Online content marketing is the most powerful form of marketing for companies today. But what happens when it starts to feel stale, old, and boring? Like any other form of marketing, it happens.
Here are six ideas that can help you invigorate your existing efforts and get more mileage from them, without having to reinvent the wheel.
1. Stay consistent
There’s a huge temptation to slow down on your content creation efforts when things get boring. However, this is precisely the time not to quit or rest on your achievements.
Content marketing is a tough nut to crack for many marketers, because it can be slow-going and has a hard-to-define ROI. These two factors often conspire to sink the content marketing ship. Throw in a bit of boredom, and for most people, it soon becomes a lost cause.
That’s why I’m advancing consistency as the first way to reinvigorate a stale content marketing effort. Consistency won’t automatically make things exciting again, but it will keep things from dying altogether. Besides, stale is sometimes just a phase. Once you plod through the slow times, you’ll emerge on the other side with a more inspired content marketing effort.
Stick with it. You might find that by persisting through the doldrums, you’ll eventually break through. Boring is a plateau that doesn’t need to last forever.
2. Ramp up your content production
When people complain that their content marketing has slowed down, I recommend that they speed it back up.
Often, content output slows down because marketers lose perspective on the importance of content marketing. When one loses perspective on the value content marketing provides, it’s easy for quality to decline and new inspiration to fizzle out.
Producing more is the perfect way to energize your content marketing instantly. Increased output can convey that your business is renewing its commitment to successful content marketing — an energizing endeavor that can counteract any staleness that has come from a production slowdown. In addition, an increased velocity can, in turn, help you reach new audiences and spur more feedback, which also energizes your content efforts.
It’s not sufficient simply to do more. It’s essential to do more only if it can be done intentionally and strategically while maintaining the quality of your existing content marketing output.
Here are a couple of quick ways you can add to your output, and therefore fend off content marketing that feels like it might be going stale, without having to completely disrupt your existing processes and workflows:
- Write more frequently. If you’re blogging weekly, try twice-weekly.
- Write longer posts. If you average 400-word posts, bump it up to 800 words. (Of course don’t add words just for the purpose of word count. Add more value to your readers’ experience.)
- If you don’t include pictures in the content you publish, start using them.
- If you don’t currently include videos in your content, try inserting one or two.
- If you’ve never created content with an infographic, give it a try; you can also try sharing a relevant infographic from an outside source and talk about why the information it contains might be relevant to your readers.
Increased output helps to banish boredom.
3. Focus on doing just one thing exceptionally well
Content marketing is so vast it’s almost scary. There are practically as many forms of content marketing as there are means of publishing on the web. Some content marketing efforts go flat because they’re trying to accomplish too many different goals. The marketing team is busy pushing out content, but their efforts are like trying to cover a mile-wide slice of bread with only an ounce of butter.
I recommend that, rather than trying to spread your resources too thinly, you focus on doing one thing well. Like I mentioned above, increase your output — but only in the one content type you feel the most confident about working with. Successful content marketing companies often narrow their focus to dominating one form of content publication or style of publication. For example:
- HubSpot’s content marketing strategy is focused on providing free resources. They practically invented the free resource market by giving away tens of thousands of free eBooks. This, in turn, created massive growth.
- BiggerPockets, a real estate investment platform, focused its content strategy on its podcasts, which have now racked up millions of downloads. It’s rated as the number one real estate podcast on iTunes.
- Bestselling author Ramit Sethi made his content marketing magic happen through the use of emails — rigorously tested, painstakingly developed, and powerfully unleashed.
- Jayson DeMers of AudienceBloom is a prolific guest blogger. His name can be seen in nearly every SEO-related query you perform.
- Forums, as Moz discovered, are a major resource for strategic content marketing, so they place a strong focus on using user-generated content in their forums.
Each of these businesses focused its content marketing efforts. You can be a mile wide with your content efforts, but you’ll only be an inch deep. It’s important to claim a single form of content as an area of focus, and then dominate it. Maybe it’s your blog, your YouTube channel, your SlideShare presence, your business’ LinkedIn page, or whatever.
How do you choose? You don’t have to. You let your audience choose. For example, if your audience is comprised of real estate investors who are always driving in their cars to look at properties, they might prefer the get-it-on-the-go podcast (BiggerPockets). If they are mobile-toting Millennials, they might just prefer a daily email (Ramit Sethi).
If your content marketing is stale, you might be trying to do everything. Slow down, back up, and do one thing well. Choose the medium that will best connect with your target audience.
4. Put one person in charge of your blog, and give them total autonomy
If you hear me talk about blogging with any regularity, you’re going to hear me repeat one of my favorite refrains: “Use the first-person voice.” What that means is that you need to use “me,” “I,” and other personal references, as often as possible. (This is how I run my Quicksprout blog and my personal site.)
Why is this so important? Because no one enjoys reading content that comes from a corporate entity. People want to hear from other people.
I recommend that you put one person in charge of your blog, and allow them to freely express their individuality — i.e., using their own voice to express your business’ point of view. They can have opinions. They can brag. They can rant. They can complain. Basically, they can give your content some personality, and break it out of a boring rut.
Let me provide a couple tips for choosing a wunderkind to serve as the sole voice of your blog, or other content platforms:
- Make sure they’re in it for the long term: Sometimes, freelance copywriters can go rogue. Find someone you can rely on to stay committed to your efforts and to be available when you need them.
- Make sure they’re a good writer: You can’t have a good blog unless you have a good writer creating the content for it.
- Give them room: Let them create conversations they want to have, on topics they want to talk about, and in the style they want to use. Unless they’re actively maligning the brand, give them permission to be themselves. That’s the whole point. Even though they are using their own voice, they are working to uphold the brand’s messaging and tone, so trust them to do the job you’ve asked them to do.
- Make sure ghostwriters remember to write in the first-person voice: Ghostwriters are fine to work with for content creation, but you should give them permission to say “I” and “me” on your behalf.
5. Narrow your focus
Remember in point No. 3 when I mentioned focusing on one content marketing format? Well, if your content is still suffering from a lack of excitement and interest, it might also be because you are trying to cover too many topics in your efforts.
Make your blog about one thing — a particular product (or class of products), an angle, an opinion, an area of expertise. When you claim one topic or subject matter as your topic of domination, you can own it.
The most common objection to this is, “We’ll run out of things to write about!” But I don’t think this will be the case. Usually, when you narrow your focus, you have the ability to go deeper and into more detail on the topic.
The more you dive into a niche — even a narrow one — the more you’ll discover how much content potential there is.
6. Change your focus altogether
If your content still isn’t performing to your expectations, it’s possible that you’ve chosen the wrong thing to focus on. This happens. In some B2B industries, you’ll often find that blogging about certain topics is a waste of time and effort because no one is searching for information on them.
Instead of blogging into a black hole of zero traffic, shift your focus to a topic that might have more search traffic, or a wider appeal overall. You can still stay in your niche, but just choose a different angle of approach. For example, if you’re blogging about “in-cell touch control technology,” you can instead discuss answers to a question like, “Which is better — iPhone 6+ or HTC One Max?”
Perform research on your target keywords to see which ones have both low competition and a high search volume. Angle for these keywords as you develop content and you’ll hit a sweet spot of content that readers will learn to rely on you to provide.
Boring is going to happen — it does for nearly every content marketer at some point or another. The first point of advice is not to quit. Then, look for ways to amp up production, do one thing well, put one author in place, shift your focus around, and set yourself up with a fresh persona. You’ll eventually break through the boredom, and get back on top of the content marketing game.
Couldn’t make it to Content Marketing World this year? You can still catch up on the latest tips, tricks, and advice for more successful content marketing. Check out our Video on Demand portal for more info.
Cover image by Gaborfejes via pixabay.com