Over the past few years, content marketing has proven time and time again to be highly converting and profitable…if it is done correctly. Sadly, many teams get caught up in the struggles and obstacles along the way that they fail to make significant progress.

In order for content marketing to make any impact, there are three key goals that it must accomplish:

  • generate leads
  • provide beneficial content
  • build brand awareness

Any obstacles that are standing in the way of accomplishing these tasks must be taken head on.

Tomorrow’s content marketers do face quite a list of challenges, but that does not mean their task is impossible. Let’s discuss the industry’s top five, along with solutions to any problems that you and your team may encounter.

1. Making One-of-a-Kind Content

The sheer amount of daily content that is released online is exploding. We all know the figures: in just one minute, 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, 3 million Facebook posts are shared, and 3.6 million Google searches are made. Every single day, 2.6 million blog posts are published on WordPress alone. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever. As time goes on, these numbers will likely be even more impressive (or intimidating).

With so much noise being made in terms of competing content, marketing teams have to find specific ways to make their messaging stand out among the crowd, leading 44% of marketing teams to agree that grabbing their customer’s attention is harder than ever.

The best way to create one-of-a-kind content that your audience craves is by actually listening and giving them what they want. First, you need to understand how your audience is consuming content, and which formats and topics they will actually pay attention to.

According to HubSpot’s research, consumers are much more likely to check out videos, social media posts, and research content, while blogs and long form content tend to be skimmed over. Data like this should be taken into account by your teams, especially if they are trying to expand their content repertoire.

Many marketers have also found that checking out forum conversations related to their industry’s niche, on places like Reddit and Quora, is one way to discover the questions and conversations their target audience is already having.

Comments on blogs and social media posts are another excellent source for content ideas because it shows you exactly what your readers are thinking and saying about your business. See what kind of content spurs conversations and answer reader questions with authentic insight in future posts.

The best way to capture an audience is by offering something unique that they haven’t heard or seen before. Unfortunately, this is where many marketers fall short. Lots of content that is published is just a new take on the same old story, and very few publications offer anything of value. Your team’s content needs to matter and it should provide something they can’t find elsewhere. This could be in-depth reporting, expert opinions, a certain tone, educational content spelled out in an easier way, or whatever else your company specializes in. The point is that your team finds its niche, understands its audience, and delivers quality over quantity.

2. Providing Personalization

Making your readers or viewers feel special is a great way to get them to convert into a customer. In fact, 75% of consumers are much more willing to buy from a business that offers an experience that is catered exactly to their needs or desires.

Providing personalized content seems to be a huge challenge for content marketers, and many are still missing the mark. This task can be quite tricky, especially for businesses with vast audience demographics. It will likely require some outside-of-the-box thinking, but the rewards are pretty remarkable.

Take communications company O2’s story as an example. They wanted to make their online ads more specific and relevant to audiences that were scattered around the country. They tracked consumer data and created location specific advertisements that included directions to the nearest O2 store. Each ad also matched up with the customer’s position along the sales journey with personalized offers based on the customer’s preferences or needs.

The results? 128% higher click rates at nearly half the cost per order as previous ads.

Obviously, the key to personalization is access to consumer data. Customer profiles must be tracked for information that can be tied to your content marketing strategy. In order to do this, marketing teams must not only have the right data collection tools in place, but they also must know how to strategically use it for this purpose.

3. Building Authentic Partnerships

Given the growing ease of accessibility, creating partnerships with influencers, or other names within an industry, is a content trend that will continue to develop as time goes on. In fact, throughout 2017, search queries for “influencer marketing” increased by 325%!

Content marketing is often highly focused on promoting products, services, expertise, and highlighting other companies. It can be easy to sound overly-promotional, especially with the increasing popularity of paid influencers who will say anything to get a paycheck.

Remember, content marketing is all about brand building; 63% of consumers agree that their perception of a brand is positively impacted when the company provides meaningful or valuable content. Brand authenticity is important to customers, and they are more likely to purchase from companies that are transparent and honest with them.

To ensure this kind of collaborative messaging stays authentic, make sure that your company only works with brands that are relevant to your audience. Seeing eye-to-eye, being honest and open, and producing content that benefits everyone will communicate a trustworthy message to everyone who comes in contact with it.

If you are working to promote a product, be sure the partner actually tries it out, tracks the results, records the experience, and shares honest reviews. When working with influencers, give them a certain degree of creative freedom for the content, rather than providing them an exact, word-for-word script.

In order for content marketing to make a meaningful impression, the message must be authentic, interesting, and relevant. Painfully obvious self-promotion or paid advertising will turn off many customers who are looking for honest feedback and insight. By focusing on thought leadership, educational content, with just a sprinkling of relevant brand mentions, your efforts will go much further with an audience than in-your-face advertising.

4. Accurate ROI Measurement

While many things in content marketing change, one thing has stayed the same: many marketers still have no idea how to accurately track their content’s ROI. Year after year, failure to accurately measure results remains at the top of the list of content marketers’ biggest challenges.

The best rule of thumb when it comes to ROI measurement is to use a combination of tools that provide your team with a 360-degree view of the results. Google Analytics is an excellent starting point, of course, but if your team is using video content and social media, further analytical software can help. Facebook insights and Twitter audience analysis provide a better idea of social results, while tools like Toggl can help to measure video engagement.

While the task of measuring ROI may be difficult, it is absolutely necessary if a business is going to get anywhere with this type of marketing. This is one area where dipping into the budget for more accurate tracking software or further analytical training may be necessary, especially if your team is struggling to understand consumer data.

The key is knowing which metrics apply when it comes to content, and how to read between the lines for the most relevant insights.

5. Making Content Relevant to Your Audience

The concept of “audience relevance” and what it means for your brand is changing by the minute. The challenge of meeting this demand is one that will always be present.

It is very easy for content marketers to get tied up in the pressure of creating content on a consistent basis to fit a tight schedule. It can be even easier to lose sight of who you are actually writing for. Each piece of content must have a place and a purpose in helping consumers along the buyer’s journey from beginning to end.

As marketing teams create more and more content, it is important that they continuously get to know their audience. Consumer targets may change as time goes on, or as a business gathers more data. Marketers must also remember that not every piece of content needs to apply to the company’s audience as a whole. This misconception can lead to bland, general content that provides little to no value or a scattered message with little focus.

First, your team must gather accurate audience analysis for targeted content inspiration. Many turn to website analytics, but resources like social listening, A/B testing, and even analysis of your competitor’s customers can provide deeper insight.

Once your team gathers the data points they need, the best way to dial down on the unique categories of consumers is to create accurate personas. Take a look at past consumer data and create a story from the information. Go through questions like these:

  • What do your most valuable customers look like?
  • Can you create long-term partnerships or is it a one-and-done kind of deal?
  • How do they typically respond to email marketing, long-form content, or social posts?

Answering these kinds of questions helps your team get into the mind of the consumer to determine their preferences and priorities.

Getting too wrapped up in the process of pushing out content simply for the sake of checking it off the to-do list will help no one. Forgetting your audience is the easiest way to stop a successful content marketing strategy in its tracks. By defining your exact audience, your marketing team will be able to strategize the proper tone, keywords, topics, and platforms that will perform best with various segments.

In Conclusion

Content marketing is full of challenges. Besides discussing its effectiveness, marketers love to talk about just how difficult this strategy can be. However, each unique problem also comes with unique solutions. This type of marketing is not easy, but with some research, effort, and critical thinking, your team can overcome any obstacle along the way.