5 common content marketing mistakes

Joel Egan

As digital director for Australian content marketing agency Edge, Joel is passionate about how brands can use digital strategies to achieve their business goals. He has worked with a number of Australia’s biggest brands, helping them to execute clever content strategies across multiple digital platforms to achieve great customer loyalty, engagement and sales. Brands Joel has worked with at Edge include Australia Post, Woolworths, Australian Unity, Suzuki, Australian Super and Crown.

Do you know your audience? You would probably answer that with a YES. But I ask again, do you really know your audience? Do you know their behaviours, spending habits, interests and media consumption?

Marketers need to answer these questions in greater detail than even before. If you can’t provide deep analysis on your audience and customers, then you are in real trouble.

From time to time I hear marketers comment that content marketing doesn’t work. They will say: “We tried it once but we didn’t get any results”. A decision is then made not to invest in content marketing and to continue with their traditional marketing approaches, which I find amazing and think, “Well good luck with that”.

However, when I dig deeper into why it didn’t work I find these common mistakes that are made:

1. Lack a clear understanding of your audience

Don’t try to reach as many people as you can without looking at a clearly defined audience and creating very specific and targeted content based on the audience need. Beth Comstock, CMO of GE, summed this up perfectly when she said, “Sometimes you might want to connect with 4 million people. But sometimes maybe you really only want 4000... or 400. It's about getting it right with the right audience.”

2. Ill-defined user journeys

You may have audience profiles but have you mapped out their user journey? A user journey goes beyond someone visiting your website and contact you or purchasing.

You need to map out the information and research they are conducting before they even consider your product or brand - Google refers to this as the Zero Moment of Truth, or simply ZMOT. This allows you to create relevant content during the discovery phase. You also need to map out the experience after they have become a customer. Understanding this will help you to build trust and credibility with your customers so you can turn them into brand advocates.

3. Weak content amplification

You invest and create content, then sit back and magically hope your audience will come to you. You then see the lack of traffic to your content and assume content marketing doesn’t work. This can be all too common.

For every piece of content you create, you need to plan out how it will be amplified and ensure the content is repurposed for the channels it is to be amplified to. This can be difficult especially for large organisations that have several marketing divisions, as you need to work closely with each of them to make sure your content is amplified correctly.

4. The wrong content type

You may have defined your audience and their journey but it can all be for nothing if you are not utilising the right types of content. There can be a temptation to go cheap and put together a standard blog article. Don’t get me wrong this might be the right approach but often content such as video and infographics can be pushed aside purely based on their cost to produce. Also, it may require you to venture into new areas such as snackable video for Vine and Instagram.

You need to create the right content for the right audience, the type of content a young audience consumes will be completely different to that of an older demographic. You may have a two minute video for one audience profile and create a 15 second video for the other.

5. Lack of integrated marketing tools

To maximise your content marketing potential you are going to need the right marketing technology. This can be a hard pill to swallow but it is unavoidable. You need to integrate your marketing platforms if you want to deliver targeted, effective and automated content to your audience.

The mistake isn’t that you haven’t set this up yet; the mistake is that you haven’t started investing in automation because if you don’t, you will be well and truly left behind. A CRM will assist you to incorporate your email platform, website and campaign sites and social media, allowing a deep level of reporting. You need to be able to track your customers and provide relevant, real-time content.

Content marketing requires an investment, it takes time and it requires constant analysis and adaptation. But what reason do you have not to invest? It works and it has been proven to work time and time again. Personally I think laziness and fear is a core component of why it doesn’t get off the ground for some brands and organisations.

Beth Comstock recommends that brands trying to catch up should "start by knowing who you are and what you stand for - without that, you are all over the place. And try a lot of things. You know who are, but you need to experiment. It doesn't cost a lot of money."

GE, who for me are the benchmark in content marketing, see content-marketing as a journey and said: "We've been on a five-year journey, and we are still trying to figure this out". But while they are figuring it out they are seeing a definite ROI – 30 per cent extra value on every dollar spent on content marketing.

To deliver a successful content marketing campaign, a highly integrated approach is needed. This requires marketing divisions to work together and a deep understanding of your audience; it also requires you to put the focus on your customers’ needs, that you try different tactics and take risks.

Tags: content marketing, marketing strategy

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