Content marketing is ever-evolving, which means marketers are facing difficult and new challenges regularly. We asked 16 expert content marketers what their top pains are today. Here’s what they had to say:
While I love creating a truly valuable and successful piece of content, I run into the same 3 challenges each time I take on a project:
Creating for personas - It’s easy to get carried away when writing a post or creating a video and end up making it essentially with yourself in mind as the audience. However, whether you’re creating content for your brand’s audience or for a publication’s readers, you need to keep in mind how relevant your efforts will be and whether your content will resonate.
Promotion - You hit publish and your beloved post is live and in the wild. Now the real work begins. There’s always a moment when you start to panic seeing your post kind of float there without being read or shared, so you start to promote it any way you can. This small window can tell you ultimately how successful your efforts will be.
Measurement - Once you’ve put some distance between yourself and your content, revisiting it and checking in to see how it performed is always harder than it seems. First off, the natural reaction is to move on and start creating your next piece of content, but if you don’t evaluate what went right and what didn’t, you’re not going to improve with each project. What are your success metrics? What were you aiming for? Measuring the effectiveness of your content is at once crucial and complicated, with a lot of patience and planning involved.”
"Content marketing can be very frustrating. First, it can take a long time to develop a following and start attracting traffic...
But the biggest pain for me in content marketing is putting hours and hours into a post, sinking your heart and soul into it, and then it falls flat. I have written thousands of content marketing pieces and it is not always the ones with the best information that get the most exposure. Instead, it is often the ones with the most flash, the most emotion, the best title...
This is a major pain for a content marketer. When you work really hard on a piece and it just falls flat on its face. It happens, no matter how good you are, every once in a while. Or at least you will have a piece that might only get a few hundred shares, when your last one that was not as good, got thousands."
Co-Founder, Book Primo
Influencers - Content doesn’t market itself. The saying “If You Build It, They Will Come” doesn’t apply to content. Getting industry influencers to share your content can have a huge impact on your content marketing
efforts. It also happens to be pretty tough task to complete.
SEO - We want our content to have longevity. Social shares and temporary spikes in readership is great, but SEO plays a big role in making a piece of content. It’s been a challenge to SEO all of our content.
Conversions - We do our best to make sure that our readers love our content, but we also have a business to run. We need to see conversions and it’s not always an easy task to transition from a killer article to getting
the reader to take the first step from reader to potential customer.
“For us, the hardest part about content marketing is building a network of influencers to help drive the reach of our articles. Without putting a lot of effort into targeting the right influencers and creating content that is shareable for them, it is very hard to get any traction. Some of our best content went unnoticed because we simply could not get it in front of the right people at the time.”
Content creation - especially in the tech industry. This is in terms of getting information out from the primary source. To create unique and convincing content, we need information that has lots of facts/figures or some great hardcore tech work has been done, which is very difficult to get out from techies. Reasons are multiple, from not having time to the person being shy or even being unable to identify their work as worth writing about. For example: For writing a tech case study, we had to interview the main developer 3 times to get the real story out as he kept thinking that whatever was done was very trivial (from a techie's point of view), while it was great stuff from a business point of view. So getting this information out becomes a challenge.
Reaching out to the exact target - We have identified the target persona and spoken to similar people but still ensuring that our content reaches them is still a challenge. Even with paid promotions we are not sometimes sure whether the right person is reading our content.
Concise content - With the continuous decreased attention span of the web reader, the need for shorter and concise content is becoming more and more important. Our content analytics tools suggest that people are just scanning content, even for great write-ups and hence our challenge is to ensure that we get our message across in the minimum number of words. For example: recently we were asked by a client, in healthcare domain, to "increase the font size, reduce the content and fit the whitepaper within 2 pages, including the images/graphics."
"We often find it difficult to place call to actions in our content. Most of the time we create a huge amount of value for our readers, however, coming up with a CTA for each piece of content has been quite a problem for us. We struggle to "soft sell" any of our services within our content.
Another problem we face regularly is distribution. There are millions of platforms and communities to share or publish content on, however, finding the right ones that will give us the most ROI is proving to be quite
Digital Marketing Analyst, Orchestrate Technologies
Content marketing is clichéd beyond our wildest imagination. Everyone wants to grab the attention of a huge audience but only a chosen few manage to do it. Let's get one thing straight here - people's attention spans are NOT increasing but ALARMINGLY decreasing. That's the Problem No.1.
There is no Midas touch to creating quality content. That's content marketing's Problem No.2. It is sheer hard work combined with some very smart marketing and a little bit of luck on your side that brings home the bacon. You cannot research ENOUGH for creating your content and that sadly is the ultimate and Problem No.3.
“We are a B2B SaaS solution for field teams of all kinds, and our content is aimed at the management issues these team leaders face. We like to keep a stead pace of engaging content coming out that is relevant and provides some value to our site visitors. We struggle to determine the right balance between volume, finish/engagement, and return.
For example, how polished should our video content be? Highly produced videos will be more engaging, but can be significantly more costly to publish. In the same vein, rich, interactive, HTML on-line 'guides' drive much higher engagement than text heavy blog posts, but creating them takes time (one of our most precious assets) and money to develop. How do we know for sure that this content is paying us back? How much of it do we need to produce to reach the critical mass needed to move the needle for organic traffic?”
Limited Time - Content takes time to create, excellent quality content takes even longer to create. That's not a problem, but you're probably on a limited time scale. You can't just create a post for a client and expect it to gain momentum, those days are long gone. For your content to have any chance of gaining traction and being successful you must first research the topic, audience,
keywords and purpose. After hours have been spent doing that, it's then time to actually create the content.
Becoming The Brand - When producing content for a company it's your responsibility to understand
their niche, audience and purpose whilst also being able to create an engaging experience for their customers. It can be difficult as you are representing their brand and their values whilst also having to take into consideration the marketing goals and SEO. If you're the voice behind
multiple companies then you must be able to jump in and out of different personas with ease.
Creativity - Sometimes the client has a business that you have absolutely no interest in whatsoever. Not every client has a website or business that is exciting and
fun to work on. Coming up with ideas and trying to generate content that is going to get people's attention can be difficult at the best of times, the difficulty increases twofold with a dull topic.
Yogesh G Krishnan
Director, Marketing, Lister Technologies
The top three content marketing challenges are
Too little content ( and its converse cousin too much content)
Finding the right channel for promoting content to the audience that is relevant to me in the most cost effective way
Creating a culture of content not only within the marketing & sales team but also expanding to the product engineering, delivery & support teams
While putting together an explainer video for a SaaS based product that brings the power of segmentation and advanced analytics to small/mid sized ecommerce companies, a constant challenge was to convince product engineers the need to look at product usability and explain what it does through use cases and stories, rather than engineer-speak. Identifying the right individuals who can translate product-ese to actual terms that can be understood by marketing, sales, creative agencies and by the end customer is a crucial first step.
Pushing the video and converting to leads and sales is a story and challenge for another day which deserves a tome of its own!
Running a tech startup that is driven by content marketing can have a range of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is finding and working with quality contractors that can meet the expectations our company has on quality of our content. Sure we can find talent on Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, Elance.com and other sites. The challenge is, weeding through the contractors and finding quality ones.
Many contractors end up being agencies behind the scenes which can be good if developing software or something where a team may be a better approach. Sadly when requesting writing work the quality can vary drastically from contract to contract. This combined with fake reviews can leave the person managing content with a sick feeling trying to find a writer for the next project. One way to get around this is to utilize some trial and error along with using Skype or Facetime to interview the people before they are hired. Another approach we use is relying on people we have preexisting relationships with and get referred to a writer they have had repeated success with. The quality we want and need is out there you will just have to do your due diligence to find it.
SEO vs. Natural - Riding that fine line between best practice of starting your titles and headers with the keyword phrase and sounding natural, or unnatural as it may turn out. I know Google is getting closer to letting machines think like people (as with RankBrain, for example), but there's still a difference in what works for SEO and what sounds natural to people. For example: for this article, the ideal headline wouldn't begin with "Outdoor Wedding Venues" but that's our target key phrase.
Getting the Voice Right - As a Digital Identity service provider, we may write for dozens of different clients. We want to first, be accurate in understanding their market and industry terms, and second, speak to their market in the client's voice, not ours. You get to be a little confused sometimes as a content developer. Who am I today? For example, we occasionally use mild curse words for J - I.T. Outsource, but our clients absolutely do not!
Being Clever - Yes, not everything needs to be funny, witty, or entertaining. But you do want to be if not completely unique, at least not totally pedestrian. Or worse, boring. So you do need to constantly find ways to be engaging and interesting without being profane or snarky (unless that's the client persona - see #2). For example, one of our clients sells bulk safety products like latex gloves and back braces. Sexy? Definitely not. Vital? Of course.
CEO & Founder, Expansion Capital Group
"The biggest pain as a content marketer that I've found is that the writers who bill themselves as content marketing writers often write articles that are mere regurgitation of other websites. If I'm going to put something up on my company's site, I want it to be first and foremost helpful to small businesses (that's our target) - I don't want fluff or anything just for keywords - I want legitimate useful content that makes a small business owner say wow, that was a useful read."
Feeding The Beast at The Right Times - Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to write on the schedule that my readers prefer. For example, I know that my readers like to read technical articles early in the week, but I often don’t get into my groove of writing this kind of content until later. Monday is just too hectic a day for me to get enough time to sit down and devote the time needed for the harder research.
Finding Quality Photos - I’m running a start-up where budgets are super-tight, making it necessary for me to source as many royalty-free images as possible. But the value of a powerful, relevant picture for a post is almost priceless in terms of its stopping power. This puts me in a constant state of stress to find the ‘perfect’ image for every piece of content and make sure that it can thematically (and visually) fit with all the other photos. A not-so-fun bonus is when I want to publish a Slideshare on the same topic, which magnifies my photo needs by about 20 times!
Keeping Things Simple (But Not Repeating Yourself) - Some topics I cover can be somewhat complicated, so I have to break the idea across several posts in order to keep the word count in the sweet spot for my readers. This can create a weird situation where I have to cover ground that I already wrote about in another post, but then take the story further. I know that some new readers are always finding my blog, so I back up a bit and explain as needed, but I also have to make sure I don’t bore my loyal readers, or repeat myself and making the blog look spammy.
Freelancer, Fridge Magazine
Keeping up with my competition with fresh content. Competition cranks out a ton more than I do, so it's a challenge to not recycle my content but keep it coming!
Consistent blogging - Juggling my time and taking on new projects often leaves me tapped out for great new blog content and little time to scour the internet for inspiration!
Not going overboard on Twitter - I often find my best social media route is Twitter and I have the most new content to share with my tweeps through pitches I've landed and/or new freelance articles I've done. But with so much research showing it's best not to flood your audience with tweets, I'm challenged monthly with coming up with a Hootsuite schedule that is engaging without being overwhelming. I love spreading the love by sharing links to new articles and I want to give everybody equal time, but it's hard!
“The biggest 'pain' around content marketing isn't the creative or distribution channels, but getting client approval (for medical marketing clients) within a reasonable time frame such that the content is still timely when it finally goes out.”