What's the secret of good content marketing? Posting new content on your blog 2-3 times a week. Using mainly textual content of medium length. Sharing them on your social networks automatically. Sending a newsletter to your entire mailing list full of different subjects, in order to capture everyone's attention.
We're joking of course: if you believe that, then your content marketing has been stuck in 2012. The rules have changed and continue to do so. What works today may not be as effective tomorrow. Or, it may even turn into a risky mistake.
Why Does Content Marketing Constantly Evolve?
The constant evolution of what works and what does not, in content marketing, is due to several factors:
If in the past it required sites to focus much of their attention on optimizing SEO content, now what Google values the most is the quality of what is published, the usefulness for readers, the richness of the text.
where are you reading this article? Probably from a mobile device. The use of smartphones has increased by 394% in recent years, and 75% of those using Internet access content from both computer and mobile (source: ComScore).
Content marketing should take into account that: everything has to be perfectly usable on any device, from the headline, to the structure, and the possibility of sharing.
Their actions and interests change quicker and quicker, and that is well shown by how fast trend topics go viral and then just get abandoned. Today’s keywords are: sharing and information. Internet is the new market and the new encyclopedia. Thinking social and providing solutions are the two genes of the DNA of the majority of the content that works.
When Content Marketing Does Not Work
Keeping up to pace with all these developments is no piece of cake. If your content marketing isn't generating much traffic, comments and sharing, you may not have thought of something. If so, don’t feel bad, you’re not alone: even important brands made mistakes, as we’ll show you later. Learning your lesson is what counts: this is why for every mistake we’ll give you a real solution to make your content marketing stronger. And never get it wrong again.
Mistake #1: Having a Mono-Channel Mind
You have a brilliant idea and you publish it on your blog. But nobody pays attention to you.
If that actually happened to you, you may have made the same mistake that Nesquik made with the “National Bunny Ears Day” campaign. Promoted on only one channel, Twitter, it asked consumers to use an app in order to add cute bunny ears to their photos. The trouble was that nobody did it. Why didn’t they think of of promoting it on other platforms?
Antidote: Broaden your perspectives. Creating good content requires time and effort, this is why it is worth have it seen by as many people as possible, on all channels available. Send it by email, promote it in various ways, build relationships with other blogs, share on social platforms many times.
Mistake #2: Using Headlines with Extended Character Counts
Headlines are like a dress: no matter how great, the content would remain invisible without a title that values it. Titles that are too long, obvious or that do not invoke emotions, go unnoticed. On the contrary, shocking titles created only to generate clicks and do not offer real information, like these below, annoy and drive people away. Luckily, Facebook now penalizes click-baiting headlines, limiting visibility.
Antidote: The best headlines are an alchemy of creativity and technique. Do not write them with no thought, use a tool to test and make them more appealing. There are plenty of them, as for example the one from Co-Schedule or the Advanced Marketing Institute. And be honest: people, Google and Facebook will reward you.
Mistake#3: Ignoring Visual Content Relevance
You believe your text is effective enough to stand alone, that the last thing you think of are images. Big mistake: photos increase content shares by 150% on Twitter, and by 87% on Facebook. Another mistake is to pick them carelessly: during a World Cup match Delta Air Lines tweeted the image of a giraffe for representing Ghana. Pity there are no giraffes in Ghana. This carelessness has caused an avalanche of negative comments and given the idea of a not very smart company: just not the best reputation for an airline company.
Antidote: Take your time to choose images and be creative: use free tools like Canva or Venngage, which also offer statistics about how often the images you publish are viewed.
Mistake #4: Failing to Consider Time and Place
Nowadays, thanks the mobile technologies, you can send geolocated messages that are effective because they are related to what the consumer is experiencing in that moment. But in a hurry you are more likely to make bad mistakes, publishing content at the wrong time and in the wrong place. If you happened to do so, just know that American Appareal did too: when hurricane Sandy arrived, they offered discounts to their customers, but this triggered a barrage of negative comments.
Antidote: Being able to reach your customers wherever and whenever you wish could be a great weapon, just use it without being too intrusive in others privacy and with sensibility. The best tool in this case is common sense.
Mistake #5: Never Personalizing
You have posted content that appeals to everyone and only give automated responses to the comments on your social platforms. Very bad idea. People surf the web more and more from mobile and smartphones, and they expect personalized communication, a one-to-one approach. Yet, even among the big names, there are still some that struggle to understand it: an American Airlines customer tweeted “The largest, sh...iest airline in the world”. The company’s auto-response “Thanks for your support!” hasn’t been actually the best one in that case.
Antidote: Mobile technologies bring along the opportunity to relate directly to your customers. Create different content for different targets by using Google Analytics segment builder tools to learn more about what keeps users engaged. Customization takes time, but that is well invested time.
The Final Take
As John Sculley stated “I have found that I always learn more from my mistakes than from my successes. If you aren't making some mistakes, you aren't taking enough chances.” So, learn from your mistakes, and keep exploring: content marketing is like a journey, you’ll discover the best practices along the road.
John Wieber is Partner at WebMoves. John has 14+ years experience in web development, e-commerce, and Internet marketing. He has been actively involved in the internet marketing efforts of more then 100 websites in some of the most competitive industries online.