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It’s been almost 40 years since Trap!, the classic side-scrolling platformer from the original Atari, has been released for the first time. David Crane’s creation became one of the earliest hits in console video gaming, selling over 4 million copies, and is now known as an influential breakthrough for the medium.

Why Trap! gain such rampant popularity? Because it was realistic and relatable!

I’m not talking about the pixelated 2D graphics or the exotic jungle setting. I’m talking about the basic premise of problem solving. The game is full of traps, dangers and challenges, but there is always a way around them. “Oh hey, a giant pit full of alligators. How am I going to get to the other side? Perhaps by taking hold of this swinging vine… ”

via Gfycat

Today’s B2B content marketers can feel like they are navigating a landscape of pitfalls – dangers or difficulties that are easy to encounter but not immediately obvious. To help you on your journey, we’ve identified five of the most common pitfalls so you can spot and avoid them.

5 pitfalls in B2B content marketing and how to avoid

From messaging to strategy to execution, these are five of the most counterproductive missteps commonly made by modern content marketing practitioners.

1 – Talk to the greatest number instead of the smallest

If you talk to everyone, you don’t talk to anyone. This is a philosophy of critical orientation, which can run counter to how many marketers and copywriters were trained. (Especially those with a background in journalism or the media.)

There is a natural obligation to make B2B content as accessible and widely applicable as possible, in order to maximize potential reach. But with so much information and so many resources at the fingertips of today’s decision makers, marketers need to be more specific and to the point. Joel goobich from Vestorly called “vague and pervasive content” at the top of his recent B2B Content Marketing Mistakes List shared at Forbes.

« Why would your B2B audience want to consume content that doesn’t speak directly to them and doesn’t speak directly to them and their interests? » he’s asking himself. “Often, B2B content is too generalized and lacks a specific target audience and industry orientation.”

What to do: Reduce your reach. Have a clear idea of ​​the audience (s) you want to reach and the unique qualities, characteristics or challenges that set them apart from other segments. Don’t be afraid to turn down readers or viewers who won’t find the content useful. Then, make sure that your measurement strategy aligns with this selective approach. In other words, de-prioritize vanity metrics like impressions in favor of those that measure business impact.

2 – SEO strategy around keywords rather than intent

Keywords have been the engine of search engine optimization for many years, serving as the strategic cornerstone of many content strategies. And keywords always have a valuable purpose. But increasingly, being successful with SEO initiatives is about understanding search intent and aligning with searchers’ motivations. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Unless you are operating in a new industry or in a vertical sector, it is likely that the most valuable keywords you are targeting are very competitive. Focusing on search intent lends itself to longer keywords and semantic searches, opening up more hot areas for your content to dig deeper into.
  2. Considering intent rather than just looking at keywords improves content. Traditionally, businesses tend to say, « This keyword has high volume and is relevant to our industry, let’s write blog posts that link it to our product. » But if it’s not a keyword with transactional or commercial intent, such an angle will likely miss the mark of searchers.
  3. For this reason, intent-based SEO content is more effective. It keeps creators away from outdated tricks like keyword stacking and methods that actually help rank content today. A recent Backlinko article notes that « satisfying search intent is ultimately Google’s primary objective », while emphasizing that Google’s latest guidelines for quality reviewers (published in October 2020) are « OBSESSED with research intention ».

What to do: Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to make sense. Backlinko’s informative post above, along with Google’s report on how intention is redefining the marketing funnel, are illuminating readings on the subject.

« Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to make sense. » – Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click to Tweet

3 – don’t connect with relevance

A reason Trap! was such a hit in the early 1980s that it struck a chord with audiences, who were transfixed by its scavenger hunt adventure theme after the 1981 theatrical release of The Raiders of the Lost Ark. This same dynamic was at play with early arcade breakthroughs like Space invaders and Asteroids, which channeled the sci-fi enthusiasm fueled by films like Star wars and Encounters of the Third Kind.

What do people in your audience care about? Don’t limit your thinking to their professional interests. One of my favorite case studies of our clients at LinkedIn highlighted a company called SolarWinds, which recognized that its IT client base tended to share a particular affinity for science fiction and Star wars mostly. So they did a promotion on LinkedIn that involved donating a multi-tool in the shape of a Millenium Falcon.

Responsible for SolarWinds Demand and Marketing said later Campaign engagement was « probably the highest I’ve seen for a campaign I’ve run on any platform. »

What to do: Carefully review your content hooks – the introductory sentences of articles or the first few seconds of a video – to confirm that you are drawing an immediate common thread with your audience. Never put yourself or your solutions first. And, per point # 1 on this list, aim to be narrow rather than wide.

4 – speak to the mind and not to the heart

Business decisions are made on the basis of rational and logical drivers, out of necessity. But they’re not made just through these lenses. Humans are complex and emotional beings, not robots. In our recent roundup of B2B content marketing predictions for 2021, Ty heath suggested that the 2020 pandemic « will accelerate the shift to a ‘right brain’ movement, » with more emphasis on humor, storytelling and emotion.

Engaging your audience on a deeper level will help you build true trust, which is the most essential ingredient to long-term business success.

What to do: Challenge yourself and your team to create content that goes beyond informative details, specifications, features, and product benefits. Cultivate a professional brand voice but not overly formal and stuffy. Build Confidence Through Storytelling.

5 – don’t learn from failure

Although Trap! It was a bit before my time, I learned a lot about trial and error from my early experiences with 8 bit video games. Back then it was all about learning from your mistakes – « Oops, I just fell in the lava and died … I’ll remember it was there next time. »

Content marketing isn’t quite the same, as we don’t just play at the same level over and over again, but there are always constructive lessons to be learned from a dead end or a disappointing outcome. Learning and growing often requires a willingness to fail. The alternative is to constantly play it safe, which is ultimately not so safe.

In its own prediction for 2021, Carla Johnson warns against this urge, which can be exacerbated in a precarious economic environment. She argues that meeting the demands of 2020 left marketers « no room for trial and error, » and that in the year to come, « B2B content marketing will be about taking smart risks leading to more work. innovative. ”

What to do: Experience! Make small bets and take measured risks as you seek out new ways to engage and connect with your audience. Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.

“Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.” – Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click to Tweet

So much for smooth sailing in 2021

Every buyer is bound to know their share of difficulties and setbacks this year. But if we remain vigilant to avoid pitfalls we can anticipate – like the five listed above – and accept unforeseeable difficulties as opportunities to learn and adapt, we will succeed and come out stronger at each other. end.

For more tips and inspiration to accompany you throughout the New Year, check out our Top 10 Content Marketing Posts of 2020.

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