Common Mistakes in Content Marketing

In several of our recent blog posts, we’ve discussed some of the most effective methods of content marketing. We’ve explored the building blocks of an effective content strategy as well as the specifics of writing for SEO and how a style guide can aid you in creating effective, appealing written content. But now that we’ve established the best things to do, it’s time to take a look at some of the things that your content marketing strategy should avoid.

The world of digital marketing moves quickly, and if you aren’t regularly keeping up with the trends and the changes, it’s easy to fall behind and lapse into using dated, ineffective content marketing methods. In a recent survey about B2B marketers, the most common response when asked about their content marketing skill level was “adolescent”, with 21 percent of B2B marketers identifying as such. If you’re a part of this group and looking to enhance your content marketing efforts, you can start by knowing what not to do.

#1: Unoriginal or Low-Effort Content

This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: don’t steal someone else’s content. Reposting their content to your site with permission and a link to the original? Perfectly fine. Citing someone else’s knowledge in your blog with a link to their content? Also fine. Browsing other businesses’ content to get a feel for what others are doing and inspire your own ideas? Also fine, but there are more effective ways of researching for content ideas (which we’ll get to later).

Lifting another source’s content can get your site hit with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim, and “duplicate” content is likely to severely suffer in rank or even be removed from Google’s index altogether.

Other sources might have interesting, well-done content, but that content was created for their business, in line with their brand. Even if you are similar organizations working in the same industry, what works for them won’t work as well for you.

#2: Not Doing Your Research

The information that you state in your content should be accurate. It’s common for writers to use statistics and figures to bolster their content and create a hook, but these statistics could be outdated or just plain false. Always use (and cite) reputable sources if you’re ever putting out content about anything that you’re not one hundred percent certain about.

But it’s not just about making sure you’re giving an accurate message to your clients. Your research should also provide insight into your target audience, their behavior, and what they’re looking for in their content. It’s likely that your target audience is not exactly the same as you in every way, and while you may have some instinctive knowledge of what they’re interested in, that won’t compare to in-depth market research through tools like Answer the Public, Facebook Ads Manager, or SEMRush. Few things are more annoying to online browsers than pushed content that isn’t relevant to them, and taking the time to research will ensure that you’re piquing their interest.

#3: Not Paying Attention to Timing

The time of year and current events can—and should—influence the type of content that you put out. For example, we are currently in the midst of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and we’ve had two large-scale hurricanes in the past month. For a property insurer or business insurer with clients in the affected areas, these storms are a very relevant topic that their clients would be very interested in hearing about.

In addition to current events, holidays can be a good baseline for your content. Many places around the country are now starting to move into fall and winter weather, so homeowners might be interested in knowing about how to keep their homes protected against winter weather. The holidays are a huge time for retailers, so content geared toward that industry will be more relevant. In the summer and fall, many parents and students are looking for renters insurance for college students moving into their first apartment. These are just a few examples of how the time of year will affect what type of content will be successful. This content can even be re-optimized (but don’t change the URL), updated, and re-promoted once it’s relevant again.

Trends are another thing to consider. Back in the early days of Facebook and Twitter, hashtag-stuffing was all the rage, and it was how people increased the reach of their content. Now, it looks messy to most browsers, and the only pages who do that are typically spam pages.

After all, you wouldn’t make a Harlem Shake video now, would you?

#4: Trying to Do Too Much, or Not Enough

Think of content marketing as the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If a business’s only form of content marketing is a company blog, that business is doing too little. If the next site not only has a blog, but also creates YouTube videos, designs infographics, publishes case studies, releases a regular newsletter, creates whitepapers, shares outside content, makes online presentations, runs webinars, and has a podcast, they might be doing “too much”. You want to hit the “just right” balance.

All of the above-listed content tactics are valid forms of content that can be very effective if used properly. In fact, if you have a large enough content team with the right experience, you absolutely could produce all of those types of content and more. But for a smaller business who’s only just beginning to develop their content marketing strategy, it’s better to focus on (and master) the essentials before reaching for more. Putting out a few key pieces of content (such as blogs, infographics or branded images, and videos) that are thoroughly researched and optimized is much better than releasing countless types of half-baked content.

#5: Not Tracking Your Efforts

In a survey this year, only 8 percent of surveyed marketers stated that they considered themselves effective or very effective at measuring their content’s ROI (return on investment). Without having methods of quantifying your success, you have no way of knowing if your content strategy is even doing anything for your business. Regularly using tools like SEMRush and Google Analytics will give you much more to work with for the future.

The Takeaway

Content marketing is about much, much more than writing blogs, creating videos, and waiting for the new customers to start rolling in. Without a good understanding of what content can achieve and what your audience is looking to achieve through your content, it’s unlikely that your content will bring you the leads and the conversions that you’re looking for.

About Neilson Marketing Services

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