Content marketing is hard work.
To go from a blank sheet of paper to a completed blog needs inspiration (often the hardest part), research, writing, editing and proofing. When it’s finished, the blog needs publishing and promoting.
And that’s just one blog. You need to start the whole process over again, and again.
Your time is precious, so you need to squeeze as much value out of each piece of content by maximising the number of people who read it. However, we’ve noticed that some advisers and planners are making fundamental mistakes that will do the exact opposite.
Here are six of the most common and how to fix them.
1. Paying no attention to the headline
David Ogilvy famously said: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Despite Ogilvy’s advice, too many advisers and planners still write awful headlines. Many are composed in haste with nothing to tempt the reader past the headline. In contrast, we see other advisers/planners trying to be too clever.
A headline needs development over time. It shouldn’t be finalised in one sitting. If you’re struggling, try writing different versions of your headline in a list, tweaking slightly each time. I use this method and often come up with 10, 15 or even 20 versions before I’m happy.
Then, I’ll harness the power of technology and put my preferred headline through the Headline Studio tool to improve it even more.
To help you write a killer headline we’ve regularly shared our hints and tips including 6 types of blog headlines to grab attention as well as this which explains why you should use numbers in your headlines. Nick, our Head of Content, will be sharing more tips about writing a great subject line/headline on our blog next week.
If you take one thing away from this blog it’s the importance of working as hard on your headline as you do the blog itself. After all, if people aren’t going to get past the headline, there’s no point writing the blog!
2. Spending more time producing than promoting
Once you’ve written the blog, your hard work is done, right?
Wrong. It’s only just beginning.
When it comes to content too many advisers/planners are guilty of overproducing and underpromoting. In many ways, that’s understandable; writing is a noble and creative process that many people actually enjoy. Conversely, promotion is hard work, repetitive and comes with the constant fear of rejection.
There’s nothing noble in writing an article that no one reads, either because you haven’t got the headline right, or you’re not promoting it. A single tweet, LinkedIn post or email isn’t going to cut it.
So, spend at least as much time (preferably more) promoting your blog as you did writing it.
3. Removing old blogs from your website
Occasionally, we’ve seen firms remove old blogs from their website.
This makes no sense. In fact, there’s only one vaguely sensible reason; compliance and a (mistaken) belief that just because some facts and figures might be out of date they need to be removed.
They don’t. If this is a problem, it’s easily solved by dating every blog and making it clear that things may have changed since it was written.
Otherwise, the problems with removing old blogs are numerous:
- The blogs will, no doubt, have provided valuable insight. That’s no longer possible if people can’t read them
- Removing unique content will harm your SEO
- Building a library of blogs shows your knowledge and demonstrates consistency which breeds confidence
- You can’t promote your back catalogue of blogs if they’re no longer online.
If any marketing ”guru” or ”expert” ever advises you to remove old blogs from your website (or doesn’t talk you out of it if it’s your idea) it’s time to rethink where you’re getting advice from.
4. Overestimating the number of blogs you can write
In our experience, most advisers and planners overestimate the number of blogs they can write each month.
Among other things, effective content marketing strategy needs:
- A newsletter sent at least monthly
- A minimum of three articles in each newsletter.
That’s 36 articles per year. Let’s say each one takes four hours to research, write, edit and proofread. That’s 144 hours per year. Now double that for promotion and you’re looking at 36 days a year.
Do you have nearly two months spare each year right now? No, thought not.
I can think of a few financial advisers and planners who do content marketing really well. Andrew Neligan is certainly one example.
But most underestimate the time it takes to produce content and consequently overestimate the amount they can produce. That leads to inconsistency, both in terms of production and quality. Newsletters are skipped, deadlines are missed and the blog section of your website is left to die a slow death that no one notices.
The answer is simple: split the workload. Bring in a third party (shameless plug: click here to learn more about our blog and newsletter packages) to write the bulk of your content and add pieces in yourself when you have the time.
5. Including only one article in your newsletter
Email newsletters are the shortest route from your mouth to your audience’s ears. They are also completely trackable, easy to produce, and cost-effective. That means they’re hands down the most effective way to promote your blogs.
However, the content you include must be as relevant as possible to your audience. Unless your database is homogeneous it’s almost impossible to maximise relevancy with just one article.
Either due to a lack of budget or time (see point #4) we see some firms include just one article in their newsletter.
At best, this will simply reduce engagement. For example, we saw one firm reduce the number of articles in their newsletter from three to one which cut engagement levels by 75%.
At worst it will alienate clients, as it did in another firm we’ve spoken to whose clients complained that their planner didn’t understand them because they were receiving articles that weren’t relevant.
6. Forgetting to include a call to action
Your content strategy should add value to the reader, leaving them better informed while demonstrating your knowledge and positioning you as a go-to expert.
When it comes to prospective clients, ideally you also want them to take a call to action. But if it’s not there, they can’t!
There’s no hard and fast rule but we’d recommend including several different calls to action throughout the article, for example, links to:
- Other blogs with similar subject matter
- Further reading on your website
- Contact forms or email addresses where a reader can send an enquiry to.
And they should be included throughout the article, not just at the end. There’s no guarantee your reader will make it that far!
If 2022 is the year you start to engage properly with content, we’re here to help. Drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 8965 300.