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Five common pitfalls in content marketing strategies

Companies still need to be convinced that content marketing strategies are must-haves in the marketing toolkit.

In the old days, marketing strategies involved some faith.

Companies sent out some direct mail, and marketing departments crossed their fingers that these pieces of mail would be opened and considered. Marketers would follow up with phone calls and ask customers to provide the code on the direct mail piece if a sale were made. But there were fundamental disconnects between the methods and the right audience as well as methods and attracting new sales.

Today, digital marketing has changed many of the traditional marketing practices that departments relied on. It enables companies to identify relevant audiences and market to them more appropriately based on their demographics and preferences. Marketers can use email campaigns to provide relevant, informative content to educate potential customers -- not just sell to them. By drawing them in and nurturing them, these prospects can become repeat, loyal customers as well. In these versions of events, though, the avenue for brand recognition and marketing becomes the content itself. Sometimes known as inbound marketing, digital marketing has become an essential piece of the marketer's toolkit to evangelize the brand, entice prospects and close deals. In some ways, your content marketing strategy is your brand.

Today, if you consider marketing investments a nice-to-have, it's quite likely you'll get left behind in that race to acquire and retain customers. In fact, digital marketing tools, such as marketing automation, lead generation and lead scoring, and campaign analytics, are no longer optional. They may be the difference between life and death at your company.

The struggle to master content marketing strategies

Nonetheless, based on recent research, companies have had a tough time succeeding with content marketing strategies: 71% of marketers planned to increase video efforts, but 44% say they have no effective video marketing strategy. And 81% of marketers are involved in content marketing, but only 28% of organizations say they are effective.

Here are five critical ways that chief marketing officers and their departments are failing at content and how to turn things around:

Pitfall one: Content is being driven by what your team assumes it "should be." Effective content is based on deep customer insight, which drives content that resonates with your audience. It is not based on suppositions or general trends.

Pitfall two: Content doesn't have a strategic approach. While, in the course of our research, the majority of companies said that they focus on creating engaging content and will produce more, 55% are unsure of what constitutes content marketing success. Additionally, only 32% of companies actually have a documented content marketing strategy.

Pitfall three: Content doesn't have the right metrics for measuring success. How do you determine what's working? Metrics that were rated as important by successful content marketers include increased lead quality or sales, increased Web traffic, increased brand awareness, increased search engine optimization ranking and increased renewal rates or subscriber rates.

Pitfall four: Insufficient understanding of content importance. The effectiveness and sustainability of a company's content marketing strategy requires a fundamental understanding by your team of the value of content marketing for customers and what it can do for brand perception.

Consumers are inspired by good content; 60% of people seek out a product after reading content about it, and 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content.

Pitfall five: Not using content to power inbound marketing. One of the keys to successful content is the ability to generate a source of new inbound traffic to a company's website. Research indicates that companies are three times as likely to see higher ROI with inbound marketing campaigns than with outbound ones. Further, inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound marketing.

No doubt, marketers know that content is a valuable engagement and sales tool. But the key is to develop tight strategies and tight metrics to avoid these five pitfalls that can sink the best attempts.

For more check out ERDM Voice of the Customer research.

Next Steps

Account-based marketing: Is it right for you?

Don't choose between inbound and outbound marketing

How to own the sales funnel

This was last published in April 2016

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