Inbound marketing, or content marketing, is one of the most popular and commonly used online marketing methods today. It seems that every business with any kind of online presence jumps on the bandwagon and tries their content-muscle among their peers. And that’s a great thing! However, there’s just one problem. Content marketing is not as simple as it seems and it’s actually quite easy to turn your campaign into a big flop. Here are 10 simple steps to running the worst type of content marketing campaign possible. (Disclosure: Of course, this is not a how-to list; it’s more like a not-do list.)
1. No research prior to rolling out the campaign
Every well-constructed content marketing campaign is based on a stellar research prior to taking any action. Many entrepreneurs skip this step (probably out of pure excitement) and desire to get the content created and the campaign going. However… Research. Is. Everything. Focus on:
- What’s our niche? What sub-topic of the niche are we targeting?
- Is there an audience interested in this topic? Moreover, is there an audience of buyers?
- What’s the competition? What are they doing?
- What are the exact keywords to tackle?
- Who do we need to bring on to the team for help?
2. Running a one-man show
Granted, content marketing is new for most businesses. But this doesn’t mean that it can be effectively carried out by just one person designated to the task. People who try to do content marketing on their own usually get burned out after one or two months of consistent effort.
3. No serious plan
Planning is just as important in content marketing as it is in any other type of marketing promotion. A good plan should answer questions like: what? when? why? how? and who? The question of who actually brings me to:
4. No target audience
Running a content marketing campaign without defining the target audience (the people who will respond to it or buy your products at some point) is somewhat like riding a camel in the desert without a compass… you’re going in a direction, but you’re not quite sure where it’ll lead you. This is another mistake people make purely out of excitement to get started (the lack of tightly defined audience, not the camel thing).
5. The content itself not treated seriously enough
Here’s the thing, at least a couple of times a week, I get contacted by someone promoting some new content. They obviously have the marketing part of things figured out because they know how to compose an interesting email. However, when I navigate to the content I find that it’s nowhere near the quality that’s been promised. Content is the core of content marketing, which the name itself suggests. This means that you should always put more effort into producing the content in question and only then focus on promoting it.
6. Content sounding too promotional
The idea with content marketing is that you don’t promote your business directly within the body of your content. Instead, you make the content itself so great and rich in valuable information that the visitors feel naturally convinced to contact you for business. However, many entrepreneurs still continue to take a standard sales or marketing message and portray it as being content marketing.
7. No viral aspect
Even though you will take some steps to promote your content, the best thing that can happen is for it to go viral. That being said, not everything is viral by nature and many entrepreneurs don’t take this into account. Here are some of the characteristics that can make a piece of content go viral:
- Passion-driven – the more passionate the topic or the angle is, the better
- Slightly outrageous – people love unexpected stuff
- Either addresses an important need or answers something that the audience wants badly
- Visual – infographics work really well for that
8. No distribution
This is quite unfortunate, but every piece of content needs at least a little promotion to give it the initial kick. The golden rule of internet promotion is that “if you build it, they won’t come.” And it’s as true for content marketing as for anything else.
9. No network to help
The best way of rolling out a content marketing campaign is to contact your partners and your network for help. Other people talking about your content at the same time can really make a difference and since they’re in your network, asking them for help should be easier than emailing or cold-calling people.
10. No lessons learned
Finally, every unsuccessful campaign or even slightly successful campaign takes you one step closer to the one that’s going to be ultra-successful; this is just inevitable. Well, when I say inevitable… this doesn’t apply if you don’t get any feedback or not take notes of errors that have been made along the way.
In the end, I’m pretty confident that being guilty of doing just three or four items from this list can guide you to a complete content marketing failure, so please be careful and pay close attention to each individual elements as you go along.
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