In order to successfully market your brand, products and services online, you will need content that is engaging and effective. You will need to be precise when it comes to content marketing and development or run the risk of wasting time and money. In order to gain interest, your content should be entertaining, effective and entice your audience from the beginning to convert their visit into a sale.
While this seems straightforward, creating effective copy can be tricky. This is why we have collated a list of the top 6 common content marketing mistakes below.
1. Not Understanding Your Target Market
Creating content is just one small part of your overall marketing strategy and content should not be published without being fully thought through. A fully thought out plan will see each piece of copy act as one piece of a successful puzzle.
When determining your marketing strategy you will need to keep the following two things in mind:
1. Your Audience: By taking the time to understand who your target audience is and what will engage them is key to starting your content marketing plan. Creating marketing personas (also known as buyer personas) should be the first step in your marketing strategy. The personas that you create will represent the desires and goals of your customers and will also give you insight into their pain points. By keeping your customers in mind you can tailor your products and the promotion of your products to meet your customers need.
2. Content Lifecycle: The chances are that a lot of the content you produce will not create direct conversions on your website. That is not to say that people will not be interested in your product when they land on your page, it just means that they need to be engaged at each stage of the process to maximise the chance of getting a conversion. For example, if you create a blog post that has informational keywords to lead the beginning of the marketing campaign, it will only prove fruitful if you design effective copy at each stage of the conversion process. That is not to say that keywords are not effective, as using the right keywords is what will draw people to your site, you just need to ensure that once you have attracted people there is enough good content to make them want to stay.
2. Not Understanding Your Goals
If you employ people to work for you, the chances are you have a full job description for them and you will have objectives written into their role. The same goes for content marketing, there should be a clear plan of what you expect your efforts to achieve and how they can be measured.
Publishing content without a clear plan will mean that you’ll have no clear idea on whether it has been effective.
Creating goals for content marketing will allow you to:
• Gain insight into what content is successful
• Determine what content has not been effective
• Refine your marketing personas if you are not hitting your target audience
• Measure the overall benefit of content marketing to your business
Once your goals have been set you can layout the appropriate metrics to determine your overall success. It is important to understand the difference between goals and metrics when talking about implementing both.
Goals: Your goals will be the end result that you hope to achieve for your business, for example increasing sales, growing your audience, or improving customer retention. When you begin your content marketing plan, goals will be generic but as you gain more insight and work your way down the funnel, they will become more specific.
Metrics: The metrics are the actual data that is tracked to determine whether or not you are achieving your goals. Metrics are specific, measurable, numbers that will be analysed at various stages of your marketing plan. Metrics can include newsletter sign-ups, website traffic, or click rates.
A great place to start when creating your goals is to use the S M A R T framework. The letters S and M stand for specific and measurable.
3. Don’t Oversell Yourself
Sure, people need to know who you are and what your business is all about, but try not to talk about yourself too much. Through effective content marketing you can allow potential customers or business partners to trust in your brand and expert knowledge as they get to the end of the funnel. By demonstrating you are an authority in your niche by providing them with quality information, you are much more likely to make conversions rather than simply bombarding people with ‘buy me now’ message and pushing a hard sell. Your content should not be a sales pitch.
Taking this gentle approach to your content will benefit your business in the following ways:
• Links: Link building is a vital part of content marketing and the more you please people via your content the more they will share it. By building relationships with people and complimenting them where possible, you are slowly increasing the awareness of your brand.
• Trust: As we have just mentioned, bombarding people with your sales pitch is more likely to put them off your business, rather than encouraging them to come back time and time again for useful and informative information. You want your brand to be the one that people can trust, one that offers unbiased opinions on your subject matter.
• Competition: It may seem crazy to mention your competitors in your content, but in doing so you may actually appear on the first page of search engines such as Google for their branded keywords. Wouldn’t that be great?
4. Adding Poor Value Content
Producing content for your brand that provides little or no value to its readers will make it difficult for you to convert users - completely destroying your content marketing efforts in the process.
Valuable content is spoken about a lot in the online marketing world, but what is ‘valuable content’ exactly? Valuable content is well-written, but also contains the following qualities:
• Unique: If you want your content to be effective then it needs to be fresh, so that it can attract as many readers as possible. Reading the same old posts over and over again is not only boring, but will cause people to ignore your brand if you produce similar content. Write about a topic that hasn’t been written about before or at least write it from a unique perspective.
• Consumable: If you have ever read a long unbroken piece of text, the chances are you did not reach the end of it. Sharing information in small manageable chunks is most effective and will make selling your products or services easier. You should never dumb down your content if you need to go into detail, but try not to overwhelm your audience and keep your content as light as possible.
• Attractive: First impressions count - big time. In fact, users will often leave your website within 10-20 seconds if it does not have a clear value proposition. Colorful visuals, striking visuals and user-friendly features will go a long way in keeping your potential customers on your page. Where possible, use unique photographs and refrain from using stock photographs that make your website look unoriginal. You should be able to see how effective your landing page is when you look at your website traffic and bounce metrics.
5. Lacking Variety
While you should always avoid duplicate content, you can actually use your content a number of times in different ways. On average, you should use each piece of content 3 to 4 times via multiple channels.
Content marketing is not simply using your website’s blog to distribute your content, that is just one part of the puzzle that we spoke about earlier. Other marketing avenues in which you can share content include:
• Guest blogging
Each of these social media and marketing channels presents an opportunity to tweak your content and tailor it to the specific audience it attracts. If you wrote a blog, then you can look at the main message and turn it into the following:
• A Youtube video
• An infographic
• A slideshow
• A PDF
• An email
• A newsletter
• A webinar (great for product demonstrations)
It is important to do some research into each of the different marketing channels, as what will work on Twitter can turn off customers on Facebook and vice versa. You can find many tutorials that can help you adjust your content to suit various audiences.
6. Lacking Emotion
You should always aim to put your brand values across in your marketing content. Creating reams and reams of copy that is emotionless is not going to attract traffic to your site. Making good content is not all about good spelling, grammar and information, it is about making people want to read what you are saying. Remember, we aren’t as rational as we like to think, often acting out of an emotional response.
To help make your content as passionate as possible, it will need to resonate with your target audience. This can be done by looking at the work that you did with the personas you created - finding out people’s wants and needs. Putting yourself into the shoes of your protective customers will allow you to dig deep into their psychology and offer them something that they truly want in their lives.
Creating a Sense of Urgency
Although we have advised not to be too pushy with your sales pitch, there are times when you will need to create urgency so that people feel that they need to invest in your product and/or service immediately.
You can create urgency by doing the following:
1. Special offers will entice customers and may lead to further recommendations and referrals to visit your website. Special offers should expire quickly so that they are truly unique and that people do not get the impression that your business constantly has reduced prices. By offering special prices for a limited time, your customers feel valued and think they are getting something special.
2. The most important thing that you need to do is make people feel that they cannot do without your business or product. Your customers will need to feel that they are missing out on something and that everyone else is investing in but them.
3. Ultimately, you will bond with your customers through shared experiences and this can be shown in your content. Let your customers know that they are on the same journey and that you are both after the same goal. One great way growing your bond with your customer is by using Easter eggs, which are little hidden jokes or references in the content that you publish. Get involved with your customers on social media and chat with them on a daily basis in a natural and unscripted way.
Optimise Your Content
All of the above advice will help you to avoid the most common mistakes when it comes to content marketing. However, the key to all to do with content marketing is to optimise your content and your strategy. Through thorough reviews of your metrics and tactics, you can tweak, amend, or even delete some of your actions in order to achieve your goals.
For further information check out this informative video from Moz.