The 9 Biggest Pitfalls You’ll Face With Content Marketing Creative
Content marketing can fall flat, but how do you predict what will work? Columnist Kelsey Libert provides research-backed advice to avoid pitfalls.
This morning, I attempted to answer the question, “How many links are built from the average content marketing campaign?”
I was surprised when I discovered that campaign-level case studies were nearly impossible to find, even among the most senior content marketing agencies. What does this say?
Is it that since so few people have published campaign-level case studies, no one knows what the benchmark is and fears coming up short if they’re the first to quantify it? Is it that some businesses don’t want to attract the attention of Google by calling out the number of links they’ve earned, in case some links were built in the gray zone?
I’m sure there are multiple variables that impact this decision; but today, I’ve decided to go against the grain to give you a benchmark for home run content marketing success:
For Fractl, our content marketing case studies and our portfolio are the lifeblood of our business. They tell us where we’re winning and where there is room for improvement; they give us metrics to evaluate new and old team members by; and they provide us with data that proves our batting average to new clients.
Today, I hope to use these case studies to illuminate the creative pitfalls you’ll inevitably face when using an inexperienced content marketing team; and, I’ll provide tips that will take your campaigns from run-of-the-mill content to home-run performance.
1. Lacking Research-Driven Campaign Ideas
If you want to increase your odds of going viral, then you have to give top-tier publishers what they want: exclusive research. In a study of over 500 publishers, we found that 39% of writers want exclusive research and 27% want breaking news.
2. Missing Quantitative Data
While qualitative data is a great for your summary analysis, you need quantitative data to make intriguing data visualizations -– the content format publishers want most.
3. Failing To Use An Authoritative Sample Size
Conducting your own research is an amazing way to get noticed by big publishers, but you can shoot yourself in the foot with a sample size that is too small.
Several high-authority publishers have told us they require a sample size of over 1,000 respondents; the lowest we’ve seen as an acceptable sample is 300 people.
4. Falling Short With Your Competitive Research
When a new campaign idea sounds too good to be true, you’re probably not the only one who thought about it. Do your research to make sure a similar content piece hasn’t already been widely syndicated.
This step can also provide insight on what your competitors tried and failed with, so you don’t make the same mistakes. If your idea was solid but its execution was poor, there is still a high potential for you to reproduce the content in a more engaging fashion.
5. Designing Only An Interactive Asset
Developing interactive campaign assets is a great way to increase user engagement; however, many publishers lack the ability to embed iFrames. To solve this problem, host the interactive asset on your site so the publisher can link to it, but also provide them with a static asset in case their site doesn’t support iFrames.
6. Making Your Asset Too Large To Host
Most publishers want to embed your graphic directly within their post, but if it’s too large that could mean a massive headache for both you, the designer and the writer. We’ve found the graphic sweet spot that most publishers can embed is 600px wide.
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7. Causing Information Overload
Last Friday, we hosted our quarterly campaign review, in which our entire team gathers to analyze the most and least successful campaigns from the past quarter. One thing that stuck out to me was that the campaigns with lower performance tended to have too much information packed into one asset.
When you create a campaign graphic that is chock-full of information, sometimes you don’t allow the writer to create their own story. Other times the writer can get lost in all of the data and not find one solid story angle to run with.
If you find yourself in this scenario, try to offer the publisher your raw data to allow them to establish their own analysis, or break your campaign up into a series of releases rather than one mass information dump. The focus of your content should be the unique data set and how easily and quickly you can relay that information to a user.
8. Creating Ads Instead Of Adding Value
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with content marketing campaigns is to over-brand your assets to the point where they no longer resemble a valuable content marketing campaign, and instead resemble ad copy smothered in branding.
A good rule of thumb is to only use one logo at the footer of the campaign assets. Also, by incorporating your brand colors seamlessly within a campaign, you can please both your branding team, the publisher and the publisher’s audience.
Take eBay Deals, “What Makes You Feel Beautiful” campaign as an example of tasteful, minimalist branding.
9. Failing To Understand The Importance Of Emotion
How often do you find yourself sharing content with your friends that made you feel despair, hurt, or guilt? Now let’s compare your answer if you were sharing content that made you feel amused, excited, or happy. Most of you probably selected to share content that incited the latter emotions.
In a study of viral emotions published on Harvard Business Review, we found that the top 10 viral emotions were: amusement, interest, surprise, happiness, delight, pleasure, affection, excitement. In contrast, the bottom 10 emotions were: anger, politeness, frustration, doubt, embarrassment, despair, hurt, guilt, contempt, and shame.
The takeaway here is to find ways to incorporate these positive emotions in your campaigns to encourage the viral spread of your content.
Those are a few of the most frequent pitfalls you’ll face with an uneducated content team. What other pitfalls do you see occurring within the creative process? Share your tips below!