Everybody and their mother has a blog. The dog probably does too.
This is something all marketers are painfully aware of, especially the ones just getting serious with inbound. If you are getting lackluster results, it’s easy to look at the mountains of content people dump onto the Internet every day and ask: “Why am I bothering with this?” Content saturation is a real challenge today, and rather than adapting their approach, some bloggers are trying to compete in industries where there is very little room for newcomers. This recipe for frustration eventually leads giving up on content marketing all together.
That is a huge mistake. More than ever, businesses need to embrace the principles of better teaching and communication because it works. You can attract and retain new customers if you are willing to focus on fresh opportunities and set realistic goals. It starts with understanding how content saturation affects your industry.
Two of my favorite marketers – Marcus Sheridan and Mark Schaefer – have been talking about content saturation for years and what it means for businesses like yours and mine.
In one of his posts, Mark referenced a friend named Christopher Penn, who suggests using Google search results to gauge competition in your niche. It involves searching for keywords, and seeing how many pages are returned:
This is one simple way you can test the waters and see what you are up against. Another way to measure saturation is with a keyword difficulty tool. Several paid SEO tools offer this feature which gives you a numeric score based on how hard it is to rank for a specified keyword. This is incredibly useful for any business that’s trying to build domain authority and organic traffic.
Think of the last time you made a major purchase for your business. What impressed you about the vendor you chose?
If the decision required weeks or months of research, you probably selected a brand that did the best job communicating with you:
Companies like these are relentless content creators – they pump out blog articles, videos, and other media, and they keep them laser-focused on customer needs.
You might have a behemoth in your own industry – and uber-successful company that’s doing amazing things with their content. It’s okay to feel daunted – you might never achieve the same volume of monthly visitors they have – but with creativity and determination, you will attract customers to your website. It is up to you to show them they’ve come to the right place.
Imagine you and I are at a chamber mixer. We are standing at the bar grabbing a drink, and I ask what you do for a living. You say your company offers an app that helps businesses draw multiple data sources into one dashboard for operational insights.
I might say something like, “That’s interesting. We review our inventory every week, but have a hard time correlating [X] and [Y].” You start explaining ways I can solve this, and twenty minutes later I’m convinced: This guy knows business intelligence better than anyone I know. Two months later, after multiple visits to your website, I’m filling out a form to purchase your app.
Let’s review a Cliff Notes version of what happened here.
I needed help solving a problem, and instead of going right for the hard sell, you offered helpful advice in layman’s terms, and I bought your app because of it. Inbound marketing is effective when businesses are transparent and helpful in their blogs, but one glance at your competitors and you will see many of them are blowing it.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies out there that do what you do, and many of them maintain a blog. That doesn’t mean they are all good at it.
It’s easier to connect with people in-person because we are more conscious of how we communicate. You wouldn’t strike up a conversation and start spouting off technical jargon that would only confuse him or her.
We all strive to be helpful and compelling in face-to-face interactions, so why don’t more companies adopt this approach in their blogs? If you can convey your knowledge and expertise conversationally in writing, you will be far more effective than many of your competitors.
While there are plenty of companies that are bad at blogging, you will also find many that are hitting it out of the park.
If their posts get a lot of comments, likes, and shares – they are giving you clear evidence of what customers are interested in. Use it to your advantage by finding out which topics are hot, and look for ways your company can keep the fire burning:
Find related subjects – Think of topics that are closely related to popular articles other brands have published. If a post about the cost of a new product or solution catches on, what else would people want to know? How long does it take to implement? What is the ROI? A related topic can help you capture customer interest and lead them to new places.
Drill deeper into a sub-topic – If the author of the article scratched the surface of one point you are knowledgeable about, try writing a post that goes in greater depth. When an article about data compliance is trending, you could write a post about how emerging backup and recovery strategies are making compliance easier to manage for small businesses.
Regardless of whether you want to write about the same subjects as your competitors, keep a close eye on what’s working for them. Learn new ideas from others, and test them with your own brand.
If you are feeling discouraged about your results, you are not alone. Too many businesses out there are putting in the hours to create great content and getting no leads because they haven't stopped to reevaluate the competitive landscape. There is room for your business to succeed. You just have to find opportunity where it exists, rather than where you want it to be.
If blogging is taking too much of your time, we have a few tips that will help you. Our guide will show you how the most productive bloggers seize control of their schedules and get more done in less time. Find out how:
This post has been updated in 2019.
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