Marketing content creators tend to focus on best practices, and zero in on what they can and should do to achieve maximal engagement with their target audiences and produce the best outcomes for their organizations. But even the best marketing efforts can be derailed by making even one or two major mistakes—so let’s take a look at some advice that can ensure that your content doesn’t become a cautionary tale.
First, research agrees that you absolutely must have a blog. “Content is the king of marketing,” writes Hemal Bhatt, who goes on to note that “Even in modern content marketing, text marketing has the ability to deliver exceptional results.”
Inkbot Design references “how our ancestors used the power of words” to underscore the potential of blogging, and both point out several ways to optimize your blog’s appeal and efficacy: knowing the buyer persona you’re targeting, doing detailed keyword research, contextualizing each blog piece, and using inclusions and quotes to boost content promotion.
Inkblot and Bhatt also focus heavily on that first element of a good blog post—knowing your target audience—as one of the biggest potential mistakes you can make in modern digital marketing generally. Bhatt brings some specificity to the issue: you’ll fail by not knowing your target audience, but you’ll also fail if you think they’re the same audience you were talking to in 2019.
2020 was “a very tough year, which has impacted everyone… your target audience has also changed. Take into consideration all the changes that your target audience may have had.” Some ways you can avoid sounding tone deaf? Don’t assume your consumers are in the same economic, mental, or emotional place they were in before the pandemic. Their priorities have likely shifted, and your marketing needs to demonstrate that you understand this.
Let’s think of an example here. If you sell top-shelf headphones, you might guess that people would want them more than ever, as they’ve got to be starving for good entertainment, and you’ve got the best equipment for them to enjoy their music. You might want to market them with a slogan like “Treat yourself—you deserve to hear your music, the way it was meant to be heard.” You can back up the quality claim about those headphones, so… what’s the problem?
The problem is that top-shelf products typically aren’t cheap, and your audience might not have the money to ‘treat themselves.’ That might not even be on their minds right now; they may be single-mindedly focused on work, or medical expenses, or their children’s education. And the slogan in that example is inherently a little awkward, given the year that everyone’s been through—is anything “the way it was meant to be?” How much faith do people have in that kind of messaging right now?
Know your audience, and know what they’ve been through (and, for many, many people, what they are still going through).
Next on the list: personalization. Paroma Sen argues that “2021 is a year to bid goodbye to the days of base level personalization techniques where only a prospect’s first name and maybe company and designation is used to denote that you know who they are.” The reason behind this shift is the prevalence of modern technology and techniques that enable far more personalized approaches in meeting and addressing prospects.
Even more precisely, the issue is that the existence of these techniques—which include “email automation, AI-driven capabilities, and even hyper-personalization techniques and tools… [and] using the right triggers based on past buying behaviors and other buying intent signals”—is well-known to both marketers and their target audiences.
“Customers and prospects alike expect a brand that interacts with them to know more about them,” Sen goes on, explaining that the cat is out of the bag on the personalization issue. If you are still relying on low-impact, barely-personalized communications with prospects, they won’t be fooled, and you cannot count on your competition to make the same mistake. “It is not difficult to plan relevant marketing” in 2021, so there’s little excuse for failing to personalize your messaging to the fullest extent of your ability.
Sen also advocates for the creation of evergreen content, pointing out that “A deeper understanding of the customer and prospect are just starting points” and that “using buying trends and interest to build content that might be useful to them a year down the line” should be the real goal.
“Every prospect today is being bombarded by marketing and sales campaigns from multiple angles,” and it’s a mistake to zero in short-term value. How, then, can you make long-term value with your marketing initiatives? Content marketing is a large part of the answer here, where you provide something lastingly entertaining or memorable instead of a simple direct sell.
Think of the most memorable marketing you’ve seen, and ask yourself what made it so memorable. It was probably funny, or contained a tip or trick that stuck with you. Whatever it was, that’s the kind lightning in the bottle you want to capture. Creativity is key to lasting value, as there’s nothing less memorable than the same old idea—and if that idea is memorable, the associations are rarely positive. There’s a reason that even more iterative marketing like Coca Cola’s Christmas polar bear advertisements work: though it might be a familiar format, the skit in these ads is new every time, providing people both consistency and novelty.
Don’t neglect to have a blog. Don’t forget to research and know your audience, and know them today instead of how they used to be (or how you wish they were). Don’t forget to personalize your marketing to the fullest, and don’t create short-term value when you could be generating lasting, evergreen content.
These mistakes will seriously hinder your marketing in 2021, but rising above them is possible. Be conscientious of how you address your audience, in text and more, and speak to them where they are now, with something that will make them remember your brand positively for the foreseeable future. It’s time to double down on truly effective techniques, and by knowing these potential dangers, you can master your messaging for a successful year.
Do you agree with these techniques? Do you think some of them are harder to achieve than research suggests? How do you create lasting value? How would you rate your level of customer research? Are you personalizing your outreach successfully? How might you make changes, in any of these areas?