Content Strategy Troubleshooting for Marketers
How do you get in the faces of your target market if you aren’t producing content for them? Your competitor does. Bad news for you.
Anyway, this post is not about the pros and cons of updating website content. Together, let’s examine why content has been ineffective for you. First, we need to ask these five content strategy troubleshooting questions.
- Are you producing content for the right people?
- Is what you’re talking about what folks want to hear from you?
- If you’re producing content, are you reaching the right people with your content?
- Are people reading or viewing your content and going on their merry way?
- Who are your competitors? What are they doing?
As a marketer, these are questions you should be asking, sometimes even before producing any piece of content. And we’ll see answers to these questions in this post.
To compete in the big leagues, it is said, you have to produce 6 articles each week and each article needs to be at least 1,500 words long. That’s about 9,000+ words every week. It’s a lot of words, almost like writing a new 30-page book every week. This is easy for big brands, who have up to 10 freelancers working on different aspects of content production.
But why? Is content all that?
The business landscape has grown much competitive than it was 10 years ago. And 10 years from now, it’s still probably going to be competitive (likely more competitive). Big brands are leveraging authority content to retain their spots. Small brands are creating content to get their voice heard. And everyone fights for the first page on Google. And rightly so. Because Google drives about 51% of blog traffic.
Note that this stat actually applied mostly to big brands with at least 8 year old domains, making at least $5 million in revenue yearly. It may not always be the case for small brands. These big brands probably have sufficient backlinks and domain age to keep their first page spots on Google. Yet, the point is SEO traffic is still a big deal in 2019. Why? People make millions of searches within minutes.
The Argument in Favor of Quantity
Using a marketing analogy, if you send out more sales pitches, you are more likely to get a sale. In that sense, you think of your content like pitches going out, the more you produce, the more your chances of getting seen by someone who probably would become a customer. In this sense, it would be better for you to create more posts than creating one super long post. The latter would garner more SEO-benefits while the former will get you more accumulated views in a short period.
The Downside: Content Shock
The more content being produced with click bait titles, the more information overload. Currently, content output outpaces demand – a phenomenon termed content shock by Mark Schaefer in 2014.
“According to Nielsen and other sources, the amount of content we consume on a daily basis has grown from two hours a day in the 1920s to nearly 11 hours per day today. Propelled by mobile devices, the average amount of content we consume on a daily basis has gone up by two hours a day just in the last three years!” – Mark Schaefer, BusinessGrow
We find that the majority of what is produced is outright irrelevant to us. The more information we accumulate on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google, the more strained our ability to pay attention for long.
The Argument in Favor of Quality
Again, if you were a marketer, quality in this sense means you’d likely get more value sending out the right pitch to the right people than sending out more pitches. Obviously, you’ll need to have a concrete, well-defined strategy.
This thinking is important because content production hs grown past just writing and slamming posts on your blog page; you need to market your content via every platform available to you, create impressive visuals, capture visitors’ information and update old content as methods are changing fast.
“When you are building out your content marketing team, focus 50% of their effort on updating old content.” – Neil Patel
The Downside: It’s Slow
Obviously, as there’s limited time in a day, if you’d do quality, you’ll compromise on speed. If you want to produce far better content, that’s going to take a lot of time than picking one new topic from the stack.
There are more questions that need to be answered; more things to do. That means less content overall.
Standard or Speed?
It’s impossible to maintain a consistent standard with content when you produce 12,000 words per week. You’re basically writing for robots. So, your focus would be moderate to good quality. By quality, I mean unique, original content. Nowadays though, unique content is not enough.
The point of content creation is THE BUYER. What serves them? What is irrelevant? What is useful? What is useless? Pareto’s law applies here. 80% of our content mass is useless. So, instead of touching on many different points or needs haphazardly, making the majority of 80% uselessness, it’d be a good idea to focus on a particular need, treat it comprehensively, before moving on to the next touch point. This is focusing 80% of our effort on the 20%. The end result, more conversions, instead of more “generic” traffic. Yet quantity shouldn’t just be cast aside as a new age hype. It’s still very important.
But with so much existing noise, can we find a balance between too much information and necessary information? Can marketers target as many of the right people as possible with the right message? Can we be more efficient with content creation and content marketing. Yes! And specialization would be needed.
Note that while content is a prime driver of traffic, leads and authority in 2019, strategy is the glue that holds it together. Your content strategy is your game plan. Yet, content marketers who get incredible results with content have found that the game changer isn’t the quantity but the right strategy.While content is a prime driver of traffic, leads and authority in 2019, strategy is the glue that holds it together Click To Tweet
Troubleshooting Question 1
I don’t need to harp on the importance of buyer personas again. The information is everywhere. Here are issues that may arise when the buyer persona research process is ignored.
- Your content attracts mostly readers who wouldn’t convert to customers. People love to consume content. They may find your content informative, entertaining or educative generally. But since your content doesn’t explore their needs, problems as it relates to your services, it would be hard to trust you can offer the solution they need.
- You produce generic content. “Generic” in the sense that many versions of the same information already exists online. e.g “7 tips for home buyers”. It doesn’t really help anyone and it’s not unique.
- Your content drives less subscribers. Folks who read your content only read and go on their merry way. You impress with your use of words but you do not meet their needs or solve their problems. It’s harder to trust you’ll do the same with your email campaign offer.
Define or redefine your ideal buyer personas and create helpful content that meets their needs.
A simple Approach to Buyer Personas
While a buyer persona is a crucial first step, it is not the end all. So,you don’t want to spend a whole day nitpicking what kind of food your target customer likes to eat and other irrelevancies. In fact, you want to keep in mind that buyer personas are generalizations and fictional representations of your target customer. And I think the best way to understand your customers is by:
- Asking them – Who best knows your customers than themselves. While you may keep looking at analytics and heat maps, hoping to glean information which may show you some generalizations. There is no better way to determine your customer’s preferences than by asking them.
- Social media – The next best is to view their likes, preferences and what things they reveal on social media. Check posts from you and your competitors they interact with the most and why. Then start developing generalizations.
EZMarketing says “Whether your business is B2B or B2C, all marketing is person to person. The more you can understand and empathize with your customers, the better you can authentically reach them like a real human being”
They used a six part framework in their buyer persona template. Download it here
Basic demographic info (age, income, education, location)
Background information (other relevant information like industry, experience, interests, hobbies)
Day in the Life
What does a typical day look like?
What are they responsible for? What kinds of decisions do they need to make?
Who else do they interact with in making decisions?
What do they dedicate their time, effort and/or money to?
What do they want?
What does success look like for them?
What tools, skills, or resources do they need to achieve their goals?
What do the value most in a product/service like yours?
What keeps them up at night?
What prevents them from achieving their goals?
What frustrates them most about the product/service area you’re addressing?
What do they try to do to alleviate those frustrations?
What information do they need in order to make a decision?
What are the most important factors they look for in evaluating a solution?
What would prevent them from buying your product/service?
How do they get information? Do they prefer certain channels or formats?
When do they consume content? During the work day, or at home?
How much communication do they want to receive, and how often?
What sources do they trust?
Troubleshooting Question 2
This revolves around authority. For example, you write about fashion on a real estate blog. That might generate short term traffic, but it dilutes your authority both on Google and in the real world. Thanks for the tip but I’d rather listen to an expert. Your content themes should be what you’re qualified for. Looking at the big picture, authority demands that you stick to the theme. For example, if Neil Patel started posting fashion tips on his social media pages, he dilutes his authority as a b2b thought leader.
This would result in the following problems:
- High bounce rates on posts. If I am searching for stuff on Google, I need some answers and I’d rather hear from an expert. The fact that we have shorter attention spans means that people skim content more. High bounce rates will lead to lower rankings on posts. Not good!
- Again your content attracts readers who’d most likely not turn into customers. They love your take and your tips but your knowledge of the fashion world hasn’t sufficiently proved you as a competent real estate professional.
So how do we know what people want to hear from us? Set up social listening for your brand and your competitors, note the questions people are asking, their queries. Dig into your personas, research and anticipate problems they need help with, problems they trust you can help with, then treat these with your content.
Getting Content Ideas via Social Listening
Freelancing on Fiverr, I can remember you always stated with the clients keyword. You wanted the cheap buck, the client wanted the quick SEO points. Scarcely did I work with a client that had the readers’ need in mind.
Well, doesn’t Google Keyword Tool reflect what people search for? And consequently what they need? Yes, that’s true. But it scratches the surface. Having SEO as the goal of content creation is starting on a wrong foot. I think I contributed to the mass of shit content so much available at the time. Obviously most of these got washed down the drain as Google became stricter with its rank algorithms. The “writing around keywords” thing still works though. But it kinda narrows down your viewpoint. Like here’s something I’ve written which you might need because its based on a low competition, high traffic keyword.
Think reader sentiment and new information when searching for great content ideas. That is;
- SM Group Comments. This was suggested by Larry Page in the Unicorn Content article on Inc.
“Look at the top performing Facebook pages relevant to your business.
Take note of what kind of content gets the most likes, shares, and comments.
You can also see how many views the videos garner.
Save a shortcut, bookmark your favorite pages using Facebook’s “Save” feature.”
Its a great idea. Why? It captures reader sentiments in real time. And also, by reading these, you get to see what people do have to say. This means your content truly reflects needs. You dont want to be concerned with other engagement metrics like Likes, shares but comments (see how many comment each post gets).
- Trends and Mentions. You can track hashtag performance with a tool like Mention or RiteTag. This is important because you’ll be able to spot specific patterns and create content on trending topics. Google Trends is an invaluable tool for content marketers. See trending searches in particular locations. Leveraging trends will help you create content that people want to read “NOW”.
- Reddit votes. Reddit votes are more sentiment based than metrics like Facebook likes. Posts with more votes on Reddit would be great ideas to capitalize on, depending on how your brand is reflected.
- Buzzsumo Competitor content analyzer. Use this tool to analyze your competitors’ content and see all content pieces that bring in the bacon for them. Note that if you’re a mid-sized business, an ideal competitor wouldn’t be a big brand. You can see all the content types; video, articles, podcasts, infographics and how each of these fare. It’ll give you insights for your own content strategy.
Troubleshooting Question 3
A common problem with producing content is when you produce content but no one sees it. If you make it great enough, they’ll come isn’t true. Now, you’ve identified your ideal target. The question is how do we reach them where they gather? If you’re not reaching out to them with your content, odds are they won’t find it. This means.
- You produce content but drive little traffic. When you do drive traffic, it’s not relevant traffic.
So what do you do? There are many ways to go. The crux is this: you need a potent distribution strategy. A great strategy is reaching out to at least 50 influencers who are currently communicating with your target audience, get relevant quips from them for content pieces. In the end, if these people share your high value content, you get more high quality traffic to your blog page. But here’s a common issue with getting high quality traffic? Folks read your content and then forget all about you totally. Leads us to the next troubleshooting question.
Troubleshooting Question 4
They wouldn’t read your content and automatically turn into sales prospects. The 2019 content stat referenced above indicated that on average, prospects need to see about 3-4 pieces of content from your website before they convert. This means you need to stay top of mind with these prospects. You can employ any of these strategies:
Essentially, you need to have a simple, attractive but not intrusive data capture form integrated with a CRM that reminds you to keep on with the conversation later. Evidently, you must supply something your target buyer wants. Again, knowing the needs of your ideal buyer would be of great help here.
Troubleshooting Question 5
What types of content format are our competitors playing with? What type of content format are our competitors not producing? So how can we get the edge? Using tools like SimilarWeb and Buzzsumo, assess your competitor’s content strategy. These tools will give answers to questions like: where do they generate the most traffic? Which type of social content generates the most engagement? What websites are linking to them?