By Mark Harrison
More and more businesses are learning the value having a great content marketing strategy to their brand. From blogs to social media posts, creating content is an ideal way to show your knowledge and authority within your industry. In turn, this will generate trust and generate leads and conversions.
That said, it’s easy to spot some of the common mistakes or bad habits that content marketers have picked up along the way. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been creating content for a while, nobody’s perfect and there isn’t one correct way to do it.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to some of the common mistakes we’ve noticed – including various misunderstandings of how and why content marketing works – and made some suggestions about what to do instead.
Even if you’re fairly satisfied with your current strategy, there’s always room for improvement, and hopefully, this will help you to evaluate and enhance your content marketing.
1: Treating Content as an Odd Job
While content marketing is a time- and cost-effective way of boosting conversions, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fully commit to it. Even if you don’t hire someone especially, it requires time and effort from a dedicated and passionate team.
Aside from anything else, treating this crucial activity as an odd job will result in sporadic and inconsistent content. When you take content marketing seriously, you’ll end up with better content that provides greater value for your users.
2: Posting for the Sake of Posting
Remember, your audience won’t read your posts for the sake of reading and neither should you post just for the sake of posting. Although you should aspire to build an extensive repository of content over time, it’s not a race.
Always prioritise quality over quantity, especially because over-producing a large amount of content in a short period of time will distract you from other important things you could be doing instead.
3: Prioritising Short-Term Goals
Equally, content marketing is not always about getting something written today. More often, it’s about someone reading it tomorrow, and next week, and for months and years to come.
Instead of prioritising short term goals, keep in mind that your content has a variety of applications over a long period of time. Aside from anything else, writing to short-term goals isn’t an especially efficient use of your time.
4: Not Considering Browser Compatibility
No matter how good your content is, it needs to be compatible with whatever your customers are using to find it. Too many businesses concentrate solely on desktop browsing when studies show it’s far more likely your users will look you up on their mobile device. The key is to make sure that the design and copy of your content are optimised for all browsers.
Beyond layout, it’s about formatting for easy consumption, whatever medium you’re using. For instance, if you’re making a video for social media, you should keep it short and watchable, with captions for silent browsing wherever possible. Practice creating content with this in mind, rather than editing after the fact, and you’ll become more efficient over time.
5: Not Engaging with Social Media
By now, you should know the importance of having a social media presence for your business. Unfortunately, fewer companies appreciate that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al aren’t just advertising channels. Every social network has a different culture and by engaging with these, you will improve your chances of engaging new users.
What’s more, properly engaging with social media culture will enable you to determine which networks and channels are working for you and, more importantly, which ones aren’t. For instance, if you have a bookkeeping firm, you may not need to be on Instagram. If you have a strategy that’s working for you then keep at it, but don’t waste time on a social channel that doesn’t suit your needs just for the sake of it. (See #2)
6: Lack of Content Diversity
On the other hand, many companies have the opposite problem – they’re not covering enough channels. Blogging isn’t the be-all and end-all of content marketing and you’re far more likely to capture a wider array of customers if you mix up your strategy, including social posts, video and audio content, and other media.
If you’re intimidated by the prospect of making a video or you’re not sure where to start with Twitter, make use of the free learning resources available online and try something a bit different. Put simply, diversifying your content is the easiest way to make it more interesting to more of your potential customers.
7: Mentioning Your Business Too Much
Content is not the same as sales copy. You should be writing to inform or entertain, rather than writing to persuade, and truly great content can generate conversions without ever mentioning the business. Keep your mind on creating value for the user and let conversions follow naturally.
Equally, you do need to connect customer problems and pain points to the solutions your company provide, but this is achievable through engaging the customer rather than broadcasting to them. Consider your content as added value for the customer, rather than the sales pitch.
8: Focusing Solely on SEO
For copy and content alike, the days of bombing your writing with SEO-friendly keywords are over. It’s shocking how many companies still write incoherent copy designed to be loaded with as many search terms as possible, rather than to inform or entertain.
The trick is to write for humans, not for search engines. While keywords are a vital part of your written copy, they’re certainly not the be-all and end-all. Focus on writing valuable, engaging content first and worry about seeding keywords in afterwards.
9: Assuming Too Much about Your Audience
Great content marketing requires audience research. If you make a statement to or about your audience, you need to make sure that you can back it up, or risk missing the mark. Examine your assumptions about who you’re trying to attract on a regular basis and create content accordingly.
When your business is based on attracting and retaining customers, there is no downside to getting to know them better. Content that is tailored to your target audience will always yield more of a result than broad, unspecific clickbait, designed to attract unqualified traffic.
10: Weak Headlines
Part of tailoring your content to your audience is selecting an appealing headline. Whether ‘s a blog post or a video, you’ll need a descriptive and appealing header that not only enables users to find it but also entices them to click through.
Once again, it’s important to avoid clickbait – above all else, your headline must be accurate. Nobody enjoys being fooled and nothing erodes trust in your business or brand faster than clickbait.
11: Creating Content at the Last Minute
Leaving content to the last minute leads to compromised quality. Even if you have content creation down to a fine art, careful planning is the best way to avoid the silly mistakes that go hand in hand with rushing your work.
If you need any further motivation, think of it like this – the less time you have to meet your deadline, the less time there is for proof-reading and quality control, both of which are integral to good content writing.
12: Irregular Content Delivery
By the same token, you are in charge of your content calendar. It’s down to you to set any expectations in terms of what you post and how frequently you post it. While it’s useful to look at what others in your industry are doing, there’s no sense in over-promising and under-delivering.
Basically, you need to build a content calendar you can stick to. Don’t miss deadlines and don’t choose an unsustainable rate of production. Make sure you can take your time creating quality content while also providing realistic expectations for your audience.
13: Inconsistent Tone
Whether you’re writing a blog or creating a video, you need to find a tone of voice that’s recognisable as yours. To ensure consistency at all times, consult your content marketing team while developing your tone of voice and ensure that any guidelines are understood across your organisation.
This will not only build trust but also distinguish you from others in your industry and familiarise you with your audience. When your posts break with these guidelines, you break trust and run the risk of alienating existing users and customers.
14: Over-Critical Writing
Relevant product reviews and think-pieces are a great way to create value for your customers, but you must judge the tone of your writing carefully. Pettiness is not a good look on any brand, so make sure you’re not criticising your subject too harshly.
There’s no reason why you can’t discuss what other brands or competitors in your industry are doing, but don’t concentrate too much on criticising what they’re doing, when you could be talking more positively about your products and services.
15: Forced Humour
Nothing turns users off faster than forced, cringe-worthy humour, particularly when it comes to trending topics. Plenty of funny tweets and Facebook posts go viral, but what works for a comedy page doesn’t always work for your brand. There’s a world of difference between fun posts and unfunny ones.
Granted, comedy is subjective and if you’re really confident in that joke about how your business is like global warming or Love Island, then maybe it fits the tone of voice (see #14) you’re going for. Just remember this as a rule of thumb – if you want to be funny, make sure you are funny.
16: Fake News
There are countless ways to talk up your business through content marketing, but in all your activities, you must be honest with yourself and with your audience. It’s no use making strong claims if you are unable to back them up.
All considerations of false advertising aside, there’s absolutely no sense in posting false or misleading information or tricking people into clicking through to your site only to disappoint them. Aside from anything else, you can rise above the tide of online fake news and false information by being open and accountable to your visitors.
17: Overlooking Analytics and Opportunities
Content marketing is massively useful for businesses looking to engage a larger audience. Even if your content calendar is running smoothly and boosting conversions, the biggest mistake that businesses still make is to overlook the further opportunities that this creates.
Become familiar with whatever analytics are available to you and use any data gathered to inform your future content strategy. Is there a certain type of post your audience likes? Or doesn’t like? What are you going to do about that?
If you have the information required to improve your posts, it would be foolish not to use it. Make time to evaluate, refine, and repeat your strategy and over time, your content marketing will be the envy of your industry.