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10 Content Experience Mistakes To Stop Making (and Ideas for Fixing Them)

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10 Content Experience Mistakes To Stop Making (and Ideas for Fixing Them)

Can content be epic if the content experience isn’t?

Quality content is great, but it’s only one part of your audience’sexperience.

We asked the experts presenting at ContentTECH Summit this March what marketers are doing (or not doing) that prevents their audiences from having satisfying content experiences. Their answers encompass internal and external factors, from how content is created to how it’s delivered. (A few also shared what marketers are doing right, too.)

Here’s the set of mistakes the speakers notice content marketers making.

1. Delivering haphazardly

The challenge for every marketing team is that the customer’s content experience is often disjointed. Customers look at many different resources when they don’t get the answers they want. To stand out in that field, be the brand that asks customers what’s relevant to them and then serves up that content through a quiz, content filters, or even a chatbot. – Zontee Hou, director of strategy, Convince & Convert

Be the brand that asks customers what’s relevant to them, then serves up that #content, says @ZonteeHou via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

2. Not considering the whole content journey

Most marketers underestimate the work involved in creating an epic customer content experience, especially if you consider the experience to extend beyond one piece of content. Then it becomes more of a journey where you have to consider your visitors’ varying degrees of experience and knowledge. Their experiences will differ, and your content needs to account for that. – Jeff Coyle, co-founder and chief strategy officer, MarketMuse

Consider your visitors’ varying degrees of experience and knowledge. Make sure your #content accounts for that, says @Jeffrey_Coyle via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

3. Forgetting the real person

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of an epic content experience and lose sight of how the real live customer will interact with it. Adding in some persona research or customer feedback throughout the creation process can help you know if you’re on the right track. – Ali Orlando Wert, director, marketing strategy, SmartBug Media

Use #persona research or customer feedback during the #ContentCreation process to stay on the right track, says @AliOrlandoWert via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

4. Not investing in content personalization technology

When customer service sucks, nothing else matters. If customer service can’t address customers’ needs, it doesn’t matter how amazing the customer experience was up until then. Among the reasons customer service fails: 1. limited training of personnel, 2. limiting, pre-defined scripts, and 3. shortage of workers.

As a result, customer service is not personalized. If a company doesn’t have the technology for content personalization, generating content tailored to the needs of a specific customer becomes very expensive. As a result, many companies prefer to use generic content. However, generic content doesn’t address the needs of a specific customer in a specific situation, which translates to unhappy customers and potential losses in revenue. – Alex Masycheff, CEO, Intuillion

Generic #Content doesn’t address the needs of specific customers in specific situations, which translates to unhappy customers, says @DITAToo1 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

5. Ignoring other internal content creators

Marketers fail to create epic customer content experiences by not including their organization’s other content creators in conversations. Often, writers closer to the product, such as technical writers or content designers, can highlight business values and customer stories that are unknown to marketers. What marketers get right is their ability to innovate on content appearance, language, or delivery, which is often stale when coming from other content teams. – Gavin Austin, principal tech writer, Salesforce

Marketers fail to create epic customer #content experiences when they don’t converse with their organization’s other content creators, says @GavinAustinSays via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

6. Treating visuals as an afterthought

While content marketers understand the power of visual content and are prioritizing visual content more than ever, those same marketers too often put quantity above quality. But 94% of first impressions are based entirely on how your content is designed. If you deliver content that feels rushed, cheap, or too stock-image heavy, you’re likely not giving your audience an epic customer content experience. – Amy Balliett, senior fellow of visual strategy, Material

If you deliver #content that feels rushed, cheap, or too stock-image heavy, you’re not giving your audience an epic customer experience, says @AmyBalliett via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

7. Discounting the content’s environment

The big miss here is they fail to focus on the actual experience. Creating great content is tough, but it’s not enough. We have to think about the environment in which it lives, the way it is structured to sit alongside other relevant content, and the way we compel people to engage in it or a strong CTA. – Randy Frisch, CEO and co-founder, Uberflip

Creating great #content isn’t enough. We have to think about how it sits with other relevant content and the way we compel people to engage with it, says @RandyFrisch via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

8. Letting ego drive

Marketers fail at creating epic content experiences when they allow selfishness or ego to override helpfulness. Awesome may get shared, but helpful gets bought. When content marketers put the buyer first, they create CRAP (concise, relevant, and persuasive) content that leads to conversations that convert to customers. – Tom Martin, president, Converse Digital

Marketers fail at creating epic #content experiences when they allow selfishness or ego to override helpfulness, says @TomMartin via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

9. Ignoring real customers in content planning

One of the biggest fails we see is that marketers don’t fully understand their audience’s content needs. For example, running persona workshops for their internal audiences with zero customers involved. This is a missed opportunity and leads to misdirected and wasted content efforts and poor experiences.

Once you really know your customers and what they want, the move from good to epic experiences involves detailed journey mapping and identifying the most useful, memorable, and evergreen content experiences you can provide along the way aligned to what they want. It might be an FAQ answering all the questions they have, a how-to video, a fun interactive quiz, a blog, or any other selection of content solutions.

On a positive note, more marketers are now working closely with their CIOs to develop the tech stack needed to support great customer content experiences. Smart marketers are also upskilling in the tools to improve experience delivery. Marketing automation, content attribution modeling, social listening, and interactive content solutions are just some of the technologies that can help to get you from good to epic. – Karen Hesse, founder and CEO, 256

One of the biggest fails we see is that marketers don’t fully understand their audience’s #content needs, says @256media via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

10. Treating content as product promotion

A fail is not understanding that pitching your product is never considered content. On the positive side, marketers are using internal resources to communicate with customers. – Rob Walch, vice president of Libsyn enterprise and platform partnerships, Libsyn

Pitching your product is never considered #content, says @podcast411 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

Create epic experiences

Here’s the TL;DR version of the advice from these ContentTECH Summit presenters: Never forget to put the customer at the forefront of what you do – planning, creating, distributing, and evolving your content marketing. That’s the only way to create an epic content experience.

Never forget to put the customer at the forefront of what you do, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent #ContentTECH speakers. Click To Tweet

Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit this March in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

How long has it been since your marketing team got restructured? 

Wearing our magic mind-reading hat, we’d guess it was within the last two years. 

Impressed by the guess? Don’t be.  

Research from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds that almost half of marketing teams restructured in the last 12 months. (And the other half probably did it the previous year.) 

Why do marketing teams restructure so often? Is this a new thing? Is it just something that comes with marketing? What does it all mean for now and the future? 

CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose offers his take in this video and the summary below. 

Marketing means frequent change 

Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds 46.5% of marketing teams restructured in the last year — a 5-percentage point increase over 2023 when 41.4% of teams changed their structure. 

But that’s markedly less than the 56.5% of marketing teams that restructured in 2022, which most likely reflected the impact of remote work, the fallout of the pandemic, and other digital marketing trends. 

Maybe the real story isn’t, “Holy smokes, 46% of businesses restructured their marketing last year.” The real story may be, “Holy smokes, only 46% of businesses restructured their marketing.” 

Put simply, marketing teams are now in the business of changing frequently. 

It raises two questions.  

First, why does marketing experience this change? You don’t see this happening in other parts of the business. Accounting teams rarely get restructured (usually only if something dramatic happens in the organization). The same goes for legal or operations. Does marketing change too frequently? Or do other functions in business not change enough? 

Second, you may ask, “Wait a minute, we haven’t reorganized our marketing teams in some time. Are we behind? Are we missing out? What are they organizing into? Or you may fall at the other end of the spectrum and ask, “Are we changing too fast? Do companies that don’t change so often do better? 

OK, that’s more than one question, but the second question boils down to this: Should you restructure your marketing organization? 

Reorganizing marketing 

Centralization emerged as the theme coming out of the pandemic. Gartner reports (registration required) a distinct move to a fully centralized model for marketing over the last few years: “(R)esponsibilities across the marketing organization have shifted. Marketing’s sole responsibilities for marketing operations, marketing strategy, and marketing-led innovation have increased.”  

According to a Gartner study, marketing assuming sole responsibility for marketing operations, marketing innovation, brand management, and digital rose by double-digit percentage points in 2022 compared to the previous year.  

What does all that mean for today in plainer language? 

Because teams are siloed, it’s increasingly tougher to create a collaborative environment. And marketing and content creation processes are complex (there are lots of people doing more small parts to creative, content, channel management, and measurement). So it’s a lot harder these days to get stuff done if you’re not working as one big, joined-up team. 

Honestly, it comes down to this question: How do you better communicate and coordinate your content? That’s innovation in modern marketing — an idea and content factory operating in a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative way. 

Let me give you an example. All 25 companies we worked with last year experienced restructuring fatigue. They were not eager creative, operations, analytics, media, and digital tech teams champing at the bit for more new roles, responsibilities, and operational changes. They were still trying to settle into the last restructuring.  

What worked was fine-tuning a mostly centralized model into a fully centralized operational model. It wasn’t a full restructuring, just a nudge to keep going. 

In most of those situations, the Gartner data rang true. Marketing has shifted to get a tighter and closer set of disparate teams working together to collaborate, produce, and measure more efficiently and effectively.  

As Gartner said in true Gartner-speak fashion: “Marginal losses of sole responsibility (in favor of shared and collaborative) were also reported across capabilities essential for digitally oriented growth, including digital media, digital commerce, and CX.” 

Companies gave up the idea of marketing owning one part of the customer experience, content type, or channel. Instead, they moved into more collaborative sharing of the customer experience, content type, or channel.  

Rethinking the marketing reorg 

This evolution can be productive. 

Almost 10 years ago, Carla Johnson and I wrote about this in our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We talked about the idea of building to change: 

“Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt — and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaptation. By constantly building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.” 

We surmised the marketing team of the future wouldn’t be asking what it was changing into but why it was changing. Marketing today is at the tipping point of that. 

The fact that half of all marketing teams restructure and change every two years might not be a reaction to shifting markets. It may just be how you should think of marketingas something fluid that you build and change into whatever it needs to be tomorrow, not something you must tear down and restructure every few years.  

The strength in that view comes not in knowing you need to change or what you will change into. The strength comes from the ability and capacity to do whatever marketing should. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:  

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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