Writing bad content is easy. Writing strategic, sticky content is not. Many businesses look at the amount of time and money they’ve put into their content marketing and feel they haven’t achieved any real ROI. What happened, and more importantly, how do you fix it?
Content Marketing Problem 1: You have no buckets (or too many of them)
Unless you’re Wikipedia, you’re not supposed to be writing about every topic under the sun. Focus your content on where it can make the most difference to your business. Who are you trying to reach, and what messages do they need to hear? Content marketing workflow experts recommend these steps:
- Develop a customer persona that can help your team understand who they’re writing for and why. What are their pain points? What do they consider a fruitful buying experience? Your content should offer solutions to these pain points and promise success. Your organization will probably have more than one type of customer. Be sure to develop a persona for each.
- Break down your customer buying cycle. Companies tend to chase the “hot leads” and neglect to nurture potential customers who are still researching, weighing options, or discussing the option with stakeholders. What information do they need? What could swing them over to you? What platforms or content formats would earn their trust?
- Create content buckets. Now that you have an idea of who you’re talking to and what they need to hear, develop content themes. These are the buckets that will hold and define all the ideas and content output.
Content Marketing Problem 2: You have a leaky bucket
You have plenty of ideas and a very talented and creative team, but your inefficient content marketing workflow doubles the time and effort to create your campaign. Here are signs to watch out for:
- Your writers and designers have a hard time getting the information they need from other departments. They don’t know who to approach, or what is available.
- Revisions are confusing. Comments are spread across long, confusing email threads and message boards.
- Approvals take too long. Decision makers are hard to reach, and are often dissatisfied with the product because it does not reflect strategies or market information that was not given to the creative team.
- Assets get lost. You have excellent content that is not repurposed or reused to its full potential.
Content marketing workflow automation can fix all of that. It creates clear roles and enables systems like regular brainstorming meetings and approval structures. Even a simple rule like how to name files and where to save them will save your company hours and headaches. To completely simplify the process, you can also invest in content marketing automation.
Content Marketing Problem 3: You don’t have water for your bucket
Not all companies have dedicated content creators. Sometimes the job of creating a website or brochure falls to the sales or marketing team, or it’s outsourced to an agency or a freelancer. This creates two scenarios: you have someone who knows the product but does not understand content strategy, or you have someone who is a master content creator but doesn’t know your product.
Or, to put in another way, your bucket doesn’t have enough water.
You’re better off hiring a content creator and arming her with the product information. Poorly written content reflects badly on your company, and fluffed-up content irritates your customers. Here are some data that your writers will need:
- Product strengths vs. competitor strengths
- Case studies and customer anecdotes
- History of the company and product (especially if a lot of research and science was put into it)
- Feedback from the sales and customer service team: in their experience, what words/phrases/product features got the most positive response? What questions do customers usually ask?
And don’t forget – one bucket can go a long way, if you repurpose content into different forms. Break down a brochure into social media posts, and take key phrases and lay it out again to create a landing page. Search for content gems in your everyday business. Take the graph from your sales PowerPoint and put it into a blog post. Tweet your CEO’s quote from his speech. Your brand already has a story – you just have to tell it.
Content marketing problem 4: You’re not using your bucket with your shovel
You’re putting all this attention on content, but does it synch with the rest of your sales and marketing? It sounds obvious, but many departments work independently. Content is the content creator’s problem, right? Wrong. You are speaking to one customer, and the goal is to create a unified customer experience.
Connect your bucket to the source. When was the last time anyone from marketing checked the email queries that were sent through the website? And if a customer asked your sales representative about “yesterday’s Facebook post” would he know how to answer? Make sure that everyone on your team knows what’s going on in digital, and vice versa.
- Create regular communication channels. Content marketing tools like Mintent allow stakeholders to view a content calendar, send ideas, or upload resources for your content creators (like photos from a sales event, or the approved marketing calendar).
- Require all employees to follow your official social media accounts. (It wouldn’t hurt to ask them to share, either.)
- Create “digital bulletins” that update employees of on-going campaigns. They are your first audience, and your built-in circle of influencers.
- Assign a point person from each department to liaise with your content creators and gather materials for them.
Content marketing problem 5: Nobody’s drinking from your buckets
Let’s be realistic. If you have a small budget, you can’t create the massive campaigns of industry giants. And even if you have a great budget, content marketing is a slow boil. You’re creating perceptions and relationships. It can take months or even years to own a Google search for a keyword phrase, and even then you’re not sure if all readers will buy. You can lead a reader to a bucket, but you can’t make him drink.
So what’s the point? Digital presence is no longer negotiable; you need to be there. However, manage your expectations and set small but concrete milestones. Content marketing automation platforms include both a calendar and analytics so you can see which posts performed better. You can fine tune your efforts and built a better bucket.
Mintent (formerly Marketing.ai) has helped many companies in many industries automate their workflow to stop the leakage. You can too.