You’ve got a solid content marketing campaign going, at least in theory. You’re working hard, producing multiple posts and remaining consistent in your posting schedule. You’re genuinely investing time and effort into your strategy, and you’ve read enough on the subject to know that most experts agree—you get out what you put in.
Unfortunately, this is only a half-truth.
You see, the sheer amount of time and effort you spend on a content strategy doesn’t always correlate to the end results you’re going to see. I’ve met enough prospective content marketers, scratching their heads over why they aren’t seeing any results, to know that sometimes, the time you invest is wasted.
The good news is, if you learn how and why you’re wasting your time, you can make the corrections necessary to get your campaign back on track.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways most marketers end up wasting time in a content strategy:
You Didn’t Do Your Research
Have you ever been driving somewhere, and you felt like you knew where you were going, so you didn’t think to pull up directions, but then you got lost and cursed yourself for trusting your faulty instincts? If you haven’t, you’re probably lying.
Instincts aren’t automatically wrong, and in some cases, they can lead to improved decision making. But holding an instinct about your content strategy—including your ideal target audience, your ideal content topics, and your ideal distribution platforms—is a bad way to build the foundation for a strategy with the reputation of your brand on the line. Instead, back up your assumptions with hard research and objective data, and research your competition to come up with new, more innovative ideas for your campaign.
You’re Aiming for Quantity Over Quality
I get the temptation here. I really do. Knowing what you know about SEO and social media, there’s an apparent advantage to having more posts; you’ll have more territory that can show up in Google search results and more fodder to bring to your audience. It therefore seems like a good idea to ratchet back your quality and focus on raw volume to start building momentum; but don’t fall for this trap.
The reality is, one awesome blog post is worth way more than a dozen average ones. Why? Because there’s no bell curve for content when it comes to links, shares, and visibility—at least not these days. Instead, the vast majority of content gets no attention at all, with only a minority seeing tremendous results; you need to be in that minority, even if it means producing fewer posts.
You’re Writing Posts That Aren’t Targeted
This is something I see in almost every prospective client I talk to. If you want your content to strike a chord with your audience, it needs to be targeted to that specific audience. It’s both easier and seemingly more beneficial to take the “general” route—writing about general topics doesn’t require much research or niche expertise, and since general topics appeal to a wider audience, they must be better, right?
In reality, there’s usually an inverse relationship between audience size and content relevance—the narrower the focus of your article, the more relevant it will be to its readers. Strive for that level of specificity, as 100 dedicated, engaged readers are better than 10,000 passersby.
You Aren’t Promoting Your Posts
I see this mistake all the time, thanks to this maxim that’s penetrated the content marketing community: “if your content is good enough, the readers will come naturally.” This isn’t true at all. Most users don’t go out of their way to hunt down new sources of content from the armpit of the Internet (which, let’s face it, is where you’re from). Now, once you have a decent following and a reputation to match, your new content can support itself, but when you first start out, your content will exist in a vacuum. You need to promote that content—through publication, syndication, and other forms of distribution—if you want it to be seen.
You Think of Content as an Isolated Strategy
In some ways, content marketing is a standalone strategy, but there are so many potential relationships it shares with other marketing tactics it would be foolish to neglect them. Content helps support and in turn can be supported by SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, PPC ad campaigns, and even some traditional marketing and advertising platforms. It can even be used as an extension of your customer service center.
If you’re only thinking in terms of content as an isolated approach, you’re shrinking the potential value of every piece you produce—and essentially, wasting time and effort that could have been maximized.
You’re Relying on Cheap Help
Do a quick search for “cheap content” or browse any freelancer database and you’ll instantly come up with thousands of options that promise you full-length articles for a few bucks each. I certainly can’t blame you for wishing these were legitimate offers, but try looking at yourself in the mirror and convincing yourself it’s a good investment.
In content marketing, you really do get what you pay for. I can almost guarantee you, unless you’re miraculously lucky, if you enlist the services of a cheap or inexperienced freelancer, you’re going to get decent content in return. Decent content doesn’t yield results. If you want standout content, you’re going to need to pay for it.
Content marketing is worth putting effort into—but not all effort yields the same value, as these popular time-wasters and nasty variables clearly illustrate. If you want to be effective, you need to understand where your efforts and most demanded and how to spend those efforts wisely. It’s not always simple, and it’s not going to work the same for every brand, but this is a truth you’re going to need to face if you want to attract more people to your brand.
For most brands, it’s better to avoid gambling with a lack of expertise, and instead seek out a professional who can help you manage an effective content strategy—or at least point you in the right direction. If you’re interested in getting some outside perspective, or maybe some help doing the heavy lifting, be sure to contact us!