To fully capitalize your content marketing, you need to click with your audience.
Unfortunately, not all that many content marketers fully realize the effectiveness of their programs – only one-third rate their content marketing strategy as extremely or very effective, according to CMI 2017 B2B research.
Part of the reason for this phenomenon is simply because many content marketers unknowingly engage in tactics that create disconnects with their audience.
In other words, some of those tactics are a turnoff.
Here are some specific ways you can disrupt the relationship-building process and how to fix those problems.
Turnoff 1: Making it about you, not your audience
The purpose of content marketing is to provide valuable, relevant content and to build rapport with your audience. For this reason, your content needs to be audience-centric, and it needs to be useful.
Your #content needs to be audience-centric, and it needs to be useful, says @NeilPatel. Click To Tweet
As a brand, it can be tempting to focus on topics that you’re interested in but which aren’t necessarily of interest to your audience. For example, you may be intrigued with industry trends and decide to create blog posts, white papers, infographics, etc., about them. But if they don’t resonate with your audience, you’re going to see little to no effectiveness. In some cases, it can even drive a wedge between you and your audience.
Here’s a visual representation of what happens when companies talk about what they’re interested in rather than what their audience wants to hear.
As you can see, the farther you get from audience-centric content, the less impact your content will have.
But when you focus on the topics near and dear to your audience, your content will appeal to the maximum number of people and should receive more engagement.
Example: On the Farmers Insurance website, visitors have access to an immense collection of content of genuine interest to them. Farmers Insurance covers everything from safety and financial tips to home security and shopping for a new car.
All the content is practical and can appeal to a wide demographic. It’s also personable, and the writers do a great job of communicating with a one-on-one feel.
This is what you should be going for when managing your content marketing programs. Make sure that it’s about your audience and not just your brand.
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:
Turnoff 2: Being preoccupied with selling
Let’s be honest. The reason you take the time to go through the painstaking process of producing content is to promote your brand, generate more leads, and ultimately increase revenue. You’re not doing it just for the heck of it.
That’s all well and fine, and you obviously want to see results from the time, energy, and money funneled into your campaign. But things can quickly become problematic when you’re fixating on selling rather than informing.
People are smart. They can see right through a lack of sincerity and authenticity. When your content becomes overly “salesy,” it can be a major turnoff for your audience. It’s disingenuous, and you’re going to come across as a brand that’s simply trying to squeeze every last dollar. Needless to say, this isn’t going to do your rapport-building any favors.
When your content becomes overly “salesy,” it can be a major turnoff for your audience, says @NeilPatel. Click To Tweet
Content marketing is not about making a quick and dirty sale. Your No. 1 goal should be to inform and educate, and your second goal should be to sell. Content marketing is a big-picture strategy where you should focus on achieving long-term success where you build relationships, nurture leads, and get repeat business.
If you stick with this approach, you’re much more likely to be successful in the long run and create a more sustainable program.
Example: Credit-card processing and business-solutions company Square is an excellent example of putting informing first and selling second. Here is its blog:
Visitors have access to numerous articles designed to help business owners become more efficient and profitable. The main focus is to provide valuable content without shoving promotional offers down their readers’ throats. Of course Square still promotes its products, but in a subtle and tactful way.
Turnoff 3: Being too SEO heavy
Although content marketing serves as a vessel for SEO, you can get yourself in trouble by going overboard. Attempting to incorporate excessive SEO tactics into your content can diminish its quality and appear as unnatural to your audience.
Excessive #SEO tactics in your content appear as unnatural to your audience, says @NeilPatel. Click To Tweet
Here are a couple ways you may do this:
- Keyword stuffing – Successful content marketers strategically pepper targeted keyword phrases throughout their content. Less-effective content marketers use keyword phrases so extensively that the content loses its natural flow for the reader. Not to mention, keyword stuffing just invites search engine penalties.
- Excessive links – While it’s usually OK to insert a few relevant, high-quality links throughout your content, issues arise if you’re creating content for the sole reason of generating links. This approach gives the impression your content is spam and can be a blow to your brand’s credibility.
Being too SEO heavy is a common trap. But fortunately, this is something that can be avoided.
The key is to follow SEO best practices (e.g., using proper URL structure and placing keywords in headers) but not let SEO become your main emphasis. Quite frankly, SEO and content marketing should overlap, but SEO shouldn’t overshadow your content.
Example: Toshiba correctly aligns SEO and content marketing. The Toshiba Technical Blog offers several articles that answer common questions users have and provide basic technical support.
The content incorporates keyword phrases that users would be looking for and is designed with semantic search in mind. However, SEO by no means dominates the content. It’s merely a subtle overlap.
Turnoff 4: Having a more, more, more mindset
There’s an obsession in America with having more. More information, more gadgets, more choices and so on. The same goes for content.
A lot of marketers are under the assumption that simply creating more content than the competition will get them the results they want. I beg to differ. If Google algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin have shown us anything, it’s that quality trumps everything else.
The problem is that some marketers haven’t gotten the memo. Many still think the best plan of attack is to keep grinding out content and expecting the leads to just pour in. The truth of the matter is that creating more content isn’t the answer. Here’s why.
First, you can easily overwhelm your audience by throwing too much information at them. There’s an ideal frequency of content creation, and exceeding that can be counterproductive.
You can easily overwhelm your audience by throwing too much information at them, says @NeilPatel. Click To Tweet
Second, there’s a good chance that your quality level will take a plunge if you overexert yourself. Realistically, you can only generate great content for so long before it becomes mediocre.
For example, most marketers could write one epic blog post per week. But if they tried to write 20, it’s doubtful any of them would be of the same epic quality.
Finally, you can suffer from “content fatigue” – creating content to the point of exhaustion but it only has marginal effectiveness. Moz’s Rand Fishkin details how this is a growing phenomenon among marketers.
That’s why I’m a strong proponent of quality over quantity. Taking this approach not only helps provide your audience with the best possible content, it can also save your sanity.
Example: Take Mark Cuban’s blog – Blog Maverick.
He seldom updates it, yet he still has over 5 million subscribers who are interested in the content he does craft.
While you don’t want to become lazy and complacent, it’s important to recognize that more is by no means better. In reality, it can actually be a detriment.
Content marketing is a bit of an art form where you must understand how to tap into your audience and keep them engaged. Because there are a lot of ways to stumble along the way, it’s important to be in touch with your audience and know what makes them tick.
By steering away from the tactics that turn off your audience, you’ll be in a better position to connect with them and keep them happy, while at the same time tactfully promoting your brand.
Can you think of any other reasons why content marketers sometimes create a rift with their audience?
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute