There’s a lot of talk going (isn’t there always?) about the seven deadly sins of content marketing. In forums and social media, articles listing these ROI-endangering sins are permeating the content marketing community and stirring up fear in the heart of marketers everywhere.
At CEM, we’re not a fear-mongering bunch. Though meant to be avoided, mistakes are made by everyone. Fortunately, there’s almost always a way to fix them. We want your business to use content marketing successfully without the need to stress over missed details. Mistakes happen, but your bounce back is what people will remember. Today, I’d like to help you recover from any content marketing missteps you may have taken as we review the top six.
1. Lazily Creating Content
“Lazy” content marketing tactics may include inconsistency in publishing, hi-jacked content, and fluff-filled content. Though I doubt it was ever acceptable to make these tactics the “meat and potatoes” of a content marketing plan, an increased focus on quality content means these practices are a virtual death sentence for brands.
While losing credibility online is a rather severe consequence, losing your reader base to boring content is worse. To ensure your brand’s content is value-rich, include the following four elements.
- Customer-focused – A big mistake made by brands is the tendency to focus on products and services. For content to resonate with customers, it needs to speak directly to them and their needs.
- On target with brand goals – If the goal behind a content marketing strategy is to attract quality leads but all it accomplishes is more traffic, the content produced is not effective in meeting the desired outcomes. Each piece of published content should have an associated target audience and brand goal.
- Helpful and informational – People want to read content that blows their minds and makes life better. If your brand’s content is not helpful or informative, it’s unlikely you’ll see a positive return on investment.
- Share-worthy – Are your blogs, social media posts and other brand-related pieces of content so amazing, useful and awe-inspiring that they’re impossible not to share? If not, what would make them more share-worthy?
Incorporating these elements into each piece of content will lead your brand on a path to better customer engagement, higher share rates, and more sales.
2. Taking on Too Much
Between research, marketing, strategy, and implementation, content marketers can quickly find themselves in over their heads. Taking on too much work is a major downfall, particularly because the end product – content – suffers greatly. A fix for this is supplementing in-house content with outsourced content.
Before you have nightmares about duplicate content and reprehensible grammar, listen up; there’s an easier way to get what you need by hiring the right company. Here’s a blueprint of what to look for when searching for a content creator.
- View a sample – If working with an agency, always ask for a sample. Top shelf content firms will often provide a free sample customized to your brand. A willingness to provide concrete examples of quality content speaks to a level of professionalism and customer service.
- Extent of expertise – For simplicity and continuity, hiring an all-inclusive content marketing agency is an ideal solution for mid-sized brands and larger. The more expertise an agency has with creating a variety of on-brand content, the better your return on investment and overall content output.
- Guarantee – As brands continue to strive for 100% original content, it’s imperative to work with an agency that offers a duplicate content guarantee. With penalties for swiped content increasing each year, duplication can seriously disrupt your brand’s reputation and business online.
Working with a content firm, even as a supplement to an in-house team, is one of the best ways to safeguard the consistency of your content marketing campaign.
3. Failing to Tailor Content to Your Audience
In a previous post, I discussed the benefits associated with creating content for your audience at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Failing to create content that speaks to the target audience will provide less-than-stellar results nearly every time. In other words, this is a mistake you’ll want to fix immediately.
- Create buyer personas – Naturally, no two people respond to content in exactly the same manner. It’s unrealistic, then, to write one way all the time when the goal is to reach more than one person. Brainstorm as many details as possible about your ideal customer and dig deep to find topics that really matter to them.
- Use different calls-to-action – Repeating the same calls-to-action leads to disinterest in your content. Why? Because not everyone is in one stage of the buying cycle, they’re spread out. As such, calls-to-action need to be stage-specific.
- Pay attention to social media – Monitoring social media interaction can provide insight into the “hot topics” of interest to your audience. When stumped for content ideas relevant to your customers, social media is a great place to turn to for answers.
A consistent effort to learn more about customers’ needs and wants will prove beneficial for your brand in the long run.
4. Inadequate Analytics
In eConsultancy’s recently released “Periodic Table of Content Marketing,” content marketers are reminded of the impact of quality analytics. Unfortunately, tracking analytics efficiently is a struggle for many brands, particularly small businesses. Between page views, bounce rates, demographics and about 15 other metrics, content marketers are given the insight needed to improve upon existing strategies. To fix this mistake, three actions are needed.
- Define content marketing KPI’s – Most businesses have KPI’s, but some fail to define key performance indicators as they relate to content marketing. Between percentage of mobile users, content sentiment, bounce rate, heat maps and more, brands are able to quickly determine the best and worst strategies.
- Use content-specific metrics – Jay Baer does a great job at breaking this down, but essentially brands are trying to pinpoint the type of content with the highest conversion rate. As Baer discusses, this can only be accomplished with regular monitoring of content-specific analytics.
- Ask for help when needed – If it’s getting to be too much and the job isn’t getting done (refer to #2), it is better to ask for help early on before you’re in too deep. The sooner a schedule for analytics monitoring is put in place, the easier it becomes to stay consistent.
With the right support and analytics team in place, brands are able to efficiently monitor the quality and reach of multiple content types.
5. All Blogging, All the Time
As Marketo discussed, an interesting mix of content is more likely to produce a positive ROI. Many brands approach content marketing from a blog-only perspective. In reality, content marketing is a fluid concept, encompassing many changing parts. Correcting this mistake is easy and, in most cases, a time saver. To relieve your team (and readers) from the repetition of blog after blog, spice up your content mix with curated and repurposed content.
- Curated – Much like art, curating content requires a keen eye and thorough understanding of value. Art collectors don’t run from gallery to gallery purchasing everything they find; they’re careful, selective and scrutinizing before making such a large investment. In the same manner, curators of content must only share and promote content that is relevant and valuable to the intended audience.
- Repurposed – Creating original content all the time is hard, believe me I know. When possible, recycle a blog into a video, social media post, infographic or presentation to create a new and interesting piece of content without re-researching your topic.
So what happens when all this amazing content gets distributed? People respond, but does your brand?
6. Lack of Response
Content marketing is meant to be a two-way street. While brands should focus on creating a steady stream of original content, actively participating in online conversations, responding to comments and engaging with social media users is just as important. Avoid this mistake by taking two crucial steps.
- Assign a social media manager – Whether you have a social media expert on your team or outsource the tasks, social media management is a must. If a customer takes the time to comment on a blog or share a picture, brands need to thank them. At minimum, social media accounts should be monitored daily for interaction.
- Go live – Intentionally scheduling “live time” on social media engages your audience while humanizing your brand. Scheduling live contact on different social media networks doesn’t take very long, but is a powerful way to show customers you value their input.
After exploring these not-so-deadly content marketing mistakes, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve made a few – we all have. Instead, treat it as a learning experience and make changes now that will positively impact your outcomes in the future.
What’s the worst content marketing mistake you’ve ever made? What was the result?