There is more to creating content than just writing — teamwork and collaboration are critical for successful campaigns. A lot of articles discuss marketing and research strategies, but they don’t discuss office politics, integration of teams, dealing with unsuccessful campaigns, and the ideal content team. In last week’s #SEMrushchat, Christoph Trappe and our community discussed each of these issues, and offered strategies they use to manage each of them.
Check out the tweets below, and be sure to tell us what you think.
Q1. You created content that didn’t meet goals. How do you explain this to clients or the c-suite? Next steps?
Meeting goals is certainly a moving target – which is why they are goals and not promises or guarantees. I’m a fan of proactive reporting. Keep leadership and clients in the loop. Don’t just report once a month, but share relevant positive tidbits with them on an ongoing basis. Don’t make excuses but also make sure to share external factors. For example, if the goal was to drive SEO and a Google update didn’t help, explain that.
Content that didn’t meet goals is not necessarily wasted content! There will always be a positive side to it! Be transparent and be honest about why it may not have had the impact you/the client expected.
You still look for the wins. Even if they aren’t what you wanted/planned/expected. Be upfront about where things fell short and optimize.
As marketers, we are bound to have tactics that don’t meet on the intended goal. It’s what you do with that information that matters. That’s when you look at the numbers and evaluate what worked, didn’t & how you can apply that to future or existing tactics.
Sometimes client goals do not match customer goals. Come in with focused research on how customers look for client products and services with data organized by topic and topic focus. See if a low performer can be rehabilitated with revisions.
Explain to them why it underperformed and the insights this provides for future content creation. Marketing is all about trial and error, so it’s only natural that some things fail. The important thing is what you learn about the process.
It’s important to explain that things don’t always go as planned. That’s part of the process… You test and tweak your strategy accordingly! It’s going to take some time to get things right, especially in the early stages.
Q2. What is the most common reason why a content marketing strategy may not bring the result a company needs?
Teams didn’t have enough grit and didn’t keep going. Content marketing is very much a marathon and not a sprint, though there are sprints within the marathon. The goals were the wrong goals. The product sucks. The best Content marketing strategy will not help solve a bad product.
Content Strategy is only one piece of the puzzle. A company needs to be effective across the board: Awareness
Retention Content plays a role in all of this, but so does: Sales
The product (or service).
Taxonomy mismatch. the language that the company uses to describe their products and benefits does not match the language customers use to find solutions to their problems. Take a page from SEO and do content keyword research. Marry that with analytics = intent.
– Goals were not thought through in the beginning
– The budget didn’t match the scope of the strategy
– Nothing was monitored while campaigns were running
– Analytics were set up incorrectly
– No testing
– We can’t control everything
One of the most common mistakes is not understanding your audience. Take the time to research what they are looking for, how they are talking about it and how they are consuming content. This is a great way to target long-tail keywords.
In my experience, it usually comes down to lack of alignment between the content strategy and the paid media and/or SEO strategies that are supposed to back it up. But this can vary greatly from one org to the next.
Q3. If you had unlimited resources, what would be an ideal set up for a high-performing content marketing team?
Every team really does need a mix of skills: Content creation, syndication, analysis. We also should be aware that not every person can do everything on a team. Hire for a great team and not just for individual skills. If you already have great writers but are lacking great syndication skills, hire for that next.
Unlimited? 🤩 My dream content team would look like this: – Copywriter
– SEO Manager
– Graphic Designer / Videographer (or both please!)
– Digital PR Manager
– Social Media Manager …and can I also request a lifetime supply of chocolate biscuits! 🍪
Ooooh… Now we are hitting deep. Videographer
Social Ads Guru
Social media manager
Facebook Ad specialist
Snapchat Ad specialist
@semrush @CTrappe A3. It depends on the size of the company, but a dream-team would be: ✅Designers
✅Analysts and a big data team
A Gary Vaynerchuk kind of set-up, with people across various timezones (for reactivity) with all the best skills in writing, graphic design, videography, and coordination.
Q4. Can office politics get in the way of effective content creation, and how do you work around that?
Office politics can be a problem. Some days I call it Approval Hell. Everyone wants to be involved and nothing ever gets done. One way around them is to come up with a high-level plan of strategy AND implementation. Agree with people on the workflow and timing and that can help.
Absolutely! You can have copywriters who only write for web content but not for SEM, SEO, and Social but are forced to write for those channels because they’re the copywriters, not the digital specialists. It can usually be solved with a conversation.
Office politics can get in the way of ANYTHING. That being said, the common issue I run into with this for content marketing is that the experts don’t have time to write content, but won’t approve content written by others because it’s not good enough.
Data, data, data. Show executives or stakeholders the data behind a piece of content you’re trying to create and why it’s important to the organization.
The disconnect that I have found most often is between marketing and SEO with SEO and UX a close 2nd. The best remedy is Design Thinking (or Soft System Methodology, for the devs) that sees all disciplines in the same room with the client for discover.
The best solution is for the content writing team to demonstrate with success stories why they should have more freedom, and thereby improve policies.
Q5. What other departments must a content team work well with to reach company goals? Any collaboration suggestions?
You need an editor floor. A real one. Not a bunch of interns or marketers who claim to be editors/writers. And talented designers. Befriend them, teach them conversion optimization, especially function > design. They can’t deal with ugly but effective elements.
Any department that is selling something or has an impact on sales should be a go-to department for the content marketing team. Most content marketing teams aren’t the topical experts, but the content experts. It’s so important to build those relationship to get the best content that the content team can then package and distribute to drive results.
For a well-balanced strategy and output: ALL departments. I can guarantee you, there are the most precious little nuggets of wisdom hiding in inconspicuous corners…
When it comes to collaboration, make sure everyone feels encourages to speak up. You never know who might have a great idea to share.
The most important are the customer service department & sales department. It will help provide valuable insights, about what is working, where possible problems are & how to move ahead. Then it can be tied to a well laid content strategy to address each area.
and any others that may have the required knowledge. Pretty much everyone should work together and not work in a vacuum. Keep a slack channel that everyone subscribes to so that all can contribute. Even the janitor has experience/knowledge.
Do you have any additional tips?
If you have strategies, advice, or opinions, please share them in the comments below. Also, join us on Wednesday, January 29th, at 11 am ET/4 pm BST for SEMrushchat.