8 Content Marketing Mistakes You Should Have Stopped Making 5 Years Ago
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
How's your content marketing going?
If you're killing it with organic traffic and leads, I'd assume it's going pretty well. However, if you're still struggling to get people to engage with your content, you probably have some work to do. And when it comes to priorities, getting your content right should be a big one. Brands that master content creation can acquire over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and spend 62% less.
But what can you do? You're already churning out content and following an editorial calendar. You're writing about topics that relate to your industry, but you're still not engaging with your customers. It's frustrating, but with a little self-awareness, you can quickly turn your performance around.
It starts with understanding the most common content marketing mistakes, and how you can move past them.
The Content Marketing Mistakes Everyone Makes
It's a familiar predicament. To keep up with your lofty content creation and distribution goals, you create as much material as you can and work furiously to share it with all of your contacts and customers. And then, you fail. Why?
Because rushing through content strategy and not doing enough customer research burns through your content and inbound marketing budget. To generate interest from the customers you need to reach, you have to go beyond a "one size fits all" mentality, and focus on creating content that matters to your ideal customer.
Before you hit refresh on your entire content strategy, learn more about the most common content marketing mistakes companies make, and how you can avoid the same fate.
#1. Not Writing For A Niche
“Life's too short to build something nobody wants.” - Ash Maurya
Content marketing is a crowded market. If you go too broad with your material, you risk developing content that your target audience won't find engaging. That's why a lot of marketers go the extra mile and start identifying various micro-niches and cover specific and quirky interests that their customers have. If you can discover these micro-niches, you can address the questions, concerns, and challenges that other brands are overlooking.
Kevin Jans, an entrepreneur, and host of The Contracting Officer Podcast covers this in a TEDTalk about micro-niches. Jans explains how finding a micro-niche is less of a science, and more about going through the layers of a niche and conducting in-depth customer research.
- What types of companies (or individuals) have the core problems you solve?
- Where does this market hang out? What are they talking about there?
- What excites them?
- Where do they need help?
- What is unique or special about what they do?
If you can find what your customer is passionate about, you can craft more compelling content that stands out from the pack.
#2: Overlooking Your Customer's Story
"We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories. It can cross the barriers of time, past, present and future, and allow us to experience the similarities between ourselves and through others, real and imagined." - Andrew Stanton
Your customer wants you to champion them, instead of the other way around. If you can create website content that makes your customer the hero of their experience, you will speak to their aspirations and position yourself as a trustworthy expert. Without that connection, you will be another brand trying to sell to them.
To develop this kind of content, we rely on strategy documents (that we also use to build websites) to help us identify the external and internal struggles, action drivers, and barriers that our customer experiences. We document the day-to-day experiences they go through and provide content that supports them at every stage of their journey.
#3. Not Looking For Inspiration In Different Places
With all of the content out there, your reader is tired of reading the same articles and downloading the same offers. That's why you should look for inspiration outside of your industry. The most successful people find inspiration in unexpected places, such as famous author J.K. Rowling. Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter after visiting the Livraria Lello staircase in Porto, Portugal.
Even marketers and entrepreneurs find inspiration in their interests outside of work. MOZ founder Rand Fishkin found purpose in an episode of Adventure Time, and Heather Payne, co-founder of Ladies Learning Code and CEO of HackerYou, founded Ladies Learning Code after a trip to Hong Kong. If you can look beyond go-to industry resources, you can find new content ideas from your interests and personal experiences.
#4. Not Trying Anything New
Actress and producer Issa Rae had a menial office job but was trying to gain success as a television writer. After failing to gain any traction with the typical pilot process, she started recording her own YouTube series. It got attention from a few networks, and after some failed attempts at pilots, Rae got picked up by HBO.
While following best practices is wise, if you follow the same processes as everyone else, you could miss out on opportunities to be innovative. How can you make your content less formulaic? How can you take an alternative route?
For about a year, Unbounce had live streams of marketing optimization expert panels who would critique landing pages in real time. It was an excellent example of B2B marketing content that had an edge and was exciting to watch.
#5. Not Measuring ROI From Content
"Make learning a part of your life, not a task you check off. Constant improvement is the only way to stay competitive." - Zeynep Ilgaz, Co-Founder and President of Confirm Biosciences and TestCountry
You should religiously track and conduct reporting for your content. Otherwise, it will be challenging to understand how much ROI you're getting from your efforts. You will also miss out on chances to learn from how your customers are engaging (or not engaging) with your material.
- Keeping track of how much time and internal resources it takes to create content
- The quality of sales, conversions, or leads from your content
- Which channels and sources leads are engaging with your content the most
Overall, if you don't understand the value of content, you can't make improvements.
#6. Not Repurposing Content
Another missed content opportunity is not getting more value from existing materials. If you can reuse and recycle what you already have, your content can have a much longer shelf life. We employ a few tactics to reuse and more ROI from our content, such as:
- Turning a blog post or webinar into a visual asset, such as a Slideshare or infographic, as about 65% of the population are visual learners.
- Convert articles into quick video marketing assets and audio recordings, and sharing those materials on channels like Vimeo and Soundcloud.
- Re-share valuable content on channels repeatedly.
Using this approach, we get more value from all of the content we create. We wrote an entire guide on repurposing content that explains how to increase engagement, conversions, and reach.
#7. Not Establishing Relationships Between Content
If you don't understand how all of the content on your website links together, you can't set up a content structure that makes sense for your visitor or Google. The best sites have set topics they discuss, with more specific sub-topics that branch out from each. You can establish this type of framework with HubSpot Topic Clusters, and develop a strategy that ties your content together.
Here's a quick view about topic clusters, and how they work:
The structure will also help you focus on pursuing the right keywords, topics, and subjects. From your blog content strategy to your offers, you'll create an entire library of material that will bring more value to your business.
# 8: Not Optimizing Content For Search
Are people still making this mistake? Every content asset you create should undergo optimization. To start, you should strategically place your keyword throughout your content, including:
- Your URL (and make it SEO friendly.)
- The Page Title
- The Meta Description
- The Opening Paragraphs
- The First Heading Tag (H2)
- The Image Alternate Tag
If you skip optimization, you're wasting all of the time and effort you've put into the content because you're not preparing it to rank. Over time, all of that optimization will pay off and help increase organic website traffic, which is one of the most critical objectives for your marketing.
Getting More Value From Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the best ways to engage and nurture your leads. But if you take a lackluster approach, it will be difficult to gain traction. To create content that connects with your ideal customer, you need to take a step back and build highly relevant material that feeds into their aspirations. Otherwise, how will your content stand out amongst the rest?
Once you start producing this high caliber of content, it can bring you closer to meeting your inbound marketing goals. However, creating this kind of material requires dedication and commitment to your customer, and not merely a desire to get leads or bring in revenue. With our eBook, Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain, you can learn how to build better relationships with your ideal customer and deliver tremendous value.