Content marketing is about creating content that fosters interest in a company’s products/services without explicitly promoting them through educating and entertaining the potential customer. It makes sense then that in the informational age content marketing is the marketing of the now – stats show high ROI and more and more companies engage in content creation for promotional aims. It doesn’t hurt that 84% of people expect brands to provide content that entertains, tells stories, provides solutions, and creates experiences and events, while 70% of consumers prefer to learn about products through content instead of traditional ad methods.
However, when it comes to something as subjective and complex as content creation, there are a lot of ways you can go wrong. Let’s go through the most common content marketing mistakes so you can avoid them when braving the challenges of such an oversaturated field.
1. Not having clear cut strategy/metrics
While you probably have a general idea what kind of thematic content goes well with your company’s overall marketing strategy, it is crucial to create a more detailed, clearly defined and documented content marketing strategy. Keep in mind one of the most important points in inbound marketing: content is only one aspect of your website’s marketing and needs to fit well within it.
Ask yourself what are the main measurable goals of your content? Do you want to generate a certain number of leads by a certain date or change how your brand is perceived? What is the value of your content? Based on these bigger picture strategic goals you need to then choose your respective benchmarks, the consistent content tone, the frequency of posting in various categories, the visual style, etc. Here are the main metrics you need to follow when measuring the results of your content marketing efforts:
Traffic, that is the number of website visitors is directly linked to the quality of your content. Driving more traffic is a common metric of overarching content marketing aims.
- Conversion rate
Conversion rate signifies the number of visitors who actually become your customers after visiting your page. It reflects how successfully you indirectly advertise your product.
- Your reputation as a thought leader
Being considered an expert in the field results in enhanced perception of the company, giving its views weight and relevance.
- Social Media shares
If your content is shareable, a piece will reach a much wider audience than just your social media following.
- Google ranking
If you’re doing SEO right, Google rankings will provide your website organic traffic.
- Time on page
Do your visitors spend time browsing your page or do they leave after getting the content they came for? Having a few pieces of content also relevant to the person originally interested in just one is important.
If you have a certain number of active users who engage with the content leaving contents, following your links, and otherwise interacting with the content, your website will have an active community that will expand quicker.
2. Mistargeting or not targeting
You may be compelled to think your product is for almost everyone but no matter how admirably that level of inclusivity is, truth is it’s not. Content, as a component of your company’s voice, can’t possibly speak everyone’s language. You need to narrowly define and scrutinize your target market before you create content for it. A playful article mocking how relatable-American Ted Cruz tries to come off won’t fly if you’re targeting Boomer conservatives. Pepsi’s ad where Kendall Jenner gets out of trouble by offering a policeman a can of Pepsi misjudged how well-versed its target audience was in the current US political climate.
Another important reason why thoroughly researched target markets are important is that your content’s consumers define you back. Millennials will hardly trust a blog if their older relatives always share its articles on Facebook, and the eccentric absurd brand of Millennial humor is hardly appreciated in wider circles. Go after target segments you know and want to be known by.
3. Irrelevant or not evergreen content
You can be wildly successful as a content marketer and go viral without stimulating conversion and sales. This tends to happen when your content is not relevant to the goals you’ve set or the product you’re promoting. A great example of this is the viral video “First Kiss” about total strangers sharing a first kiss.
Although many people appreciated the concept and execution, not many were able to link it to the fall collection of the relatively unknown brand of clothing Wren. In contrast, the “Free the Kids” campaign made the unlikely comparison between the times modern children and inmates spend outdoors to prove the point that dirt is good. Needless to say, it was by Persil, a brand of laundry detergent. Now see how the message is relevant to the product, though not on the nose?
Another important point is that a massive amount of your content should be evergreen, that is without a certain expiration date. You might ask, where’s the value of long-lasting content in the ever-changing modernity where everyone is constantly seeking the current trend, the latest info? For one evergreen content generates leads over a lengthier period since users can share it whenever. For another, no matter how much the forms of existence change, the core of humanity is adamant in remaining the same. Content that speaks to forever will always be in vogue.
4. KISS: Keeping it short and simple
On one hand, our attention spans are shrinking and there are insistent calls for bite size content. On the other, Google still ranks 2000+ word pieces higher. So, should you write for social sharing or SEO ranking? Actually neither. Content length should depend on the value the content provides. There’s no point in artificially elaborating on a topic that could do with a 500 word article, but at the same time you have your best shot writing insightful resourceful evidence-based longer pieces. After all, if a topic is exhausted in a few hundred words, it must not have been the fascinating topic that other sources haven’t addressed yet that you were looking for.
5. Lack of new insights/authentic writing
Which ties in to our next point: strive to create authentic content, new content. There’s little value in paraphrasing something already written or further hammering in a universally acknowledged point. With the massive amount of content produced and published every day, a reader needs a new perspective, a surprising connection, an unlikely narrator, an innovative point or amazing execution to catch his or her attention.
Of course, content like this takes way more effort and time. You may need to conduct your own research, surveys, and interviews. But original and in-depth thought from own experience is the only true way to fight the content marketing fatigue we’re all facing.
6. Absence of calls to action
Content often does a great job educating or entertaining website visitors but if it doesn’t generate leads and conversions, in most cases it has failed. The reason may be you’re doing calls to action wrong. Here’s what you need to know about CTA:
- Comes up when the content has been leading up to it. Have you been telling them about how your product will solve all their life problems or giving them entertaining content? Time to invite them to try it out or subscribe.
- Expresses a sense of urgency. Call to actions work better if there is a special offer for a limited time or personalized case-dependant messaging.
- Is cost and/or risk free. If there’s an option to try something without buying it or is unsubscribing is easy, a visitor is more likely to go for it.
7. Not doing SEO justice
SEO, search engine optimization, is a set of guidelines that make your website easier to crawl by search engine bots. It’s a shame that quality content can get lost in the void of the web just because the author wasn’t following SEO protocol, but that’s the reality of virtual content indexing. That’s why you should make sure your website has low load time, makes use of metatags, is responsive, keyword-rich, etc. Check out our SEO guide for more info.
In terms of actual content, you need to:
- Make sure it’s original. Test for plagiarism here.
- Optimize all images. You can use 10Web optimization service.
- Use enough of the right keywords. Google has a tool for that.
- Structure the writing into short headers and subheaders, use bullet points.
- Link to reputable sites or internal material to create backlinks.
8. Improper use of social media
How shareable content is on social media should be on every content creator’s mind. Especially if you plan on using sponsored ads online, it’s important to align your target demographics with how and how actively they use social media.
Preemptively conduct research on which platforms your target segments actively use. How likely are they to share a fun video vs. a longform piece? If you’re targeting youth, master the art of the meme and the trendy vernacular. Also pay attention to how your content would portray the sharer online. Would they come off as inquisitive or ambitious or socially aware or artsy or fun? How the user wants to be seen is in essence what social media is about so try to help your buyer personas appear as they want to. Remember when Google Arts & Culture let its users find out which painting they resembled? As everyone’s insta feeds proved, all our friends and acquaintances look exactly like dukes and duchesses from long ago.
Besides lending your potential customers a hand in creating a message, make sure your content initiates meaningful dialogue that in turn drives user engagement. Asking questions, fostering a niche community and healthy debate is a way to send the message that the active opinionated user is important to your company/website.
Avoiding creative risks
The good thing about content marketing is the great variety of forms it can take. Anything from podcasts to ebooks, vlogs to comics, newsletters to quizzes can be used to drive traffic to your website. Getting stuck just writing articles is a thing of the past.
Sometimes an idea can live out a Renaissance just because of the interesting delivery of the medium. For example, a lot of people learned a lot about the technical details about Chrome when Google explained them in a simple comic form upon its launch. Keeping in mind the old McLuhan phrase “The medium is the message,” playing with mediums can also add another layer to how your brand communicates.
10. Neglecting interactive/visual content
According to studies, 91% of consumers prefer visual and interactive content over tradition static textual media which speaks to how tech has relatively equalized the producer/consumer relationship and, well, movies being more popular than books. That’s why your website needs exquisite visuals and interactive content. Try to always opt for an infographic, instead of a block of text. Incorporate quizzes, contests, surveys and, budget allow, mini games. Even better if you develop a separate strategy for visual content and devise a unique style to differentiate your content.
If content marketing comes off as difficult, it’s because it is. Just ask any dead genius who has ever tried to market anything, even if but the crazy idea that the Sun doesn’t revolve around the Earth. The thing is though, it’s definitely worth it. Now go ahead and create!
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