Guest post by {grow} Community Member Sarah Golinger

As marketers, we know that the best way to generate quality leads for our businesses is by creating great content.  A strong content marketing strategy offers informational and educational materials to interested readers, allowing them to learn more about your industry, your company, and your product or service, and hopefully become prospective customers.  Not to mention, it also provides a great opportunity to create more ways to engage your website visitors and social media followers.  But while it is extremely important, having a good content strategy isn’t always easy.  Here are 7 reasons your content strategy might not be generating leads as effectively as it should be.

1. You’re targeting the wrong audience.  Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing, but it’s especially important for content.  Let’s face it – in order for someone to even consider reading what you’ve written, it has to offer some sort of value to them.  It needs to fulfill a need or desire of theirs, in this case, probably to learn or understand something about your industry or alleviate a problem that your product aims to resolve.  Figure out what it is that your readers are looking for.  Use your analytics tools to determine which pieces of your content have performed particularly well.  See which pages of your website attract the most visitors.  Create a poll to send to your readers via social media or email and ask them what kind of content they’d be interested in consuming.  And don’t forget to segment your audience appropriately so you can target your content more closely.

2. Your content is too repetitive or boring.  Again, people are looking for valuable content.  You have to keep it interesting!  No one wants to read the same information every 3 blog posts.  Plus, you probably have more to teach your readers than you might realize.  Think about all the different features of your product or service and what relevant information you can offer to your readers in an educational manner.  Write about industry news, updates, and trends.  Maybe some of the tasks you perform in your role at your company would be helpful for others in similar positions.  Keep coming up with fresh content ideas, and you’ll find that your readers might stick around longer.

3. You don’t vary your content formats.  Speaking of keeping things fresh, one of the easiest ways to do that is to produce content in different formats.  If you usually just write blog posts, crank out an ebook once in a while.  If you tend to spend your time doing webinars, try making a few shorter videos.  If you’ve never made an infographic before, try one of those!  And even though they’re quick to write, don’t forget to include social media updates as another integral part of your content strategy.  There’s lots of room to be creative with your content, so change it up and offer more ways for your readers to consume your information.

4. Your content is too promotional.  Sure, the ultimate goal is to get your readers to become customers, but the whole idea behind content marketing is to provide educational information.  By establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you not only gain more readership, but you gain the trust of your readers.  Their interest in learning more from you will allow you to learn about and target their needs and interests.  Once you’ve figured out what your readers are looking for, you can teach them about how your product or service can fulfill that need, and eventually send them over to your sales team.  But this is a process; you can’t just include a sales pitch in all of your content, or you’ll never gain your readers’ trust or interest from the start.

5. You’re not promoting your content enough.  Okay, so you’re writing well-targeted, interesting, educational content, but no one’s reading it.  Well, are you telling people about it?  Use the different channels you have to spread the word about your content.  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are all great places to post links to your blog posts, ebooks, and webinars.  You can post to your blog about your latest ebook, and even include an excerpt to give a sneak peak.   Create a page on your website where visitors can access all of your offers.  Send out an email to let people know about your upcoming webinar and how to sign up.  Just make sure you’re giving your content enough visibility so it doesn’t stay hidden from potential readers and viewers.

6. You’re not promoting your content through the right channels.  Once you’ve started distributing your content through multiple channels, look at your analytics to figure out which ones are the most effective.  If the majority of your target audience is on Facebook, your status updates will be more useful there.  Maybe your email sends generate more click-throughs than the links in your blog posts.  Use insights from your data to spend your time focusing on the channels that drive the most traffic and leads.

7. You’re not including calls-to-action.  You don’t want to be overly promotional in your content, but you do want to give your readers a clear indication of what to do next by including calls-to-action.  You might suggest a blog post that offers more tips on the subject, or direct your ebook readers to register for a webinar that covers the advanced level of that topic.  More importantly, you should provide your readers with opportunities to learn more about your specific product by including calls-to-action for free trials, demos, or assessments.  Guiding your prospects to the next steps that they should take will make for a much smoother transition from prospect to lead, and eventually from lead to customer.

So, are you ready to generate more leads with a killer content strategy?  Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to driving more traffic and better business in no time.

This is a guest post by Sarah Goliger, an inbound marketer at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.

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