There are hundreds of content marketing "fails" that could occur in your program, but these are five of the top offenders. If you address these, you will be able to vastly improve your content marketing efforts.
Developing an effective content marketing program is a complex task. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of continuously evolving strategies and tactics required to maximize your program's return on investment (ROI).
For dramatic effect, I call the commonly overlooked tactics "FAILS!" in this article. They are commonly overlooked not because someone has actually failed, but rather these are simply tactics not commonly learned when first building a content marketing program.
This is your chance to learn these tactics and implement them in your program to help improve results and further refine your efforts.
One very underutilized area to gain additional conversions and to move the lead down the funnel is the "Thank You" page displayed after a lead converts on an offer. Because the lead has trusted your brand to convert once on the original offer, there is a good chance they will convert a second time on an offer on the thank you page.
I would suggest having either a call to action or a form directly on the page for the next conversion offer in your funnel. This way if a lead is ready to take that next step right away, they won't have to wait for the lead nurturing emails to receive the offer.
Additionally, for those who are not ready to move down the funnel yet, offer them the ability to gain additional educational content by subscribing to your blog or following you on social networks.
It's true, we want to keep our content offers focused on education and providing value to the reader. However, too many content marketers miss out on an opportunity for some tasteful lead nurturing by not including any mention of the next step they should take if ready.
Include calls to action for your next conversion offer within the content offer the lead has downloaded. Additionally, I always like to give the option to jump to the bottom funnel offer within every conversion offer, often at the very end of the content, just in case they are ready to talk to the sales team.
It's very possible the lead may be ready to take the next step and move down the funnel. Thus, it's extremely important that you make it as easy as possible for them to take that step.
The Web is an extremely fast paced and constantly changing place. A single post on Twitter has an extremely short shelf life and will likely never be seen the vast majority of your followers. Many content marketers only take advantage of sharing blog content the day it's published and thus miss out on a great deal of opportunity to maximize the blog's exposure to your audience.
Generally speaking, I would suggest the day your blog is published to schedule a number of social posts to announce the new content. Then develop a series of scheduled posts that are set to go out periodically throughout the week, the following week, and a month later. The exact numbers of each of these will depend on the network and your audience; however, it's important to make each post unique as to not flood your users with the same copy-and-pasted post.
Additionally, you may want to revisit your old, timeless, and popular blogs to update them and re-promote them out to your audience. As your audience changes, you'll gain new followers in your network who will likely appreciate your best content.
If you're like most organizations, your sales and marketing teams are disjointed and are not properly integrated to work efficiently. This is a bigger problem that we won't be tackling in this article. However, I will shed some light on a common question I hear from marketers, "When should I hand off a lead to the sales team?"
Work with your sales team to make a list of all the criteria they would love to know in order to consider someone a qualified lead. These criteria makes up what we call the "Sales Qualified Lead" criteria, meaning the sales team has deemed the lead to be high quality.
Then ask your sales team which of these criteria are the bare essential information needed determining if someone is a quality lead. This set of criteria becomes your "Marketing Qualified Lead" (MQL) criteria, meaning the marketing team has deemed them as a good lead.
Once your MQL criteria is established, revisit your inbound/content marketing and strategically integrate the MQL criteria in your lead capture forms. The questions you ask at each form will depend on the stage of the funnel the lead capture form is being used in. Over time you will collect information on the lead and once they meet the MQL criteria, it's time to hand them off to the sales team.
It's very common for inbound and content marketers to complete a project or campaign and never return to it. In many ways I don't blame them - there is always an endless list of new projects that require their attention. However, the "set it and forget it" approach will mean you will likely never attain your marketing's maximum ROI.
It's critically important that we look at each piece of our marketing as a living and breathing entity that requires constant iteration and improvement. You should never think that once you've launched a piece of marketing that it's over. Rather, think of it as just the beginning.
First, make sure you're properly tracking all of the important metrics used to judge the success of a project or campaign. Once you've launched and collected some data, use the results as simply a baseline to improve from.
Plan in scientifically driven iterations in focused on improving the results from your initial baselines. Keep in mind, this continuous improvement approach should also be taken for every activity in your marketing and business as a whole.
As "Marketing 101" as this sounds, the vast majority of marketers are not doing it. They become too consumed with the next project and neglect their previous projects, resulting in sub-optimal performance.
These are just a handful of the hundreds of common FAILS! that can occur in your content marketing program. It takes expert knowledge, time, and constant iteration to truly develop your content marketing program to its maximum potential.
If you have other common FAILS! you've seen with suggestions on how to improve them, or if you have questions, please comment below and I'd love to chat!
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Luke is an industry leading inbound marketing specialist and an expert in progressive strategies integrating content, relationships, automation, and communities to drive lead generation and build brands people love.
He is the Director of Inbound Marketing at Savvy Panda where he helps lead web and marketing success stories for medium to Fortune 100 companies. Additionally, Luke is also the head instructor of Master Inbound, a comprehensive online inbound marketing training course. Find Luke on Google Plus.
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