There’s never enough time in a marketer’s day. That’s why many content marketing programs languish, never reaching their revenue-driving potential. Content marketing needs to be more than a series of one-off campaigns to be successful. For content marketing to truly drive results, it needs to be an all-in, ongoing, and strategic component of your marketing plan.
Once you have the executive buy-in for content marketing and are ready to scale your efforts, watch out for these common pitfalls that can derail your progress.
Mistake #1: Not breaching corporate silos
Corporate silos are responsible for the death of countless good ideas and valuable initiatives in the corporate world each day. This holds true for content marketing teams as well.
Although your team may be the official owner of your company’s content marketing program, it’s unlikely you are the only content creators in the organization. This is further compounded by global organizations with localized sales and marketing teams all using their own platforms and vendors for content creation and distribution.
This is how content teams end up with a dozen translation vendors and a dozen social media accounts with differing branding and voices creating a disjointed view of the company.
Luckily, a cross-departmental editorial team with a shared editorial calendar can transcend the silos and build an integrated content approach. Your editorial board should include decision-making representatives from all the groups in your organization who are creating content. That means PR, marketing, customer success, sales, training, HR, etc. If your organization has global offices, make sure to include representation from them as well.
Convene this group quarterly to share high-level content plans, agree upon themes, and prioritize content marketing initiatives. You’ll want to have this group nominate an editorial working group to meet at least monthly to work through the day-to-day scheduling and upkeep of the editorial calendar. This team will ensure that there isn’t overlap in content being created, and that shared resources such as the design team or copyeditor aren’t overbooked.
Mistake #2: Process and documentation gaps
I once had an eager new EMEA marketing team member create a localized Twitter account, complete with new branding he’d created. This put a spotlight on a gap in our team’s onboarding process — the EMEA team members weren’t going through the marketing onboarding session that went through our social media accounts, employee brand advocacy opportunities, and an abbreviated brand style guide.
If you don’t have a documented social media policy, content style guide, or publishing workflow in place, it’s difficult to quickly and positively address issues like this when they arise (and they WILL arise!). These brand guides become a resource and a touchstone for content creators throughout your organization to use to make sure they’re aligned with your content marketing strategy. Without having this sort of documentation in place, you’re likely to have inconsistent content quality and messaging. Or worse yet, have conflicting messaging depending upon which department created the content.
Similarly, if you don’t have a documented content workflow, conflict can arise with teams publishing content that didn’t have the right set of eyes upon it before publication. Whether you use a content management platform like Kapost or Newscred or a project management tool to manage your publishing workflows, it’s important to have a set workflow in place for each content type.
Mistake #3: No dedicated content budget
In some organizations, the only content budget is for the content team’s salaries. When that content team is a team of one, this is a quick recipe for burnout. But even with a solidly staffed content team, without a budget you will severely limit your ability to scale your content marketing.
An efficient content marketing team will need to have technology and outside specialty resources to support their activities. In the long run, deploying technology and specialty consultants on an ongoing basis can be less expensive than expanding your in-house team to incorporate the many specialty skills that content marketing teams need to tap into.
As a content team leader, it can become frustrating to have to make a business case to fund every content distribution plan or every marketing technology you want to deploy. You’ll have a significantly more engaged content marketing team — and a better handle on your content marketing ROI — by dedicating a set portion of your budget to your content marketing program. This additionally provides them with the agility to seize limited time opportunities or experiment in new content areas without having to first get in front of the executive team.
Mistake #4: Focusing on quantity vs. quality
The number of blog posts published or the number of events attended should not be the focus of your content marketing plan. Rather, your content marketing KPIs should reflect content’s effect on generating leads and moving them through your funnel. You may find that one strong white paper or video customer case study — which take more time and budget to produce — may be far more effective in a later funnel stage than a dozen quickly produced blog posts or video snippets.
Further, high-quality long form content can be repurposed into additional content pieces, to be used throughout your buyer’s journey. By creating content with its repurposing plan in mind, you can quickly and cost-effectively take one piece of content and turn it into several. For instance, an e-book can be designed to be turned into a webinar, a SlideShare, a two-minute tip video, and three blog posts. When content creation is driven by a documented content strategy, rather than created as one-off random acts of content, you’re able to get significantly more mileage out of it.
Mistake #5: No distribution plan
Content marketing is no longer a novelty. In order to get your content in front of your ideal audience, you’ll need to have a distribution plan that goes beyond sharing it in social media status updates. Consider what other content distribution vehicles you have available to you such as your employee advocacy program, your sales team, and your email nurture streams.
When you’ve invested in a substantial piece of content, such as a webinar or an e-book, you’ll want to expand your distribution plan even further, to include paid distribution methods. This can include driving to it from PPC advertising, using distribution platforms such as Netline or Outbrain, and paid social.
Scaling your content marketing program is hard work. But when done well, a comprehensive content marketing strategy has the power to connect with your audience and drive serious business results.
Erika Heald is a marketing consultant who helps companies define content processes to drive lead generation and customer loyalty by leveraging compelling, shareable, targeted content. In addition to her consulting work with technology and specialty food startups, Erika moderates the weekly #ContentChat Twitter chat. Connect with her on Twitter @sferika or her blog www.erikaheald.com.