As we get ready for Content Marketing World in a few weeks, we asked a few of our speakers to share their insights on some content marketing topics. Over the past two weeks, we posed these questions to them:

This week, they let us know what their biggest content marketing challenges are — which might give you some idea of what to focus on as you work through your own content marketing processes. Can you relate? And what can you add? One thing is for certain — you’ll get a lot of answers if you’re attending Content Marketing World!

ROI. Most content marketers have not been forced to pay close attention to Return on Investment. This is changing and CEOs, CMOs, etc. are starting to ask some pretty probing questions (“Uhhh…why are we doing this?”). Marketing is moving towards measurement of everything, and the successful content marketers better know their numbers. Look at things like:
  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Lifetime value
  • Sales

Make sure you understand:

  • Where your content has been
  • Who has seen your content and what they did with it
  • What that activity is worth… in dollars.

– Chris Baggott

The very act of staying focused on quality is one of the most important things you can do if you’re serious about your craft. In our hurly-burly information age, we’re inundated with ideas every day — every hour, actually. Articles are repeatedly flung through the internet-y tubes. In many cases, it’s great advice. But let’s be honest — sometimes editors are looking for articles to fill holes, and sometimes they’re tweeting to sustain their own numbers. So occasionally, it’s OK to ignore the latest “9 tips” or “must-do techniques.” Knowing what’s creating buzz is important, but quality is important too — and that takes time.- Susan Blue (@susangrayblue)
The biggest challenge is understanding your customers well enough to develop content that is useful and relevant for them. I’m working on a storytelling workshop right now for our marketers to help them discover ways to tell their story so that customers can learn from it and enjoy reading about it.- Alison Bolen (@alisonbolen)
It is critical to always keep your business objectives top of mind and use them to guide your content strategy. Business goals such as improving customer retention rates, acquiring new customers, or increasing top-line sales growth should be the reason why you launch a content strategy. Here are some ways business objectives need to tie into content strategy:
  • Mold your content around those goals while using media platforms that are appropriate for your customers.
  • Build in metrics that align with your business objectives.
  • Measure the results in real time, allocating more investment in the initiatives that demonstrate the strongest results.
  • Create a pro forma to estimate project ROI.

Content marketers must measure religiously and work with all stakeholders to ensure that key metrics are achieved — if they’re not, they need to aggressively make the changes required to deliver them.

– Cam Brown (@CamBrown1)

Being allowed by their superiors to take the time, energy, and resources to do it right. Yes, it can be done on any budget, but this is a dangerous mentality because I’ve seen far too many bosses have unrealistic expectations without giving the support to ever reach those goals.- C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman)
Generating content is usually at the top of a marketer’s list of “things to do” but is ironically one of the last things that gets out the door. There’s often another campaign that needs to get out the door, another marketing emergency that needs attention, or another project that pushes content down the priority list. Content creation is often a resource draining exercise involving content planning, editorial calendars, hiring and managing writers, research, first drafts, reviews, second drafts, more reviews, final edits, etc. Unless a marketing organization has the resources and focus to get content created, it will always be difficult to accomplish content marketing goals. – Pawan Deshpande (@TweetsFromPawan)
The biggest challenge I see companies and content marketers face is integrating a scalable process that all content constituents can manage and consistently engage effectively. With content, and the evolving forms of content for customer engagement, it’s critical that there’s a process internally that enables successful creation and delivery. Being relevant, and providing value and context to potential buyers is far from easy, but understanding how they buy and consume content during that process is a good place to start. If you know how they navigate themselves through their decision, you can design, or map a process internally that parallels it.- Barbara Gago (@BarbraGago)
Keeping on top of all the different tools and technologies and staying the course. It’s so easy to be reactive – Google+ just launched! What do we do? Rather, we need to create strategies with the information we know right now and build reimagining time in at least once a quarter. But if you don’t stick to an overall strategy, you’re just spinning your wheels.- Ahava Leibtag (@ahaval)
Fear. Every day, I run across FEAR of content marketing.
  • Fear comes from bosses who insist on calculating the ROI of content marketing based on sales leads and press clippings.
  • Fear comes from offline advertising and PR practitioners cautiously making the transition to Web platforms to generate attention.
  • Fear comes from those who insist on copying the competition.

– David Meerman Scott (@dmscott)

The single biggest challenge content marketers face is infusing and maintaining the “we are media” mindset and momentum within organizational ecosystems that are typically geared toward shorter-term “problem… solution… next” thinking.- Clyde Miles (@clydemiles)
We will see the biggest challenge for content marketers come from not being ready to capture and warehouse volumes of content as it happens at events, product launches, and outreach campaigns. It’s incredibly difficult to develop interesting and relevant campaigns if you’ve not built a library of content that you can pull from throughout the fiscal year. Smart content marketers will train themselves to think like broadcast companies and always be in the mindset of capturing new content as it happens.- Nate Riggs (@nateriggs)
I think that content marketers can find it challenging to think beyond content. Developing compelling, buyer-persona-focused content is the guts of your strategy, but you also have to put the tools in place so that your content is found and consumed by your target audience. This includes strategies for search marketing, social media, and public relations, and taking the time to continually measure success and adapt your strategy based on the results.- Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer)
The great challenge of every content marketer, if they truly want to be ‘great’ at what they do, is learning to write and communicate in a way that is completely and utterly on the level of their audience, not the level of the industry professional. This action is commonly referred to as ‘The Curse of Knowledge’ (speaking above those around you), but without question it’s the biggest challenge business owners and marketing departments have when trying to communicate effectively and clearly with their customer base.- Marcus Sheridan (@TheSalesLion)
There are a lot of smart, generous people in this space. I’ve reached out to a lot of them, and always had a great experience doing so. If someone’s motivated and passionate, I don’t think that education is a problem. Much of what works in content marketing has little to do with cost, and all to do with developing a plan you can support consistently. Oh, and doing it. Most people seem to know what they should be doing; the trouble is actually getting it done. Consistency counts for everything. So I don’t think that budgets are an issue. If someone “gets” it, it seems astonishing to meet people who don’t — especially if those people have the power to influence your success. Anything new to a company will automatically impact others in many parts of the business, and needs to be treated like any other change management project. When something seems so obvious to an enlightened content marketer, it’s easy to have blind spots. When I talk with marketers in large organizations, it is this unique mix of internal communications, support, and education that is the biggest challenge. – Todd Wheatland (@ToddWheatland)