4 Key Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
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Not too long ago Content Marketing was just a hot new buzzword. Now, Content Marketing is a marketing powerhouse that writes the rules for how we, as digital marketers, do our jobs. When done effectively, content marketing changes the marketing game for any business, in any industry.
Content marketing is the art of creating, optimizing, and sharing content intended for a specific target audience. It continues to thrive for one very simple reason – it is what people want. People want quality, useful, relevant, and engaging content about products, topics, and services that matter to them.
High-quality content can unlock the maximum potential of your business. Why? Because good content on your website attracts and engages your customers. Experience has shown that over time your audiences will rely on you as a source of expertise in your subject area. More than that, those prospects will turn into buyers. In the long-term, content marketing transforms customers into loyal, vocal advocates of your brand.
Done correctly, content marketing can produce dramatic results for your business. It is one of the smartest – and most cost-effective – investments you can make in your business. But it takes time and focuses to become effective at it.
Unfortunately, far too many businesses fail to take the time to get it right. Today, we are going to look at four of the most common content marketing mistakes that could be keeping your company from growing.
Here are Four Common Content Marketing Mistakes, and how to fix them:
No Master Plan
If your content marketing plan has not been thoroughly vetted and is not based on careful research, chances are you are not seeing results from your content. Instead, you are gambling with your marketing dollars. Not having a comprehensive content marketing plan is a sure-fire way to waste your marketing budget and produce ineffective content.
Often we see content marketing plans developed with a “see what sticks” approach. Brainstorming is done, and whatever ideas seem “the best” go onto a content calendar for blog and social media posts. Little to no research goes into deciding what topics or information your audience is looking for.
Another big mistake? Leaving your website content out of the content marketing plan completely. A comprehensive plan should include regular website audits to review existing copy for search engine optimization, brand guidelines, and how it is moving your business toward your goals. We will touch more on this later.
An effective content marketing strategy needs to start with data. Analyze your competitors, and the types of content and topics they are producing. What blog articles, videos, or whitepapers are driving the most Return on Investment for each competitor?
Take the time to examine your competitors’ top-ranking articles – and determine what it would take to rank higher than them in search engine results on that given topic. Identify any weak areas in the copy — and how you can tackle that topic better than your competitor was able to.
To get started, ask the following questions:
- How long are these articles?
- If I was searching for an article on this topic, would I find everything that I was looking for by reading this?
- How many backlinks do these articles have?
Once you figure out which topics your team can do a better job blogging about or showcasing in a video, add those topics to your editorial calendar. Dig deeper and begin monitoring online communities like Reddit and Quora, or Facebook groups. Search for topics that relate to your customer’s needs and find the most popular topics or questions asked. Add those topics to your editorial calendar. With a few hours of dedicated work, you can develop a full year’s worth of content topics in an afternoon.
Assuming You Know Your Audience
This leads us directly into the next big content marketing mistake – assuming you know your audience. It is impossible to create effective content if you do not know the audience you are creating it for. Above, we mentioned finding online communities and using those to discover the most talked about topics from your customers. Without knowing your audience, you will never be able to do the research necessary to make your content marketing – and ultimately your brand — the go-to problem solver for your clients.
One way to get into the mind of your audience is by creating a customer, or buyer persona. As you focus on creating content for your website and social media platforms, it is easy to get lost in the details of your latest engagement analytics and campaigns. Customer personas remind you to put your target customer’s wants and needs ahead of simply chasing likes and shares that will not lead to a conversion in the future.
So what is a buyer persona? Simply put, it is a fictional character who represents the characteristics of your ideal potential customers – the ones who quickly convert from a lead to an actual sale. To create a customer persona, you will give this character a name, demographic details, interests, behavioral traits, buying patterns – and identify their pain points. What problem do they have that you can solve?
Thinking of your customer persona as a real person allows you to tailor your content marketing messages specifically to them. Your buyer persona will guide everything from your brand voice to the social channels you use. Keep in mind that different topics in your content marketing may speak to different segments of your audience. You may need more than one buyer persona.
To get to know your audience better, start by asking the following questions:
- Who is your target audience for this article, blog, video, or social media post?
- What needs to be included for them to find what they are looking for?
- What does this specific target audience segment need to make a decision (and become a sales conversion)?
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Stopping at Blog Posts
Now that we have looked at creating a strong content marketing strategy and identifying your target audience – we need to explore the actual creation of your content.
One major mistake brands make is thinking that content marketing ONLY means having a company blog. Today alone, 7.8 million blogs have been written.
Blogs have their place – and we are a big fan of quality blogs engaging your audience and driving up your SEO results. But it is time to move past thinking blogs are the be-all and end-all, of a strong content marketing strategy. Finding other content types can help you stand out from your competitors.
In 2021, there are more options than ever for creating a content marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals and speaks to your target audience in ways that reflect your brand and engages customers in the method they want.
In fact, a recent video marketing report revealed that nearly nine out of ten people want to see more videos from brands in 2021. Similarly, Hubspot reports that video has become the most commonly used format in content marketing, overtaking blogs and infographics. This matches what we know from consumers – 70% of customers prefer to learn about a product from an article over an ad, and four times more than that prefer a video over an article.
Do not be afraid to explore other forms of content beyond the standard blog – look at the talent on your team, and what suits you and your brand. Maybe it is a tutorial video showcasing a specific product or a podcast that lets your team members’ personalities shine. Infographics, animations, and images should not be overlooked as pieces of strong content marketing execution.
A solid online presence takes experience, consistency, and versatility ─ a mixture of ROI-focused and data-driven methods sprinkled throughout your site in various forms of content. A solid content marketing strategy consistently maximizes different forms of content.
Not Viewing Content Marketing as Part of a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Strategy
The final content marketing mistake we will look at today is the tendency of companies to view content marketing strategy as a silo – a separate piece of the marketing plan focused on social media engagement and blogs alone – instead of a part of a larger all-encompassing digital marketing strategy.
What we know, however, is that content goes far beyond just words on a blog. Your content includes blogs, videos, images, graphics – and every word found on your website. In reality, the core of every digital marketing strategy is content.
The content you create can be used for your blog, your email marketing campaigns, your social media presence, and your Google Ads. Your content plays a vital role in your search engine optimization – you simply cannot separate Search Engine Optimization from content creation when it comes to your website.
Often, we want to put various tactics into separate boxes instead of looking at them all as pieces of an integrated digital marketing strategy. It is easy to think of content marketing, SEO, and even web design as completely separate. But the truth is, you need them all working together to be successful.
We mentioned earlier the importance of your content marketing and digital marketing plan including regular website audits. A website audit will typically look at your site’s overall performance — from design to mobile-friendliness and the speed at which your site loads — to Search Engine Optimization and website copy. Each piece of this involves your content strategy and should not be ignored.
John Mueller with Google recently backed this up – admitting that a site’s overall appearance, function, and content all impact SEO rankings.
Mueller is quoted as saying:
“When it comes to the quality of the content, we don’t mean just the text of your articles. It’s really the quality of your overall website. And that includes everything from the layout to the design. Like, how you have things presented on your pages, how you integrate images, how you work with speed, all of those factors kind of come into play there.”
It cannot be said enough that content marketing and digital marketing need to be deployed together for your brand to be the most successful. Content marketing always works best when it is integrated into a larger marketing strategy. It is a great multiplier – and can make everything you are already doing, better.