Beware: the two to three month slump
The third Monday in January has been labelled ‘Blue Monday’ by the media. Christmas is over, the days are long, the weather’s awful, and your New Year’s resolutions are either failing to show results, or you’ve given up already.
There’s a similar phenomenon when it comes to content marketing. People start with buckets of enthusiasm and the very best intentions, but then they hit a wall. We’ve witnessed a pattern here with companies both big and small. More often than not this wall looms largest at the two to three month mark. The new website is up, there’s some great content coming through but a couple of months down the line frustration strikes.
Where are all the visitors? Why aren’t the leads pouring in? It feel like we’re talking to ourselves. This stuff is valuable – and I’m under pressure to deliver results – why isn’t it getting read? We need more eyeballs on our content, fast!
It’s a natural reaction and a frustration we can well understand. Our advice: don’t panic; check you’re doing all you can to promote your content; and keep on keeping on.
Here are some ideas to help you ride out the two to three month content marketing slump and get the success your content deserves.
First things first, be patient. Remember, content marketing is a long game: a slow burn not a quick fix. You will see some interest in the early months but in our experience it’s between six and twelve months when you really start reaping the benefits, so hold firm.
“It took a few months for the first leads from our new valuable content website to come in. The head of steam built pretty quickly after that and now we get about 15 inbound leads from our site every week.”
Paul Marsden, Director of The Payroll Services Centre.
Content distribution – are you doing all you can?
Keep the faith, and definitely keep going, but also make sure you’re doing everything you can to get your content read. Combining tactics to build an integrated distribution plan is the best way to ensure your content gets the interest it deserves.
Here’s a quick checklist of what works for us and our clients when it comes to content promotion. Are you doing all you can to ensure each piece of content is getting maximum exposure?
1. Tell people
In our digital world this might sound too basic for words but you’d be amazed how many companies forget this crucial real world step. Once you’ve created a piece of content, tell people!
If you’re not a one-man band, tell everyone in your company, and ask THEM to take the content out there. Imagine the reach you could get if everyone in your company told everyone in their networks? Ask people to email it or post it as a LinkedIn status update if it’s relevant to their contacts.
Outside your company, tell your contacts, prospects and clients about useful content too – the direct ‘saw this and thought of you’ approach is still a powerful sales (and customer service) tactic today. Don’t be shy of this step if your content is valuable.
Of course you have to have enough people to tell. Grow your network of contacts – even in this digital era, old fashioned meet-and-greet networking has certainly not gone out of style.
- Do this: Our fab clients Freedman International paste up a copy of each new piece of content on the office wall near the kettle as well as mailing all staff a message and link they can share.
- Don’t do this: Keep it to yourself. Hope for the best.
2. Promote your content on social media
Distribute your content to your social networks, with links to every new piece of content you create on your social channels.
Work hard on your headlines, make them interesting and engaging. Remember, you can get away with doing this more than once on channels like Twitter (but not too much – don’t be a pain!). Try posting a comment or question with a link to your content on relevant LinkedIn groups. And use hashtags intelligently to help your content be discovered.
- Do this: Ask good questions, be curious, comment positively on other people’s posts.
- Don’t do this: Spam out links to your content, only drop by when you’re selling, forget to engage.
Don’t forget your email community. Tell those who have signed up to your list. Give them an option to subscribe to receive your latest updates and remember to pop a link to the best of your new content in your monthly email newsletter too. And how about a link in your email footer for each new piece of content you create?
- Do this: Invite people to sign up for your new content.
- Don’t do this: Buy a list and spam everyone on it with everything you write.
4. Optimise for search engines
Make sure you’re optimising each new piece of content carefully for search engines to increase your chances of getting found. This means knowing the keywords you want to be found for, with the right focus for each piece of content you create. And act like a good librarian, labelling your content correctly by setting the metadata right before your publish.
- Do this: Be clear on the keywords that your audience is searching for. Follow good content housekeeping practice but write for real people first.
- Don’t do this: Forget to label your content. Post and hope for the best. Or worse – stuff your content full of keywords and alienate your readers!
5. Take your content wider with PR
PR is a great tool to amplify your content – a way of widening your reach by getting your ideas in front of a much wider audience, establishing your authority in your chosen niche. Think of it as taking your content on tour. For as the makers of Hubspot so rightly explain:
“Content is your champagne and, when used appropriately, PR can pop the cork.”
Work to get your content published in industry-leading media and look for guest-blogging and speaking opportunities to get the word out wider.
Connect with the influencers: even better than a cold request to share your content, be curious and ask for their opinion. Publish it in an interview and if it’s good, they might tweet out to their network – probably far bigger than yours!
- Do this: Develop relationships with a few key influencers so that they will be happy to share your valuable content. Be helpful – not pushy.
- Don’t do this: Send identical ‘please share this’ email to everyone you can think of. Use this tactic sparingly – you’ll quickly run out of people and the people will run out patience if you ask for sharing favours every week!
6. Form a content club
How about collaborating with others like minded content creators to form a content club – a group of people/businesses whose ideas you rate with content that would be useful to your audience, and vice versa. Agree to tweet out their content (if it’s valuable), and they’ll share yours.
Collaborate with your readers too. Seek their opinions. The more you get your audience involved in creating the content, the happier they will be to share it on your behalf.
- Do this: Link up with like-minded content creators.
- Don’t do this: Ask them to share stuff that’s not relevant. Or forget to share!
When it comes to driving traffic to your website there are more paid digital advertising options than ever before – far wider than PPC and Google Adwords to sponsored social media, affiliate marketing, retargeting (if you like that kind of thing) too – the list goes on.
This route can definitely extend your reach but never lose sight of the customer experience. You’ll know the kind of advertising that annoys you; it will annoy your customers too. We’re hoping that new options like Vidlinkr – Coull’s clever approach to video advertising is the spearhead of a new breed of relevant, useful and discrete advertising tools.
- Do this: Talk to the experts and find out all you can.
- Don’t do this: Throw money away on annoying your customers and wasting spend.
It is hard. Getting up and running with content marketing is tough work, and you do need to knuckle down and keep at it through the early stages. Take heart from the knowledge that everyone has to start somewhere, and you’re already making progress on your journey, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
And while the going is still slow, make sure you are making the best of the traffic you do get. Make sure your website is working as hard as it can. Make it easy to find the valuable content you’re creating. Have a really clear path to buy, or to sign up for email updates. Link to other relevant content to keep people interested, lead them to other content that will really help.
Don’t forget the valuable rules in your desire to get your content read. No bombarding people or whacking them over the head again and again till they bloody READ it. Valuable principles and behaviours apply when promoting – even if your content is useful – so play nice!
A combination of great content and wide distribution tactics will see you through. Hold your nerve and keep going. Keep on creating, mix up the formats, keep a steady stream of stock and flow content coming. Listen hard and laser in on the big questions, care about the people you want to serve and success will come.
We really hope these ideas help.
If you’re new to content marketing, are you struggling with the two to three month slump? If you’re an old hand, do share your experience. How long did it take you to see results, and what tactics have worked for you to get your content read?