Niraj Rajan Rout, founder of Hiver, shares his insights on five unexpected but common challenges content marketers face, and how to overcome them.
By 2016, 60% of companies will have an executive in their organization who is directly responsible for an overall content marketing strategy, such as a Chief Content Officer, VP or Director of Content. That is how fast content marketing is growing!
More companies are turning towards content marketing to generate leads. There’s no denying that content marketing is a sexy career right now, engaging with the latest trends in tech, lifestyle, pop culture, and even psychology. But content marketers know that when you get down into the nitty-gritty of it there are, like any other field, some unexpected challenges they must overcome.
Here are a few of those challenges and how you can overcome them.
1. Trusting the numbers versus trusting your gut
The problem most marketers face is the choice between an intuitive decision and a mathematically-derived decision. Do you trust the numbers or do you trust your gut? It’s hard to favor just one as there are instances of failure and success for both.
People exhibit something called a confirmation bias when they depend solely on intuition to make decisions–and that makes it highly unreliable at times. When it comes to data, there is a lot of it. While you can make statistically reliable decisions, these won’t guarantee results, and that’s exactly what your instinct tell you.
Speaking from personal experience, I think that intuition and analysis need not be opposing perspectives, as many people believe.
When I started my company Hiver, we initially had to completely rely on intuition and common sense to create new content. But once the team had enough experience and data to implement analysis, we strived to take advantage of both intuition and analysis in our content strategy.
I think that intuition backed with quantitative analysis and proceeding after sufficient research is a good way to go, as opposed to blindly following your hunches. Do what feels right, but be smart about it.
2. Collaborating with the product team
Patrick Lencioni said, “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
I don’t need to tell you that this doesn’t happen. After all, people have different opinions, approaches, and priorities.
Collaboration is important for the success of any organization, and departments rarely work in an airtight bubble. The marketing team often has to collaborate with the product team to communicate the unique selling points of their products to the public. And while you might believe that a well-made and unique product sells itself, in reality it’s not that easy a task.
From my experience, it seems that the marketing team is always lagging behind the product team. Filling the communication gap and keeping themselves updated on what the product team is doing is an ongoing challenge marketers must overcome.
Content marketers must identify the product differentiators that will matter to consumers. This involves extracting the general consumer message from all the technical jargon the product team provides. The challenge here is that this process of converting language from technical to creative usually results in the loss of some valuable key points that would entice your audience.
One possible way to bridge the gap between the product team and the marketing team is to place someone from marketing next to the product team. Have the marketer tag along to all product meetings and dig for updates. That way, there will be regular communication between both teams, preventing miscoordination and offering the marketing team a deeper understanding of the products.
3. Communicating the “this-is-how-we-do-it”
Just as the marketing team must coordinate with the product team, so the members of the marketing team must coordinate with each other.
Say you are the marketing lead and are managing a team of content writers. Your organization follows a crisp, very visual writing style, but your content writers have their own writing styles that may not be in sync with what the organization’s branding.
It can be a challenge to communicate and enforce these requirements clearly with your team. This calls for a lot of mentoring and editing, which demands time. However, in order for your content to be cohesive, you must help them develop a writing style that is consistent and repeatable.
Additionally, it is important to train content creators in concepts other than beautiful writing, like SEO and marketing analytics. Just as their writing must engage the reader, it must also effectively drive traffic to your site.
One best way to communicate your guidelines is by offering the rationale behind those guidelines. Rationale will be easier to relate to than an instruction, and will give content writers a clearer understanding of that kind of writing they must produce.
4. Picking the right tech tools
We use technology in many ways throughout the marketing process. New tech geared towards marketers comes out all the time, and it can be pretty difficult to sift through the gazillion promising products to pick the right ones. Reviews for these products tend to be scattered and mixed, and often you won’t know what works for your business until you try it.
Even when you identify trending marketing technology, there is no sure way to find out if it is the best one for your organization. But moving from one technology to another and “trying things out” is not the most pragmatic option. You want to be able to make an educated decision.
Growthverse is a great tool to help you sort through the overwhelming number of marketing tech options. Growthverse allows you to explore over 800 marketing tech companies by grouping them into categories geared towards different needs like data centralization and customer experience.
It is important to remember, though, that although technology can facilitate more effective marketing, eliminating the human touch through over-automation is a mistake. It’s important for marketers to stay in touch with consumers through social media and in person.
5. Finding the balance between art and analytics
Marketing is a mixture of both art and science. It’s not enough to just spend hours in creating content; it’s important to make it search optimized and worth of backlinks. Finding the right balance between both is a big challenge for many marketers, as worrying about the numbers can stifle creativity. But if you want to send your content out into the world and have it stick, you need to take analytics into consideration.
As an expert content strategist, you’re expected to have a good knowledge and understanding of the best tools for different content marketing goals.
How do you figure out how much time to spend on both the artistic and the analytical side, and how do you maintain that balance between the two without letting one overpower the other?
Try and find a smart balance between automated tech and human interaction. The best way to approach this is to do plenty of research in order to come up with a strategy that tackles both, then fine-tune it through trial and error. It’s difficult to predict how your audience will respond to your comment, so you have to see what works and what doesn’t through doing. This process takes time, but the knowledge you will gain from it is invaluable.
HBR post argues that this both-brain approach will help you find the right balance between analytics and creativity.
CMO says that less than 40% of all content marketers are effective at content marketing. That’s a huge number. I wonder where the remaining 60% of them fall short?
These unexpected challenges content marketers face undoubtedly play a role. They are common challenges and they can be overcome.
It’s about time we overcame them, don’t you think?
Niraj Rajan Rout is the founder of Hiver (formerly GrexIt), an app the lets you share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a fusion music aficionado and loves to play the guitar when he can.