Does Content Marketing Actually Work?
According to a recent survey, about 53% of businesses are spending time and money on content marketing.
Surveys aren’t always accurate, of course. The percentage of companies using content marketing is probably much higher.
It may even be safe to assume that every business is engaged in some form of content marketing, even if they aren’t devoting substantial resources to it.
That’s because content marketing is much more than writing blog posts. Web pages, online reviews, pricing guides, press releases, apps, widgets, social media posts, and even community forum comments are all types of content marketing.
We’ve moved beyond the point where content marketing is optional. We’re now operating in a digital economy, and attention spans are short. Content serves as the touchstone for all your other marketing effort. Without it, you have nothing of value to offer your audience aside form a sales pitch.
The real question is, just how effective is content marketing? Does it actually work?
The answer is yes, but only when it’s executed properly. The market is saturated with content, and it can be difficult to stand out. Even more difficult is knowing what successful content marketing should look like for your unique business.
Below, we’ll look at the most common pitfalls in content marketing and what you can do to make it work for you.
Here’s Why Content Marketing Isn’t Working for You
If you’re just getting started with content marketing, you may just need to be patient.
It can take up to six months or longer for content marketing to start showing results. If you’re posting to a blog, for example, you need to wait for search engines to crawl and index your new pages before they start showing up in search results and driving traffic.
But if you’ve been at it a while and you still aren’t seeing success, there are plenty of other reasons your content marketing may be going awry. For example, you could be struggling if you haven’t:
- Set measurable and attainable goals using metrics
- Identified your audience and developed buyer personas
- Created content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
- Chosen content formats that your audience will be interested in
- Used SEO best-practices on all your pages
- Included conversion opportunities within your content
- Created a documented content strategy and content creation schedule
Managing a blog is easy enough. But posting a 500-word article once a week probably won’t give you very significant results. Most experts recommend you publish content multiple times per week – at least once per day, preferably. 51% of businesses that engage in content marketing publish content daily, while only 31% publish content weekly.
There’s one final reason why your content marketing may not be working, but most businesses don’t like to admit it: Your content may just be bad.
This is a tough pill to swallow. But if you do a quick search for one of your topics, you may find post after post in your search results that all say the same thing.
Too many businesses are more concerned with completing content tasks than they are with adding something of value with their content. You may want to publish to your blog multiple times each week, but if your posts don’t add any value, they aren’t going to be read, shared, or linked to.
High-value content takes time to develop, but it pays dividends.
A good practice is to do a search for a challenging search term, then examine the top results. Likely, you’ll find a long article on an authoritative website that fully addresses the query. Your goal is to write an article that’s ten times better than that. This is what’s known as “10x content.”
This could take you a day, a week, or even a month to do with revisions. But if you can produce something more valuable than that article, you’ll be able to capitalize on its search traffic.
Building Your Content Marketing Strategy
Anyone with an ounce of writing skill can start making content. But if you want your content to drive buyers to act, you need a strategy.
The basics of a content marketing strategy are simple enough. First, you need to answer these questions:
- Who are you creating content for?
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What makes your approach (and your company) unique?
- On which channels will you reach your audience?
- How will you manage the creation and publication of your content?
- How will you measure success?
If you don’t know who your audience is, you’ll have a difficult time convincing them to do anything. Most companies identify their audience by creating buyer personas. These are documented representations of your ideal customers, incorporating everything form their job title and income to how they spend their time on the weekend.
Once you know your audience, you can identify their pain points and create content that speaks to them. Target the pain points your company solves. Depending on your market, your audience’s problem could be anything from finding a suitable enterprise cloud environment to deciding what to cook for dinner on Friday.
You should also know what channels your audience uses and what types of content they prefer (blog posts, videos, downloadable eBooks, etc.).
If you market to consumers, you’ll want to consider social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. If you market to businesses, LinkedIn and reputable business publications may be worth your time. You can even start conversations on Reddit if you know your audience spends time there.
Create a schedule that lays out how you’ll develop content and who will be responsible for deliverables. This could be someone on your staff or an outsourced team.
What Successful Content Marketing Looks Like
And lastly, you’ll need a way to measure success. For that, you need metrics.
Metrics are the measurements you use to truly understand the effectiveness of your marketing. Some of the most important content marketing metrics include:
- Website traffic
- Click-through-rates (CTR)
- Time on page
- Email subscription rates
- Comments and post engagements
You can measure a single content asset using these metrics, or you can measure a campaign. You can even measure your entire content marketing strategy.
But remember, nothing is more important than your business objectives. Retweets are great, but sales and revenue are more important. With the right analytics solutions, you should be able to trace how your content marketing impacts your high-level business goals.
88% of top content marketing performers measure the ROI of their content marketing efforts. At the end of the day, you must focus on the strategies that help your bottom line and leave behind everything that doesn’t.
Need help planning your content marketing plan? Contact us today and get started with a content plan that actually works!