During a recent client meeting, we spent some time talking about the idea of content marketing as a solution to a problem. Our client, preparing to launch their new website and in the middle of editorial calendar development and execution, made the point that they want their content to be solutions-focused – as in, starting with the problem and then identifying the solution.
It got me to thinking: Shouldn’t the goal of any content initiative be to address specific problems customers are facing and provide solutions?
While it’s true that content marketing can (and should) accomplish many goals – educating an audience, building a community, creating thought leadership/expertise – the reality is that we, as content marketers, often forget that our primary objective is to provide purposeful, helpful content for our target audience.
With that in mind, I’ve trolled various Q&A sites – including Quora, LinkedIn Groups, FAQ Fox, among others – and come up with a list of some of the top content marketing challenges people are asking about.
The following is a list of quick, easy ways to overcome some of the leading challenges of content marketing:
#1: How do you create effective content with little time to spare?
While the original question on this particular Quora thread addressed the much broader “What are the challenges you face when it comes to content marketing?” I found the responses relating to content marketing time management to be particularly helpful when thinking about how to make client content programs most effective.
Why? Because it’s one thing to map out a content marketing strategy that checks all the boxes for what you want it to achieve, but it’s quite another to sit down and actually execute on that strategy.
As noted by several different Quora members who addressed this particular question, it’s important to remember that creating an effective content program isn’t something that can happen overnight.
That said, some of the upfront work required to get a new program up and running – keyword roadmap, editorial calendar development, content audit, competitive analysis, etc. – can go a long way toward streamlining the process and focusing on what really matters – program results – when all is said and done.
#2: How do you identify your customers’ needs?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not just a good idea to create content that specifically addresses customer problems and provides solutions: It’s critical.
But the question is: How do you figure out what those problems are?
In order to understand customer pain points, preferences, buying habits, etc., you need to get into the mindset of your customers. What matters to them? What information do they seek out online? What kinds of things will they want to spend valuable minutes of their busy day reading about?
Developing buyer personas is just the first step in better understanding your target audience and unlocking specific SEO-related insights that can lead to more informed keyword research, competitive review, and link building/social media exploration.
To take it a step further, it’s a good idea to collect and apply customer feedback (surveys, email, social media engagement, etc.) and make sure you’re getting at the heart of the issues facing your customer base with relevant, actionable content that addresses their needs.
#3: How do you get your content in front of the right people?
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
So let’s say you’ve done your research and created content that you’re certain speaks to the concerns of your target audience. But then, when you go to report on the content assets created during that month or quarter, you dig into Google Analytics and see *crickets*.
As noted in Content Marketing Institute, the issue may be one of content promotion rather than content creation – in other words, you created quality content that no one read.
“It’s amazing how some brands can spend a huge amount of time, money, and effort creating great content but invest almost nothing in content promotion,” says Doug Kessler, co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners. “You’ve got to help your target audience discover your great content.”
While there’s no one way to go about effective content promotion, the key is to understand the types of content your target audience prefers – before – you even begin trying to get any social platform to share your material. This all goes back to understanding your readers’ wants, needs, desires, etc.
At the end of the day, you want to get people exactly the type of content they’re looking to consume, thereby increasing – exponentially! – your chances of having them share it across social networks.
#4: How do you manage content marketing expectations?
Creating and promoting quality content is only half the battle of a successful content program: Before you get to any of that, you need to make the case for an investment in content marketing in the first place.
As WordStream notes, “Many executives and managers are used to the relatively immediate return on more traditional marketing strategies.” In other words, introducing the idea that it can often take several months (or years) for content marketing to be truly effective might not necessarily go over well with management.
To overcome the challenge of getting executive buy-in for content marketing efforts, my colleague Ryan recommends detailing for leadership how, specifically, you plan on demonstrating content performance (i.e., overall traffic, conversions, etc.).
“It’s also a good idea to put a list of metrics together and explain their impact on search and overall business,” he says. The end result? Leadership teams that better understand content marketing goals and benchmarks and can have more of a stake in the investment, so to speak.
#5: How do you measure content marketing success?
(Source: LinkedIn Group)
As with most things in life, content marketing “success” is somewhat subjective. How you measure success will ultimately be defined by your organization’s (or clients’) specific content marketing goals and objectives.
Which brings me to the following: When determining success with content marketing objectives, it’s absolutely critical that you (and your clients) understand and are on the same page about said goals and objectives.
While one client may define content program success as ecommerce transactions and company revenue, another may be looking for links and third-party exposure.
“There is no perfect way to [determine content marketing ROI],” according to one Content Marketing Academy thread on LinkedIn. To measure the long-term effectiveness and success of your content, it’s important to factor in key metrics (i.e., traffic, engagement, brand awareness, etc.) while making sure to shift strategy if/when necessary to reach desired goals.
Let’s face it: People are busy. In order for them to read the content you’re writing, you need to be sure you’re addressing their specific needs and providing tactical solutions to the problems they’re facing.
What are some of the issues your target audience is interested in reading about? Aside from what’s listed above, what are the other challenges of content marketing that you’re seeing?
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