It’s no secret that content marketers don’t always get the best rap. In a recent satire on Huffington Post, marketer Keith Blanchard stated their “writing is exclusively consumed by other content marketers.” While his comment was in jest, there was some truth behind his words. The field has exploded, and 90% of companies are currently using custom content for marketing purposes. 90% of consumers find branded content useful, and 80% of B2B decision makers prefer to access information through articles.
However, that doesn’t mean that creating custom content is a path to automatic success. Your blogs, eBooks, webinars, and social media strategy need to be intelligent and relevant enough to charm your buyer personas and major search engines.
Here are 25 signs you should shift your focus from quantity to quality, and from efficiency to proficiency:
1. You’re Struggling to Hit Your Word Count
While even blogging experts disagree about the optimal length for custom articles, it’s clear that your content needs to be unique and engaging enough to keep your audience entertained until the end. If you’re stretching 300 words of information into 600, it’s likely pretty self-defeating.
2. You’re Not Using Visual Content
Web pages with videos generate 300% more inbound links than those without. Visual content attracts, engages, and entertains your readers.
3. You’re Not Citing Sources
Even if you really know your stuff, a statistic, fact or quotation can lend some authority to your content. It lets your audience know you cared enough to put some research into your content strategy.
4. You’re a “Me, Too”
You know that huge pain point in your industry, the one that all of your competition have addressed in blog articles? You should address it, but add some serious value, a unique take, and amazing visuals, so major search engines can’t help but push your ranking above the rest.
5. You’re Not Investing in Titles
The success of many viral-ready blog articles has been stopped short with a boring title. Add intrigue, numbers, questions, or shock value to ensure you receive the clicks you deserve.
6. You’re Not Formatting
Nothing makes a web user hit their back button faster than a big, overwhelming wall of text. Add some snappy subtitles to keep interest levels high.
7. You’re Not Entertaining
You don’t need to pepper your content with gut-busting memes of Mr. T, but it shouldn’t be a snooze. Velocity Partners suggests the following elements, which can add spice to any industry:
8. You’re Not Useful
It’s been said that utility is the essence of content marketing. Will your content make anyone’s life the better for reading it?
9. You’re Taking the Easy Road
For many content marketers, the easy path is writing a 600-word blog article, and hitting a “publish” button. However, it’s just not always shareable. Does the internet really need another written tutorial on how to boil an egg? Probably not, but your prospects might love a web comic about egg boiling adventures gone horribly awry.
10. You’re Not Smart Enough
Your content should be smart, but not too smart. It’s one of the prime reasons why your content strategy shouldn’t exist in a vacuum, but should include access to customer interviews and buyer persona profiles.
11. You Haven’t Found Your Sweet Spot
There’s nothing worse than a corporate content strategy that feels poorly-contained. It’s why you need to aim for your “sweet spot,” where you relay the things your company does best, in a way that resonates with your prospects’ priorities.
12. You Don’t Have a Content Strategy
If your content strategy is less about hitting quarterly targets, and more about getting everything published on time today, your marketing materials could feel disjointed, low-quality, and boring. Plan ahead, even if it means you need to step back.
13. You’re Just too Efficient
The term “content farm” was used to describe the businesses that popped up in the early days of SEO, which created an enormous velocity of questionable articles. Google has worked very hard in recent years to quell their efforts to dominate search. There’s a time and place for efficiency in your content strategy, but it’s never at the cost of creativity.
14. You’re Not Memorable
A mediocre content strategy is certainly better than none. You’ll likely see an increase in traffic and leads, but you won’t be building a reputation. Your blog articles, infographics, and eBooks should inspire respect.
15. You’re Shallow
Consumers are disenfranchised with traditional advertising because it can be shallow. Often, marketers smooth over the truth to present their product in the best light. Be honest to the point of shocking people; it’s why McDonald’s recent video of their food photoshoot took the world by storm.
16. You’re Trying too Hard
It only takes a few minutes on the satirical Condescending Corporate Brand Facebook page to realize that consumers are on to your content strategy. Don’t try too hard to be hip or relatable, particularly if it comes at a cost of appearing less professional.
17. You’re Using Horrid Stock Photos
Did you know stock images generate 95% fewer leads than custom photos? Take the time to source relevant and believable images for your content strategy.
18. You’re Stuck in a Rut
It happens to the best of us. Use a tool like UberSuggest to get your creative juices flowing once more.
19. You’re Not Brainstorming
Your content strategy is an inherently creative way to market your business, and it’s critical to focus on delivering a unique approach. Scientists have found that your capacity for idea generation peaks when you’re having trouble focusing.
20. You’re Not Bold Enough
Viral content is almost never mundane. Allow yourself to experiment a little with the absurd.
21. You’re Not Telling Stories
The concept of a narrative is much older than the idea of content strategy. Present your web content with a beginning, middle, and an end that compels the reader.
22. You’re Not Thinking Like a Publisher
Take a lesson from magazine editors and spend time retooling your editorial calendar to present the most variety and shock value possible.
23. You Don’t Have a Voice
Even B2B businesses can have a defined and relatable tone online. Humanize your content strategy with a familiar tone.
24. You’re not Curating
Find the most shocking statistics, brilliant video interview, or mind-blowing infographic for your content strategy. As long as it’s fresh, your audience will appreciate it.
25. You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About
No one can sniff out an ill-informed writer faster than a content creator. You don’t need to hold a PhD in your industry, but you do need to perform research. If you’re writing down common sense, it’s not going to get you far.
What do you think are the defining factors of a boring content strategy?