February 2013 was the year “content marketing” started picking up real steam.
It got so popular that businesses grew curious and started searching Google for any information they could get on creating content that would help them grow.
And in 2020, interest on the term reached an all-time high.
Organizations now have content teams with specific people and resources focusing exclusively on creating content, using it to engage specific audiences and drive business.
But There’s a Stifling Problem Now
It’s become significantly harder for these teams to get results from the content they’re publishing – especially for those that don’t already have an engaged audience.
A 2019 SEMrush survey revealed that 54% of 1,200 marketers in a 2019 survey say their top content marketing challenge is “creating content that generates quality leads.”And for the most part, this struggle is a result of every business’ craze to be on social.
Every organization has made it a point to “educate” their audience on a daily basis.
They’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, in the blogs, emails, SMS, incessant push notifications (you name it!) creating bazillion amounts of content.
Unfortunately, the supply of content they (and we all) now produce is far more than what most people can take in.
Veteran marketing consultant Mark Schaefer called this the content shock in 2014, just a year after Google reported that the term “content marketing” had reached an all-time high in popularity.
In other words, the rise in popularity and use of content marketing led to the content shock.
Yet, managers are breathing down the necks of their marketing teams, asking for returns from their spend on content.
And rightly so.
No business should waste money on content (or anything for that matter).
But as managers are screaming, “Get us actual bottom-line results from your content!” marketing and content teams are also literally screaming, “We’re trying our best but don’t know how to generate the results you’re looking for through content!”
However, some teams do manage to deploy content marketing and get results.
Others use it not-so-well and waste hard-earned money.
One major way to know which camp your team belongs to is to see if they haven’t changed their methods – from how companies deployed content marketing circa seven years ago.
The Methods Have Changed
Creating content hasn’t always been an effortless exercise.
Before 2013, whenever an organization published new, helpful, or entertaining content, their audience paid attention to it almost immediately and started sharing (assuming they found it useful).
For the most part, this was because it was a pretty cool, new thing that was happening – that companies were coming out to share content that helped people, without really asking them to buy or pay for anything.
Plus, not all businesses were doing this, so the quantity of content in circulation at the time wasn’t more than what people could soak in.
But the case is different today.
The methods for getting people’s attention through content has changed from what it was about 5-10 years ago.
By 2015, the number of shares of 50% of published articles had dwindled to no more than eight shares per post.
People had become much harder to please with content.
The same type of content that used to excite them wasn’t doing it anymore – because they had been exposed to more content than ever seen before.
Bottom line: customers have changed.
And your team, too, have to change the methods they use to deploy content.
It starts with planning your strategy sessions with a new focus.
Strategy Sessions with a New Focus
Strategy sessions may not be a new activity for your team, but you need them to have a new focus – a focus on not wasting marketing money.
Here’s where to start:
Sit down alone or with your team and devise a way you’ll do three important things:
- Create the type of content your audience won’t ignore.
- Distribute content so that it undoubtedly reaches your target audience.
- Get actual business results (ROI) from content you publish.
These aren’t tasks you can copy from another organization or a successful competitor.
The way to go about these three tasks will differ from business to business – taking into consideration the dynamics, goals, and resources available.
To expand a bit further…
Create the Type of Content Your Audience Won’t Ignore
Creating content your audience won’t ignore means research.
This research is not looking for keywords that have high search volumes so you can create content about them and rank on Google.
This doesn’t generate leads or any other business result unless those keywords are what your target audience is using to look for content.
Instead, research here means looking for questions your audience is asking that haven’t been answered by other publications or organizations.
Then, answer them in the most comprehensive and thorough way possible to set your business apart.
Distribute Content So That It Undoubtedly Reaches Your Target Audience
To distribute content effectively is to look for channels where your audience spends quality time every day and strategically distribute your content there – without being spammy.
Get Actual Business Results From the Content You Publish
Finally, extracting business results from your content means sales.
These may be direct or indirect sales.
Direct sales come from people buying/signing up for your product or service almost while or after reading or viewing your content.
Indirect sales from content come from people who see your content and come back later to buy your product or service.
To Sum Up
In the end, you need your team to stop wasting money on social and content.
Instead, strategize better ways to reach your audience through content they don’t want to ignore, then distribute it through channels your customers frequent.
With this strategy in place, you will have your content back on track, serving you and your valued followers in the most cost-effective and genuine way.
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- 5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI
All screenshots taken by author, March 2020