Do you remember when you had to be convinced that content marketing was worth the effort?
Now, it’s more popular than ever before and has proven to be more effective than any outbound marketing activity, costing 63% less and generating three times as many leads.
In fact, 90% of all organizations now incorporate content marketing into their overall marketing strategy. We’ve evolved from bemoaning how long it takes to write a blog article to eagerly adopting new formats and approaches.
This is, after all, a generation with young adults earning $10 million per year through monetized blogs on YouTube:
It’s safe to say the overwhelming effectiveness of content marketing has been established. For businesses who have adopted this channel, however, there is one potential pitfall. A big one.
Its equation is simple. The more organizations produce and promote content, the more content there is available to be consumed. The more content available, the less time their audience has to identify and consume the most valuable and relevant content to their needs and interests. This is what Mark Schaefer calls ‘content shock’.
What is Content Shock?
Schaefer published an article four years ago in which he suggested that content marketing was not a sustainable strategy for many businesses. What was once a relatively uncrowded content space, “Red Bull was a beverage company, not a media company, Chipotle was making burritos, not claymation films, and there were roughly one-third as many bloggers” was becoming a “situation where content supply is exponentially exploding while content demand [remains] flat”.
In 2018, we have officially reached saturation point.
As well-intentioned as your efforts are, no matter how many hours you spend researching a blog post, or scripting a webinar, there are no guarantees that your work will yield positive results. This infographic shows just how easily your content can get lost in the crowd.
Your Content Strategy is Failing
You know your target audience. You built a strategy. You put together a content calendar. You invest time and resources. And… it’s not working.
In our current state of content shock, this is unsurprising. You need to be able to differentiate your brand, demonstrate your Unique Selling Points, and set yourself apart from an ever-growing level of competition. To quote Steve Martin, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
This may seem like an impossible prospect, but even in a world in which 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds, you can still come out on top.
Let’s check out the most likely reasons your content strategy is failing and how to turn things around!
- You aren’t measuring the ROI of your content.
Only 8% of marketers consider themselves “very successful” or “extremely successful” at tracking content marketing ROI. If your business is spending time and budget on creating and distributing content, this is, unquestionably, the metric that matters most. And if you aren’t using the right tools and data points, it will be impossible to achieve.
Use a time-tracking app or iPhone timer to discern how long it takes to create a piece of content. Don’t forget to pause the timer while taking a break. The worth of your cumulative time spent creating content is your investment.
To find the return, you need to discern which metrics to track. If it’s online sales, you should set up a Google Analytics User Flow report to see what website visitors do, like whether they click your CTA after reading an article, or whether they make a purchase after landing on a product page. Then, knowing which content on your website is converting and which is underperforming, you can optimize your strategy.
If the main objective of your content marketing is lead generation, you can calculate content ROI by tracking the number of contact enquiries that were completed via lead gen forms around your content. Depending on how you set up your lead gen forms, this can be done through your CRM, email provider, or software such as Leadformly.
If you want to adopt a more all-inclusive approach, you can use Google’s Attribution Modeling to calculate the monetary impact of every piece of content consumed at every step in the customer journey.
Once you’ve figured out what will constitute your return, calculating ROI is only a few simple steps away. Through your content ROI, you can determine which titles, topics, and content formats best engage your customers and provide most value. These insights will enable you to adapt and refine your content strategy, and set you up for success.
- You haven’t considered video.
51% of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as the medium with the best ROI. Marketers who use video content grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t, but many brands are still reluctant to embrace it as part of their content strategy. Despite its unparalleled ability to boost brand awareness, generate quality leads, and maximize sales, video still carries a few common misconceptions.
Many assume that video only works for top-of-funnel campaigns, when brand awareness is the key objective. Or that it’s more suitable for B2C audiences rather than B2B. Or that anyone with a smartphone can create compelling video content. Or that it’s too expensive for your organization to have its video content created professionally.
The truth is, video can be whatever you want it to be and achieve whatever you need it to achieve—often more effectively than other formats. Now that the average human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish, it’s more feasible to imagine a consumer engaging with a 60 second video than a 1500-word article (apart from this one of course!). Easy-to-consume over breakfast, during a break, or on a commute, video also helps viewers retain 95% of its message compared to 10% for text, ensuring your brand stays front-of-mind amongst your target audience.
Video also has the ability to engage your customers on a variety of platforms. As one of the most repurposable content assets, video can seriously maximize its ROI. You can use video on your website’s landing pages to increase engagement, in email marketing campaigns to increase CTR, and in social ad campaigns to increase conversions. If you’re reluctant to invest in video production, this amazing example from Zendesk, suitable for every stage of the sales funnel, may make you want to reallocate your marketing budget!
- You aren’t being specific.
You know you need to produce content as part of your wider marketing strategy. Before you start, you need to be able to answer one deceptively simple question.
“Why are we creating this content?”
One of the most common reasons for the failure of an organization’s content strategy is they haven’t considered the needs and interests of their customers. Consequently, their content lacks direction and clear purpose. You’ve taken the time to identify specific business goals and specific target audience segments. Now, you need to identify your specific content niche.
It’s important to avoid becoming an aimless content creator, fluctuating between listicles and webinars and GIFs with no sense of cohesion. Consider your target market, your value proposition and your industry. From there, decide upon the most appropriate content formats. Keeping a narrow focus will enable you to build your brand reputation and strengthen relationships. Potential and existing customers will come to eagerly anticipate your particular pieces of content.
You might become the company known for their emotive customer testimonial videos. Maybe your product review podcast series will be your specialty. But whatever angle you choose to adopt, stick with it, and do it well. Your content marketing performance metrics will speak for themselves!