Misunderstanding marketing best practices

Misunderstanding marketing best practices

If you want something read, it is best practice to say that you will be discussing best practices. It gets attention. People like a concise list of things that someone has researched or has implemented with success repeatedly and is willing to share. It evaluates our ideas, opens new horizons, sharpens our skills, and may correct false assumptions. However, it is important to understand that these are general recommendations and may not be applicable to your unique situation. Here are some content marketing best practices that are often misunderstood resulting in missed opportunities.

Create content that your audience craves

It reminds me of the Dunning-Kruger effect which is a cognitive bias when a person overestimates their abilities because of a lack of knowledge and skills in a certain area. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know. So, when we are creating content, we should not just talk about things that an audience already knows and likes but also things foreign to them. DTC commercials do a good job in this area. An ad may say that certain diminishing skills, functional decline, or aches and pains are sometimes perceived as a normal part of aging. This may not be the case and may be associated with a specific condition. A person does not have to live with a reduced quality of life sacrificing activities that they enjoy. Now an audience knows something that they did not know before and it may lead to a prescription. Moreover, covering what your audience wants again and again can get repetitious and boring. There should be room for something a little different, a little novel, and fresh ideas to add spice and variety. If there is a new discovery, a knowledge update, or new government regulation that has not received enough attention, your audience would appreciate learning about it.

Vanity metrics are useless

Actionable metrics like engagement and conversions increase revenue. They are worth paying attention to. Vanity metrics, on the other hand, do not move the needle and should be disregarded. They may seem impressive, on the surface, but do not necessarily provide insights into the impact of your marketing efforts. Vanity metrics include impressions, views, likes, shares, comments, followers, open rates, traffic, time on site etc. We all understand that there is no ideal metric; each one can be misused or manipulated into showing the desired result. However, ignoring vanity metrics altogether can be a mistake. According to Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, it takes an average of eight touches to get an initial meeting or a conversion with a new prospect. We should not ignore this latent audience which is not ready to act now but is watching and learning and may contact us in the future.

Gated content drives lead-generation

Gated content is online materials, such as whitepapers, case studies, and videos, which require users to fill out a form before accessing it. The form may just ask for a user’s name and email address or additional details about their jobs and organizations. Generally speaking, these are premium pieces that have required more time and effort to develop. Upon submitting this form, a user is surrendering their anonymity and risks being bombarded with sales emails and calls with relentless pursuit. For this reason, many prospects hesitate to give out this information and some of our best material goes unread. So, what is a better approach? One needs to strike a balance. It is a good idea to have similar ungated articles that are more general and not as detailed. Tell the audience that articles with more depth are behind the gates. This is the concept of mid-gating. According to Foleon, “a reader who has started reading before deciding to fill out the form is more likely to be genuinely interested than someone who blindly fills out a form, downloads a piece of content, and promptly forgets it.” Now you have the best of both worlds.

Goal is to create SEO-friendly content

SEO-friendly content is created in a way that helps the search engines rank it high on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) which is the page that a search engine delivers to you when you submit a search query. Overstuffing keywords was the norm until Google stopped rewarding it. Increasingly, Google provides answers to queries on the SERP itself, making it unnecessary to visit a website. So, if one devotes an inordinate amount of time and energy to developing content that gives a high ranking, what is accomplished in the end. The answer appears before your eyes, and a person moves on without clicking on the website link. Instead of having an SEO-oriented content strategy, it is better to write content that furthers a company’s goals. That would be a more sanguine approach.

Best practices provide mental shortcuts. You can learn from others’ research and experiences. However, each situation is different with each company having their own processes, culture, core competencies, and weaknesses. Companies are in distinct stages of development, products are in dissimilar stages of the life cycle, and widely different segments are targeted. This requires a customized approach. One must consider if a particular best practice is applicable to their situation and would help accomplish their business goals. There are very few universal truths.