39 solutions to your biggest HR tech content marketing challenges
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
I spend hours each week talking to HR tech folks about content marketing. And the same challenges and frustrations crop up regularly.
Challenges like… “it’s getting more competitive. We don’t know how to stand out”. And “I don’t know where to invest. There’re so many different approaches, how do we find the right formula?”. Or “We’re trying our best but we just don’t have time”.
Here’re the most common. And what to do about them, of course.
HR tech marketers’ most common content marketing challenges
Building brand awareness in a saturated market
Valued at $400Bn back in 2017, the global HR tech market is huge. There’re more than 12-million HR tech companies in the US alone, and approximately 48-million worldwide.
HR tech is an exploding market – and a massively saturated one.
How to differentiate, when product often isn’t a differentiator? How to build brand awareness when there’s all this competition also vying for attention?
And do all that without just creating, as someone I was chatting to recently put it, “yet another fucking pointless ebook”.
What’s the fix?
1) Ebooks aren’t the problem. Fucking pointless ebooks are. To gain traction in a saturated market, quality is everything. It’s content Darwinism. Be better.
2) Being better means differentiating. Differentiate with your voice and message. Businesses with an identity problem won’t create clear, compelling, consistent content that readers want to engage with.
3) Assess your SEO. Pulling more organic traffic means more people know who you are, and more conversion opportunity.
4) Assess your content promotion tactics. If you’re investing into content, and that content’s good, do it justice by getting it in front of people. Most people are bad at this.
5) Explore different channels. Try new things and share them in new ways. Creating something different gives you more opportunity to resonate.
6) Be omnipresent. So far as your budget allows. The more you’re about, the more brand recognition you’ll earn. Go where your people are and engage with them in a non-salesy way.
7) Don’t dump content on your blog and forget about it. Make everything you invest into work hard for you, with considered funnels and interlinking campaigns.
Attracting the right sort of customers
I hear this pretty often in the HR tech space. It’s when there’s a mismatch between the customers you want and the leads you get.
So, say your product is perfect for businesses of 50 to 250 people. Your value proposition works excellently here. Customers in that category tend to see great ROI, pretty fast.
But business owners of SME’s keep approaching you. It’s great that your product is generating initial interest. But it’s not the best fit.
Those customers don’t have the same complexity in their processes. So your product can’t add the same value, which means you struggle to close the deal.
What’s the fix?
8) Don’t be arrogant. If your customers are using your product in new ways, or new customers are testing your product, listen to them. Maybe some subtle tweaks could open your proposition up. Or maybe not, but you’ve nothing to lose.
9) Review your messaging. Especially across important universal touchpoints like your website and top-funnel touchpoints like your social ads. Are you absolutely clear which problems you solve? Refer back to your buyer personas. Or for Christ’s sake create some, if you haven’t already - using this free eBook.
10) Create content that profiles your ideal customers. Case studies are the classic. Remember, your case studies tell your prospects which type of customers you want. If you’re going for mid-sized businesses, have mid-sized business case studies.
11) Create content to push the wrong people away. Being explicit about who you can’t help is a beacon for those you can. Self-serve content like quizzes can be great.
Keeping your message consistent at global scale
This is a biggie amongst high-growth HR tech businesses. A nice problem to have, sure. But
still a problem.
Consistency is the bedrock of trust. And trust drives sales.
So how do you maintain a consistent, coherent message as you scale?
A message that can flex to accommodate new buyers, but without fracturing. A message that’s cohesive across every touchpoint, even as those touchpoints become so numerous you struggle to keep track.
What’s the fix?
12) You need tone of voice guidelines. Not crap ones. Be willing to invest – they’re the foundation for your growth. They ensure everyone who represents you represents you consistently.
Read more: The blockbuster guide to TOV for HR tech businesses
13) Train your content creators. Tone of voice guidelines aren’t enough. Bring them to life through training, so they become useful and actionable. Invest time up-front to prevent knotty issues later.
14) Same too with freelance writers. You can’t ‘set and forget’ even the best writers, not at first. Help them help you.
15) Build a content strategy. If you fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll never be consistent. Plan to succeed, etc.
Read more: 6 questions your HR tech content strategy must answer
16) Don’t run before you can walk. Quality first. Aim for exceptional with every piece you create. A few will be. But crucially, they’ll all be consistent because consistency comes from consideration. Don’t panic when faced with new volume requirements. Little and right is better than lots and crap.
17) Audit your existing content. At every touchpoint. Identify your weaknesses, so you can target them. Customer support content shouldn’t be shitter than customer acquisition content. That’s often a weak spot. Fix it, if you care about customer retention.
18) Invest in better collaboration tools. Don’t let dispersed content teams operate in siloes. Content project teams should be cross-functional and cross-border.
19) Assign a content project lead. They should knows your tone of voice inside-out. Let them loose before you publish anything, to ensure consistency.
20) Consult with a market expert. In-house or freelance. The issue isn’t just language. It’s about different cultures, vision, values. The trick with content marketing is to tread the line between accommodating new prospects and staying brand-consistent. Someone who knows your new market will help.
21) Build new buyer personas for new markets. HR Director Dave isn’t the same in the UK as the US. Buyer personas aren’t a static one-off thing. They evolve with the business. (Here's an eBook plug again.)
Finding the time
Ah, this old chestnut.
SaaS marketers wear loads of hats. But many HR tech folks I chat to work on their todd, or nearly, and they’re spread too thin.
And it doesn’t help that many businesses don’t have a dedicated writer. They have smart, creative ideas people, sure. But not writers.
Which means their content takes forever, when time is already at a premium. And many ideas never come to fruition. Or those that do aren’t executed as well as they should be.
What’s the fix?
22) Time is short - don't waste it. Invest in the right tools to make your content creation processes efficient. This list is good.
23) Make a robust content calendar. Vital for defining responsibilities,
keeping everyone on the same page and pre-emptively unclogging bottlenecks.
Read more: How to write faster and increase your content output
24) Great writing is crucial (see point 1). Increase the quality of the stuff you put out, so the stuff you have time for has the best chance of getting results.
25) Look internally. You might have someone who’d love to write more but doesn’t have the bandwidth or technical skill. Could you reallocate some of their workload, to free up writing time? Could you send them on a training course, or allow them more time to learn?
26) If you can’t find the quality in-house, look externally. This is a quality issue before it’s a volume issue so where budget allows, prioritise quality. Hire permanent if you find someone good, or you can invest in training potential. Hire freelance copywriters if not. Don’t choose budget bloggers who can barely write.
Finding the budget
You know how important content marketing is, but you simply don’t have the cash.
Or your executive team have tightened the purse strings. They’re probably sick of hearing
vague phrases like brand awareness when they ask about content ROI.
You’ve tried, but the magic money tree just isn’t sprouting.
What’s the fix?
27) Budget sign-off demands buy-in. That means demonstrating content marketing ROI to senior decision-makers. Something most B2B content marketers struggle with. (28% of B2B marketers don’t measure content marketing ROI at all, CMI say). Go back to basics and build a business case for a pilot project.
28) Pick a pilot that links to ROI. As in, something conversion-orientated. Show senior leaders how your content funnel works, so they understand the bigger picture.
29) Choose wisely. Restricted budget means you can’t do everything you want, so pick things that’ll give you maximum bang for your buck. One great lead magnet beats several awareness blogs. (However great awareness stage blogging is, it’s a long-term strategy)
30) DIY. If there’s no budget and you can’t seek freelance copywriter support, do it yourself. Even if you can only scrape an hour every few days, you’ll still eventually have a content asset to show for it. Just make it good. Volume isn’t an option without budget.
31) Close leaks in your funnel. Incremental gains let you build budget for longer-term, longer-payback projects. Spot (and split-test) small wins, like your website headline, pop-ups and opt-in forms.
32) Make budget. Seriously. Trim budget from somewhere else and be smart where you invest. (I.e. On things that’ll create ROI. Build an offer; promote the offer).
Knowing where to invest
I’m sure this is true of all industries, not just HR tech.
The marketing toolbox has exploded. We’ve got new tools and tactics coming out of our ears, and we’re not quite sure whether we need the hammer, the screw or some novel combination of both.
You get approached constantly by companies offering advertising slots and new marketing platforms. You know your competitors use some of them but you’re not having much luck.
You don’t know whether to believe what you’re told (“it just takes time”; “you need to speculate more to accumulate”) or to invest elsewhere. You know there’s a formula that’ll work for you, but you haven’t nailed it yet.
What’s the fix?
33) Check you're looking for the right stuff. Your marketing strategy should outline what ROI looks like. If you’re not seeing ROI, first check you’re measuring it.
34) Don’t twist too soon. What you heard is right, these things do take time. Pick something and stick with it for long enough you have meaningful results. Then you can walk away knowing you gave it a real shot.
35) Don’t be scared to experiment. Any marketer worth their salt knows nothing’s a sure thing. And what becomes your sure thing might never have worked for anyone else. Embrace ideas. Fail fast.
36) Consult with market experts. They can tell you what tactics they’re seeing work in the HR technology space. And not work.
37) But don’t listen too much to gurus. See point 33. The more popular something becomes, the less impact you’ll have doing it. Zig when everyone else zags.
38) Invest wisely. Don’t spray and pray. Trial tactics based on proven results from elsewhere. It might not work for you but what’s worked for someone else is a good starting point to test from. But remember point 35.
39) See point 31. Identify the low hanging fruit (and excuse the phrase). You’re worrying about big changes like which platforms to advertise on, but small changes might drive big gains. Make your funnel more efficient and the bigger issues become less urgent.
One thing every HR tech marketer I’ve spoken to agrees on…
…content is absolutely integral to their growth plans.
Exceptional content builds thought-leaders and creates compelling voices. It supports global growth by building brand awareness and educating new customers. It supports the sales cycle from awareness to decision through onboarding onward.
Whatever content marketing challenges you face, that’s your endgame. Keep it in mind.