If you're using content marketing for your business or personal goals, then you will understand that it's not easy to master and certainly not an overnight solution. The truth is, you're probably making some content marketing mistakes without really knowing it.
This is especially true if you work under pressure a lot or work in situations where you are very target orientated and driven.
Understanding and avoiding common content marketing mistakes will ensure your campaigns are able to perform fluently at optimum levels. Consider each of the following 20 content marketing mistakes carefully - there may be something you have missed altogether or have fallen victim to over time.
It would be great to hear your thoughts on other common content marketing mistakes you know of that did not make my list - leave a message in the comments section after this article.
20 Content Marketing Mistakes
Why are you implementing a content marketing strategy? Are you crystal clear about your goals and objectives?
Establishing a clear purpose is especially important to order to avoid operating with a lack of clarity and focus.
This is somewhat related to the first content marketing mistake, but it's possible to have a business purpose but not have strategic or operational clarity.
Every single piece of content you publish needs to have a clear reason for existing, otherwise what's the point?
Take a look at any of your existing content - is it clear on what it is trying to achieve? Is the messaging focused on creating actions towards your specific objectives?
Unfortunately, not everything is about you.
You have to maintain a mindset where everything is about your readers. Or at the very least make sure your audience feels like it's all about them.
Make them feel special. Make them feel unique and valued. Does your content communicate that, or could your website and marketing resources be renamed 'Look at me!'?
This content marketing mistake is especially true when you first start out. I see it all the time - the first tweet on accounts being "new website is now live" or content plans revolving solely around what you're doing or thinking.
Even when you’re presenting content on your products or services, such as on a sales page, it's essential to connect content to what your audience wants and needs. Adjust your content to explain how what you sell will be beneficial to your reader, not how great a feature is, and you're content will likely be much better received.
Headlines can make or break a piece of content. In the modern day where everyone makes judgements based on subject lines in emails, the text before the link in a tweet or the article title, you have a very limited window to capture attention.
It is critical that your headline answers the age old question, “what’s in it for me?” . If it doesn’t, you’ve already lost readers.
Every time you craft a headline, you should think about your readers and what type of content they would want to read. Start looking at ways of incorporating proven formulas into your future headlines - chances are you will attract more attention from passive visitors and grow your readership.
Again, this is interrelated with knowing your content marketing purpose, but it’s even more specific.
Without knowing exactly where you want to get to, chances are you won't get there. How can you be effective in your content marketing strategies if you don’t know how to measure your progress?
Your goals need to be SMARTER: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluate and Revise.
Think carefully about your priority content marketing goals. The most obvious goal for businesses is usually to invest in a long-term content marketing strategy that returns a profit, thus lead generation should be highlighted.
It’s important to know what's working so that you can run the winners long and cut the losers short. To measure your results, there are lots of performance metrics you can look to. To begin with, consider these big four measurements:
- Consumption: Page views, video views, document views, downloads and social chatter
- Sharing: Like, shares, tweets, +1s and pins, forwards, number of inbound links
- Lead Generation: Form completions and downloads, email and blog subscriptions, blog comments
- Sales: Look at both online and offline sales that are influenced by content
These results can be tracked and measured using free tools like Google Analytics, social networks like Facebook, your email software like MailChimp, your content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, as well as your own internal data from your CRM system (customer relationship management) like Infusionsoft.
Your content marketing campaign needs to be consistent. Choose an appropriate publishing frequency based on your metrics and stick with it.
The only exception to this is when your testing outlines a shift that requires adjustment.
The essence of this point is that your publishing schedule needs to be intentional and it needs to be consistent. Set an expectation level with your audience and be faithful to that promise. You will upset less people and increase your loyal readership base.
This hold true with all forms of planning in marketing, not just with regards to your schedule.
8. Sales Content
Content marketing needs to be focused on an objective, such as lead generation, but this doesn't mean you should compromise the integrity of your content with over-the-top sales copy.
In fact, you should only use sales copy where appropriate (like sales pages).
The nature of content marketing means that you're providing useful information to people when they want to digest it in order to create an action. The majority of people won't make an action if they feel they are being sold to.
By providing compelling content with appealing call to actions, you can satisfy lead generation metrics without looking like a salesman and damaging your appearance at the first point of contact.
9. Impersonal Content
A lot of businesses struggle with this when launching a content marketing campaign. Content needs to be written for the audiences, but it's fine to include your personality in your writing.
There is nothing wrong with being unique and memorable, as long as your telling a story that your readers want to hear. Think about it like this; anyone can write an article about how to do something, but no one can write it like you.
10. Technical Content
Unless you’re intentionally writing to industry guru's, you should always assume your audience includes a variety of knowledge levels. Make sure your content is clear and easy to understand by your newest readers, as well as long-term subscribers.
This is a typical mistake in established or niche communities and it can sometimes be hard to balance.
If any concepts you discuss are difficult to understand, include links in your content to direct people to other sources on your site, or the wider web, that explain them more in detail. This is a useful and natural way of creating links within your site and chances are that Google will appreciate your site for it too.
A solid content marketing strategy needs to make use of multiple formats of media. Using just text-based articles will likely reduce engagement with readers and lower interaction.
Various formats of content should be used in delivering content marketing campaigns. Different formats of content include: video, webinars, podcasts, infographics, whitepapers, interviews, case studies, eBooks, press releases and emails.
12. Visual Impact
Visual impact shouldn't be limited to just the images that are included alongside with your content - your text and platform design needs to have visual impact.
You might notice that many popular blogs use short paragraphs containing only a few sentences. This is by design not be accident. Laying out words in this manner makes the content easier to digest and easier on the eye.
Don't make the common content marketing mistake of cramming pages or being too text-heavy. Aesthetically pleasing design with appropriate formatting (white space, bullet points etc) will retain attention longer and convert more actions.
No matter what form of content you publish or how far the content reaches, you need to engage with your audiences who read it.
People expect a two way experience when it comes to interacting with online content. Make sure you always respond to comments on your blog, on social media or on the wider web. Social media listening can play an important role in knowing where, when and how to engage with readers.
This one is easy. If you don't tell someone to do something, they won't know that you want them to do it.
Think about it. If your goal is to create a buzz around a product, you want people to be commenting and spreading the word. If you don't ask people to do this, they might never know that this is your goal.
Every piece of content created should include a call to action. This means providing access to the next step you want someone to take so make sure you build relevant pathways and tell connected stories that help to build momentum through your efforts.
It is a common myth that to sell something you have to pitch products to every customer. Content marketing aims to deliver messages that appeal to the right people and steer attention to places where the product or service related at the content topic can be purchased.
Other than using call-to-actions and sales pages, the content doesn't actually have to be a sales piece at all. On the contrary, you might find the best converting content is that which tells a story about a problem the reader experiences and then simply includes a link or shows a banner pointing to where the problem can be solved.
16. Content Distribution
A huge content marketing mistake is to think that you just need to create and publish content. This simply isn't the case.
You must actively promote your content so that it reaches a wide scope of potential readers. In fact, you should spend much more time promoting each piece of content than it takes to create it.
You can get your content in front of the right people by researching and developing a promotional framework that uses various social media networks, online communities, forums and industry sites.
It is also a mistake to ignore the timing of your distribution. Sending emails and posting in social media shouldn't be sporadic and done whenever you like. Be sure to remember the content marketing mistake above of not measuring your performance and adjusting when and where necessary.
17. No Help
Even if you're self employed, you shouldn't believe that you have to create and manage everything yourself. In fact, it is usually a mistake to try to do so.
Invest in yourself by seeking to improve via training or coaching programs, or hire more hands to take the load off. If you find there are some practices in content marketing that you just don't enjoy doing, then outsourcing those activities can ensure you're only doing what you love.
And a happy content marketer is a successful content marketer!
One other way to get help could be by recruiting guest writers or bloggers to help contribute to your efforts. Just ensure they create unique, high quality posts that add value for your customers and potential buyers.
When it all comes down to it, the most effective way to use content is to tell the story of your business.
It's what gives identity and personality to your content marketing. And it's what creates memories in the minds of your customers, bringing them back to you time and time again.
Content marketing is not a bolt-on activity to other marketing efforts. Content marketing is a practice that integrates all of your content-driven initiatives into a consistent and holistic experience for your target markets.
Content marketing is at its best when it's used to pull everything together so that an experience is created. This can only be achieved with clarity and consistency (two previous content marketing mistakes mentioned) throughout your marketing efforts.
If I had to pick one single content marketing mistake as the biggest and most common, I would choose the actual content that's being created. Put simply, it's usually just not good enough.
This is usually because businesses or individuals aren't relentless in their pursuit of producing great content. In other words, it's not built into the culture to deliver the best content, each and every time.
The internet is full of rubbish, recycled jargon aimed at simply pulling in readers and bringing attention to sites selling sub-par products or services. To most, it is usually obvious what this content is designed to do. And this content just doesn't convert readers into buyers.
Content marketing is about content. If the content is poor, then your whole marketing campaign is built on poor foundations and is unlikely to achieve anything substantial.
Plus, content on the internet lives forever, so you are effectively damaging your image and reputation each and every time someone reads your content.
This, surely, is just not good business and not good marketing. Yet, many times this mistake is made to cut corners, save costs, or to naively scale operations.
Ask yourself this - why would I invest in a content marketing campaign that produces poor content?
Are You Making Any Of These Content Marketing Mistakes?
Have any of these content marketing mistakes surprised you?
Are you falling into any of these traps?
Image source: ign.com