By now, most of us know what content marketing is and why it’s important. However, content marketing is more than just creating great articles, videos and downloads. The biggest mistake you can make is creating content without a strategy, which includes content planning, content distribution, lead generation and follow up. Here are four common mistakes organizations make and how to fix them:

Mistake #1: Not using an editorial calendar.

As is the case with any marketing tactic, drip marketing will generate fewer results than a long-term, wide-reaching, integrated plan. When it comes to content marketing, it’s critical to approach it with an integrated strategy – at the center of which is an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar, which should be prepared at least every quarter, ensures that you are producing enough content at a consistent frequency, that you utilize a variety of content types and that your subject matter is diverse, informative, valuable and builds upon itself.

Mistake #2: Not using all of your distribution channels effectively.

Many people take the “if you build it, they will come” approach to content marketing, creating beautiful and high-quality pieces of content and then expecting that it will be discovered on its own. But content creation is just the tip of the iceberg; it requires a smart distribution strategy to get that content out into the world and generating leads.

There are three types of content distribution channels: owned, earned and paid.

  • Owned channels are channels you control, such as your website, email lists and social media platforms. Content can always be distributed across these channels, and the goal is to build your audience and following so your owned channels reach more.
  • Earned channels represent free placement in outlets you do not own, such as featured stories in newspapers, magazines and television, social media shares or blogs. You cannot guarantee placement on these channels, but you can develop strong content and relationships to help increase your chances of getting your content here.
  • Paid channels are pay-to-play avenues such as advertorials or pay-per-click ads.

Content distribution should take advantage of all of these channels where possible, to reach the widest pool of potential audiences.

Mistake #3: Not offering premium content.

Creating a single piece of content is not enough to generate significant leads for your business. You must offer enough content to keep users engaged and on your site, and you must utilize content to collect contact information so that you can begin collecting qualified leads and marketing directly to consumers.

The purpose of premium content is to keep readers engaged, offer a next step in interaction with your brand and acquire email addresses that can be used for future marketing. While free content such as a blog post initially draws readers in, premium content is "gated", offering a more in-depth resource in exchange for an email address. Examples of premium content include articles, videos, webcasts, white papers, checklists and kits.

Users on your site should never reach a content “dead end”. While you must offer free content (such as blog posts) as a way to hook readers initially, at some point in their journey, they should be offered a premium resource and enter into your sales cycle.

Mistake #4: Not having a follow up strategy.

Someone downloads your piece of premium content and you collect his or her email address. What next? While you’ve successfully generated a lead, the real work has just begun. Many organizations make the mistake of collecting contact information and then doing nothing with it OR collecting contact information and going right for the sale. In the same way that you would not ask someone to marry you on a first date, you have to give new leads a chance to get to know you, cultivating them into a deeper relationship and knowledge of your organization or business.

Fortunately, marketing automation makes this process simple, easy and effective. Setting up multi-part, automated email series for each piece of premium content you create is an easy way to welcome a new lead, provide additional resources and begin introducing him or her to what your organization does, encouraging further future interaction or setting the stage for your sales team to reach out.

Content marketing is so much more than just developing great content – it’s about strategic distribution, lead generation and follow up to make your content not just a great read, but a great tool for driving sales or engagement. 

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