Content marketing can be incredibly effective in connecting your business with your target audience or consumer base in less direct ways than ads. Think about it: When your audience is able to make a choice and actively chooses to consume content versus being served an ad, they have willingly participated in the process. You can see the power in this: serving content that entertains, informs, or engages readers could easily lead to conversions and paying customers when done properly.
Creating content that is not only effective in leading to conversions but also engaging and interesting to the reader comes with its challenges, however. These challenges are overcomeable, but being aware of what obstacles you could run into before you begin will set you up for even more success.
Content is all around all the time, and the rise of social platforms like TikTok, where seemingly anyone can be a content creator just by talking into a camera and sharing their thoughts, have made content creation seem extra easy. Likewise, content marketing may seem simple as well: create content about topics that interest your audience and they will read it. Well, at least that’s the goal. The biggest difference between the content being casually created by creators and content shared by content marketers is content marketing comes with an investment, one you should explore whether you’re willing to make before you get started. The benefits, however, often outweigh the cost.
But when done haphazardly, content marketers often come up against content creation challenges, sometimes before the content is ever even created. While the potential advantages of content marketing may seem obvious (low-cost marketing, awareness of your brand amongst audiences that may not pay attention to traditional advertising), there are some disadvantages to be aware of as well, according to NI Business Info. Namely, content marketing is not as instantaneous as paid advertising, it can be time-consuming and is not always successful.
The best way to mitigate some of these challenges is to make sure you’re hiring writers who are well-qualified to write on your industry and the topics your content marketing efforts will be covering. Writers who are familiar with the appropriate vernacular will be able to create relevant content more quickly. That said, even a strong writer who is an expert at the topic they are writing about does not guarantee the content is successful in leading to conversions or your desired outcome.
Even if you are confident that content marketing would be beneficial to your business or brand, not all content is created equal and “getting it right” requires careful consideration of who your audience is, how you intend to reach them and how you plan to engage them once they’ve read your content.
Questions to ask yourself before creating content
Ask yourself these three important questions before you have your writers begin creating content for your brand:
- Who is your audience? The style of your content should match who you are looking to reach.
- How will you reach your audience? Below, you’ll learn more about different types of content you may want to consider using to reach your audience, but you’ll also want to consider if your content efforts will mostly be organic on your site, social media pages and via e-newsletter, or if you plan to do paid marketing as well.
- How will you engage your audience? What are you hoping to achieve with your content? If the answer is conversions, you’ll need an effective call to action (CTA) in the content. If you’re looking to have your audience spend more time on the page, you’ll want to find ways to capture and keep their attention, which could include breaking up content blocks with images, memes, or GIFs.
While these questions are universal for all content marketers, strategies differ depending on your desired outcome. Next, we’ll look at a few different content strategies.
Types of content strategy
Before you dive into what types of content are most appropriate for your brand, you’ll want to ask yourself an important question: What are you hoping to achieve with your content? Are you hoping to spread awareness of your brand and the product and services you offer? Are you hoping to generate leads and more business from your brand’s website and social media accounts?
Deciding on a clear objective before you hire freelance content creators or writers will ensure that you are not wasting your time creating ineffective content that will not help toward your goals. In these 20 great content marketing examples, you’ll see how all of this comes together.
4 types of content categories
According to DemandJump, content marketing can be sorted into four distinct categories: attraction, authority, affinity, and action. While action-oriented content is typically designed with a call to action (CTA) and is written in a way that encourages conversion, the other three forms are less obvious. All four can be effective, however, in fostering deeper engagement with your brand, encouraging brand recognition, and establishing brand loyalty.
Attraction content, DemandJump says, is content that answers a question that many people are searching for. It is designed to bring lots of clicks and be the kind of content that the reader can’t resist sharing in their own circles. List-based content or listicles (ex. “5 Ways to Get More Readers to Click Your Content”) are a form of attraction content. It would not be uncommon for a piece of attraction content to end by encouraging the reader to visit other links or subscribe for more information.
Authority content displays more depth and breadth on a particular topic and shows your readers that you are an authority on a particular subject matter, compelling them to turn to you for advice or a deeper understanding of a particular topic. It is highly informative and credible.
Affinity content, while similar in nature to authority content, convinces the reader that you and your brand share mutual beliefs of the reader. This is content that helps your brand earn the trust of your readers by connecting with them emotionally, which could lead to a long-lasting relationship.
After you’ve decided who your audience is, what the objective of your content will be, and what type of strategy you’d like to deploy (including organic and unpaid) to win over that audience, you’ll next want to determine how you will achieve your objectives with different types of content. Most content marketers would agree that using a variety of content categories with an assortment of content creation ideas is a recipe for success.
Common content creation challenges
While knowing the purpose of your content (spreading awareness, subscribing to your database, making a purchase, etc.) is arguably the most important part of the content creation process, if you’re not careful, several potential roadblocks could stand in the way of you and your audience.
Here are some common challenges for content creators and thus content marketers:
- You’re running out of topics to write about: You’ve covered the main topics that easily come off the top of your head for your brand already and are not sure what other topics you could consistently create content on.
- Competition is ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs): Despite your content strategy, you can’t seem to rank as high as your competitors on Google, Yahoo, or other search engines.
- Content posting cadence can be hard to establish: Cost of content creation is high and so some weeks you have a bigger budget to spend than others, making consistency in a content schedule tricky.
- Traffic to your content is low: You’re posting content consistently, but it’s just not getting the traffic you’d expect.
- Your CTA is not leading to conversions: The traffic is there, but readers are not clicking through and taking action on joining your database, setting appointments, or making purchases.
All of these challenges may seem defeating for a content marketer, especially when several of them are happening at once, which is not so uncommon.
Solutions for content creation challenges
Each of these is, however, able to be overcome. Let’s take a look at the same list with just a few potential solutions:
- You’re running out of topics to write about: Planning in advance will combat this challenge every time. Consider the legs that can form off a singular topic and develop subtopics that can be covered in-depth.
- Competition is ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs): Evaluate the keyword phrases you’re using in your content, as well as other SEO tactics. Are you using the right keywords in your content for it to rank higher? If you’re not sure, try using a keyword research tool to find out.
- Content posting cadence can be hard to establish: Just like with choosing topics, planning content in advance is the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success. Get out a calendar and plan out a content schedule that spreads your content out around important dates and against your budget.
- Traffic to your content is low: Content is often as good as its promotion, meaning if your content is not optimized for SEO, or even if it is, you’ll want to make sure you’re promoting new content on as many platforms as you have, including e-newsletters, your app or blog, and all appropriate social media pages.
- Your CTA is not leading to conversions: Consider whether your CTA is strong or compelling enough. If not, you may want to consider trying an alternate tactic. Investigate what your competitors are doing in their content and consider trying something similar.
Digital analytics company Parsely shared a compelling example of food home delivery service HelloFresh realizing their content lacked engagement. HelloFresh used analytics to inform which platforms were most successful for the brand’s engagement and began focusing their efforts there. HelloFresh ultimately leaned in more to their LinkedIn content strategy after the data proved it would be worthwhile to increase content engagement.
What are the most popular types of content?
When it comes to creating strong content for your audience, there are many different types of content, or content categories, that can help you achieve your objectives, once you establish your goal.
Here are a few:
- Longform articles
- How-to-guides (UX writing)
- Thought leadership pieces
- Email newsletters
- App alerts
- Native photos
- Social media
- Paid social ads
There is no one more effective type of content than another — it all depends on what you’re hoping to achieve with your content and who you’re hoping to reach. For example, younger demographics, or those more poised to shop online, may be a better audience to reach with short-form, snackable content, while other demographics who enjoy reading narratives may be better to reach with long-form articles.
Start by making your own list of content formats you think could be applicable or beneficial for your brand and then evaluate which types you want to work into your content strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different content types to see if your brand may be able to make an impact in different ways. Consider the HelloFresh example above.
6 tips to create better content
You’ve now learned the importance of developing a strategy, choosing the right content types, and what to prepare yourself for to avoid or overcome content creation challenges. In summation, following these six tips from all you’ve learned above will help you become a stronger content marketer:
- Establish your audience
- Create a content calendar
- Research competitors
- Choose a voice
- Develop and consistently use a brand kit
- Consider your marketing plan