Today’s customers don’t buy because you’ve hired a glitzy ad agency to make an award-winning TV commercial. After seeing one too many products fail to meet the ads’ promises (remember New Coke?), customers lost faith in ads. If your content marketing strategy is more New Coke than the moneymaker it should be, read on. We’ll show you how to fix it.
What consumers want is more information, truthful information, as in “How does it taste?” “How does it work?” “How can it make my life easier?”
Too often, customers don’t get the answers to those questions.
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michael brenner and liz bedor
Customer skepticism is even more prevalent in the business-to-business (B2B) sector. After all, a company must ensure that each purchase will provide revenue-building value—or it will soon go out of business. Businesses want detailed information about what a product or service will do for them before they even entertain a purchase.
One common thread runs through them all: they want to buy from someone they can trust. Someone who’s an expert in his or her field. Someone who will tell them how to achieve their goals.
- Learn what it takes to make content marketing work
- Identify where your content strategy got off track
- Rebuild customer trust with better content
Both businesses and B2C (business-to-consumer) customers alike want to buy from someone they can trust—someone who’s an expert in his or her field. Someone who’ll tell them how it tastes. How it works. And most importantly, what it will do for them and their businesses.
That’s why content marketing is a must-have for both B2C and B2B businesses. Done well, content marketing provides helpful information to prospective customers.
It might surprise you, but expertly crafted content marketing rarely promotes the product or service itself. It starts with a challenge that your customers need to conquer.
Whether it’s a blog post, a highly technical white paper, or a how-to video, great content marketers put the customer’s greatest needs at the heart of every piece of content they produce.
In meeting those core needs, companies who do content marketing right establish themselves as trusted experts in their respective fields. But what if your content marketing just isn’t working?
How can you identify what you’re doing wrong?
Ask yourself some hard questions. If you haven’t addressed these content marketing essentials, it’s time to get to work to fix them.
Have You Researched, Developed, and Documented Your Content Strategy?
Take the time to do some research on your best customers: demographics, likes, where they hang out online and off, and what keeps them up at night.
Next, brainstorm content that will help your target customers get a good night’s sleep every night by solving their problems. As digital marketing expert Neil Patel advises, get it down in paper (or in a digital document) so that you can refer to those types of content when you’re stuck for ideas.
Using that document as a guide, create a custom content roadmap that will flesh out all the ways you’ll produce, distribute, and promote content. Whenever you and your team run into a roadblock, go back to that plan and tweak it as necessary.
If your business develops a new product or finds a new market for an existing product, research those customers’ needs and goals. Then, document this change in your strategy. Allow your strategy to evolve with your business.
When you create a roadmap that spells out your strategy, you and your content teams can arrive at your goals faster—and with a more robust return on your investment (ROI). Doing so will put you in the top tier of your industry—at least in the content marketing side of things.
With a well-documented strategy and a roadmap that spells out how often you’ll publish new content, you’ll avoid many businesses’ fatal content marketing flaw: sporadic publication. To succeed at content marketing, you must publish frequently. When you do, you’ll build your trust factor as people become familiar with you and your company.
Have You Killed (or Tweaked) Your Darlings?
Creating content that achieves your goals requires editing. Although legendary writer William Faulkner first coined the saying “In writing, you must kill your darlings,” the advice is equally applicable to any kind of content, whether it be a video, a blog post, or a reply to a comment on social media.
Darlings, of course, are those favorite tidbits that you thought were such good ideas when you first created the content but now somehow don’t cut it in the eyes of the consumer.
When your content falls short of your goals, it’s time to look for some darlings to kill. They might include:
- Keyword issues: Those darlings might be wording that you thought to be oh-so-clever, only to find out that search engines weren’t recognizing them as synonyms for the products or services you sell, nor were your readers. Do some keyword research, update the wording, and then test the results.
- Customer data or personas that you need to replace or update: If your target customer research needs an update, it might be that your content has targeted the wrong people in the wrong place. For example, if you’re still spending the bulk of your social media time on Facebook to market to millennials, you might want to update your data. It’s more likely they’re on Instagram. Update your content and your content placement to fit your updated target customer data.
- Your call to action (CTA) that fizzles out: Put your content to the test with split (A/B) testing. Publish one version with your current call to action and another version with a new, more targeted one. If the numbers show a difference, upgrade your call to action to the better of the two. Keep testing until you hit one that produces consistent results. Try this tactic with other key components of your content, such as email subject lines and blog titles as well.
- Your grammar that needs a little upgrade from your high school English teacher: Do some digging into your content, and you might find some cringe-worthy grammar sprinkled in. Yes, spelling and grammatical errors DO matter, and mistakes can make your company look cheap. If spelling and grammar aren’t your strong suit, find a staff member or contract worker who can transform your copy into pitch-perfect prose.
- Your outdated SEO strategies: If you sprinkle keywords throughout your copy to the extent that it reads awkwardly, you need to advance your SEO knowledge a couple of decades. One person we’ve encountered wouldn’t even use the word “you” because her “SEO expert” told her that Google would think that the pronoun was a keyword! As a result, this casual-oriented business owner produced formal, third-person content that few people read. Just stop already! Search engines haven’t picked up pronouns as keywords for years. And keyword stuffing? Seriously? Stuffing your copy with keywords is likely to land you in hot water with Google and other search engines. Today’s search engines recognize two things: quality, well-written copy and authoritative content that people can easily read and understand. Give them that, and you’re on your way toward mastering SEO.
- Your visually bland content: To keep an audience’s attention longer than a minute, you need to add a little visual pop to keep people’s interest. In written content, break up similar content in chunks set apart by bullets or numbers, like we’ve done with this section. Use images, infographics, or video clips to illustrate your points, and make reading easier on readers’ eyes. For long visual presentations, use charts and other displays to draw your audience’s attention. In audio presentations, give listeners a downloadable PowerPoint visual to drive your ideas home.
- Your narrative voice sounds like a Star Trek rerun: Geek-speak, jargon-filled copy can bore when you intend to inform. Unless your audience is familiar with the industry language, say what you want to say in plain English. You’ll impress more people if you can explain complicated concepts in words they can understand.
Do You Engage Your Employees in Content Creation and Distribution?
What would you think about a tactic that could increase your content’s reach by 561 percent? One that could increase shares by a factor of 24?
Let’s go back to the trust factor. No matter how much research you do, no matter how well you pep up your visual appeal and SEO strategies, potential customers won’t be as likely to believe you if you’re only you tooting your own horn. After all, it’s you who are benefiting from each sale.
But when those who actually produce these goods and services publish and share content, people are more likely to trust them, says Entrepreneur’s Ryan Erskine. They know all the possible flaws, all the hidden benefits. When you engage your employees to get involved in content marketing, magic happens.
Even better, when you engage and empower your employees, not only will your content get more for your money, but you’ll also likely boost your overall profitability in the process.
Quality content plus engaged employees produce unlimited potential for growth. If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.