Content marketing is one of the most powerful strategies businesses can use to cultivate relationships with existing followers and reach new customers, but far too many brands fail to utilize this technique properly.
According to a recent report from Forrester, 87 percent of brands struggle to create content that their customers will want to read and share, and only 14 percent said they feel that their content is highly effective at building value for their businesses.
Clearly, this illustrates the need for businesses to deliver more valuable and engaging content to their customers.
You’ll have a much easier time engaging your customers if you recognize the following mistakes that many brands make.
1. Not knowing your audience
The Content Marketing Institute has found that 65 percent of brands don’t seem to understand the most basic principle of every content marketing strategy: focusing on the needs of the target audience.
Every single piece of content that you create needs to be geared around your readers, so keep the following points in mind:
- You need to clearly define your target audience, which means that you must specify the demographic that you’re trying to reach while planning your content marketing strategy.
- You need to identify your customers’ problems and use your content to offer the solutions they’re looking for.
- You must use a voice that resonates with the audience that you’re trying to reach. Obviously, you’ll need to communicate with 20-something women in a very different manner than you’d speak to retired men.
Your entire marketing strategy needs to revolve around your customers and their needs, so tailor your content to them. One way that many marketers commit this mistake is by creating content that interests them -- not their customers.
Suppose you run a financial advice website. You’re fascinated by penny stock trading, but your readers are intimidated by it -- they’d rather read about more conservative mutual fund and bond investing strategies.
If you only ever publish content on stock trading, you’ll alienate your readers. This doesn’t mean you should never touch the topic, but you must be sure the bulk of the content you produce meets the stated needs of your target audience.
2. Being too self-promotional
There’s a fine line between proving that you’re proud of your brand and endlessly boasting about it -- an important balance that every marketing strategist needs to strike.
In fact, a recent study found that 88 percent of brands only share their own research and views with their readers, making it difficult for their audience to view them as objective sources for information.
A new study from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) shows that 60 percent of readers are distrustful of sponsored content. As a result, it’s unsurprising to find that readers appear to be equally skeptical of overly-promotional content -- even if it’s your own work.
To engage with your readers and earn their trust, you need to maintain a certain level of objectivity, which can be accomplished by using quotes and studies from other brands or by leveraging unbiased user-generated content.
Promotional content will always play an important role in marketing, but successful brands need to recognize the importance of engaging with their audiences and addressing their needs if they want their content to be read and shared. Promotional messages must, therefore, be subtle and supported by valuable content.
3. Failing to use attention-grabbing headlines and calls to action
You can create the finest piece of content on the Internet, but your customers couldn’t care less about it if they don’t notice it!
Failing to use attention-grabbing headlines and calls to action is a major mistake, as you only have two seconds or less to get your customers’ attention and convince them to check out your content. As a result, you’ll need to create powerful headlines and calls to action if you want your content to get the attention that it deserves.
Neil Patel of QuickSprout recently published an article on the latest trends in headline creation, where he pointed out that 80 percent of customers read the title of a webpage, but only 20 percent read the post afterwards.
Properly optimized headlines are much more effective at engaging readers and encouraging them to pay attention to the rest of the content, so follow these tips to create headlines that lure your audience to your content:
- Use power words that prompt curiosity with your readers. Boost Traffic has a list of over 300 power words that encourage readers to engage with your headlines.
- According to research from Leverable, list posts are shared about twice as often and are read more often as other types of content, so they should be used frequently. Try using list posts with odd numbers, as research from Outbrain shows that they’re clicked about 20 percent more often.
- Make sure that your headlines are long enough to draw attention and convey your message without being unnecessarily verbose. Simon Edelstyn of Outbrain has found that titles with eight words are clicked 21 percent more often than the average headline, which suggests that this is the ideal word length for a headline.
Test different strategies to see which kinds of headlines draw the most attention and get the most clicks for your unique content pieces.
Yes, this is all a lot to think about, but making all of these objectives a priority in your content marketing campaigns going forward will ensure that each and every content piece you create gets the attention it deserves among your target audience.
What are you doing to get more customers to engage with your content? Share your experiences and advice in the comment section below.