Content marketers have my respect – and my sympathy. Consider the scope of their jobs: researching audience needs; generating topic ideas, crafting engaging and compelling articles; optimizing that content for search engines; generating amazing, catchy titles; adding visuals and media to their words; publishing that content, driving readers to that content; and, finally, analyzing the success of that content. Oh, and they must do this on a regular schedule of at least once, if not more, times a week. It’s a bit exhausting just thinking about it.
What Could Go Wrong?
With all of these elements of content marketing, a lot could go wrong, and often does. This is because content marketers make mistakes, as they wear these many “hats.” But, not to fear. These are common and easily fixed.
So, here’s a list of the 5 most common mistakes that could be killing your content marketing (and how to fix them).
1. Poor Content
Poor content is the result of four problems:
- The Writing Itself: If your content is filled with grammatical, spelling, and other problems, your readers will only be frustrated and distracted. They will try to “wade” through your article but will not absorb anything, because of that poor writing. Most often, they will just “bounce” and move onto something else – maybe your competitors’ content.
- The Readability Level: Content consumers do not want long, complex sentences with “high-brow” vocabulary. They want it simple. You should be writing at about the reading level of a 12-year old, in terms of sentence structure and vocabulary.
- The Topics: To generate topics that are important to your target audience, you first have to “know” that audience. If you have not created a profile of your ideal reader, then you don’t really have an idea of what he wants and needs. The other part of this is researching the most popular topics in your niche and figuring out how you can improve on what others have written on those topics.
- The Content Itself: Content is not written for the purpose of selling a product or service. It is written to entertain, educate and/or inspire. It is written to solve consumer problems; it is written to establish relationships and to present yourself as an expert so that readers come back for more. If you are trying to make a sale through your content, you are missing the point.
If you are struggling with any of these issues, then you need to get some help. Whether you need creative copywriters to turn your topics into amazing pieces of writing, simplify the articles you have already crafted, or edit and proofread your content, check out a few key resources – Men with Pens, Canada-Writers, or Fiverr. Each of these sites will provide useful tips or point you in the direction of finding writers that specialize in copywriting and that are ranked among the best
2. Content That Has Little Purpose for the Reader
You may be a “master of words;” you may be able to entertain an audience. But if your content is not answering a question or solving a problem, it is pretty much useless.
Again, you have to know your audience’s “pain points.” What problems do they have that need solutions? How can you provide those solutions or answer their questions with the content that you publish? In other words, what value do you bring “to the table?”
If you want great examples of content that provides solutions, check out some explainer or “how-to” video/content from sites such as Dollar Shave Club or WD-40. These are focused on giving their readers/viewers solutions, but they “sell” indirectly at the same time. And, because the content is so engaging, it is shared, sometimes going viral.
Every piece of content you write must provide value to your audience and must demonstrate that you are an expert – someone they want to return to for solutions and answers. Be that person, and you will grow a large following (and sell your products or services).
Image source: Giphy
James Daily, a content manager and blogger at Brainished, puts it this way: “When we began our content marketing campaigns, we were totally focused on getting clients. Who isn’t? And we focused on us, not the client. All of our content was about our company, our great pricing, discounts we could offer, etc. We were not getting the “play” we wanted. Finally, we realized that content cannot be about us and selling our services. It had to be about the client and his problems and needs. Once we re-focused on the client (and stopped selling), we began to get responses. Our content re-focused on blog posts that provided valuable information and tips to job seekers. We became experts in the entire job-seeking process. And that’s when we began to see an uptick in sales. Lesson learned.”
Which brings us to our next point.
3. Selling Instead of Educating/Entertaining/Inspiring
In 2014, Nathan Chan had an idea. He wanted to launch a digital magazine for startup entrepreneurs. He had a fulltime job at the time and decided to do this on the side. But he needed a content marketing plan – a plan that prospects would find engaging and valuable. His venue? Instagram. His “theme” for providing value? Inspiration, in the form of amazing photos with quotes. And so, he began a schedule of posting, several times a day.
Amazingly, within 10 months, Chan had a following of 300,000. And from that following, subscriptions to Foundr grew exponentially.
The point is this. The content was not focused on selling magazine subscriptions. It was focused on inspiring new entrepreneurs to stay with it, to pursue their dreams and goals.
Of course, Chan’s content marketing has expanded. His magazine includes amazing content too. And, on Instagram, he continues to grow his following with a variety of incentives for followers to subscribe and to share his content.
Through his content marketing activities, Chan has become an expert on entrepreneurship, and is a sought-after resource within his niche and within the entire field of content marketing.
If you are still focused on selling rather than educating, entertaining, or inspiring, then you are missing the point of content marketing. Be like Nathan Chan.
4. Not Promoting Your Content Where Your Audience Is
The idea of creating a piece of content and then publishing it is for your targeted audience to find it and read it. “If your targets are senior citizens, you are unlikely to find a host of them on SnapChat. Teenagers will not be on LinkedIn. All demographics will be on Facebook and YouTube, and most on Instagram. Twitter is becoming far more popular too,” shares Elysha Irving, a marketing specialist at Top Australia Writers.
There is a host of research on where certain demographics hang out most on social media channels. Use that data to pick a couple of social media channels to promote your content.
If you try to “cover” all social media platforms, you are spreading yourself too thin. You won’t do any really well.
Post often. Feature your team and your customers; use humor; embed videos; and, of course, give teasers to your blog post content that followers can link to.
Use of Influencers
There are already those who are recognized experts in your niche. You need to cultivate relationships with them. Follow them, participate in discussions on their blogs and social media pages, let them get to know you. Ask them to re-post an article of theirs on your blog; ultimately, send them killer articles you have written and request a posting on their blogs. Setting up these relationships spreads your name and your content to a much wider audience. You also become associated with these influencers and come to be seen as an expert yourself.
You can pay influencers to provide links to your content – this is a popular activity on Instagram and Twitter.
You can also pay for advertising/promotion on Facebook and even Google searches. Assess your budget and, again, target your audience where it “lives” digitally.
The use of mobile devices to search for information and to communicate has now surpassed the use of PC. If your content is not easily accessed and viewed on mobile devices, you are losing out. Your best bet is to use a content writing platform that automatically provides responsiveness to all devices.
“Adopt a mobile-first strategy for your content. Don’t write walls of text that no one wants to take the time to read and has to struggle to read on a phone. Break up that content, use visuals, and keep it simple.” – Lidia Morin, a lead marketer at Best Writers Canada suggests.
Which brings us to the next mistake.
5. Not Using Visuals and Other Trending Media
It has been reported that consumers of digital content now have the attention span that is shorter than that of a goldfish – about 8 seconds. If you do not capture attention within those eight seconds, you have lost them.
If you are not using visuals to replace long walls of text, you are losing your audience. This includes photos, graphs, charts, infographics, and, yes, video, to get your points across to your audience. The technology is available for amateurs to produce such things – use it.
You should consider using some of the latest technology too – augmented and virtual reality as well as live streaming. Again, there are amazing tools or resources to incorporate this into your content, and you will capture an audience that is then willing to share what you have produced.
Amanda Sparks, a professional marketer, and creator of TopDownWriter blog, says she learned this the hard way. “I knew I had an audience – students, academics, intellectuals – people interested in education and its improvement. And so, I blithely began my blog, just convinced they would come. The topics were trending, current, and controversial. What’s not to love? What I realized was that I had to add those visuals if I was going to motivate readers to stick with the valuable content I was providing. Now that I have increased the use of visuals, my audience sticks with me and shares.”
Not by a long shot. Here you have five mistakes you may be making with your content marketing strategy. There are others, to be sure. But these five are the “biggies.” Conquer them and you will be a “master” content provider – one that your audience admires and wants to share with their communities.