Trying to grow traffic and increase conversions for your online business but losing morale in an ecosystem filled with ever-increasing paid media costs? Indeed, ensuring any kind of game-changing ROI in paid media is hard to come by these days. And given consumers’ propensity for unique customer experiences and more targeted advertising, sponsored media just isn’t cutting it.
This is leading many companies toward investing in their blogs as a means of attracting customers from every stage of the funnel while boosting their SEO and social media presence in the process.
But like anything with a potentially big pay off, content marketing comes with its fair share of obstacles.
Here are five content marketing roadblocks and how to overcome them:
Offering Unique Content
Figuring out how to set up a blog is as easy as learning how to set up an e-commerce site on Shopify. This leads many businesses to thinking they can “participate” in content marketing by going through the motions and hitting publish. This couldn’t be further from the case. Across the internet, there are 4 million blog posts published each day. What makes you think readers will stop and take notice of your blog articles just because you’re posting them?
Offering unique content is an ongoing process of testing what’s working and what’s not—but one thing’s for sure: longer content generates both more engagement and better rankings. According to MonitorBacklinks, blog articles of at least 2,000 words start making a bigger difference. This is supported by HubSpot data that shows word counts over 2,500 receive the highest amount of linking domains on average. The crux of this is expertise, though. Thousands of words won’t make a difference if you’re writing about topics in which you don’t have the first-hand experience. The same is true if your topics don’t match the interests and needs of your customers. Because if you know their interests, you can’t disappoint them. Per AdWeek, 90 percent of consumers like custom content from brands — and 89 percent believe it’s a great way for brands to break through the rest of the clutter online.
One way to gauge the uniqueness of your content is by asking yourself if you’d share it with a friend. Another way is to just measure your engagement metrics, like bounce rate, time on page, exit rate, pages per visit, etc.
Regardless of which stage of the buyer journey you want your blog to help with (hint: all of them), you won’t get the results you desire without posting content on a regular basis. But every blog — not to mention industry — is different.
So, how often should you post? ProBlogger states that, at a minimum, you should post once per week, but as many as three times. If you post every day, you’ll not only run up a hefty content marketing budget, but you’ll also run the risk of overwhelming your readers. After all, there is no shortage of blogs and blog articles to peruse these days. WordPress alone has over 75 million websites/blogs on its platform.
Aside from posting new blog articles weekly, it’s imperative to go back and update your existing content for freshness. This will save you from having to create an original post every time the statistics or trends change. It also is viewed favorably in Google’s eyes, which will likely mean your site being crawled more often.
Avoiding Brand-Focused Content
When companies first started blogging, many of them fell into the grave mistake of using their blog as a place to talk about themselves. What’s less acceptable is companies still doing it today. There’s no doubt that content marketing can aid every stage of a business’ funnel, from brand awareness all the way down to conversion, but it’ll only happen if the value is being offered. You could maintain a regular posting schedule, have well-written articles and a layout that delights the eye—but if your topics sound anything remotely like an internal company newsletter, you’re missing your mark.
If you can instead write about topics that interest your audience, cover subjects they need help with, want to learn about, etc., you’ll slowly build a reputation and following. This doesn’t mean you can’t blog about your company, but you should do so in a separate blog that’s clearly labeled as such. Your main blog is a place for you to demonstrate your authority to potential and existing customers.
Finding Strategic Content Partnerships
Content marketing is a time-consuming, expensive channel to invest in, especially when a company goes it alone. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re posting articles on a regular basis and putting a lot of love into them but still not seeing the needle moving, looking for content partnerships should be next on your to-do list. Content partnerships, or syndication partnerships, bring two brands with overlapping audience segments together for a series of—or ongoing—guest posts. Articles are usually preceded by a subheading announcing that the content was produced by ‘x’ company as part of ‘content series.’ Partnerships are a win-win for both sides as each blog gets fresh content created without using internal bandwidth, and the opportunity to gain awareness on different company’s blog. There’s also the not-so-small benefit of gaining backlinks via the guest posts.
If only identifying —and forming — partnerships were simple. Be prepared to consume hundreds, possibly thousands of articles around the internet to gather a list of blogs that could align with your niche and audience. It may also go without saying that other blogs won’t partner with you just because you asked; you need to be attractive in your own right. Make sure your blog is up to snuff as far as posting frequency, quality, and functionality before you approach other blogs about working together.
Assuming things are in order on your end, you still need to reach out memorably to catch the interest of the blog. The higher profile they are, the harder it’ll be to stand out since blogs with large readerships and domain authorities receive countless syndication requests.
Devoting Bandwidth to Backlink Outreach
Content marketing programs can do so much for online stores. Overall site traffic, user engagement, conversions, ad revenue (if you sell it), social media presence and SEO all benefit from strategic blogging. However, a key detail many brands overlook in their content process is building backlinks to their articles. This is a huge mistake as backlinks still play a pivotal role in Google’s RankBrain algorithm.
According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, RankBrain will increase or decrease the importance of backlinks depending on the keyword, but it’s still very much an essential ingredient in the recipe. Of course, wanting to increase backlinks doesn’t equate to actually building them.
With a little planning though, you can save time and still get results. Have a round-up guide in the works that covers specific organizations or businesses? It makes sense to reach out to them for research, possibly photos to use, etc. You can also use this opportunity to secure a backlink by sharing the published URL and thanking them again for their help. Not everyone will follow through and post your article on their site, but some will. Those backlinks will net referral traffic and a rankings boost, not to mention enhance your overall site profile.
Content marketing can be a game-changer for online businesses, but the channel won’t fall into place overnight. While these roadblocks appear to be the result of a lack of planning and execution, the root causes are really a lack of company resources and internal bandwidth being devoted.
If there’s one thing for brands to take away from this article it’s that content marketing isn’t for the faint of heart. But if it’s treated as a priority with a dedicated team and budget, there’s no limit to how impactful it can be to a business’ bottom line.