The Big Content Marketing Lie

12 July 2016

Last year, I lost a client to another firm.

Was I embarrassed? No not really.

Was I worried? We didn’t really get along anyway.

Was I disappointed? Too right I was. I’d put a lot of effort into their campaign.

Was I worried about their business? Hell yes.

So what Happened?

They ended up choosing another firm who promised that they could solve all their problems with a killer content marketing campaign. They would take control of the blog, post articles and push out that content via social media and email newsletters. They would get their social media accounts looking nice with fresh ‘branding’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean). They would send out emails to the database and rocket their search marketing to the next level. They would do all this for much the same I was changing for just Search Marketing.

Sound familiar?

6 months later they have slipped down a few spots consistently on Google for all their highest converting search phrases. Now, this may seem a little insignificant, but it can mean 70% less clicks per phrase, per position meaning it can have a massive effect on overall enquiry levels.

All I’ve seen is an updated logo and a handful of blog posts that sound like they were written by a high school student in the Philippines. The logo I’ll admit doesn’t look too bad, but at second glance is barely any different from the original. Their Facebook and Instagram following has barely increased and overall engagement is very low. Website traffic has also plateaued. Don’t get me wrong, this strategy can work if executed properly, but what this new agency wasn’t aware of was the broader market environment which was sending damaging headwinds to every businesses in the industry.

Put Performance in Perspective

In this industry, there was an increasing number of competitors popping up every day. There was stagnant or declining demand. Larger players were expanding their dominance by buying up smaller players or they were simply opening new stores next to established competitors and running them into the ground through heavy price discounting. Equipment costs were declining. All of this was culminating in intensified price competition and a steady decline in profit margins. The point is, it was now an industry where if you didn’t have a strong brand, a large industry presence, or a ‘killer’ strategy, it was just a matter of time before you went out of business.

Had I missed the boat?

All of this got me thinking about Content Marketing more closely. On our client campaigns we primarily work on bottom of funnel methods to generate new customer sales or enquiries. This means that we spend most of our resources on people who are looking for that product/service and intercept them with our client’s message. It produces a very high marketing spend ROI because you’re not wasting money communicating to people who have already got your product or who will never buy from you anyway.

This involves a heavier reliance on Advanced Search Marketing and combining this with re-marketing funnel strategies through social media advertising platforms and other general interest websites. Throw email marketing and sales automation software in place and you have a solid, consistent flow of new revenue into your business.

But, on the other hand, had I overlooked the importance of a solid Content Marketing campaign?

I was skeptical. Every dodgy Search Engine Optimisation firm always seems to blame the lack of results on content. Selling a content marketing campaign is the perfect way to deflect attention away from sub-par results. Well here’s what I noticed is the big Content Marketing Lie.

1 – It doesn’t suit all products/services

From my experience, Content marketing does not suit many services/product in many industries, especially those where you only purchase the product once or twice. This is especially true for low involvement products. Would I invest a lot in content marketing for a client who is a removalist? No. Would I use it for a fashion company? Yes.

2 – It’s more than a Wordpress Blog

Content marketing is more than simply publishing some blog posts on your website. Everyone does this. The point is, who is reading them? Bots that are scanning your site? You need a critical mass of readers who are consuming the content you write and are engaging with it. Make sure you have some kind of call to action on the page or lead them into a desired outcome otherwise it’s just a waste of time.

3 – Press Releases aren’t new

Don’t confuse content marketing with a press release. This is nothing new. People have been writing press releases, guest blogging and approaching publishers with their own articles for 100’s of years.

4 – Top vs Bottom funnel

Content marketing is a top of funnel strategy and often requires a long time investment and nurturing before the user will act. For this reason it’s used by larger companies who are more interested in brand awareness and brand positioning than bottom line results. Again, unless you have good readership numbers and appropriate response mechanisms in place, forget about it.

5 – Create content in demand

Write content that people are searching for. Too often do we see the same crummy ‘5 steps to business success’ articles that don’t resonate very well with anyone. Wouldn’t it be more compelling to answer questions people are wanting to know the answer to? Millions of people type or speak questions into Google every single day. Answering common questions on your website also helps build rapport with your visitors and increases your credibility as a source of information. Trust is instantly built. Use that trust to your advantage.

6 – Quality vs Quantity

Write quality content even if that means less of it and less often. Quality over quantity is the key. If you are pushing an article out every 7 days, just for the purposes of pushing out an article, why don’t you sit down and think about a more effective strategy.

7 – Get it out there

Think about who’s listening before you publish. You’ll most likely need to promote your content. Especially if you don’t have a large regular audience who’s consuming your content. You also need to get it out there to the people it’s most relevant to by targeting that promotional effort.  If you’re writing a newsworthy article but don’t have a publicist, use Outbrain or Taboola to help give it a boost. Boost the link on Facebook to your like-base. Encourage or even incentivize people to share it with others in order to get a natural snowball affect happening.

8 – Buzzword Mistake

Think about why you’re doing Content Marketing in the first place. Are you doing it because it sounds like a good thing to do and you need to get on the bandwagon? Or are you using it strategically for a particular purpose?

WHAT THE…

So there’s no real call to action on this page. I don’t use content marketing for my business, in fact there isn’t even a newsletter sign up area. It’s not that a content strategy wouldn’t work if I executed it properly, but I just don’t have the time nor need the equiries it would generate.  With that said, if you need a hand figuring out where and how you should be spending your Digital Marketing dollars, get in touch and I’ll get back to you if you’re a good fit.

 

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