I was recently talking to one of my friend who is a freelance web designer.
A few months ago, content marketing bug caught him and he started implementing it for his freelance web design business. As per the hype given to content marketing, he believed that it was some magic technique to increase his business overnight.
Ideally, his income should have gone up and he should not have spent any time trying to chase leads because content marketing is supposed to help build trust and attract customers naturally.
Yet, his income went down and he was more frustrated than ever.
What went wrong?
Well, my friend thought that as long as you write extremely detailed articles each and every day, you are doing content marketing right.
That’s not true!
He is not alone in making this mistake. I have talked to several business owners who have embraced content marketing. Almost everyone who needed my help was doing it wrong (if they were doing it right, they wouldn’t need my help, would they?)
So, in this post, I am going to cover the most common content marketing mistakes businesses make and how you can avoid them.
10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes
#1: Not Knowing Your Audience
Let’s take the case of my web designer friend. Let’s call him Josh.
He was writing a lot of articles. But the problem was, he was not writing for the right kind of audience.
He was writing mainly about the technicalities of web design and how to build web applications.
While writing technical stuff is not a bad thing, not writing for your intended audience- you know- the kind of people who’ll pay you money, is wrong.
His target was small business owners. Instead of writing for the tech audience and his peers in the web design industry, had he wrote articles with small business owners in mind, he would have had much better success.
Take the case of conversionchamp as well. Most of the articles I write are aimed at small business owners (My target audience).
Although I do tend to write articles for my peers in the content marketing industry to help establish myself as an authority in this field, the numbers are far less than the posts I write for my audience.
Take away tip: Create useful content for your target audience. If you are unsure of who your target audience is, try to visualize your ideal customer and write for them.
#2: Not Having a Plan
Josh was writing article after article with no clear plan. He did not have any targets in mind nor did he have a way to measure the effectiveness of what he was doing.
Many business owners, when they start out, do not have a content marketing plan (I did not have when i started off too).
If you do not have a solid marketing plan, your chances of seeing positive ROI is close to Z.E.R.O.
Take Away Tip: Before you start creating content, ensure that you have a proper, well-thought out plan laid out. Attach milestones and set tight deadlines.
#3: Hosting Poor Content
As the name suggests, content is really the backbone of content marketing.
Whether you are creating articles, whitepapers, reports, videos, or any other sort of content your audience can consume, the quality of the content should be top notch.
The problem with a lot of businesses is that to save money, they outsource content creation for extremely low rates. Now what happens is, quality of the content is not up to the mark and your websites trust and conversions suffer.
I have seen people hire writers for less than 10$ an article. I am not saying that price shopping is bad, but when it comes to content, you need people who can inspire readers to take action.
Content is not just for search engines to index. It’s mainly for people to consume and act on it. So, next time, before you create mediocre content or plan to hire a cheap writer, think twice.
It’s not just about grammar and punctuations (web writing doesn’t necessarily need to adhere to these rules anyways); it’s more about getting people to do what you want them to do after consuming your content.
Take Away Tip: If you can create quality content, spend time creating content that is so much useful that your audience cannot resist sharing it. If you think you don’t have the content creation skills, hire someone who can do a good job.
#4: Ignoring Marketing
“Content marketing is so powerful that once you start creating useful content, you have to sit back and see the sales coming in”.
I am sick and tired of all those marketers who portray content marketing as some magic pill which is an easy way to make sales.
Yes, a sale is definitely the ultimate goal for all your marketing efforts.
However, thinking that content marketing is going to bring you a sale just because you created awesome content is simply wrong.
Sorry to bust the hype, but that’s the fact.
Even with excellent content, you still need to market it. Unless people find out about your content, it’s practically useless.
Using SEO strategies, email marketing, guest posting, PR, paid advertising, traditional marketing, and other means, you need to drive people to your content section. Once people start consuming and sharing your content, you start achieving the viral effect you require.
It’s not a hands-off process. However, when done right, it can be a lot less work than other forms of marketing.
Take Away Tip: Stop thinking that content marketing is some kind of magic pill. Even after you create great content, you need to work hard to get people to consume your content.
#5: Creating Content That Isn’t Valuable
I mentioned in one of the points above about why you shouldn’t create poor content.
Although, great content is good, if it’s not valuable for your audience, then you are wasting yours and your reader’s time.
Let’s assume that your audience is people who are looking to hire a lawyer. You can write all you want about the various laws in your country. I’m sure you can do a good job at it.
Does your audience care?
Is your content going to help them in any way?
Your target audience would not only find it boring, it’s also totally irrelevant for them. That’s not helping to build trust, is it?
This blends in with the need to know your audience. However, knowing who your audience is and knowing what they want to know about is the key to a successful content marketing strategy.
Take Away Tip: Try to create content that is valuable. Know your audience and write for them.
#6: The “Me mentality”
Almost every business, big and small, makes this mistake.
When they start blogging or use content marketing methods, their content is mostly about the company. How good they are, why people should choose them and things like that.
Well, does your audience care?
You audience want to solve a problem and they come to you for a solution. They don’t want to read pages after pages about your company and how great it is.
Stop creating content that focuses on your company. Instead, start focusing on your customer’s problems and try to solve them.
Take Away Tip: Solve real problems your customers are facing. Give away as much information as possible. This will help build trust and create sales opportunities.
#7: Not Paying Attention to SEO
With content marketing being all the rage, businesses are forgetting to pay attention to getting the basics of SEO right.
Keyword research is still the most important aspect of SEO that you need to take into consideration before creating content for your audience.
Does it make sense to spend a lot of time and effort creating something people are not looking for?
Of course, at times, keyword research maybe a bottleneck. It does not always give you everything your customer wants to know about.
Ask your sales/support team about the kind of questions they regularly get. Chances are that you will get a lot of content creation ideas that will be useful for your audience.
Ensure the basic SEO is done right.
- Do keyword research
- Make sure the keywords are there in the meta title, page title, heading tags, body copy
- Try to build links from other websites to the page you want to rank for
- Interlink pages on your website using the right anchor text
- Don’t purchase links or get involves in black hat SEO techniques
- Don’t create duplicate content
- Use canonical tags if required
- If you rather spend time building your business, and let expert take care of search engine optimization, hire a SEO consultant
Take Away Tip: Content creation should be your focus. That does not mean you forget about SEO. Pay attention to the basics and ensure the post is optimized for search engines.
#8: Making Your Content Difficult to Share
Being able to share your content is one of the most effective ways to drive additional traffic to your content page.
Ensure that your content can be easily shared on mediums where your target audience is present. If your customer’s hang out on Facebook and Twitter, ensure that sharing options for these websites are present.
Too much of anything is bad.
Some people go overboard by providing hundreds of sharing options, thereby confusing their readers. Instead of trying to provide everything, identify the main channels where your content can get shared and focus on them.
Take Away Tip: Make it easy for your customers to share your content. Focus on those websites which will give you maximum ROI; website real estate is very important. So keep it de-cluttered.
#9: Not Being Everywhere
Many businesses think that content marketing = blogging.
Well, that’s not true at all.
Any marketing method you adopt to increase your sales funnel which ultimately leads to a sale with the use of content can come under content marketing.
This means that creating videos and uploading to YouTube, doing email marketing, hosting webinars, and even creating and distributing power points can be content marketing strategies.
Don’t limit yourself to blogging. Be everywhere. Create different sort of content and see what works best with your audience.
Blogging is still the best content marketing tool, but relying on one strategy alone is bad.
Take Away Tip: Don’t limit yourself to one marketing channel. Experiment with different channels and modes of interaction. Measure ROI of each method and focus on what works the best for your business.
#10: Giving In To the Hype
Too many people fall into the content marketing hype. They pull out all their marketing budgets and focus on content creation.
This is a wrong strategy to follow.
Use content marketing alongside other marketing methods. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.
If traditional marketing works really well for you, focus on that. Create useful content on the side and see how well it works for you.
Take Away Tip: Don’t focus all your energy into content marketing all of a sudden. If a marketing channel works really well for you, focus on that. Content marketing is a slow process. Until you start getting a lot of sales via content marketing channel, don’t give up on other channels.
Over to You:
As a small business, do you make any of these mistakes? Are there additional mistakes you see businesses making? Let me know in the comments.