Content marketing is a huge marketing avenue.
To date, around 60% of B2C companies use content marketing to increase the numbers of traffic coming to their site.
And it’s hardly surprising, with 49% of searchers saying that they actively use search engines to help find new products or services.
However, only 30% of brands claim it to be an effective strategy.
Well, to put it simply, a lot of companies create content, but few do it well.
The truth is content marketing is hard. To do it well requires a lot of research, time and effort. Time, which, if you are a small or start-up business is something you’re probably short on.
When you start with content marketing, it can feel like a huge leap of faith.
Some types of marketing, like paid ads can show you your return on investment rather quickly. By contrast, content marketing can often take months before you start to see any results.
On top of that, you then need to work out what type of content works best for your audience. And this can take a few attempts to get right. Especially if you’re carrying out detailed keyword research.
Add to this the fact that you may have to convince senior stakeholders to invest in a marketing activity which might not obtain payback until the medium or long term – with some experts saying that you shouldn’t expect true results for up to 18 months – you can soon see why so many companies give up on it.
It’s this high benchmark which makes content marketing so hard to justify, start, endure and ultimately crack. Even if the benefits can be huge.
14 Reasons Why Content Marketing Can Be Hard to Crack
Before you jump head-first into your content marketing strategy, there are 14 points you should get yourself familiar with.
1. Content marketing requires convincing
Trying to convince your senior management team to launch a new marketing strategy can be tricky. Even more so if you have no immediate way of proving what success it will have for your business.
Content marketing takes a significant amount of time and work before any noticeable results can be seen. You need to produce a hefty amount of high-quality and relevant content in order to see any effects on your rankings and overall domain authority.
And before you even think about creating this content, you need to carry out thorough research of your audience. It’s crucial to understand who it is you’re targeting, and how you’re going to reach them.
Altogether, this will amount to a lot of upfront time and resources. Something which the senior members of your organisation may not get onboard with so easily.
The good news is, that unlike other forms of marketing advertisements, content marketing is relatively low cost. Not to mention it also tends to have a higher ROI.
So, if you can convince them to let you test the waters with content marketing, you can guarantee you’ll be spending far less than you would on other types of campaigns.
2. There isn’t much low hanging fruit
With so many businesses focusing their energies into content marketing, it’s becoming an increasingly competitive and diluted form of advertising.
It’s rare that you’ll ever come across a keyword that no one is ranking for, unless you’re a particularly niche business.
This means that there’s almost no low-hanging fruit to pick from.
That is, there aren’t any ‘easy’ wins in terms of rankings. You’ll need to produce a really, really, really great piece of content and have a strong website authority if you want to outrank your competitors at the top.
To overcome this, at the start of your strategy, I’d target the keywords with the lowest competition. These may be long-tail and very specific to a certain area within your business.
But, if you can rank for these types of keywords and phrases, you’ll strengthen your domain authority and overall rankings.
Then, when targeting the bigger, more competitive keywords, you’ll be in a much stronger position to climb the rankings.
3. You are always late to the show
Although it may feel like content marketing has skyrocketed over the past few years, it isn’t anything new. In fact, its history can be traced back to the late 19th century!
Brands have been using content to reach new audiences for decades. Whether it be food businesses offering recipes for budding chefs. Or hardware stores issuing ‘how to’ guides, and even fashion companies sharing style guides and blogs. There’s so much content available on the market, with something to fit every searcher’s query.
So, if you’re just joining the content marketing party, you need to understand that you’re going to be showing up late. And because you’re late, you’re going to need to put in a lot of hard work to catch up with the brands who have been doing it for years.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t show up at all. In fact, there are some benefits to having new content on the market, such as Google’s prioritisation of newer pages in their search results rankings.
So, although you may feel like you’re starting out really late with your content marketing, with enough time and effort, you could soon be in the same league as your competitors.
4. Content marketing takes time and resource
One of the biggest reasons why so many content marketing strategies fail is because brands underestimate the time and effort required to do it well.
Before you even begin to think about tapping away on that keyboard, you need to do your research. This requires a lot of pre-emptive work to make sure you’re ready to launch your strategy.
You first need to understand who you’re targeting, and how you’re going to reach them using keywords. This means carrying out extensive market analysis to understand why and what your audience is searching for. Then, using keyword research to understand how best to target them.
Putting your keyword and audience research aside for one moment, you also need to make sure you have the right resources in terms of the team working on your content marketing strategy.
If you have a significant marketing team, you probably have the resources in-house to plan, write and promote your content. But, if you’re a new or fairly small company, you may need to consider hiring external resources. Whether this is in the form of writers, designers or website developers to help execute your strategy.
Once you’ve collated your team and resources, it’s time to plan. You can begin to work out how much time you have to dedicate to your strategy. This will allow you to set achievable deadlines.
You need to make sure you can regularly produce high quality content that’s been properly researched and optimised. This will ensure you best reach your audience and address their search queries.
However, don’t assume you’ll reap the rewards moments after hitting ‘publish’ on your content. Search engines like Google can take anywhere between 4 days and 6 months to index your content. This means it will take a chunk of time before you can even start to see the effects of your hard work.
5. Content marketing requires endurance
Content marketing doesn’t have a ‘one size fits all’ formula. As such, you’ll need to experiment with your techniques to make it successful.
It’s not as easy as writing a single blog post that ranks well. Then allowing your other webpages to lean off the back of its success.
It’s a process which requires constant monitoring and review to ensure the content you’re producing delivers the results you want.
At first, it’s unlikely you’ll see the results you want. First, you’ll need to build up a bank of strong keyword rankings and strengthen your overall domain authority. Only then will you start to really climb the rankings.
And you could even find yourself producing lots of content which still doesn’t seem to rank highly. It doesn’t mean your content is rubbish. Or that you should give up content marketing entirely. However, it does mean you need to review your content to make sure it’s the best quality it can be.
This may mean ensuring the content on the page is quality, engaging and entertaining. But it could also mean reviewing all the technical aspects of your page’s SEO, to make sure search engines can properly read and index it.
It’s definitely a trial and error process. And it’s one which you’ll need to keep persevering with until you get it right. But, once you reach the top, the benefits will well definitely outweigh the struggles.
6. Content marketing never ends
Unlike other marketing strategies, content marketing doesn’t stop the moment you reach your desired goals.
To maintain your rankings and keep driving valuable traffic to your site, it requires a lot of work. You need to continually tweak your strategy to suit the ever-changing search demands of your audience.
You could become a credible and well-established website with lots of high rankings. But unless you continue to produce content that addresses new search terms, you’ll soon notice your traffic dropping off as your audience heads to the competitors who continue to produce material that’s relevant to them.
Therefore, you’ll need to continually carry out keyword research and produce relevant content to keep up with the demands of your audience.
This also means refreshing your older pieces of content to make sure they’re as up-to-date and relevant as possible.
7. Content marketing requires a lot of different skills
Many businesses believe that content marketing means simply creating blogs. But, there are so many types of content you can share with your audience.
And all of these different types of content means a lot of different skills are required. Especially if you want to produce items which are high-quality and hold your audience’s attention.
Even if you do choose to primarily produce blog posts as part of your content strategy, you still need to:
- Make sure you have a talented writer to produce the content
- Find a graphic designer who can create illustrations or edit images for you
- And, you may even need someone with an eye for photography to capture those photos for you
In terms of the technical parts of your SEO, unless you’re up-to-scratch with your coding knowledge, you may also need to hire a web developer. This will help to make sure that your website is properly optimised for search engines. If not, you may find it difficult to rank at all.
Even before producing your content, you’ll need to draw on your analytical skills to evaluate the current market. To see where your content can fit in against your competitors.
You’ll also need to organise your time and carefully research your audience and keywords they’re using. Otherwise you may not get a true understanding of what content they’re after.
And, after all of that, you’ll then need to pique your creativity to find new and unique angles for your content.
These are only a handful of the skills needed to effectively compose and launch a content marketing strategy. Making sure you have the right resources and talents on your team is crucial to making it a success.
8. Content marketing is easy to derail
Despite thousands of brands focusing their energies on it, only 36% of marketers believe that they’re achieving success with it.
Why? Well, probably because it’s one of the easiest methods of marketing to derail.
Unlike traditional forms of digital advertising, where you can leave an ad to run in the background for weeks, content marketing is a process which requires you to constantly research and produce new material.
As soon as you become wrapped up in another time-intensive project, it can be easy to fall out of routine. This means your content will be rushed, poor quality, or even forgotten about entirely.
With content marketing, it’s also very easy to lose sight of your messaging. Or to derail from your original purpose entirely.
As hard as you may try to set out with good intentions. That is, by only producing content that entertains, engages and informs your readers. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of using your content to push a hard sale.
Rather than taking an active approach to their strategy where brands research and produce content to target new opportunities, some marketers (usually because they’re short on time) use it as a reactive approach. They create content in response to the areas of their business they need to focus on.
For example, you could be an online clothing boutique that’s recently bought stock from a small independent designer. You may think it’s a great idea to create a style video or blog post on the new brand your shop now stocks.
But, unless this is a brand your audience is actively searching for or is interested in, it could be a complete waste of your time (and investment).
And, instead of your content being used to serve your audience’s interests, it’s actually being used as a reaction to a business decision you’ve made.
You need to be producing material that addresses your searcher’s needs, not your brand’s.
Remember, content marketing is all about offering information to the people looking for it. So always use their search as guidance on what to base your content on.
9. Content marketing requires risk
When it comes to starting a content marketing strategy, you need to take a leap of faith.
There’s no instant results. No quick way to see if people are looking at your work.
And that means you need to be patient and wait to see the effects of your efforts.
Also, there’s also no guarantee that your hard work will automatically lead to high rankings. Let alone lots of high-converting traffic coming to your site. Which means it may take a bit of trial and error to discover what types of content connects with them.
It’s a risky marketing strategy to take, but also the one with the highest pay-off. If you can get it right, you can transform your business’ online growth. And ultimately reap its long-term benefits.
10. Content marketing requires trust
As I mentioned above, there’s no quick-fire way of knowing that the content you produce will deliver the results you’re after.
You’re going to need to trust your gut instinct. And believe that the efforts you’ve put into building your content strategy will pay off.
If you’ve followed all the advice and created a page of content which you believe to be the most captivating, entertaining and informative, that’s properly optimised and addresses your audience’s queries, then you’ve no reason to fear.
11. Content marketing is always changing
Consumers are always on the hunt for new information. Whether it be through Google searches, social media browsing or podcast-listening. There’s no denying, we’re always hungry to learn more.
And with the demand for searchers continually evolving, so is the way we market our content.
To be relevant in today’s marketplace, you need to be hot on the pulse. You need to understand what your searchers are looking for, and where they want to consume it.
It also means you need to be up-to-date with the latest algorithm updates from Google and other search engines. That way you can always ensure your content is best optimised to succeed on those platforms.
Subscribing to industry-related newsletters is the best way to keep informed. They can help to maintain open conversations with your audience about your content and, what they want to see from it. This will ensure your brand is always relevant in the modern marketplace.
12. Content marketing forces you to think differently
One of the great things about content marketing is that it allows you to think outside the box. Or get your creative juices flowing. Although for some marketers, this can be a dreaded fear.
There’s so much content out there, that to make yourself stand out from the competitors, you need to think laterally. You need to offer a fresh take on the material which is already out there.
You’ll need to adopt a new way of looking at information, questioning opinions and finding alternative approaches to analysing it. Everything you look at will need to be for the perspective of the viewer. Ask yourself; ‘is this what my audience wants to consume?’ and ‘is there a different way of doing this?’.
Content marketing will also force you to test new forms of media. Experiment with different creative elements in order to produce the most enticing pages possible.
Don’t be afraid to think bold.
There is so much risk associated with content marketing, that you may as well enjoy exploring new avenues with it.
There is no such thing as bad content, just content which can be improved.
13. Content marketing forces you to understand more
Search engines like Google are all about connecting searchers to the content which they perceive to be the most relevant, informative and reliable at answering their queries.
To rank highly, you need to prove yourself as an authority, and this means knowing your industry inside out.
Whenever someone enters a search query related to your line of business, your website should be the first one they see. And this means you need to create a ton of content that demonstrates your expertise within that industry.
On top of that, everything you create needs to offer the most accurate information possible. This includes the sources your research comes from.
Being in the loop with the latest industry developments will be hugely beneficial. Not only for your reputation, but for your brand too. You’ll be able to make pro-active, timely business decisions. As well as content that reflects the changing environment of your industry.
14. You need to overcome the difficulties to reap the benefits
Most marketers and companies know what marketing is and how it works in theory.
They also know that to grow their business in today’s busy online marketplace, they need to focus on content marketing. In fact, the trend of individuals looking for the term ‘content marketing’ is only increasing.
But here’s the thing, to take content marketing seriously and to use it to benefit your business means you need to overcome the above difficulties. To essentially take a very different approach to your business, growth and what you perceive as value.
It means you have to get all of your ducks aligned, which can be very difficult if you don’t have a leadership team who understands and is driving your business towards.
From this point, you can see why it is hard for marketers to get content marketing on the priority list and then to scale it up to get long term results.
Digital marketing and SEO agencies know this too. So often they take shorter and easier routes that show quick growth, such as paid search.
But in a world where paid search is increasingly becoming the only route suggested to businesses, perspectives need to shift.
Marketers need to consider how they can make use of the organic real estate that’s available to them via search engines. Business leaders need to think; how can my brand stand out? And how can my brand cut through the noise?
Marketers and marketing agencies need to stop looking for short-term solutions to helping businesses grow. Instead they need to work on building marketing strategies that are adapted for the modern age.
Developing a Content Marketing Strategy With a Marketing Consultant
Developing a successful content marketing strategy is by no means an easy feat.
You’ll need lots of time, research and expertise to create and execute a successful plan. One which drives results that far outweigh the upfront resources needed.
If you’re a small business owner or new start-up, you may not have enough resources available to dedicate to your content marketing strategy.
This is where working with a marketing consultant such as myself may benefit your business. Together, we can construct and execute a long-term strategy that works. One designed to increase your website’s rankings, and drive high-converting traffic to your site.
My team and I can even help to produce and deliver your content. We have an in-house design team who have worked across all types of industries. So we know what it takes to produce content that clicks with the reader.
If you’d like to hear more about how our services could benefit your brand, feel free to schedule a call with us. We’d be more than happy to hear more about your line of work, and have an obligation-free chat.