Exploring the reasons why you shouldn’t carry outy content marketing and why you shouldn’t hire a content marketing agency may seem strange coming from an SEO and content marketing agency. And it is. But, not every business should engage with content marketing and not every business should engage a content marketing agency. It’s important that we’re prepared to say that.
Ten years ago every business that I used to speak to wanted to have SEO done on their website and they were prepared to pay thousands of pounds a month to have someone do something for them each month. Most of the SEO agencies out there were really web design agencies that had tacked on SEO as a service. They took a lot of money and didn’t really deliver much of value. As an SEO consultant at the time, I was constantly hearing from people that had spent a lot of money but didn’t really know what they’d got for it.
SEO was snake oil for a long time. Agencies set themselves up to sell SEO and the truth is a lot of them didn’t do very much. But then there were some that did actually do some decent SEO and there were some that followed best practices. A lot in fact and that’s the problem really. And I’m seeing the same thing now with content marketing.
Content marketing is the practice of producing and distributing content that is likely to contribute towards a sale. It started to get big as an activity around the time that SEO was going through some big changes. It’s probable that the growth of content marketing was in part because of the change in the effectiveness of SEO and I’m seeing a similar thing with content marketing.
Everyone’s carrying out content marketing these days. Everyone is creating and distributing content. So if you’re not careful you can create a lot of content that just ends up getting so lost in all the noise that’s out there and nothing comes from it. I think of this as the Content Crunch.
I often think when it comes to marketing that it’s best to do marketing differently, so the fact that just about every man and their dog is carrying out content marketing should straight away suggest you might find it difficult to make it work for you.
But you can carry out your own content marketing and you’re probably going to give it a try and you will probably think you’ve failed. Most businesses that try content marketing are unsuccessful because of their failure to develop a strategy. Or at least they fail to develop the type of strategy that has a chance of driving sales, which at the end of the day is always the point of marketing – otherwise, it’s just content.
Most businesses develop a content marketing strategy that focuses on the awareness phase of the buying cycle. That’s because it’s really easy to create content in the awareness phase, but it’s much more challenging to create content in the consideration phase. And remember it’s pointless to create these pieces of content if you’ve not already got a decision phase piece of content on the topic (these should be your services pages – or money pages).
So you really shouldn’t do content marketing, if you’re just going to crank out a load of content and see what happens. It will have some beneficial benefits don’t get me wrong, you will get a load of traffic and you will attract potential customers to your website, you might also increase your SEO. In the long run, you’ll end up putting a load of resource into content marketing and you won’t see a return on your investment.
The point is that content marketing is a long term endeavour and for a lot of businesses it’s not the type of marketing a business should enter into, to begin with. To begin with, most businesses (unless they are profitable or focused on market share) should be looking at direct response activities and not funnel based nurture programmes. Barry Feldmon makes some interesting admissions about selling content marketing as a strategy and provides several reasons why he thinks some businesses shouldn’t do content marketing, along these lines.
If you have a new business you’re looking to get off the ground, or you’re looking to make gains quickly – content marketing is not going to help you. It’s a long-term strategy, and business requires a healthy balance of long and short-term strategies.
What do I mean by “short-term” strategies? Things like:
- Conversion Optimization
- Customer Service
- Referral Marketing
- Paid Advertising
Here’s an example of the traffic trend of one of our content marketing clients – we see this time and time again – but looks at the timescale, we’re talking years:
Likewise, many businesses shouldn’t engage with a content marketing agency. As an SEO and content marketing agency you might think it’s strange someone from GrowTraffic would be saying this. Most marketers who understand about content marketing know that it’s a long term endeavour and if you’re bringing a content marketing agency you’re already going to be putting up the cost of your content marketing efforts. Of course, you’re probably going to get better results than if you choose to do it inhouse, due to the insights the content agency will have with working with a wide range of clients, but it’s probably not going to be cost-effective for a long time. Think 2 years of investment time in order to get to something that’s sector-leading. That’s a long time and most businesses can’t work with those kinds of scales.
So before you even begin content marketing ask yourself whether you really want to use a marketing tactic that requires such a long lead time and if you’d not be better concentrating on a direct response activity such as straight advertising.
Secondly, you need to be asking yourself if you are prepared to carry out a long term strategy, do you have the resources – and I’m talking budget here – to invest in the activities through a content marketing agency. Most content marketing campaigns I’ve been involved with cost tens of thousands of pounds before they start to generate any kind of return. That’s a huge investment for most businesses. And like I said earlier they often take years to get to the point where everything is covered. It’s long term and expensive – can you hold your nerve?
So although most businesses out there know they should be doing some SEO and some content marketing, a lot of businesses should never get involved with content marketing as their primary tactic and should only be considering it as and when they’re profitable and have built up some funds.
But, if you are profitable, you do want to invest in your businesses long term success and do it in a way that will attract huge amounts of traffic to your business and help you dominate your industry, there is no better marketing strategy than using content marketing for inbound web traffic generation.