on publishing as you search for the perfect partner. It is likely that there are bigger and better outlets out there. By posting your piece on a third party site, as a guest post, for instance, you may be able to generate more traffic and interest.

4. You lack a clear plan for defining success. Is there anything better than tracking your content marketing strategy back to a big sale? This is sure to put a smile on your face as it makes you realize that all your hard work has paid off.

Unfortunately, you cannot expect every piece of content to generate sales. You need to focus on more than sales. Here are some of the other ways you can benefit from content marketing:

  • Building your brand
  • Increasing the number of high quality backlinks to your site, thus strengthening its authority
  • Connecting with others, including potential customers, current customers, and those who simply enjoy what you are doing

Even if your content marketing strategy comes up short in terms of generating sales, there are other benefits to be aware of.

5. The belief that you have to do everything on your own. From one-man companies to those with hundreds of employees, there is always help to be had.

Have you given any thought to hiring a freelance writer to produce blog posts for your company? Have you experimented with the idea of enlisting the help of employees within a variety of departments, knowing that each person can bring valuable advice to the forefront?

You should never feel as if you have to create all the content on your own. Even if you enjoy doing so, don’t be afraid to hand off the responsibility from time to time. Not only will this save you time, but it will allow you to more easily provide unique content.

These five reasons for content marketing failure never have to slow you down. Now that you are aware of the mistakes that others are making, you can avoid doing the same in the future. As a result, you can expect solid results from your content marketing strategy.

Google Analytics Academy: Conversion and Attribution

Have you heard about Google’s new Analytics Academy? It offers extensive training in Google Analytics and data analysis and helps you to prepare for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification. The first class in the academy, Digital Analytics Fundamentals, wrapped up on October 30th.  We’ll be covering each unit for those who missed the deadline, and next up is “Conversion and Attribution”.

There are two important concepts to measure the customer journey along the funnel:

  • Conversion
  • Conversion Attribution

In Google Analytics (and digital analytics, in general) there are macro and micro conversions.

  • Macro Conversion – occurs when someone completes an action that is important to your business. For ecommerce, the most important conversion would completing a transaction.
  • Micro Conversion – is also an important action, but does not immediately contribute to the bottom line. These are also important to measure because it can help you understand where people are on their journey to macro conversions. (more…)

Managing Social Media Remotely

This past summer I spent 12 weeks in Boston. I won’t go into the specific circumstances of why I was there, but I can tell you it was wonderful. Running by the Charles River, living in Back Bay, enjoying the city’s rich history, beer selections and glorious food. I’m still in my 20s, and I fit in perfectly with the college-town demographic.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to get a job such as waiting tables, bartending or otherwise. To fund my travels, I instead tried my hand at working remotely. I won’t write a love letter to the Internet, but I do appreciate that I live in a time when it’s entirely possible to work from home, or in my case, work from vacation.

I bring this all up, not to start a “my summer was better than yours” competition, but to highlight how I managed social media for Raleigh-based companies 12 hours away. Hopefully, I can provide tips to those of you who manage accounts with target audiences in another geographic location entirely. Or, if you do a lot of consulting work, perhaps this will help you feel more confident when pitching to a client across the country.

What was it like? (more…)

Social Media in the Government

To learn more about this topic, join us for the free web seminar October 21st, Social Media in the Government.

Recently, I attended an event in which various presenters spoke about different ways social media has changed parts of life. There were the obligatory things, such as “marketing” and “networking” and the less expected things, such as “parenting.” What really threw me for a loop was “government.”

Government? According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 83 percent of people disapprove of Congress. President Obama’s approval is now lower than it has been in the past two years. In fact, according to a Reuters poll, the only thing less popular than our federal government seems to be invading Syria. Social media may be changing the government, but is it for the worse?

At least, that was my initial reaction. Then Raleigh City Councilman Bonner Gaylord stood up and gave an excellent speech about innovation and government’s attempt to engage citizens through social networks.

“Social media is changing the way we interact with our government,” Gaylord said. “It’s changing from a top-down hierarchy to a bottom-up citizen-led democracy.” (more…)

5 Steps for a Basic Facebook Advertising Strategy

Learn to maximize your business and sales potential with Facebook advertising and more in our social media training course.

It’s fast becoming a reality: In order to do well on Facebook, you’re going to have to spend money. Now that there are so many advertisers on the social network (more than 1 million), it’s nearly impossible for a page to get noticed organically. There’s too much competition.

It’s unfortunate, but I can’t really blame the social network — it’s got stockholders now, and stockholders tend to avoid displaying loyalty when you’re not producing revenue. Like it or not, in order to increase your exposure, you’ll need to fork over some cash.

Perhaps you’ve known this and you’ve been putting it off. It looks confusing, you say. CPC or CPM? Targeting? And what in the world does “bidding” mean? Better just to avoid the whole thing.

Sorry, but keeping your head in the sand is a terrible approach, and you’re not doing your business any favors.  Hopefully these five steps can get you started through the process.

Step 1:  Design your ad (more…)

How to Improve Your Business with LinkedIn

A Summary from the New ASPE-ROI White Paper

LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful tools in the marketing, sales and business worlds. The power of connecting with thousands of people by the click of a button has immense potential, yet some people just don’t know where to start, or worse, they’re doing it wrong and turning potential customers into jaded audience members.

The new ASPE-ROI white paper by Christina Motley, Improving Your Business with LinkedIn:  Mastering the Art of Networking to Increase Leads and Engage with Customers, not only explains the history of LinkedIn, it advises on conventional practices within LinkedIn and gives you detailed steps that will help you connect with more people, engage current customers, and be in the forefront of potential customers mind’s when they need your service or product. Here are a few key items covered in this white paper about LinkedIn: (more…)

Think You Can’t Measure the Value of Social Media? Think Again.

About a month ago, I had an identity crisis. I am an account manager at a firm that does social media marketing for small businesses, and I had all but tweeted myself into burnout.

I swear, I would think, drowning amidst Google Alerts and the ever-updating Hootsuite feeds, if I have to cleverly craft one more status update … It’s a wonder one of our clients didn’t end up “getting’ slizzard” with the Red Cross. Even for people that love social media, the feeling of being trapped in a bottomless pit can get overwhelming.

In the end, a break wasn’t even what I needed — I just needed to know there was a point to the hours and hours of work. While I had noticed great uptakes in engagement with our accounts, I had no way of knowing whether the comments and follower counts were actually doing anything. Was there a social side to social media?

I asked one of our clients, a wedding venue, if I could write a case study on our work. “Did we increase sales?” I asked with the aggressive urgency of an investigative reporter. “If not sales, then business leads? How has business changed since you started working with us?” (more…)

How Social Media Can Replace Your PR Team

Quick quiz: Butter is to bread as social media is to … any guesses?

Yes, PR. Good job for reading the title. Public relations, or the more euphemistic business communication, and social media are a match made on eHarmony. PRoper communication is a business PRerogative, and social media is PRimed for exPRession.

But wordplay aside, is it possible to replace all your PR tools (meaning pitch letters, media lists, press conferences, etc.) with Twitter and company? If you’re a small business, I argue that yes, you can. You’ll still have to hammer out the occasional press release, and your media lists will become blogger lists, but social media harnesses the power to do everything else. And because of its low—read free—price, it’s very economical as well. (more…)

Using Social Media as Your Marketing Department

Boil away all the extraneous (but still very important) steps to launching a business, and you’re left with a two-step process. After the legal rights have been established, the employee handbook written, the contracts signed, the balance sheet created, you’ve got a business model that applies to every organization in the world:

1. Create a product or service.

2. Market it.

I firmly believe you can accomplish step two entirely through the use of social media. This is the one type of marketing in which the opportunity cost is not financial but temporal. However, given that you won’t be spending time designing fliers or setting up ridiculous banner ads, even that will be minimal. (more…)

Value-Added Selling Part 5

Selling Benefits, Not Features

Last post I discussed engaging with your customer in part four of this five part series on value-added selling. In this final part of the series, I’ll discuss the importance of selling benefits instead of features, and how to present your solution — the right solution — to your customer.

The value you add to the sales situation is demonstrated in various ways, many of which we already discussed in previous portions of this series. However, it all comes together in the way in which you present the solution to your client. Let’s discuss exactly how this is done.

First, we must cover a simple lesson on features versus benefits since it is critical that you understand the difference, and many people get them confused. A feature is something you want while a benefit is something you need. For instance, when you go to a hardware store to buy a ¼ inch drill bit, is that what you need or what you want? You don’t need a ¼ inch drill bit. You NEED a ¼ inch hole, but you WANT a ¼ inch drill bit in order to make the hole. The salesman in the hardware store, in knowing what it is you actually need, can help address what it is you’ll ultimately want to buy. (more…)