02 Jun 10 Basic Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
If you’re the owner of a small-to-medium-size business, you’ve probably heard about content marketing as the way to attract new customers and keep existing ones happily engaged. But whether you think that content marketing is only for big brands (it isn’t), or you’re putting together your own strategy, misconceptions about what it is and how it can help you reach your marketing goals abound. And should you be considering going it alone, there are many pitfalls to identify and avoid.
But first, let’s define content marketing. According to HubSpot, “Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content via channels such as social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, apps, press releases, print publications, and more. The goal is to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.”
As you can see from the above definition, content market is not only about social media and blogging – although they are definitely important components. Basically, every asset of your business that’s online is part of content marketing. For this reason, all must be consistent and work together in order to be successful, just as your business itself does.
Mistakes start by not understanding the nature of content marketing and how the moving parts need to move in unison. While there are numerous content marketing mistakes possible, we’ve chosen the 10 most basic, each building off the previous.
1. Not Having a Specific Goal in Mind
This is the most fundamental error. As mentioned in our blog post – “Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid – Advice from the All-Stars 2021” – we’re always fond of paraphrasing our favorite feline, the Cheshire Cat, when it comes to this topic. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Or not. Without a goal, you’re just on a road to nowhere, as David Byrne would say.
According to Script Consultants, “You should always start by deciding what your business or brand goals are for the year and then work backwards from there to know which types of blog posts, social media updates etc. will be most beneficial in achieving your goals. For example if one of your main business goals is lead generation then make sure all your content marketing efforts including blog posts target this goal directly. Always review content marketing performance by keeping your goal in mind.”
2. Not Knowing Your Target Market
It’s been said that if you think everyone is your target market, you need to think again. Of course, you have an idea of who your customers are, but as Postmedia Solutions observes, “The more you think about and define who the people most likely to benefit from your products and services are, the better you can meet their needs with relevant, personalized content and ad campaigns.”
To do so, Postmedia Solutions recommends building a buyer persona for your ideal customer.
“A buyer persona is a research-based fictionalized version of your target shoppers. It describes who they are, what they want, their challenges, interests, and how they make decisions. Use buyer personas to personalize all your marketing and advertising campaigns. This is critical as 66 per cent of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.”
3. Optimizing Channels Instead of Target Market Members
Michel Fortin, director of search at seoplus+, offers this valuable insight:
“The biggest mistake that some digital marketers make is to focus on (and optimize for) channels as opposed to users. By focusing too much on the channel or trying to optimize for those channels, it takes the attention away from the user and the value you are providing them … which will, in turn, become increasingly counterproductive.”
What this means in plain language is that some people get caught up in “optimizing for Facebook” or Instagram, etc., without considering the type of content that people who are likely to visit your page on such platforms actually want to see and engage with.
“In other words, avoid creating your digital marketing strategy and campaigns with metrics in mind; the first and most important piece of any marketing puzzle is, of, course, your target audience,” says Jason Randall, content manager for UpCity. “And everything from case studies to anecdotal results reinforces how important it is to understand real-life audiences when preparing any and all marketing campaigns.”
4. Being Distracted by Shiny New Social Media Platforms
This is a true danger zone. The ease of using short-form video apps such as TikTok – the undisputed global leader – provides plenty of opportunity to commit major mistakes in presentation and messaging. If you’re not careful, you can make yourself – and by extension, your business – appear ridiculous, thereby losing credibility.
TikTok, in particular, is known as the video platform by and for Generation Z. Unless this is your target market, TikTok perhaps would be better left alone. Ditto for podcasts, but for different reasons. Although podcasts are very popular, this platform doesn’t lend itself to successful application by every type of business. Our blog post – “Should You Start a Podcast for Your Business?” – covers the significant investment in equipment, money, time and hard work that launching and sustaining a podcast involves.
“Small businesses should avoid the ‘peer pressure’ of shiny new platforms,” says Cynthia Ord, marketing manager at YellowDog . “Rather than following the crowd to every hip new platform that comes along, do some research and reflection about your target audience. You’ll likely find that your audience is still more reachable on mainstays like Facebook Groups or Nextdoor than on upstarts like Discord and Twitch.”
5. Not Paying Attention to the Quality of Your Content
Although it’s been said many times, the truth endures: content is king! For the purposes of content marketing, content includes video and graphics as well as the written word. As mentioned earlier, it also includes your website and everything on it – from copy to blog posts – social media, newsletters, etc.
Script Consultants sums up the situation as follows:
“It’s quite tempting to quickly publish content in order to hit a publishing deadline or because you think it will be easier to showcase the work to a client or your boss even if the content is of low quality. However, this is not sustainable in the long run and can actually do more harm than good to your website’s SEO. Low quality content will confuse and frustrate your audience, leading them to not trust your brand and potentially costing you customers.”
6. Inconsistent Postings to Your Social Media Accounts and Blog
Taking a hit-or-miss approach to posting to your social media accounts and blog means you’re more likely to miss. Your target audience won’t bother to guess when you’ll see fit to share some news on Facebook, or publish your latest insightful observations on your website’s blog page. Invest some time in creating an editorial calendar, and post on regular days of the week, at same time (based upon your research into the best times of day to post).
7. Neglecting Your Website
Remember, your website is part of content marketing! Keeping it up-to-date and optimized is essential to ensuring it’s a lean, mean, lead-generating machine – or a magnet for getting customers through your door. Otherwise, you’ll lose potential business due to slow load speeds, lack of mobile responsiveness, outdated design and a host of other drawbacks.
8. Ignoring SEO
You could have great content all around, but if your website falls short in the search engine optimization (SEO) department, few people will visit!
“Content marketing is about creating relevant content your target audience will value,” says Postmedia Solutions. “To be successful and drive the right high-intent audiences to your site, the two should work together and be given enough time to generate results. SEO and content marketing take patience and finetuning.”
While your website needs the right keywords to help place it high in the search engine results pages (SERPs), SEO also includes optimizing meta titles, meta descriptions and header tags – as well as publishing new and engaging content on a regular basis in the form of blog posts.
9. Neglecting Your Google Business Profile
As our blog post – “How to Rank in Google Local Pack” – covers, you must claim and optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP) in order to stand out in Google’s ranking system. This was known as Google My Business until November 2021, and you may still know it by this name. Your GBP shows up when customers search for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps. It also lets you post updates to showcase what’s new, respond to reviews to build loyalty and add photos to highlight what makes your business special.
If you neglect your GBP, you’re not only leaving money on the table, you’re making life easier for your competitors, who’ll be found by potential customers long before your business!
10. Ignoring Analytics and Not Measuring ROI
“A mistake that many businesses make when it comes to content marketing is not paying attention to their analytics,” says Script Consultants. “This means that they’re not tracking how many people are visiting their website, what pages they’re visiting, how long they’re staying on each page, or where they’re coming from.”
Analytics helps you measure the ROI you’re receiving from your content marketing strategy. Google Analytics is a powerful free tool that includes features that can help users identify trends and patterns in how visitors engage with their websites. Features enable data collection, analysis, monitoring, visualization, reporting and integration with other applications.
Being able to measure ROI can help you determine if your content marketing is generating more leads or sales – as well as point to deficient areas that need correction if not.
The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion
Of course, you can easily avoid all of these mistakes by leaving content marketing to our experienced team at Virtual Stacks Systems! Our wide range of digital marketing services include website design and redesign, SEO marketing, social media marketing, PPC advertising, review management services and much more!
Contact us today to get started.