Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Might Be a Total Waste

Content Marketing Strategy
Content is an important component of the marketing mix in 2019. Let me explain.
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What if I told you that all the time and effort you’re putting into your content marketing strategy was a total waste? You’d probably be a bit offended and I don’t blame you – I would be too. Well, it’s no secret that content is king, and I wouldn’t have to twist your arm to convince you that it’s an important component of the marketing mix in 2019. So what’s with my bold statement and why am I writing this article?

As you may have guessed, I’m about to lay it all out for you. Here we go.

Content marketing strategy – a true story

Content creation without strategy is like trying to read poor penmanship. Sure, some people may be able to decipher what it means and perhaps the odd person may find value in it, but that’s where the buck stops.

Rather than giving you a list of the do’s and don’ts around content marketing strategies, I’m going to engage you by applying this to a scenario. Let’s suppose there are two healthy food companies of fairly similar size that both sell products online and in retail. Here’s what each company’s monthly content distribution looks:

Company ABC distributes:

  • 4 Blog posts
  • 8 Promotional emails
  • 1 Monthly newsletter
  • 2 YouTube videos
  • 15 Instagram posts
  • 15 Facebook posts
  • 30 Twitter posts
  • Monthly marketing budget = $15,000

Company XYZ distributes:

  • 4 Blog posts
  • 8 Promotional emails
  • 1 Monthly newsletter
  • 2 YouTube videos
  • 15 Instagram posts
  • 15 Facebook posts
  • 30 Twitter posts
  • Monthly marketing budget = $5,000

No, you didn’t miss something. The only difference is the amount of money they spend each month on marketing.

Company ABC sees next to no engagement and barely breaks even on their overall ROAS. When you factor in the salaries of their employees, they’re actually losing money. The kicker? Company XYZ sees 4x ROAS and grows their total social audience by more than 10 percent each month. So what gives?

What separates a good content marketing strategy from the pack

Content marketing strategy

As you may have guessed, Company XYZ has a solid content marketing strategy. Through the use of social listening tools, they’ve discovered what their customers are interested in and what problems they struggle with. Rather than guessing what the people they seek to serve actually want, they turned to data and analytics to find that answer for them. Once they determined the topics they wanted to focus on, they used Buzzsumo to learn what was driving the most engagement. They analyzed the top articles and learned what was engaging well, as well as the areas of opportunity for their own content marketing strategy.

Once they discovered the topics to cover and messaging they’d use, it was time to put together their content marketing calendar. They determined what platforms their customers spent the most time on and then strategized how they’d distribute the content across each channel. They optimized the content they created so that it made sense for each platform they focused on. They didn’t share long, instructional content on Instagram posts – they posted it on their blog, sent it to various online publications, and then drove traffic to it through social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

The use of social listening tools – why do they matter?

Here’s what they learned from their social listening tools. Their customers struggled to cut out sugar from their diets and a good portion of them battled with acne. They valued convenience and the idea of physically -grocery shopping made their bones shiver. A night spent watching America’s Got Talent and gossiping about celebrities was considered time well spent.

Now, rather than creating content covering the features, benefits, and promotions of their core products, they had a solid and well-thought-out strategy. Their content marketing strategy focused on distributing material their customers actually wanted to consume, at a time they actually wanted to consume it, and in a form they were most receptive to. Company XYZ had a solid SEO strategy, so they knew they’d get eyeballs on their content without spending excessively on paid traffic.

They focused on the promotion of their comprehensive sugar-free line of products and the messaging conveyed the ease and convenience of their subscription service and rewards program. The blog posts they shared covered the topics related to the foods and habits that led to acne, and they didn’t shy away from involving themselves in non-controversial celebrity news. On their social channels, they interacted with their customers in the comments and regularly shared user generated content on their feeds. This allowed them to build an engaged community that reshared content and would never dare hit unsubscribe at the bottom of the marketing emails they received.

A recipe for success is when you have a brand that influencers would genuinely love and use, even if they weren’t being paid to. Then you assist them in creating content that their followers actually want to consume. This should be a partnership after all – you’re both in this together to achieve a common goal.

Cross-promote your channels through a solid content marketing funnel

A content funnel is put into place so that they can take someone from the first brand touchpoint on Instagram, to an eventual follow/subscribe across all of their social channels without spending an additional dime on paid ads. How? Well, let me tell you.

Let’s suppose they have an active and engaged Instagram page. On a Monday, they share a post that teases one of their high value blog posts that they just uploaded to their website. They also have it shared in their Instagram Story with a swipe up link, as well as a direct link found in their Instagram bio. The blog post is titled “The Seven Bad Habits That Are Causing Your Acne” and in two places on the page, they have a lead magnet titled “137 Recipes For Clearer & Healthier Skin.” Now, because the consumer had enough interest in the topic to click on a blog post about the bad habits causing acne, and the fact they’re interested in food and beverage products, means the lead magnet should see a higher volume of signups.

Content Marketing funnel

In their email, they sent the download link to the recipes and included a YouTube video thumbnail of work they had created in collaboration with a high-profile celebrity off of America’s Got Talent. A portion of the email subscribers click on the YouTube video, which has engaging call-to-actions to subscribe to their channel in the opening clip and in the video description.

Company XYZ now has the consumer on Instagram, email, and YouTube – not to mention their pixel data as well. Sure, you’re never going to see the majority of these people clicking through and following/subscribing at every step – it is a funnel after all. But, repeated over time, you acquire a larger portion of your audience and continue to build your community across channels. Your month’s content marketing calendar should make several attempts to cross-promote your channels.

The more ingrained you become in your customer’s day-to-day, the more loyal your community becomes. Think higher customer-lifetime-value and enhanced word-of-mouth.

Where your content marketing strategy can go wrong

These are all things Company ABC missed. They focus on creating content that is based around their products and promotions. They never shy away from a flash sale or an opportunity to tell the ordinary story behind their brand. There’s no strategy behind their content – it’s more spray-and-pray, and pay to distribute. Cross-promotion isn’t a focus and they share the same content across all social channels, regardless of which would actually make the most sense for any particular piece of content.

Make your content stand out

The output from both companies in my examples is the same, but the end result is different. Company XYZ sees far greater fruits from their labor and they’re more likely to find themselves mentioned organically through word-of-mouth.

Your content marketing strategy needs to focus on providing value to your audience, backed with a solid strategy and defined purpose. There’s far too much noise online today for a spray-and-pray mentality to work – only exceptional content stands out.

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