Whether you’re managing your own content marketing campaign or you’ve hired a company to manage one for you, it’s critical you have a clear picture of what results to expect. The truth is there is a sweet spot just right for content marketing expectations; having too high of hopes can lead to disappointment and frustration while setting the bar too low can be equally disappointing and not produce enough of a return on your investment.
If you’re wondering if your content marketing expectations are set in the “just right zone,” keep reading!
Content Marketing 101
Have you asked yourself, “What is content marketing?” According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In short, it includes blogging, guest articles, infographics, videos, social media updates, web copy and email campaigns to form a connection with your target audience. It’s proven to work, though not as quickly as you may expect.
Are Content Marketing Results Instant?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if you uploaded a new post to your blog and instantly new leads started pouring in? One of the unrealistic expectations we frequently run into is that results from content marketing should be instantaneous. We wish this were the case, but unfortunately, it’s not.
Successful content marketing takes trial and error to find what resonates with your audience. And once you think you’ve found that “just right” zone, it can change over time along with your customers’ needs. The plain truth is that with all forms of content marketing, it is exceptionally rare to see instant results; even some viral content takes years to catch fire.
How Long Does It Take for Content Marketing To Be Successful?
You’re probably asking yourself, “How long does it actually take to see results from content marketing?” Some may think only a few months is enough time to see a substantial return on their investment. This is setting the bar extraordinarily high.
A good rule of thumb is to give your content marketing strategy a minimum of 12-18 months to see results before you decide to drop or continue with the technique. In fact, Three Girls’ clients that have sustained their content marketing for two years or more have reported that they began to experience the benefits of a robust sustained campaign after a couple of years.
That doesn’t mean you can’t evaluate the strategy during this time. In fact, it is essential to monitor each form of content to discover what your customers are responding to. You can use this information to tweak your plan to include more of what they want and less of what they don’t.
How To Set Realistic Content Marketing Goals
Now that you know content marketing takes time, how do you set realistic goals? At Three Girls Media we use the SMART method:
Let’s take a look at each step individually to see how you can use each for your content marketing campaign.
- Specific. Ask yourself what exactly you hope to get out of your content marketing technique. Do you want more website traffic? Increase your social following? Higher sales? Get specific. How much of an increase do you want to see?
- Measurable. In order for your goals to be successful, you need to be able to measure them against some benchmark. Trying to increase web traffic? Use Google Analytics to determine how many visitors you have before starting your campaign and as a guide to measure your success at the end of the campaign.
- Achievable. Make sure your goal is reasonable and don’t set the bar too high. To expect a dramatic return immediately is not an attainable goal. Consider the time and resources you have to dedicate to your content marketing, as well as the industry you’re in when determining how achievable your goals are. For example, a beauty company has the specific goal of doubling their small social media following organically in the next few months – the goal is specific and measurable. However, they can only dedicate the time and resources to post once every couple of days. In a saturated industry and with less time to put into their social media, it is unlikely they will be able to double their following organically in a short period.
- Relevant. How will the content marketing technique help your customers and your company? Having a social media account, blog or newsletter just to have one is not doing you any favors for your business. Incorporate into your goals how these content platforms will improve your business and provide a true benefit for your customers.
- Time-based. Keep in mind our advice above – to truly see an accurate representation of your progress it will take a minimum of 12-18 months. Discarding your content marketing strategy after six months because you haven’t hit your follower count is a huge mistake. Six months is a great time to evaluate the progress you’ve made and make necessary changes, but your time limit should be set for significantly further in the future. That being said, make sure you do set a time limit to reach those goals. Not setting a deadline for success will make it hard to measure your results.
10 Mistakes That Can Slow Down Content Marketing Success
Now that you know what to expect and how to set content marketing goals in the “just right” zone, here are some common mistakes from Three Girls Marketing and PR specialist Brooke Koster that can derail your progress.
- Putting all your energy into the wrong social media platform. No two social media platforms are alike, and each are developed with a specific audience in mind. As such, be strategic about which social media platforms you utilize for your business. Find which platforms your audience is already active on and devote your time and energy to those.
- Working without a goal in mind. Once you develop your SMART goals, use them to guide you every step of the way. This can help you avoid wasting energy and money with strategies that won’t succeed. In order for real progress to be made on your campaign, you need to incorporate your goals in every step of the process.
- Ignoring your comment section. Respond to your customers who comment on your posts. Engagement with your audience should be a top priority, and interaction with your audience (even if it’s responding to a negative post) is an essential piece of the engagement puzzle.
- Forgetting to monitor automated posting tools. While it is convenient to use automated tools to help organize and keep track of social media posts and scheduled content, don’t forget to monitor these posts in real-time as well. Make the time to check that scheduled posts go live at the right day and time to avoid a costly mistake.
- Using the wrong brand voice. Whether you plan to handle your content marketing from beginning to end or want to enlist the help of others, it is important that everyone is aware of your brand’s identity. This includes style, tone and voice, as well as visual elements. Relaxed and casual images paired with professional, corporate language can be jarring and confusing for your audience, so make sure the graphics and text are a good match.
- Neglecting the editing process. Editing can be one of the more tedious parts of content marketing, but it is crucial. A silly typo can derail the industry credibility you’ve worked so hard to establish. My rule of thumb is once I am finished with a piece of content, I walk away from it for at least 30-minutes (longer if possible) to give my brain and eyes a break from it. You’ll be amazed at how many errors you’ll catch once you take a step back. It’s also important to have someone else besides yourself review the content before it is published.
- Choosing irrelevant hashtags. Hashtags can help your content be seen by a large number of people, but only if you use ones that are relevant to your business. A good strategy is to determine what your audience searches for and what your target audience and competitors are already using.
- Being too formal. While you do want to remain professional with your business’s content marketing, you don’t want to appear stiff or unapproachable. One of the bests ways to be successful with content marketing is to engage with your consumers. Don’t be afraid to create connections with your audience by sharing behind-the-scenes info, funny memes or personal anecdotes. If you present yourself as personable, your audience will want to engage with you.
- Not paying attention to trends. What once worked for your audience may not always work in the future. Stay on top of news, trends and current events to help you create content that is geared toward your target audience. This not only helps you connect with your audience, but it also shows them that you’re an expert in your field who is willing to learn new things.
- Posting constantly. Too much posting can bore your audience and teach them that you don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Instead, be strategic about what and when you post – and make sure that whatever you post has value for your audience. This not only keeps their interest, but it also helps to build trust.
Finding the “just right” zone for your content marketing expectations is possible with a little time, effort, patience and planning. Keep the advice in this article in mind as you prepare your next content strategy and you’re sure to see your efforts blossom.
Do You Need Help With Your Content Marketing Strategy
If you find yourself struggling to create effective content marketing for your business, Three Girls Media can help. Contact us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation with our CEO, Erika Taylor Montgomery, to see what our team of experienced experts can do for you and your business.
Special Offer:Sign up for a complimentary consultation during December and receive an Annual Marketing Planning Guide valued at $475! We offer a 30-minute phone consultation with our CEO, and can answer your questions and discuss your specific marketing needs - no strings attached. Call 408-218-2391 or contact us today to arrange your consultation!