Content marketing is a staple diet for any hungry, contemporary business. In fact, the appetite for brands to drive revenue through the creation of online material is so strong, that it’s predicted to be an industry worth $300 billion by 2019.
As more companies take a bite of the content marketing apple, some are experiencing a little acid reflux thanks to some avoidable content marketing mistakes.
Today, we’ll walk you through the 5 content marketing mistakes that will expose you as a rookie - and how to avoid making them.
You don’t know your audience
Have you ever noticed how the most successful contestants on Masterchef know just what the judges love, and cook a little for themselves, but a lot for the judges?
The very same thing happens when you’re cooking dinner for friends, or buying a gift for someone, and the reason is obvious. To engage and delight someone, you need to offer them something they’d love. To do this well, you first need to know a good bit about them.
This is as foundational to cooking as it is to content marketing. And yet we still see countless marketers thinking they can skip this step and move to the fun content creation zone. These marketers have fooled themselves into thinking that a buying persona is nothing more than a job title, an industry, a company size and a location.
But what of needs, preferences, behaviours and motivations? What of the pressing pain points your personas have? It is these behavioural bits that make up a whole person - and help you understand the kind of content that will inspire and motivate action. Mark our words: nothing guarantees a high bounce rate more than a mismatched piece of content.
If you don’t know exactly who it is you’re trying to reach, how can you possibly create content that lures them in like a hearty stew on a cold and wet day?
N.B. If you’re not sure how to create buyer personas, check out how to create your brand and buyer personas.
You talk about your solutions and not their problems
A lot of content marketers get lost in pumping out a large volume of work that gets little engagement and even less conversions. We’re willing to bet that most of the time, it’s because they’re talking about the solutions they offer instead of the problems their personas are experiencing.
When you map out your content plan and topics, make absolutely sure that you’ve focused your topics on your buyer’s challenges and questions.
In these early awareness stages, you’re only looking to EDUCATE them on their problems - how to recognise their issues, what kind of problem it could be, what categories of solution exist and where each of them may be relevant. There should be no mention of your specific solution, or your brand in these top-of-funnel (TOFU) pieces. This is how you’ll gain the trust of the prospect and position yourself as a selfless thought leader.
Perhaps more importantly, providing sales information to prospects at awareness stage will repel them faster than a cold bowl of boiled cabbage. Please, PLEASE marketers, make it stop.
It is only when your prospect is at consideration or purchase stage (and you’ll know this, because you’re tracking their interactions with later-stage content such as case studies, pricing pages and demos), should you start talking about your solutions and then, finally, your own company in your content.
Remember - you have a full array of strategy and technology tools available to help you build and deepen relationships with prospects at various early stages of the buyer cycle. Make sure you’re not just attracting and converting early-stage leads, but you’re cleverly nurturing them right through the funnel. Your sales team will love you like jam.
You skip the SEO research
You know what they say - failing to SEO is SEO-ing to fail. Or something like that anyway. Here’s the point: marketers that underestimate the value of regular, systematic keyword research, will be extending lots of effort for very little return.
This is the marketing equivalent of a failed souffle - you’ll put so much effort into your content, but you’ll not realise it’s not going to soar until the effort is complete, your money is spent and your hungry diners (C-Levels) are hungrily waiting for their reward.
In saying that, there is a balance - some content marketers take SEO keyword implementation too far and it compromises the quality of the content. Don’t just use keywords for the sake of using them - quality content - that is, writing for the persona, should always come first. And keep an eye on Google’s algorithm updates, because they own 80% of the search market.
If you’re keen to understand more about SEO, check out SEO for beginners.
Not looking at the numbers to inform decisions
In content marketing, the numbers don’t lie, and there’s no excuse not to use them.
Your data tells you what content is being gobbled up by your personas, and which content is being as sidestepped as the proverbial apple in a child’s lunchbox.
You can track user behaviour and analyse which topics are resonating most for certain personas - then plan to serve them more! In terms of copy, don’t be afraid to test. Repurpose old content with a new headline or images and see if it fares better.
Just as chefs will get inspiration from their peers, you can find inspiration from your peers (and competitors) who have similar buyer personas to you. Stalk their social media and blogs to see what has been working for them in terms of engagement, likes, shares and comments and use that as a basis for inspiration. As they say, there’s no point reinventing the wheel. Just see what the clever ones are doing, and step it up a notch or two.
Check out how you can optimise your campaigns via A/B split tests on LinkedIn ad campaigns.
Does your team have all the skills needed to ace content marketing in today’s fast-paced marketing landscape? Find out by downloading our eBook, The 5 Marketing Skills Your Business Can’t Do Without.