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From Frustration to Success with Content Marketing #semrushchat

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From Frustration to Success with Content Marketing #semrushchat

Becky Shindell
From Frustration to Success with Content Marketing #semrushchat

Content marketing is on everyone’s lips now, it has become a ubiquitous practice, with 88% of B2B companies using it in 2016, according to the joint research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. But if content is an important element of a marketing strategy and is used by a large number businesses, then why do so many companies fail to achieve the desired results with it? The findings of the same study show that only 30% of marketers said that their organization was effective at content marketing:

Effectiveness of Content Marketing

To answer this and other important questions, we dedicated our latest SEMrush Chat to content marketing and to provide you with things that you may not be thinking about.

We invited special guest Arnie Kuenn, the CEO of Vertical Measures, an international speaker, and the co-author of Content Marketing Works, to share his rich experience and expertise to help you strengthen your content marketing endeavors:

Q1: Which tools do you use do you use to lower the frustration in your content marketing processes:

We all know that content marketing is not an easy feat. When creating new pieces of content, there is plenty of things to keep in mind; you need to brainstorm fresh ideas, plan your content calendar, create and edit your content, invest your time in page optimization, and analyze what you’ve got. That can be overwhelming as you try to manage all these tasks by yourself. In fact, this doesn’t have to be so challenging as it may seem. There are multiple tools that can help you build great content marketing campaigns:

Ideas for content

Planning

Creation

Page optimization

Analysis

Tools to lower the frustration of the content marketing process

We would like to thank the following chat participants whose tweets helped us make the list of content marketing tools: @ArnieK, @eppand, @revaminkoff, @ExpWriters, @Alvomedia1, @R8chel_Marie, @jpsherman, @SueDuris, @Lucky__Angi, @RankWatch, @Blogging_Geek, @ConvertCorner.  

What content marketing tools have you found the most effective? Are there any tools you would add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments?

Q2: What is your biggest frustration when trying to incorporate storytelling in your blog or content?

What is the key to creating content that can grab your audience’s attention and motivate them to read or watch till the very end? It’s the ability tell an interesting story.

Storytelling is a vital technique of content marketing that can help your brand differentiate itself from the rest in the content-intensive times. However, incorporating storytelling elements in content marketing can be a daunting challenge. Some businesses find it very difficult to successfully tell a captivating story within their content without compromising the principles of business approach to blogging. These are the biggest challenges of using storytelling to capture your readers' attention:

  • Blending storytelling and education elements

When creating content about your product or service, you need to tell a story about your brand and educate your audience. Arnie Kuenn shared his own experience, saying that his team separates these two tasks by creating different pieces of content for different purposes.

A good brand story explains to your audience why you’re doing what you’re doing and helps you to create an emotional connection with people:

  • Finding the right topics and meeting your users’ expectations

The web is full of information. You need to produce literally the best pieces of content that can effectively engage your audience. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the deep sea of content out there.

When choosing a topic for your next blog post, podcast, or video, ask yourself: “What issues can my content solve?” Write down all the ideas that answer your question and then narrow the list down to what seems to be the best. Do research by using tools like Google Trends and “listen” to what people on social media are saying to gain more insights into what’s trending now. 

  • Connecting with people through storytelling

Simply telling a story about your brand is not enough. You should ensure that you speak to your users in the language they understand and that your story provides them with what they really need. “You have to ask yourself: what makes the audience care about my story?” said Alvomedia‏ @Alvomedia1. It must be personal and authentic. Stories that resonate with people most are usually the ones where the storyteller is honest and open about their passion and challenges

  • Expanding beyond traditional slogans and talking points

Today, everyone is investing in content marketing and as a result, we're seeing multiple pieces of similar content on the web. In today's highly competitive digital environment, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd with common slogans and clichés. What marketers really need to do is provide more insights and more research. When telling your brand’s story, you still need to inform, solve problems, entertain, and compel your readers to take an action. 

  • Making decisions about the medium of your content

When developing your content marketing strategy, you need to think about the medium that will work best for your audience. Maybe your story will look better on the video or maybe your story can only be told with words. In order to choose the best medium for implementing storytelling in your content, you need to know your audience well. You can figure this out by experimenting with what works and what doesn't. 

  • Finding a balance between a form and a function

A smart marketer doesn't just tell a story, they think tactically, making the most out of the storytelling to make content attractive, palatable, and encouraging a certain action. Your story should be more than just an interesting narrative, it must help you achieve your business goals in the long run. 

Let’s sum up.

Biggest frustration when incorporating storytelling in your blog

Keep in mind that you, as a storyteller, need to understand how to wrap up your story beautifully, all the while making it fresh, newsworthy, and compelling.

Q3: Is it better to publish new content regularly or release one evergreen piece quarterly? Why?

We want to provide the most useful, relevant, and valuable content possible to our users. But sometimes it can be difficult to judge how to balance the need for new content that’s published on a regular basis against ever-lasting articles that will keep readers coming back for more.

The main purpose of creating content is to build strong, long-term relationships with your users. That means providing the right content at the right time to the right segment of your audience.

Even though evergreen content keeps your blog or website relevant for the long-run, it can be risky to keep silence for too long, because your may readers forget about you.

Aside from evergreen content, you can publish posts that are relevant to some current events and trending topics, but are useful for a shorter period of time. The good thing about this real-time time content is that it can generate a large amount of page views in a small timespan. However, you need to keep in mind that posting on a regular basis doesn’t mean publishing any piece of content, regardless of its quality. Creating content for the sake of content never does good.

Arnie Kuenn @ArnieK recommends investing your efforts into both new and evergreen content. Vertical Measures uses the hub and spoke model in their content marketing strategies. Hub can be a free guide, a whitepaper, or even a webinar, while spokes can take a form of a blog posts series, an infographic, a social media post, etc. This hub-and-spoke model makes it easier to plan and manage your content marketing efforts.

How often should you publish new content?

You don’t have to choose between publishing new content on a regular basis and posting one “evergreen” piece once in a quarter. Find the balance between these types to produce diverse content that helps you to attract more page views and regular visitors, while building long-term relationships with your audience.

Q4: Why are so many organizations failing at content marketing?

Although the industry of content marketing continues to grow, effectiveness remains a major problem. The fact that everyone is creating content today doesn’t mean that they are winning at it. Do you know what can prevent you from making your effort effective?

These are five possible reasons that could be the reason your organization is failing in their content marketing strategy: 

1. You're not planning your content marketing strategically

Any marketing activity requires a clear strategy. As of 2016, only 32% of marketers had a documented content marketing strategy, which is surprising. The problem is that businesses that lack a documented strategy keep creating content for the sake of content without a clear understanding of where they are moving with their efforts. 

Suggestion: Write out a strategy for your content and start with defining your KPIs, focusing on what’s really important for your business (e.g., shares, traffic, conversions, etc.). Make sure to revise your strategy over time, as the industry is moving fast. What worked yesterday may become useless tomorrow. Have an editorial calendar and a thought-out distribution plan.

2. You're repeating what has been before

There are hundreds of thousands of pieces of content on the web, many of which are mediocre and boring. Multiple posts and articles repeat each other without adding freshness and value. But let me be clear, you will hardly ever see a website that has 100% unique content, however, if you add value to what you produce and make it engaging, you have a better chance of your readers coming back.

Suggestion: In the time of content overload, it’s getting extremely hard to stand out in today's crowded marketing environment. To succeed, you need to make sure that your content is better than the average post.

Get together with your team and brainstorm what can help you to create better content. What makes your company unique? Make an insightful study or research, collaborate with other experts in your industry, experiment with other forms of content that you haven’t tried yet, and think outside of the box.  

3. You don’t fully understand your audience

This is a challenge that many organizations face. How can you create something useful and helpful without even knowing who you are appealing to? The better you know your audience, the more effectively you can create captivating content, decide on its format, and distribute and promote your content.

Suggestion: Invest your efforts in audience research. Conduct a survey, use Google Analytics to get more insights into your site visitors behavior, and gain information directly from your audience (i.e., feedback).

4. You are setting aside a budget

Content that is perfectly written itself is a major element of a successful campaign. However, some companies often overlook another important part of content marketing: content promotion. In the highly competitive digital world, it’s getting increasingly harder to come into the spotlight. So, to make sure that your content reaches the audience it’s intended for, you need to plan a budgeting strategy for your content promotion.

Suggestion: Consider using paid channels to amplify the reach of your content. For example, utilize sponsored posts and ads across the different social networks. Plan your budget wisely to get your content in front of your target audience and in the long run, promoting content will save you time and money.

5. You are not keeping track of your success and analyzing your content

This is another crucial mistake that many organizations make. Tracking the success of your content and analyzing it can help to you reduce the amount of unstructured and poor content that fails to achieve its goals. This allows you to see the drawbacks in your strategy and change it accordingly.  

Suggestion: Analyze your content performance based on the KPIs you’ve set to identify improvement points and devise on objectives to follow. Think about what is critical to your content marketing success (i.e., traffic, conversion rates and leads). You can use Google Analytics to gain relevant insights into what’s working and what’s not.

Why do so many organizations fail at content marketing?

In fact, there are many more reasons why your content marketing may not working for you. However, these five are among the most common obstacles that can prevent marketers from succeeding in content marketing.

Q5: Which blogs have taught you the most about content marketing?

Education is the key to understanding any area, and content marketing is no exception. Our chat participants helped us to make a list of great blogs that serve them as the best sources of information about content marketing and related topics. We sorted all websites into five categories:

Content marketing and other aspects of digital marketing industry

Blogging

SEO blogs

Social media content

PR

Top blogs for content marketing, SEO, social media, PR

Thanks to everyone whose tweets we used to compile this list: @ArnieK, @R8chel_Marie, @RankWatch, @Blogging_Geek, @ConvertCorner, @MattLacuesta, @titualamgir, @QLTechAustralia, @SocialNoel, @searchswarm, @writingforseo, @searchrook, @DeirdreLopianPR, @sergio_redondo, @BRAVOMedia1, @CoSchedule.  

This list is by no means comprehensive and contain just some of the blogs that both our chat participants and we love. If your favorite blog or another great source of content marketing information isn’t listed, leave us a comment below.

Q6: Finally, what is the single most important tip on how to move from frustration to success with content marketing?

At the end of our discussion we asked our chat guests to share their most valuable piece of advice that can help you to move from frustration to success with content marketing.

The following tips sum up everything we've discussed in this post:

Create content that your prospects are looking for. In the times of information overload, companies cannot waste their time on producing irrelevant content. Focus on what really interests your audience and makes them return to your website for more of your content.  
- Arnie Kuenn

Hopefully, the tips from this post will help you to successfully reduce frustration and become a better content marketer.

Thanks to our special guest and our chat participants who made this discussion super interesting and productive!

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Becky Shindell is the Communications Manager at SEMrush and host of the weekly #SEMrushchat. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. You can find Becky at many of the US Digital Marketing Conferences, feel free to say hi!
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Ben Kazinik
Hey Becky, awesome post! I would add Ninjaoutreach for content promotion/syndication and backlinks. It's a pretty sweet tool.
Becky Shindell
Ben Kazinik
Thanks for the tip, Ben! -Becky