15 Sep 2014

7 Common Content Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Common Content Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Everyone is going bananas since 2013 with content marketing. If you look at Google Trends there is an increasing interest over time, especially since 2013. I am going to cover only the digital aspect of Content Marketing (there is offline too).

Unfortunately, most people just rush into it, without even knowing what it is. Surveys have shown time and again that at least half of the businesses that are doing content marketing, are not quite sure of their results.

Here are the 7 common mistakes that lead up to this situation:

1) Content Marketing = Blog Posts

Content marketing is much more than just attaching a blog to a company’s website and start writing blog posts. That can be behind-the-scenes photos, videos of your speaking event, presentations you gave, customer appealing infographics, interviews, podcasts, whitepapers, content generated from your customers and more.

Depending on the business some content might make more sense than others.

For example, fashion brands might be better to use Instagram and Pinterest to boost their brand awareness and engage with their customers. They might as well entice their customers to post photos of themselves wearing the company’s cloths.

Repurposing content can also be very valuable.

Do you have a blog post that performed quite well and it is still relevant?

Why not turn it into an infographic and promote it again, through different channels?

These are only a handful of examples, you can do so much more.

2) Creating but not promoting

Creating content is useless, unless people consume and engage with it.

It saddens me to see companies excited about content marketing and starting producing quality blog posts every week, just waiting for them to somehow get some traction. Maybe if someone notices them or something.

Take for example blog posts. You must see each and every blog post of yours like a start up, that needs to pay for itself. You must be relentless on the performance of your blog posts. I wrote my very first blog post and got more traction, shares and email subscribers from it than companies who are blogging for months. And I didn’t even use paid promotion!

How did I do it? It’s very simple. Once I wrote it, I promoted it and engaged with users who gave their input. If you are getting a handful of shares per piece of content, you might want to cut down on its creation and boost its promotion.

3) Missing the Human Element / Relying Entirely on one Writer

The fact that you are a business doesn’t mean you should produce “flat” emotionless content. Put a face on your content, a personal tone and engage with your readers on a personal level.

Promote the person creating the content. Otherwise you risk being perceived as a dull faceless company, thus missing the opportunity to establish rapport with your followers.

When we read content online we like to know who is behind that content. Don’t you agree? Don’t you feel closer to blogs that you read and know who is writing the posts? Wouldn’t you be more willing to do business with them, than some other, faceless company?

I would also suggest using more than 1 writer. In fact, depending on the company, it might make sense to encourage more departments out of your marketing department to contribute to your company’s blog.

For example, in a SaaS company, having your developers contribute to your blog, might make sense. However, don’t go overboard and become a newspaper. Keep your branding throughout your posts. On the same note, don’t ignore your readers’ comments. Reply and engage with them. It pays off.

4) Not Defining a Goal

Cranking out content just for the sake of it, is pointless. Sure, people around us, tell us to start blogging, creating infographics etc, but before you embark in content creation, you absolutely must first decide on what you are trying to achieve with your content. And no, “generate leads” is not a valid goal.

You must be more specific, how do you want to generate leads? Do you want to send them to a sales funnel? Maybe subscribe to your email list? Do you want to entice them to buy directly?

This also ties well with the lack of calls to action described below. Once you decide what your goal is, everything around the content must be tailored to meet that specific goal. As you see from this blog post, my main goal is to entice you to subscribe to my mailing list.

5) Not Tracking It

Once you decide your goal, you need to track it. Of course, there are many way to go about it and which way to follow, will depend on your goal, but at the absolutely minimum you should have enabled Google Analytics and Google Webmasters. After, your tracking is set up…

6) Lacking Calls to Action

It’s time to ask your visitors to do the action you desire. Do you want them to share your content? Ask them clearly to do so. You can see examples of my calls to action throughout this blog post, on the sidebar and at the top.

Don’t be afraid to ask them to take an action. Guide them on what action they should take. Creating content is not free. As long as your visitors are benefiting from it, it is only fair to ask them to do something for you, like sharing it on social media.

7) Inconsistency

This mainly refers to blogging. Inconsistent blogging is probably worse than not blogging at all. If I land on your blog and I like what I read, I might subscribe to your mailing list for more. If you email me at first after a week for your new blog post, then after a month, then after 3 days, then after 2 months, you are looking very bad. You are being inconsistent and that’s a very bad sign.

It is in our human nature to despise inconsistency. If you are not consistent, you will be associated with negative feelings and this is not good for business.

Craft a plan and stick with it. Do you want to publish a post every week, every 2 weeks, or even 1 post per month? That’s fine as long as you are consistent and promote it.

Keep in mind not to sacrifice quality, just for the sake of meeting deadlines. If you are stuck on topics, use this handy guide found on Marianne’s website.

Conclusion

As you can see the main mistakes lie in the fact that most businesses lack the time to take a step back and look at the big picture. It is very easy to get lost in the minor details or every day routine and miss the above points. We must all face content marketing for what it is, another marketing channel that needs to provide ROI.

And remember, always promote as much as you can the content you create, focus on one desirable action per content asset, track its results and write as a human, not a corporation.

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