Content marketing is a tough nut to crack. Your content needs to be entertaining, useful and engaging, all while subtly working to convert users. Without effective content, you have little chance of successfully marketing your products or services.
With all that rests on the quality of your content, there are a lot of ways you can go wrong. Don’t be scared! We have put together a guide for you to ensure your content never falls flat again. Below are the six most common mistakes marketers make when planning and executing their content.
1. Not Considering Your Audience
You need to understand who you are talking to when you craft your content. How do you expect users to engage with your brand if you don’t know who your users are? You need to come up with a strategy before disseminating your content.
Creating and defining your buyer personas is the first step to craft your content effectively. These personas should be generalizations of the audience you are attracting. They will outline the user’s pain points, wants, needs and goals when interacting with your brand.
You analytics data should give you a good idea of the types of people visiting your site. Once you have defined your buyer personas, you can tailor your message to attract your users. You can even differentiate your content based on what user segment you are targeting.
The content lifecycle is another element that demands your attention. You should first acknowledge the fact that a lot of your content isn’t going to drive direct conversions on your site. People search for and consume content differently based on each stage of the buying process.
As such, you should have content optimized for each stage of the conversion process. If you are designing your content around these different stages, you will have much more success.
Crafting your content strategy around both buyer personas and content lifecycle will launch your marketing to a whole new level. These elements allow you to find the right keywords for each user at each step of the funnel.
2. Not Identifying Your Goals
It’s pretty unlikely that you would start to bake a cake without looking up the recipe. Knowing what ingredients to use and what you want the final product to be is the whole reason you starting baking in the first place, right?
The same is true for your content. Why waste time creating it without knowing what you need it to achieve? Establishing goals will allow you to discover what goals are working for you and which ones are not worth the effort. You can also refine your buyer personas and lifecycle strategy with your goals in mind.
After you have your goals laid out, you need a way to measure your specific metrics. Goals and metrics are two different concepts, even though they sound very similar.
- Goals are the end result you wish to achieve. These can be generic, such as “increase brand awareness” or “improve conversions”. As you move down the sales funnel, your goals will become more concrete and less generic. It’s not advisable to set goals that you relate to your website vanity metrics, like social media performance or website traffic.
- Metrics refer to the actual data you track and analyze to see if you have reached your goals. Metrics are measurable, specific numbers that you can use for evaluation. Content marketing metrics generally include website traffic, click-through rate, or return customers.
If you have trouble thinking of a metric for your goal, your goal probably needs to be revised.
3. Overselling Your Brand
Overselling yourself or your product is probably the easiest and most common mistake to make in content marketing. The great thing about content marketing is the opportunity to establish trust with your potential clients. But, it’s difficult to gain trust when all you do is brag about your product or services.
If you spend too much time talking about yourself or pushing a sale, your visitors won’t see you as anything more than a sales pitch. Especially if you are aggressively pushing your product towards someone at the top of the sales funnel.
We know, it sounds strange to advise a marketer not to talk about the company or products. But, it makes sense to create content that is informational for your top of funnel users. You might also think about mentioning a competitor or features your company doesn’t offer.
Why, you ask? Because this approach could supply major benefits to your marketing strategy.
First, you will establish trust with your users. You will be seen as a resource for unbiased and authoritative information. Second, this is a great way to build links to your site. People will be thrilled to exhibit the compliments you give them on your site, which will lead to shares, mentions and links!
Lastly, including your competition in your content could lead to your brand appearing in search results for their branded keywords.
4. Not Creating Valuable Content
This is similar to the previous mistake, as creating content purely for the purpose of selling your product will not be valuable to your users, no matter the stage of the sales funnel.
But who can say what content is “valuable”? It’s subjective and will obviously vary based on your brand, product or service. As a general rule, valuable content is going to be informative and well-written. However, your content should also be:
- Would you take the time to read two pages of heavy text? Or watch a talking head video for 15 minutes? No? Neither would your users. Content that is consumable is usually broken into short text chunks. If there are visual elements, they are easy to digest. You never want your users to have to think too hard to understand what you are trying to tell them.
- Your content needs to be distinct. Why write about something that has been extensively covered? If you don’t have a fresh perspective on a topic, it’s a waste of time for you and your audience.
- Visually appealing. Nearly all of your users – 95% in fact – form their opinion of your site based on the site’s visual design. Most of these users are forming their opinion in the first half second of their visit. Colorful visuals, screenshots and photos are all helpful, but try to steer clear of stock photos.
This is a great place to start using those website vanity metrics. If your content isn’t seeing much traffic or engagement, this could signal a lack of value.
5. Not Diversifying Your Content
Of course you should always avoid duplicate content, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t repurpose your content for various channels.
It’s a mistake to think of content marketing as living only on the website’s blog. There are so many avenues to distribute content that isn’t the blog. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Quora, reddit and Instagram are just some of the places your users are hanging out.
Each of these channels presents a different opportunity to reformat your content. Did you just publish an informative guide on your blog? Turn it into an infographic for LinkedIn! Did you research and publish a case study about your product? You could transform it into a product demo webinar.
One article can be flipped so many different ways. Slideshows, PDF guides or longform posts on Facebook are all routes you can take. Take advantage of the various platforms your business is using to reformat that content.
6. Not Playing on Audience Emotions
When it comes to buying a product, users aren’t always rational with their decisions. What has proven successful time and time again is the emotional tie fused between a user and a brand prior to purchase.
Since you have already defined your buyer personas, it shouldn’t be too tricky to come up with content that resonates emotionally with those audiences.
We know – giving the advice “make compelling content” is much easier said than done. But that’s where your buyer personas can help do the grunt work for you. You (should) have already defined these users’ wants, needs, challenges and pain points. Now you just have to create content that addresses these issues.
Take the time to create content that explains what impact your product or service will have on their lives. What will your brand do to change their lives for the better?
Lastly, you should experiment with creating a sense of urgency. This works especially well with consumer goods, but can really be effective for any type of business when executed correctly.
You can cultivate that sense of urgency two ways. The first, use a special offer that expires quickly. If the offer lasts too long, the buyers might convince themselves not to make a purchase. Secondly, you can emphasize the immediate benefit of your business. Really drive the point home that every second a potential customer is without your product, they are missing out.
Conclusion – Take The Time to Optimize!
This should go without saying, but the biggest mistake you can possibly make is neglecting to test and optimize your content. As a digital marketer, testing and measuring the success of your content should be second nature.
Edit and refine your personas with the information you gather about your audience. Reformat your content if it fails to resonate. You will maximize your conversions if you never stop working to improve your brand.