To stand out in today’s crowded marketplace, standard marketing tools, like off-the-page ads or targeted emails are no longer enough. You need to engage your audience before you try to sell to them. And the way to do that is to create useful, engaging content that builds trust, generates leads, and maintains customer loyalty.
But much like any other enterprise, creating content without a plan can be a huge waste of time and resources. So, to get you off on the right foot, here are the five worst content marketing mistakes that organisations make – and how to avoid them.
Perhaps the worst thing you can do when you’re creating content, is to forget what your aim is. Start by deciding what your priorities are. Do you want to attract web traffic, generate leads, or convert prospects? Each of these goals requires a different type of content.
If you want to raise awareness of a new product or solution, for example, educational content, such as thought leadership articles or ‘how to’ guides will work best. But, if you’re looking to generate leads, then case studies and product comparisons will be more useful.
Some types of content will serve more than one aim. Case studies, for example, will help with both generating leads and converting them. Decide what you want to achieve and focus on the most appropriate content, and you’ll make the most of your time and resources.
Another common content marketing mistake is to recreate content you already have in your archives. Suppose for example, that you’ve determined that you want to generate awareness of a particular service that you offer. The next thing to do is to check whether you have existing content (such as though leadership articles) that will do the job. Why re-create content when you could re-use instead?
To avoid repeating yourself, conduct a content audit to find out what types of content you already have and where the gaps are. Concentrate on creating content that both fills a gap and helps meet your goals – and you’ll get much more reward for your efforts.
Even when you’ve successfully identified the type of content that you need to focus on, you still need to avoid a major content strategy pitfall – getting lost in the noise. Before you invest time and effort in creating a blog or article, make sure it hasn’t been covered before. This can be tricky as there is a lot of content out there. But, if you don’t have anything original to say, look for an angle that hasn’t been covered, or find a way to frame your message differently and make it stand out from the crowd.
Take this article. I could have simply called it “How to plan your content strategy.” Instead, I called it “The five worst content marketing mistakes and how to avoid them” – for three reasons. Firstly, everyone loves a list – because they’re easy to digest. Secondly, we all love to hear about other people’s mistakes – if only to feel smug that we haven’t made them ourselves. Thirdly, and most importantly, people will only read your content if they think there’s something in it for them. Hence: “how to avoid them.”
Another pitfall to avoid is writing for the wrong audience. How much do you know about the demographic you’re aiming for? What are their aims and aspirations and where do they ‘hang out’ – either offline or online? If your audience is B2B, find out the job titles of the people who will benefit from your solutions, or who those hold the purse strings. Think about what publications they might read, what challenges they face, and what their pain points are.
Put a bit of time into researching your audience, learn to speak in their language and create content that addresses their needs, and you’ll be much more likely to connect with them.
It’s okay to have fun when creating content – and even to express a controversial opinion to get attention. But be careful not to misjudge your audience’s sentiments. A blog from the UK energy supplier Ovo, for example, offered energy saving tips that included “cuddling pets” and “doing star jumps” to keep warm. Ovo’s customers were not amused, because it trivialised a serious issue. A social media backlash followed, and the company was forced to publicly apologise.
When reviewing content, always put yourself in your audience’s shoes and imagine how you would receive it. Better still, get a colleague to give you a second opinion. Is it likely to cause offence to anyone within your target audience? If so, bin it.
Avoid all these mistakes and you’ll build a receptive audience that will be more likely to choose your product or service when they’re ready to buy. Oh – and speaking of useful content – if you’re planning a marketing campaign, you may also be interested in the Resonates Whitepaper. It will tell you where to start, how to figure out a strategy, and ways to pick tactics that will support your business objectives.