Ever played that thankless game where a ball is attached to the bat by a piece of string?
Let’s get real, it’s a frustrating, annoying way to spend your time.
You put a ton of effort in, mustering up all your skills…and that ball just doesn’t go anywhere you want it to.
You give up hitting. You try to balance it on the bat and it just slowly rolls off into oblivion. And hangs uselessly in mid-air.
You’re probably wondering why I’m banging on about 80s bat and ball games.
That frustrating feeling of not getting anywhere, despite your best efforts?
That feeling can apply to your content, too.
In truth, some brands are simply lazy when it comes to content.
And you get a few who are scared to try it out for size (uh oh, words can be scary).
But then you get brands like you. Brands who are bravely getting out of their comfort zone, getting involved in the world of content, but seeing rubbish results.
Friend, it’s time to take my (well-sanitised) hand. I’m here to help.
I’m going to take you through the reasons why you could be going wrong.
1. YOU’RE NOT GIVING YOUR AUDIENCE TRUE VALUE
If there’s one thing you need to remember about content, it’s that it needs to give value to the reader.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘value’ bandied around a lot with content marketing.
But what does it actually mean?
High-value content is content that gives your audience a major takeaway. It’s not pointless material, but has substance.
How many times have you seen a blog post that’s mindlessly reporting company news?
David Smith has been promoted from Vice President of Sales to President of Sales.
We’ve released a new software update
Our event we put on was pretty great
Sorry to be harsh, but we don’t know David. It’s not the kind of content that’s going to keep people hooked and subscribing.
It begs the question, how do we create value?
The first step is getting to know your audience.
Here’s the key: Make sure you’re not being assumptive.
Many brands make the mistake of assuming they know what their audience want to hear about. And that means they create content that’s falling on deaf ears.
Here’s what to do:
Carry out surveys and focus groups.
Find out what your customers find useful. What are their pain points? What problems can you help solve?
Using tools like Survey Monkey, it’s easy to ask your customers questions and get seriously useful bits of info.
If you’re active socially (which I hope you are!), then you need to get listening to what your customers are saying.
Here’s an example:
You see a customer leaving a comment about your new skincare product on your Facebook page. They give it a 4* (so far so good), but then admit that they often forget to use it on a daily basis.
Here’s an opportunity to create valuable content.
Consider this as a blog post title. Or a video. Or a social post:
How to factor easy skincare into your daily routine.
Hey presto, you have a blog post that is addressing a pain point of your audience. That’s actually useful to them.
Let’s take a look at some titles that you know are just dripping with value.
The reader will know how to get ahead in account-based advertising by the end of the blog post (which is apparently only 7 minutes to read!).
Here, the reader can come away with a choice about which web hosting platform to use.
Starting to see the pattern, right?
Let’s move on to the next wall-hitting mistake.
2. YOUR COPY IS A YAWN-FEST
Let me put it bluntly: some copy is just seriously boring to read.
And this goes for videos too! If your script is dry, then your readers will switch off.
So what makes copy boring?
Let’s look at it in detail.
LOOOOOONG PARAGRAPHS AND SENTENCES
Think of it like your friend who monologues in an annoyingly over-complex style.
They just talk at you without pausing for breath.
And it’s a boring work story, to top it off.
- Use bullet points to break up messaging. Like this.
- Limit yourself to one thought per sentence.
- Avoid chunky paragraphs. Break them up into 3 sentences tops.
- Edit words out that don’t need to be there.
Like this: Edit words that aren’t needed.
- Break it up with GIFs, images and videos.
Looking for an innovative global web-based solution that ticks all the right boxes?
Switched off yet?
Keep the jargon away from your copy. It’s drier than the Sahara.
Some simple tricks:
- Use a good, old-fashioned thesaurus. Synonyms are your friend.
- Read your copy back and think if it sounds natural. Would you advise a friend to try an ‘innovative solution’? Probably not.
- Use Voice of Customer (VOC). How do your customers describe things in your industry? Use that ‘real talk’.
Let’s look at some non-boring copy in action from a Co-Schedule blog post:
What’s right with it?
- It’s generally one thought per sentence.
- It’s breaking up the text with an image.
- It’s telling a story, a creative and effective way to engage readers.
Read our blog post for the storytelling lowdown.
Powerful stuff, right?
Onto the next…
3. YOU HAVE NO STRATEGY
So, this is one where a ton of brands fall down.
They don’t have a strategy.
They’re hitting and hoping.
They’re throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
The problem is, without a strategy, that spaghetti will be sliding down the wall in a greasy mess.
A content marketing strategy will do this for your brand:
- Make sure you’re speaking to the right audience.
- Make sure you’re delving into developing content on the right platforms.
- Make sure you’re getting out the right type of content.
- Make sure you’re analysing results in the right way (and acting on it).
In truth, a content/marketing/copywriting agency is the best bet for this job.
Crafting a strategy takes knowledge and expertise. Otherwise, you just end up with a ton of guesswork that lacks substance.
The most powerful strategies are built from the ground up, from your brand values right through to your tone of voice. A thorough content strategy will take into account:
- Buyer personas
- Content buckets
- Content channels
- Influencer marketing
- Social Media
- Content promotion strategies
- Guest posting
- List-building & lead nurturing
- Formulas that work
- Listening to the audience
And then it takes a bow and ties all of this amazingly powerful stuff together.
Including, the biggest sin of all…
4. YOU’RE NOT PROMOTING YOUR CONTENT
Imagine you’re writing a book.
You take the time to research. You take the time to write it. You take the time to edit it. You take the time to print it.
Then you put it on a bookshelf. And leave it there until the end of time.
That’s what you do effectively when you spend time on your blog and just leave it there, unpromoted.
Here’s how to do it.
- Build an email list and email your readers when you have new content. Here’s a handy article on how to do this from Mailchimp. (Make sure you’re following GDPR things).
- Promote your content on social channels. It’s a big topic with multiple platforms, so make sure you read this from Social Media Examiner before you crack on.
- Promote older, successful content. There’s no reason you can’t let a blog post be the gift that keeps on giving. Carry on sharing.
- Get employees on board to promote your content. Employee advocacy is a big deal and you get to reach their followers too.
- Tag influencers on social. If you reference or interview an influencer in your content, make sure you tag them to get more traction.
There’s a ton of food for thought there.
And remember, the content world is changing all the time.
What people read. How they read it. When they read it. It’s all about keeping up and keeping relevant.
And to be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that. Except if it’s your job…like an agency.