You’ve published blogs, whitepapers and maybe even a podcast, but your content marketing ROI is running at a deficit. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. The Content Marketing Institute found that 51% of organizations that had minimal or no content marketing success attribute their struggles to strategy issues.
That lack of success is confounding for many because the content being created is really, really good. So what’s the issue? In my experience, there are a handful of mistakes B2B marketers make that prevent quality content from having the impact that it should.
Basing content strategies on feel and unproven suggestions
It’s common for content marketers to take direction from the board of advisors on the kinds of content they should be producing. While suggestions are good starting points, all content strategies should be based on data. There are countless tools—Semrush, Ahrefs and BuzzSumo, to name a few—that can help you start with topics and themes.
These tools also help you to drill down to reach potential customers with low-to-medium levels of search competition from an organic ranking perspective. While it’s important to use data to get content in front of the right people, it has to be unique, interesting or valuable enough to compel them to click.
Forgoing content performance review
It’s natural to put our product management hats on and check the box after we’ve published a piece of content. But the brands that really kill it with content marketing are going a step further and looking at data to identify their best-performing pieces of content—preferably once a quarter, but at minimum once a year.
The most obvious benefit of performance data review is that it helps determine the most effective topics and informs the direction of future content. However, there’s another plus: identifying content refresh opportunities. Things change fast, especially in B2B tech, so taking a proven piece of content and making slight updates can ensure that your best content remains relevant over the long haul instead of languishing to relic status.
Prioritizing product-based content over problem-based content
A study from Google a few years back found that B2B researchers conduct an average of 12 searches prior to engaging with a specific brand site. With that in mind, it’s critically important to consider producing content that appeals to those very specific problems with education-focused topics so prospective customers give them that critical first or second look in the long, complex journey from problem to solution.
Think of the many pain points searchers might be experiencing before seeking a solution and then create content that explores those topics. A Gartner analyst once said, “Nobody cares about the box and the lights and the features. They just want to know that you understand their problems better than anyone else.” Zeroing in on problems does two things: It satisfies a search need and connects with people on a human level. Content marketing success relies heavily on both.
Relying too heavily on owned content
If you’re the only one saying good things about you, it’s hard to establish credibility with prospective customers. While owned content is important, don’t underestimate the power of content outside your four walls. People are looking to validate your claims from others; this validation can come from analyst reporters, earned media, byline placements and peer-based reviews. Potential customers want to know that a brand they will potentially pay hundreds of thousands of dollars—maybe even millions of dollars—is credible and has done similar work to achieve success.
Creating unachievable definitions of content marketing success
Perfect is the enemy of good. I’ve seen many brands—startups especially—go into “analysis paralysis” as they wait to roll out a fail-proof content marketing plan. As a result, they lose valuable time raising market awareness. Instead of coming up with 150 blog posts in the first year, focus instead on three search-optimized whitepapers that you can break up into several blogs, podcast topics, bylines, social posts, etc. You’ll be able to produce a vast repository of content based on three proven ideas.
Content marketing isn’t easy. It requires a delicate balance of art and science to ensure your message gets in front of the right audience and is compelling enough to earn a click. While mistakes represent an opportunity to learn and strengthen your content strategy, you’ll find success in not repeating them. Follow our series on content marketing in the Look Left @ Marketing Podcast to learn more.