If you’re publishing content but not garnering accolades or new clientele, you may be puzzled. All you have to do is pump some words onto the internet highway and you’re golden, right?
Yeah, no. It takes a lot more than publishing and praying to make it in the crowded world of content marketing. You might be missing a substantial portion of your target audience or—worse—alienating them by unwittingly making one of these 10 cardinal content marketing mistakes.
1. You’re not writing for your target audience.
Sure, you’d love to capture a wide audience—who wouldn’t want to see 5,000 likes or shares? But, at least until you’ve built a following, you should narrow your focus to your specific target customer persona. Otherwise, you’ll be publishing content so broad and unhelpful that no one will read it.
What do your ideal audience members look like? We don’t mean their demographics. We’re talking about what makes them tick—what truly matters to them?
When it comes to your customers:
- What is their primary interest or need?
- What motivates them?
- What challenges do they face?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions yet, don’t panic. You can learn more about your customers by conducting feedback surveys or monitoring your social media channels.
You can also try reverse-engineering content that will interest your audience by researching what your competitors and other related websites are writing about.
Once you’ve identified your customers’ needs and interests, you can more effectively tailor your content to them—drawing them further into your marketing funnel.
2. You’re not publishing where your clients are.
There are scads of social media websites, and you should claim your company’s spot on every one that interests you and your customers. But that doesn’t mean adopting a scattershot approach to content marketing. While it may be gratifying to see your blogs and articles on every channel, it’s more effective, not to mention more cost-effective, to narrow your publishing focus to the websites and social media networks where your clients are.
For example, if you’re a B2B business, such as a law firm or legal service provider that caters to businesses, your best bet is likely LinkedIn. However, if you’re a B2C business, such as a plaintiff’s side law firm, your best bet may be Facebook, Instagram, or even Pinterest!
Bear in mind that some of your audience might be suffering from online content fatigue. Sending content directly to their inbox, such as an email newsletter, can help you reach those customers.
3. You’re not offering the right types of content.
If you’re already writing a blog, terrific. But what if your ideal audience doesn’t really want to read a blog? You might consider creating other forms of content to reach different customers. Again, this is why it’s so important to understand your clients; everyone has their own favorite ways to find and consume content.
Here are some easy steps that you can take:
- Publish blurbs from your content on social media, linking back to your posts.
- Use video to reach visual learners.
- Add podcasts to reach auditory learners.
- Consolidate your posts into an e-book, boosting your credibility even more.
- Transform PowerPoint presentations into SlideShare decks.
4. You’re writing boring headlines.
Headlines matter more than you think: eight out of 10 readers read headlines, but only two of those 10 will read the entire article. What does that tell us?
If you want readers to engage with your content, write a headline that grabs their attention and compels them to read more.
What are some proven techniques that you can use?
- Keep it short: Search engines will truncate long titles, so limit titles to 65 or fewer characters. And aim to include about six words: people scan headlines quickly and tend to remember only the first and last three words in a title.
- Use numbers: Numbers (in numeral rather than written form) draw in the reader because they create the impression of efficiency.
- Add keywords: Including at least one keyword is key (sorry) for ensuring that your post will rank in the search engines.
- Make it specific: With so much competing content, you want readers to know exactly what they’re getting into with your content (so they won’t be disappointed when they get there).
For more tips, check out this infographic on How to Write Better Headlines from HubSpot.
5. You’re promoting yourself too much.
Content marketing is an indirect marketing tactic. That means it should be primarily about your clients’ needs—not about you and your services. To keep your audience engaged, follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your content should focus on building your clients’ knowledge; the remaining 20 percent can be all about you.
6. You’re not publishing consistently.
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. To bring customers further down your sales funnel, building their confidence in you and your offerings, you have to publish useful content on a regular basis.
But a consistent posting schedule is difficult to maintain when you have to worry about managing every other aspect of your business. You may start the week with the best intentions, planning to post every day or even every week, but as time goes on and paid work piles up, content marketing is all too often pushed aside.
The solution? Create, and document, a process that keeps your content machine humming. For example, you could assign research or initial drafts of blog posts to your staff members. They could then pass their drafts along to you or your marketing department for editorial review. Finally, you can post the finalized versions and monitor their performance. The more streamlined your process, the more likely you are to continue it, and the more effective it will be.
7. You’re not publishing high-quality content.
The quality of your writing has a huge impact on the impression you make on prospective clients. B2B clients can be particularly judgy about grammatical mistakes and proofreading errors. If you can’t take the time to proofread and turn out meticulously crafted content, your clients will have to wonder what sorts of mistakes you will make when serving them. If your writing lacks professionalism, they’re likely to reason, so will your services.
That means you have to be careful with outsourcing content. The key to successful content marketing isn’t just more content; it’s better content. You can’t buy 500 words of good content for $15, or even for $40. Good content—content that has value and is more than mere fluff or clickbait—requires an investment of time and resources. Typically, you’ll find that longer, well-written content (1,000 or more words) will draw more clicks and more follow-through than will 300 words of poorly drafted clutter.
8. You’re not including a call to action.
To get the full ROI from your content marketing, you have to be clear about what you’re offering. Yes, content should primarily inform rather than sell, but let’s be real: you’re putting it out there to generate leads. One way to promote that necessary sense of urgency in your readers—that they have to subscribe to your content, download your e-book, bookmark your website, or hire your firm—is to encourage them to interact with you. That first interaction might be as minor as entering an email address or answering a single question. Of course, if you’re writing content that makes your visitors want to share their email with you, you’re also building a better rapport with them.
9. You’re disregarding SEO.
In the past, many businesses used overly aggressive SEO strategies that generated nonsensical content stuffed with keywords rather than useful information. Today, search engines blacklist sites that use that misguided strategy. Instead, put careful thought into the words you use in your URLs, metadescriptions, and metatags.
10. You’re following the if-you-build-it-they-will-come strategy.
Sorry, but writing great content, while necessary, isn’t sufficient to build your audience. You have to proactively market your content, lest it be lost in the crowded corridors of the internet. Don’t stop with creating solid content: make sure that search engines can find it (see #9) and that you’re promoting your message to your current followers while inviting in those who aren’t yet your followers (see #1). At a minimum, share your content on your targeted social media accounts (see #2) to entice visitors to your tiny corner of the internet.
If you’re making even one of these 10 content marketing mistakes, chances are you’re spinning your wheels, wasting your time and energy on content that’s going nowhere fast. To learn more about how to do content marketing right, give us a shout.