Listen up, marketers – we have to talk. Have you been losing sleep trying to figure out why your engagement metrics are dropping? How about trying to decipher why users aren’t visiting the blog section of your site? You might have even seen a dip in the number of sessions you’re generating to your website, and I think I know why.
To be blunt, it’s because your consumers are sick and tired of reading B.S. content on your website. I’m talking about content that is “branded” and “simple.” The kind of content that insults your consumer’s intelligence and doesn’t provide an iota of original thought. This is why we’ve lost the war – this is why marketers, at companies large and small, are putting in extra hours trying to determine a better way to capture their audience’s attention and gain leads for sales.
Let’s start with the facts: People aren’t reading your company blog because, in one way or another, you don’t understand your audience. Before I lose you here and you write me off as another hack trying to dispense “marketing expertise” – think about it.
Timing is everything when making good TOFU
Before you write your first blog post or even start outlining what topic you want to write, you must think about who you’re writing for and why they care. Don’t believe me? Even SEO guru Rand Fishkin advises that you shouldn’t start a corporate blog before you understand the audience that you’re writing for.
(Side note: This would be a good time to develop some of those buyer personas we’ve been harping on. Just saying).
A large part of understanding the audience you’re writing for is taking your hat in your hand and admitting that, perhaps, they do not always want to be sold your products and services outright. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to have a new consumer interested in reading your blog, it’s very unlikely that they’ll want to be sold your products and services at that stage. That’s because a blog article is what should be viewed as Top of the Funnel, or TOFU.
Unfamiliar with TOFU marketing best practices?
Consumers aren’t coming to your blog to make a purchase; they’re coming to learn. They might be coming to learn more about what you have to say regarding a trending topic in your industry. They might be coming to get some advice on whatever subject matter you’re covering on your blog that day. They might just be looking for a quick distraction from the humdrum of their 9-5. One of the very first things the Marketing Profs they advise against doing, which we wholeheartedly agree with, is mentioning your product at this stage in the sales cycle.
Whatever the reason is, consider yourself lucky that someone has chosen to spend their time on your website. Treat them as a guest in your home and entertain them in a meaningful way. When was the last time you chose to visit or call that friend who loves to brag about how well their family, marriage, career, life, etc. is going? I’m guessing it’s been a while, and that’s what you should expect from your website visitors if you’re incessantly bragging about your brand.
Branding begone! It’s time to get bold.
This where the B in B.S. content comes into play – content marketing doesn’t mean using your company blog to brag about brand. Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute said it well by urging marketers to focus on content brands as opposed to branded content.
Pulizzi goes on to say, “Content brands are created for an audience, while branded content is created for a business.”
You’re shooting yourself in the foot by doing anything other than creating a content brand. Google isn’t optimizing for your business goals, it’s optimizing for the user. Yes, it’s scary to be bold and take risks, but that’s what is going to pay off in the end.
Stop being simple, start showing smarts!
That brings me to my second point: Stop copping out with simple content. I don’t mean content that is simplifying a complicated subject – that’s perfectly acceptable, encouraged even, depending on who you’re targeting. I’m talking about content that doesn’t provide any insight or value.
Too often, websites believe that producing something is good enough to get the leads they’re seeking. Let me be perfectly clear here, good enough is never good enough. There is always room for improvement and by settling for “good enough,” you’re wasting not just your time but the time of your website visitors.
Luckily, it’s fairly easy to ensure that the content that you’re producing isn’t simple, just follow these simple steps:
1. Choose a topic your audience is interested in.
2. Take a stance on said topic.
3. Demonstrate your authority.
Authenticity is the strongest trump card you can play
Let’s consider how enamored voters have been with Donald Trump this election cycle. Put aside politics for a second, and regardless of your preference, look at what he’s been doing from an objective, marketing standpoint.
He pulls heavily from the principles I’ve been talking about when he makes speeches to his constituents. He finds a topic that his target audience is interested in, immigration, for example. He takes a stance: “We’re going to build a wall across the U.S./Mexico border.” Finally, he demonstrates his authority on the subject by discussing how his history in the construction industry has perfectly primed him to build such a wall and uses examples such as The Great Wall of China to support his argument.
Now, think about how much less impactful he would be if he did not follow these steps. Let’s imagine if Trump were to find a topic that his audience were interested in, again let’s say immigration, but instead repeat facts and figures about the subject without injecting his own opinions/personality. Do you think he’d even have half the support that he currently does? It’s safe to assume that he probably would not, primarily because his audience is craving authenticity and personality, two things that are missing from simple content.
If your marketing strategy is going smoothly (meaning you do, in fact, know your audience), you shouldn’t be reading this blog article. As a matter of fact, if your marketing strategy is already effective, this blog article isn’t for you – go read up on how to stop getting distracted.
So there you have it, you’ve been fully briefed on what B.S. blogs are and why you need to steer well clear of them to conquer the content marketing world. We may have lost the war on winning our consumers’ attention the old fashioned way, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t assimilate our efforts to their needs. I promise that by injecting your personality in the content that you’re producing, and straining out the sales pitch, you’ll end up with more return on your investment in your blog.