Today, content marketing is an essential way to build a connection. Instead of pitching products, brands are aligning their strategies to provide truly relevant and helpful content to their consumers from solving’ business problems, entertainment, or creating a lasting connection.

The modern content marketer is spending an exorbitant amount of budget, resources, and time on content creation. So why is it still not right? What’s the hold-up? These are the four common mistakes to avoid to guarantee engagement, results, and brand loyalty.

“When consumers engage with your content. They engage with your brand.”

– Lon Otremba, CEO of Bidtellect 

1. Your Content is Stuck in Content Land

“Content marketing is a strategic 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.”

– CMI, “What is Content Marketing?”

Recently, our CEO Lon Otremba spoke at Brand Movers Edge Conference to talk about all things Content Marketing. His focus breaking down the content silos. Yes, these still exist. In fact, our VP of Sales, Terrah Bocchi wrote a great piece about it.

Let me as you a question, after you come up with a “killer content marketing idea” what is your next move? Is your first instinct to make your vision a reality, never really stopping to think about the purpose of the content or distribution? What does your marketing stack look like today? Does it look something like this?  Months after you get your “killer content marketing idea” most people are still deciding on content management platforms, content creation, and content curation companies. By then, your “killer content marketing idea” has been through so many hands and approvals it’s metamorphized into a project that’s not even your vision anymore. Oh, and it keeps you up at night.

Truth is, you probably already have valuable content to distribute. Here’s a great example: one of our clients came to us and said they were working on a great content marketing piece. They showed us the initial designs and within a day we put together Native creatives and foolproof targeting plan. A few weeks later, we reached out to the client and asked them if they were ready to distribute their content. Unfortunately, the content was stuck somewhere in creation-land and approvals. We went back to the client and said, “Well, here’s all these great articles and blog posts about your brand and they are relevant, entertaining, and witty.” The client agreed to test this idea with us. You know what? I don’t think that content marketing piece ever made the finish line, but the client has been distributing existing content with us for a few years now. They recognized the value. 

By all means, I’m not suggesting you stop creating content – we love content. But don’t get stuck in the silos. Make sure you align your distribution strategy with your creation – this is the key to your success.

– Lon Otremba, CEO of Bidtellect 

2. The Landing Page Isn’t Responsive (Or Mobile-Optimized)

“For the first time ever, US consumers will spend more time using their mobile devices than watching TV, with smartphone use dominating that time spent. The average US adult will spend 3 hours, 43 minutes on mobile devices in 2019, just above the 3:35 spent on TV. Of time spent on mobile, US consumers will spend 2:55 on smartphones, a 9-minute increase from last year. In 2018, mobile time spent was 3:35, with TV time spent at 3:44.”

– eMarketer, “Average US Time Spent with Mobile in 2019 Has Increased

We are witnessing a radical shift in content consumption and behavior. Have you ever been on the subway, or waiting in a doctor’s office, business meeting, or even at dinner at a restaurant where everyone is not looking down at their phones? They’re swiping, liking, and consuming content. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure your content is responsive.

Often, especially in the case of interactive content, it’s important to ensure that your content appears correctly on the mobile page. This may require some backend work, but it’s well worth it in the end. If your content marketing objective is to get a PDF download, it makes sense to have your mobile-ready landing page email the PDF rather than download it on a mobile device (and bonus: you got another email address to remarket to). Lastly, if your end goal is a sale or transaction, remember that most people aren’t going to whip out their credit card on the subway or in a public place. Having some sort of payment transaction such as PayPal will increase your conversion rates.

We consistently see incredibly high click-through rates on mobile devices via In-Ad and In-Feed Native Advertising; however, if your landing page is not mobile-ready, engagement will decrease and bounce rates will increase. 

3. You Don’t Optimize Your Creative – Or Utilize Best Practices

Step one: Throw away all misconceptions, best practices, yadda yadda you know about traditional banner ads.

We’ve talked a lot about banner blindness. Now, step two: I want you to get display completely out of your head.

We good?

Native ad units are composed of a few core components: an image, a headline, a description and “Sponsored By”. Whereas display ads are whole, Native Ads are compiled in real-time designed to fit the form and function of the publisher’s website.

Over the last six years, our [b]+studio team has tested a plethora of strategic tactics with our Native creative – and we’ve measured performance. We know what works; we know what doesn’t work; we know what we thought wouldn’t work – does in fact work. We typically provide 3 – 5 creative variations utilizing different best practices for each landing page. (We let our optimization engine take care of the rest).

So that you don’t get started off on the wrong foot, here are a few of our Native Creative best practices.

Image

  1. Use bright and eye-catching colors
  2. Feature people, from shoulders up in natural settings or use of the products (rather than the product in isolation.
  3. Close up photographs work better than cluttered images
  4. Trigger memories and emotions rather than neutral expressions

Headline

  1. Headlines should look like a news article
  2. Emotional, Educational, Relevant and Engaging headlines work best
  3. Facilitate concern, doubt or worry. 
  4. Offer to education or solve problems
  5. Ask Questions
  6. Listicles work! And be punny!

Description

  1. Give the emotional “fish hook” that will real the reader in.
  2. Set up a problem and have a clear call to action as the solution
  3. Be careful not to get into click-bait territory

Avoid creative burnout! Always a creative refresh about a month in.

Shameless Plug:  Bidtellect’s in-house Native Creative Agency, [b]+studio, offers free access to help you create your custom content assets. 

4. You Forgot About Video

Research reveals that almost two-thirds of users skip pre-roll ads when possible, and three-quarters of these do so out of habit without waiting to see if the ad content is relevant or interesting (MagnaGlobal). By harnessing two thriving categories of advertising — video and native — brands can make use of a single digital super-format that connects emotionally with consumers without disrupting their experience.

Here are a few Native Video Best Practices:
  • The key to treat native video content the same way as a static native advertisement: find and use an engaging frame as a thumbnail, and be thoughtful of the creative with a text description.
  • Shorter videos (fifteen seconds or less) can significantly drive up video completions – especially on mobile.
  • Make sure the most compelling visuals and products are at the beginning of the video.
  • Make sure the video is understandable without sound.

It’s important to view your content marketing strategy holistically. The old-age saying “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply to content marketing. You can build a great piece of content, but without engagement – what is the purpose? By aligning your creation with distribution, results will increase dramatically. 

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