Want to know a secret about me?
Of course you do!
Because everyone loves gossip!
Even The Economist includes gossip—they call it “Obituaries” to appeal to their readers’ guilty pleasures.
So what’s my secret?
I was a card carrying member of Weight Watchers (or WW as they’re now known)!
Because being an overachiever, I gained over the “Freshman 10 pounds” in college. In fact, I gained closer to 40 pounds.
After many short-lived diets, I finally tried Weight Watchers because I realized my eating habits had to change.
While I got to my goal weight, I made 2 big mistakes:
- I substituted a “bad” habit for a “less bad” habit. While on the diet, I substituted “bad” foods for “good” ones. So my hands turned orange from eating over 10 pounds of carrots every week.
- I chose a goal weight based on “What I thought I should weigh” instead of Weight Watchers’s more objective measurement. As a result, my aggressive goal weight proved too low to maintain over time.
So—what does my Weight Watchers’s experience have to do with content marketing?
It’s a metaphor for content marketing gut.
As marketers we suffer from 2 types of content marketing gut that parallel my Weight Watchers’s experience.
- We believe that producing new content is the right thing to do even though our older content may still be relevant.
- We make content marketing decisions based on our “gut” rather than using objective measures and actual data.
To help you, we’ll show you how to recognize these less-than-optimal behaviors and how to substitute healthier habits to get rid of your gut!
Content Marketing Gut Defined
After I gained almost 40 pounds during my first 2 years of college, I had a gut for the first time in my life.
According to Oxford Publishing Press, the definition of gut is:
- The lower alimentary canal or a part of it. In more common usage, gut refers to having a fat stomach. It’s also known as a beer belly or a spare tire for how it sits above one’s waistband.
- A feeling or reaction based on an individual’s instinctive emotional response to a problem instead of a reasoned or fact based approach.
Both of these 2 definitions apply directly to content marketing:
- Content gut refers to the excess marketing materials you’ve created and accumulated over time as you continue producing more and more information. Since you’re focused on fresh content, your no-longer new content becomes the marketing equivalent of a beer belly.
- Marketing gut also applies to how you make business decisions since you use your past marketing experience as an guide to future success.
Unfortunately with the seismic shift due to voice-first, marketing AI and content saturation, both forms of content marketing gut hurt your business results.
Beer Belly Content Marketing
Having excess, out-dated information and/or dead links stops your content from attracting visitors. So it creates “beer belly content”.
Does your content pass the GUT Factor Test?
- Goal-less content: Applies when your content no longer meets audience needs. Or when the executive who wanted it leaves your firm. So it’s irrelevant.
- Useless content: Is when your information fades from management visibility because shiny new content replaces it. Without keeping the data, examples and presentation up-to-date, your content no longer ranks and its structure may be obsolete.
- Tired content: Consists of older articles, ebooks, images and videos that become me-too content because so much information exists on the topic!
As long as it remains visible to machines, beer belly content hurts your results now and in the future!
Because newer, better optimized content captures the attention of visitors.
Further, if it does attract anyone, they bounce off quickly, leaving digital footprints of disappointment.
Actionable Content Marketing Gut Tips:
- Publish content on owned media platforms first. This associates other related content and business data with the answer to the customer’s question. Syndicate and/or write guest posts elsewhere later.
- Audit content on a regular basis to keep it up-to-date. Add content renovation to editorial and distribution calendars. Also allocate budget and resources for this work.
- Transform road tested content into new content formats and share it on relevant platforms. This represents a distribution shift. Focus on one type of content distributed to one platform before changing its format and channels.
Seat Of Your Pants Content Marketing
Relying on your content marketing gut translates to “seat of your pants content marketing”.
Basing your decisions on past marketing experience doesn’t prepare you for today’s seismic content marketing shift.“The combination of voice-first marketing, marketing AI and content saturation in the first half of 2019 signals that Seat-of-Your-Pants Marketing is over.” Heidi CohenClick To Tweet
As a result, your past experience doesn’t provide sufficient insights into your current challenges due to differences in scope, platform, device and/or audience context. So your current marketing yields unexpected results.
Why do you need to get rid of this content marketing gut?
Because your CMO must show results in financial terms that your c-suite expects and understand.
Does your content decision making pass the marketing GUT Factor Test?
- Gauge content potential: Uses past actual results to project future performance based on analysis.
- UTM-tracked content results: Assesses content marketing effectiveness based on use of calls-to-action and related tracking.
- Tested content: Compares new content to similar content creation and distribution results. Also focuses on any differences in the last 6 months.
But don’t worry—the robots aren’t taking your job!
Because humans are still needed to make informed decisions based on experience and judgment.
Actionable Content Marketing Gut Tips:
- Establish a consistent content, information and data structure across your entire organization. This requires leadership buy-in and support before you can start to work with a cross-organizational team.
- Test using marketing AI to yield more measurable marketing results. Start small and get rid of repetitive functions.
Why You Need To Get Rid Of Your Marketing Gut Conclusion
When I joined Weight Watchers, I made two poor assumptions:
- I substituted a bad habit for a less bad one and
- I set my goal without getting the relevant facts first.
You may be doing the same thing with regard to your content marketing.
As a result, you’ve got Belly Fat Content or Seat of Your Pants Marketing.
Either way, your content marketing needs to go on a diet so you can lose your content marketing gut!
I’m not going to sugar-coat it.
Even if you start right now, getting your content back in shape requires elbow grease and resources.
But by continually updating your most trafficked pages and content, you can improve your results.
Don’t let fear hold you back—because the future of content marketing is exciting.
As Chris S. Penn says, “AI is just math, it’s not probability!” And you learned that in elementary school.
Even better—when you apply AI to your content you’ll be a hero for creating and maintaining your “road tested” content better, cheaper and faster.
Get Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide by email:
Want to check it out before you subscribe? Visit the AMG Newsletter Archive.
A Revolutionary Approach to Content Marketing, and Today's Digital Consumer, 2nd Edition, by Marcus Sheridan.
I've written often about Marcus Sheridan's approach to marketing. His book is one of the must-have guides for every marketer.
Now, for a limited time, you can get the updated edition as an ebook absolutely free!
Read the AMG Interview with Marcus Sheridan on the first edition of They Ask You Answer.
Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/5jctAMjz21A cc zero via @yunmai