Recent studies show that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to attract customers and 86% of B2C marketers think content marketing is a key strategy for generating leads and building brand awareness. Given the percentage of marketers who understand the importance of content marketing, we can conclude that it’s an essential component of any digital marketing strategy, right?
Only one problem: Not every marketer is correctly implementing their content marketing strategy. In fact, many of them are making key mistakes.
Whether you’re in the B2B or B2C space, your content must be valuable, tailored to the right audience, and promoted effectively. If not, you’ll make lots of mistakes and possibly miss out on tons of leads. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common content marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.
9 Avoidable Marketing Mistakes
Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. But if you don’t go about it the right way, you can set yourself up for all types of failures. Here are some common content marketing mistakes to avoid.
1. Not Having a Clear Plan
Devising a plan for your content marketing strategy is perhaps the most important step in the process. Without a plan, you can’t focus on your goal and track your progress and results. Maybe you have a content calendar for your next few blog posts or you’ve figured out what pages you need to add to your site. But if you’re just focusing on these things and not looking at the bigger picture, you could be setting yourself and your business up for failure.
To effectively plan out your content marketing strategy:
- Decide how you’re going to provide value to your audience. Think about their pain points and their preferred solutions;
- Figure out the best ways to lead your potential customers down the sales funnel;
- Track responses to your content so that you can improve as you go.
2. Not Understanding Your Target Audience and Their Needs
How can you create the right content if you don’t know your target audience? By making this mistake, you’ll alienate your target audience and make them feel like you don’t care about their needs.
In fact, 63% of customers don’t feel understood by the brands they love. This is a huge problem, which is causing many brands to go back to the drawing board and hone in on what their customers really want.
Let’s look at an example of a brand that failed to deliver content their customers wanted. The company website for Jordan Vineyard & Winery was diverse in that it featured posts about cooking, gardening, farming, floral design, travel, winemaking, construction, and news. At first glance, it may seem like there’s nothing wrong with this. But the brand’s content was too diverse for their audience.
In the words of Lisa Mattson, director of marketing and communications, “The same customer who wants to learn which is the best kitchen knife to use likely doesn’t care about how grapevines bloom or how floods impact vineyards”. The company had a hard time building a loyal subscriber base due to this. To fix this mistake, the brand divided its content into two blogs – one focused on food and travel, and one focused more on winemaking.
Knowing your target audience and understanding them is the key to creating effective content they enjoy consuming.
To get to know your target audience for relevant content creation:
- Understand what your product/service is. Highlight how it will benefit your potential customers. Determine what features make your product stand out from the competition. Figure out why your existing customers buy your product. What do they have in common?
- Find out their pain points. Make a list of customers who suffer from the problems your product or service can solve. Survey existing customers to find out the problems they’re trying to solve and the ideal solutions to their problems. Look at some reviews on products/services similar to what you offer. Pay attention to certain language and key issues reviewers are having.
- Study your competition. Look at what they’re doing and what they aren’t doing. Search for areas where your competitors have failed to satisfy their customers. Find out how they’ve positioned themselves in the industry, why people like their brand, and what marketing channels they’re using.
3. Publishing for the Sake of Publishing
Years ago, before Google Panda or Penguin, content marketers created loads of content, stuffed keywords into their posts, and achieved high rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Back then, quantity seemed to trump quality.
But today, things are different. If you’re more focused on creating as much content as possible in hopes of ranking high in the search engines, you’re making a huge mistake. Or maybe you just don’t have the time to go over every post and ensure the quality of them.
Instead of focusing on the quantity of your posts, focus more on the quality. Are your posts providing value? Are they interesting? Do they keep users on the page and drive more interest in your business? Creating quality content does take more time, but the results you can get from it make it far more worth the effort.
Take Jason Schemmel – social media manager at Harper Collins Christian Publishing – for example. His main focus was on creating as many posts as possible on social media. He was managing five brands at a time and posting six to eight times on Facebook, three to four times on Twitter, and once on Instagram for each.
But he was getting burned out and he never had time to think about the type of content he was publishing. He turned things around when he began to publish less. This allowed him to create quality content that engaged with his audience on a deeper level. As a result, he saw his numbers rise even higher.
4. Limiting Yourself to Just Written Content
All content doesn’t have to be written content. In some cases, your audience may enjoy it if you switched it up from time to time. Srinivasa Raghavan, CEO and founder of Animaker, focused on educating users with blog posts. But the company wasn’t generating much traffic and conversions.
They got feedback from one of their target customers – teachers – and found that students were more interested in watching animated videos instead of reading their textbooks. Animaker started creating more visual content such as video templates and GIFs to directly help their users. Thanks to this strategy, they saw 10 times increase in traffic to their website.
This example illustrates that you don’t have to limit yourself to writing blog posts. There are other types of content you can create such as:
5. Not Leveraging the Power of Email
Content marketing through email is one of the best ways to attract customers and keep them engaged. If you haven’t started building a subscriber list, you could be missing out on lots of opportunities to generate leads. Donna Moritz at Socially Sorted didn’t build her email subscribers early enough or focus on segmentation.
Now she’s actively building a subscriber list and segmenting that list based on the challenges and needs of her audience. This allows her to tailor her content to fit those audiences.
Jeff Bullas, entrepreneur and blogger, made a slightly different content marketing mistake. He built a substantial email list, but he wasn’t taking advantage of the traffic his content was generating. This cost him over 100,000 subscribers. He fixed things by creating pop-ups that captured emails and built his email list. Now, he has over 160,000 subscribers.
6. Making the Wrong Offer
You’ve probably heard it all before: About 96% of visitors that come to your website aren’t ready to buy. That means that you need a sales funnel that tailors your content to customers at different stages of the funnel. During an early launch of a content hub for business software company SAP, the team created top-of-funnel content, thinking it would lead visitors straight to their product pages. They realized that no one was converting – for months.
Then, they figured out the reason: Because there was no mid-funnel content for visitors who were considering the product, but still haven’t made a final decision. Leading a visitor straight to the product page when they aren’t ready to buy isn’t the best idea.
It’s best to create content that’s tailored to their position in the sales funnel. So if your audience is in the middle of the funnel, share case studies or high-value content that are helpful, answer key questions, and (hopefully) remove any lingering doubts about your solution.
7. Not Effectively Promoting Your Content
No matter how many channels you use to promote your content, you need it to resonate with your audience. If it doesn’t, then your content promotion is all in vain. Posting random tweets and updates that aren’t relevant to your industry or the interests of your target audience isn’t a good strategy. The key to effective content promotion is understanding your target audience and what they like.
Tips for effectively promoting your content?
- Figure out the social sites your audience is most active and engaged. Make regular, high-quality posts on those sites.
- Learn the types of content your audience prefers.
- Always respond to comments. The more active and engaged you are, the more active and engaged your audience will be.
8. Creating Content That Sells Too Hard
Most marketers know that people don’t like being sold to. Yet, many of them still create content hard-selling their products and services to their audience. This is a quick way to get on their bad side and make them distrust you.
In all honesty, people don’t care about your fancy product features or your awesome brand. They care about how your solution is going to help them out. They care about getting answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. It’s all about the benefits.
As a result, your content should be 100% customer-focused. Then, you can nurture your audience with offers for deeper engagement. Main takeaway? Don’t promote your products too soon.
9. Neglecting SEO
No matter how good your content might be, it will be half worthy if you are unwittingly neglecting SEO. You may pay for content ads and promotion but you can’t pay for getting a high rank on Google.
When you invest time and create content that relies on the best SEO practices, your page will take off far faster than it would without the use of SEO. Of course, you want to create content for people and not for search engines. However, you want to optimize that content so that it gains traffic and gets in front of as many users as possible.
Written by Andrew Epprecht
As the Founder and CEO of Phase 5 Analytics, Andrew leads a team of healthcare marketers and consultants. He's been featured in publications like Forbes and Search Engine Watch. An entrepreneur at heart, Andrew started his first business in high school. While attending Duke University, he further developed his knowledge of online marketing and advertising. Today, Andrew uses these skills to help forward-thinking healthcare organizations attract new patients online.