There’s a lot riding on your content.
For each blog article, infographic, white paper, and ebook that you share, the company is counting on you to generate a certain amount of brand engagement and ROI. The more you invest in the creation process, from hiring designers to contracting a copy editor, the more pressure you will face to make sure it succeeds.
What happens when it doesn’t?
At best, content fails keep your blog in relative anonymity and wastes the time over everyone involved.
At worst, it costs the company hundreds of dollars and makes the department head question the use of your budget.
There’s good news for the content marketing managers who can’t afford to fail. With the right planning, you can reduce the risk of missed KPIs and have backup plans in place to make sure everything you post at helps the business a little, even if it’s not a home run.
Denial: You Didn’t Set Goals, So How Can It Fail?
At the risk of sounding like a Monday morning quarterback, make sure to approach every piece of long-form content with concrete ROI goals. If you employ the “post and hope” marketing strategy then you’ll never know if your content was a success or a failure.
Break your goals into three separate categories: 48 hours after launch, seven days after launch, and 30 days launch after.
Each of those categories should factor in social media traffic, inbound links, digital marketing channels, and other marketing outlets you plan to use.
Set KPIs for each channel based on traffic, shares, engagement, conversions, and ROI.
Depending on your level of detail, break out your KPIs by social media channel, blogs that you plan to outreach to, and digital marketing strategies.
Here’s one section of what the overall report should look like. As you can see, This piece of content failed to generate enough traffic and necessary conversions to hit the ROI goals. When you look at it by channel, you can see that social media didn’t hit the plan because Twitter traffic was down severely.
Now that you have an answer to “what went wrong?” you can start to ask why and form a strategy to fix it.
By breaking your content strategy into three waves, you’re better able to make changes within the first day or two to hit your overall ROI goal.
For example, if you’re not seeing the usual social media bump that you expect within the first 24-hours, make sure your outreach team knows the situation and works to generate inbound links and alternative blog traffic.
If you’re still not seeing the results you want, talk with your manager about allocating additional digital marketing budget to promote it to though display and retargeting ads.
Eventually this process will become second nature even if your content is a success. If your blog or infographic is shared on Mashable or gets retweeted by someone with 10 million followers, then you might want to adjust your strategy to keep riding on your success.
Anger: You Break Up Your Content Into Little Pieces
If you’re trying a second social media and digital marketing push to make up for the first content fail, brainstorm ways to recycle your content to make it more appealing.
Most social media accounts are highly visual, and you may have more success posting a photo with a link back to the content instead of sharing the article with text commentary.
The Oatmeal is a fantastic example of taking long-form visual content and promoting it with digestible bits. The creator will post a frame of a comic that’s hilarious on its own and helps the social media strategy, and will also link back to the full comic, knowing that its readers will click through to read the whole thing.
Image credit: The Oatmeal
On the written side, the Tampa Bay Times creates visuals in its articles by pulling attractive quotes and turning them into graphics. Readers become intrigued by the quote, and want to learn more about the context, or hear from the expert.
Image Credit: The Tampa Bay Times
Utilizing personalized graphics will make you stand out beyond the stock-photo world, and can adjust your content to make it better suited for newsletter blasts and emails.
By breaking up your content, you’re helping your social media team hit their goals for engagement and shares, while still making sure your content doesn’t fall into obscurity.
Eventually, these images can stand on their own and will become part of your overall marketing strategy. At the end of the year, curate them into a list-post that highlights the best stories of the year. People always enjoy recaps like “# Quotes That Sum Up 2016,” or “This Year’s Trends, # Graphics That Show How Far We’ve Come.”
Bargaining: You Call Other Departments for Marketing Help
While social media and digital marketing are great tools for boosting traffic to your site, all of your marketing channels should be able to direct to your blog in one form or another.
If you post on your blog several times a week, then it might not be appropriate to involve these channels in all of your content. However, they can be fantastic resources when you have a large piece of content that needs to generate a high ROI.
If you’ve been promoting your white paper or Ebook across the web with no traction, try these conventional marketing methods.
Print media is far from dead for several companies. Many businesses still use print and are trying to transition their audiences to the digital space. If this is the case, consider mentioning your Ebook in flyers, mailers, and other forms of print media as the call to action.
Let’s say an Air Conditioning repair company creates an Ebook about regular maintenance and to make your unit last longer. That’s not exactly viral content, but it is a fantastic source for customers. The company can advertise it through direct mail starting in the summer and hand flyers to their repair team to give to customers when their units break.
This can extend the life of your content for six months to a year, depending on your topic and industry.
Video and Podcasts
Whether you’re a local business trying to generate publicity or a national brand that works with global clients, video media and podcasts can be incredibly powerful tools for promoting your content.
On the PR side, your content is the news. Give your CEO an ego-boost and set them up on a news show or relevant podcast to talk about what you covered in the white paper. Even if your content is more evergreen, you can still pitch media outlets around the topic as a focus for a segment or two.
As of 2015, 46 million Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month. These channels can be powerful for reaching niche audiences across the globe.
If your sales team hosts networking events and attends conferences throughout the year, meet with them to discuss opportunities to promote your long-form content. They might be able to sponsor an event and talk about the content during a luncheon or seminar, and direct attendees to the full report online.
While these events tend to be smaller, they directly connect your team with your audience. Plus, with the right hashtag, your content can go viral as attendees listen to the talk and share the white paper as they live tweet the conference.
Depression: You Think of Ways to Improve in the Future
At the end of the day, you can’t force content to generate shares and hit your KPIs, but you can learn from your mistakes and make something better in the future. Start by identifying what caused the content fail.
The Content Was Too Basic
Maybe you created something that was great for entry-level audiences, but it didn’t stick with experts in the industry. Some blogs specifically target people who don’t understand the jargon, but if that’s not your audience, you could get ignored.
If this becomes a pattern, audiences within your industry might think you only post basic content, and will stop visiting you to stay up to date on the latest trends.
Break the content up by subheads and conduct a deep dive in a series of blog posts. For example, if you’re article is called, “Birthday Party Themes for Summer,” then your next series of blog posts will cover “Everything You Need for a Beach-Themed Birthday Party,” and “How to Throw Combine Birthday and Fourth of July Celebrations.” Now your blog post has moved from a generic overview to a hub for in-depth guides.
The Content Was Too Dry
In an attempt to create in-depth industry-leading content, you went too far the other way. Now your content fail is the form of an incredibly dry long-form piece, devoid of visuals except for a few charts and graphs reviewing your data.
Turn the bland content into something bright with an infographic. Your blog content might be interesting, but it needs the right hook to draw people in. In fact, brightly colored visuals make people 80% more likely to read a piece of content.
Highlight some of the best parts of your article in an infographic and direct readers to your original post to learn more about the subject. The colors and images draw them into the topic, which they will stick with now that they’re eager to learn.
The Content Was Irrelevant
It’s entirely possible that the content you thought would be crucial information to your audience has no interest to them at all. This sometimes happens when websites are running low on ideas and try to expand beyond their traditional subjects.
A blog about the RV lifestyle might generate thousands of shares from articles like “Top # Lakes to Visit in Manitoba,” but an article about boat maintenance would flop. The content isn’t relevant to the audience, who might enjoy staying on the water but don’t own boats.
If you find yourself with a content fail that misses the mark, then turn to your audience and let them tell you what they want. The RV travel blog can send out a survey asking its readers where they’re most exciting to visit this summer and what they’re favorite summer activities are. Those two questions alone open the door to create destination guides, listicles, and an outdoor safety Ebook.
Acceptance: You Understand that Not Everything Can Go Viral
Even the most well-researched articles from high-authority sources don’t stick sometimes. Despite your best efforts, you’re doomed to fail at least once.
However, if you approach each piece of content with a long-term view, concrete goals, and back-up plans to boost engagement, then will find your content better off than most pieces shared around the web.