Content marketing is now more important than ever. There are also more and more platforms and services where you can share and promote your content. Yet it’s also getting more challenging as you must compete with ever more content marketers who are also fighting to get their content viewed.
If you want to be seen and rise above the competition, you must avoid some of the very common mistakes that can hold you back. The following are the top nine content marketing mistakes that may be making it more difficult for people to discover your content.
1. Not Identifying Your Content Marketing Objectives
Some businesses move forward with content marketing with only a vague idea that they want more customers or more traffic. You need to have some specific goals if you want your efforts to yield results. In fact, without clear goals, it’s not even possible to measure whether or not you’re successful.
I recently consulted with a small online business that offered services such as web design, graphics and video production. They were frustrated with the lack of results it was getting from content marketing. When I first asked the owner what he hoped to achieve, he replied, “more sales, of course.” Then I asked him where he was sending readers who clicked on his links. The company did not have a consistent strategy about where to send readers.
Some articles led to the home page while others led to various other pages. It turned out that his best results came from customers who had subscribed to the company’s newsletter. So I helped him devise a more coherent strategy where content was designed to send people to an opt-in page rather than random pages on the site. This helped the business to grow its subscriber list and obtain more customers.
2. Being Inconsistent With Your Content Marketing Strategy
When I see people failing with content marketing, I first try to get a sense of what kind of content they’re posting and how often. Not being consistent -that is, not creating enough content- is probably the number one mistake I see. If you have this challenge, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, according to research published by Hubspot.com, B2B companies that published 11 or more times per month had close to three times the traffic as companies that only published once or twice.
This is a mistake that will harm you in two crucial areas -your audience and the search engines. If your readers, listeners or viewers aren’t seeing fresh content from you on a regular basis, they will forget that you exist. The same with the search engines. This will cause the downward spiral of lower search engine rankings and less traffic. So the first thing you have to do is make sure you’re being consistent about your content marketing.
3. Content Can’t be Viewed on Mobile Devices
The popularity of smartphones and tablets has really exploded in the last few years. This means that more and more of your audience will be logging onto your website and social media pages from their mobile devices. The Pew Research Center reports that 90 percent of adults now own a cell phone. More and more online commerce is happening via mobile.
If your pages don’t load properly or they can’t access your sales pages, your effectiveness will be severely compromised. Google now penalizes sites that don’t pass its mobile-friendly test. That’s why it’s important that you either set up a separate mobile website for your mobile customers or use responsive web design, which makes it possible for everyone to access your pages.
4. Content Isn’t Visually Compelling
Not that long ago, “content” generally meant mostly blog posts and articles. Increasingly, however, people are gravitating towards content that is visually interesting. This includes photos, videos, memes, infographics and slideshows. You can make your content more compelling by mixing things up. You might, for example, embed a YouTube video into your blog post.
A catchy image or infographic can also help. If you need any extra motivation to start using images, consider that, according to Hubspot.com, content with relevant images is 94 percent more likely to be shared than content without images!
5. Headlines Aren’t Compelling or Relevant
You only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s precious attention. If they aren’t captivated by your headline, they will never read your content. This is a fact that goes all the way back to the days of print journalism, when reporters learned how essential it was to craft a catchy headline. In the digital age, it’s even more important because of the vast amount of competition out there. Some research indicates that 80 percent of readers will read headlines but only 20 percent read the entire article.
Your headlines should be both relevant and engaging. Don’t stoop to misleading people just to get them to click on your headline; this will subject you to the increasingly common charge of creating “clickbait.” Make sure your headline accurately describes what you’re content is about -but in a way that makes people want to read it. The following tips should be kept in mind when writing headlines along with examples. You don’t have to employ all of these with every headline, but it’s a good idea to use at least one or two of them.
- Ask the reader a provocative question. Does Watching TV Lower Your IQ?
- Use a numbered list. 10 Ways to Improve Your Golf Swing
- Insert “How” Into the Headline. How to Shop For an Energy-Efficient Water Heater.
- Emphasize Benefits to the Reader. Simple Ways to Cut Your Energy Bills by 25%.
- Refer to a Popular News Event or Celebrity. Find a way to tie this in with your business. What Lower Oil Prices Can Teach You About Pricing Your Own Products.
- Use Keywords You Want to Rank For. How to Quickly and Painlessly Build a Storage Shed, if you are targeting people who might be searching for “build a storage shed.”
6. Content Isn’t Reader-Friendly
Reader-friendly refers to how easy and appealing it is for someone to run their eyes down the page and absorb what you’re saying. Like it or not, many readers nowadays are skimmers. You must, therefore, make your content skimmer-friendly as well. The following are some ways you can do this -as well as an illustration of how this works!
- Have a number of bold headlines in your articles and posts.
- Keep paragraphs relatively short.
- Use bulleted or numbered lists, which naturally catch readers’ eyes.
- Avoid fonts smaller than 12 pt as this makes text harder to read.
- Insert images, videos and other visual content to break up the text.
7. The Audience Isn’t Targeted
No matter how great your content is, if it’s reaching the wrong people it’s not going to be appreciated. Identifying your ideal audience takes a certain amount of research and constant testing. You start out with certain broad demographics -deciding how to target people in terms of gender, age, geography, interests, income and so forth.
Beyond this, you want to know what kind of communication style your audience prefers. This will determine many aspects of your content marketing strategy. such as which social media platforms to target. A young, hip audience, for example, is more likely to appreciate images and clever memes. If you’re selling high ticket items to business professionals, you’ll have to provide plenty of hard numbers and back up your claims.
8. Not Distributing Content Far and Wide
One of the best things about content marketing today is that it’s simple to get lots of leverage from a single piece of content. You do this by distribution -either by submitting items to free sites or paying for distribution. There are now almost endless ways to do this, such as:
- Share blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Upload a video to your own website and share it on YouTube and social media pages.
- Pay for distribution on Outbrain, sponsored tweets, sponsored LinkedIn posts, Facebook posts, etc.
- Repurpose content. Turn articles into slideshows, infographics or videos.
- Encourage people to share your content by using social media buttons.
- In general, you should always be looking for ways to get the maximum leverage from all your content. Think distribution, repurposing and getting others to share. This ends up saving you time, as it’s more efficient to distribute and repurpose existing content than to create something new .Of course, you should be creating new stuff as well, but you may as well get the most out of everything.
9. Failing to Network With Influencers
You can get a lot more leverage out of your content if you partner with others in your industry, especially influencers with large social media followings. LinkedIn provides some excellent resources for doing this. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful places to reach influencers in almost any industry, and this B2B network is still growing fast. You can get more out of LinkedIn if you sign up as a Premium member, which makes it easier to connect with other members and gives you access to more detailed metrics. Twitter also provides many tools that let you connect with influencers. Services such as Follwerwonk let you identify the most influential leaders in every industry.
One thing I always advise when networking is to make sure you do it in a way that’s thoughtful and non-intrusive. For example, LinkedIn Premium lets you message other members, but you should not abuse this privilege by spamming people with promotional messages. In fact, I recommend using the messaging feature cautiously. It’s best to connect with people by posting public updates, joining or starting LinkedIn groups. If you do message people, I suggest starting out by introducing yourself and perhaps acknowledging something that you admire about them.
The same goes for Twitter. Your goal should be to develop relationships. This means giving as well as receiving. People on Twitter, for example, will be appreciative if you share their posts. You can also tweet directly to people with whom you connect. Again, do this with discretion and focus on sharing useful content and not things like “please visit my website” or “buy my e-book,” as influencers are inundated with hundreds of these messages daily. Remember that networking is a long-term strategy and not something that necessarily yields instant results.