10 Jul Top Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid – Advice From the All-Stars 2020
It’s time once again for our annual Top Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid – Advice From the All-Stars blog post! However, the world today is much different from last year, or the year before. So while some of the same offences continue unabated, new ones are being committed. We’ll get the take of some leading content marketing experts, along with observations from our own Virtual Stacks Systems content writing team.
Unfortunately, we lead with a mistake that’s recently become prevalent:
Not adjusting to the profound economic and social changes brought about by COVID-19
Repercussions from the pandemic are affecting every business in every industry. Carrying on your content marketing the same as the pre-COVID-19 world is counterproductive. Our blog post – “Could COVID-19 Change Marketing Forever?” – examines the long-term effects of the “new normal.”
For those who haven’t read it yet, our humble blog post concludes on an optimistic note. With change comes opportunity. Use this opportunity in your social media and blog posts to further connect with members of your target market by emphasizing with their emotions and challenges.
For example, if your market consists of mothers of school-age children, post content that acknowledges the extra responsibilities they’ve taken on as teachers – as well as (in many cases) working-from-home employees. Post links to resources that offer support, pass along tips and advice, etc. If people ages 60-plus are your market, posts about health, personal security (such as avoiding COVID-19 scams) and creative ways to stay connected with loved ones are effective means of sharing valuable information and earning trust for your business.
From Prateek Keshari, digital marketer: Additional advice on how to avoid this mistake
Writing for Hearst Bay Area, Keshari offers the following advice on content marketing during COVID-19:
- Understand the real importance of content in your marketing strategy by asking yourself some hard questions.
- Identify the trends that are reshaping the way we communicate and do business, and then leverage them to create content.
- Your brand’s choices matter. Use content to position yourself as an empathetic, helpful, and supportive brand.
Next up – Peter Herbst, VP Executive Creative Director, St. John & Partners: Tone-deaf social media posts
Tone-deaf social media posts and other forms of digital marketing are now more likely than ever to backfire in a big way on businesses, damaging reputations and alienating consumers.
“While brands and their agencies may be tempted to enter the conversation, they’re walking a razor-thin line between being helpful and being tone-deaf,” writes Herbst for MediaPost. “And the latter could do lasting damage to their brand … Figuring out whether your brand can be of service to people in tangible ways is the essential first step. If you have nothing helpful to offer but choose to insert yourself into the conversation anyway, don’t be surprised if you’re called out for it.”
The same holds true for small-to-medium-size businesses. Stay away from sales-driven messages, and think before you post. Check out the social media posts of your competitors or other companies in your industry to see how – or if –they’ve handled messaging on the topic. Also monitor reactions to such posts – for example, if a post received “likes” or critical replies. Your ability to “read the room” can inform your message, should you decide to post. As Herbst notes, don’t feel that you need to comment. Saying nothing is better than saying the wrong thing.
Futurist Kimberly Grimms weighs in: Not creating mobile-friendly content
Considering that approximately four billion people worldwide access the internet from their mobile phone, not creating mobile-friendly content is a big mistake! In her article for socPub, Grimms writes:
“Mobile-friendliness is an important search engine ranking factor. On July 1, 2019, Google enabled mobile-first indexing by default for all new websites. The search engine giant prioritizes the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. If you want to accelerate your SEO game in 2020, make your website, webpages, and content mobile-friendly.”
Granted, this is the opposite of what we’re usually told is a mistake – not paying enough attention to SEO. However, Dennis makes the argument that SEO isn’t solely about appealing to search engines, it’s about engaging with people. He notes that fighting for search engine ranking is a competitive battle. “With over 2 million blog posts written every single day, you can’t rely solely on SEO to increase your reach,” he writes.
Dennis cites the success of Danavir Sarria, a marketing writer who uses comics to illustrate his blog posts. The unique format both entertains and educates readers, which allowed Sarria to quickly build his list of subscribers and become an influencer in the copywriting industry. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an artist! Just provide content that your target audience finds engaging and useful while following SEO best practices.
Says Dennis, “Use SEO to increase your rankings, but understand that SEO has evolved. It is no longer just about engines, but also about users. Find a legit way to appeal to your audience and you will see your reach increase.”
We conclude with John Hall: No call-to-action (CTA)
Leaving off a CTA – or being indirect about telling your readers what you want them to do next – is an all-too easy mistake to make when you’re feeling rushed to wrap up and publish your content. In his role as a contributor for Forbes, Calendar.com co-founder Hall emphasizes the importance of including a strong CTA.
“A call to action has one simple goal: guiding your audience members to do what you want them to do next. Whether it’s a blog post, a social media update, or an email, always include a relevant CTA that stands out so your audience members take the next step.
“Whether it’s something as simple as ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Try for Free for 30 Days,’ a strong CTA motivates people to move forward. There’s no question of how they can apply what you’ve shared.”
While Hall’s examples are more applicable to e-commerce websites, brick-and-mortar businesses can include a link to their website, a specific page on their website, a blog post or a landing page. Your goal is to drive traffic to your website, and have them take further action once they arrive. A clear CTA will show them the way!
Now from our own Best Content Writing Team!
Bad copywriting – Poor grammar, misspellings and incorrect punctuation aren’t the only components of bad writing, but they’re the most obvious. For social media posts and blog posts, writing that doesn’t meet the level of your business constitutes low-quality content. A blog post for a high-tech business that reads as if it were written by someone with no industry background isn’t going to help position your company as a leader.
Consequently, if your business is geared toward young consumers, a formal tone and out-of-touch attitude will fall flat. For this audience, slang and internet abbreviations (LOL, BTW, etc.) are appropriate and expected. Just be sure to use them correctly, or face ridicule!
Not everyone can be – or has access to – a subject matter expert, but your content writer should have strong research skills and the ability to write knowledgeably about your product, service or industry in a way that resonates with your target audience. Good content writing is a combination of technical skill, knowing who you’re speaking to and speaking their language.
Alarmist messaging – There’s a right way and a wrong way to message about your company’s COVID-19-related products and services. Scare tactics that imply – or state – that your target market is putting themselves at risk if they don’t buy what you’re selling only increases anxiety. Instead, emphasize how your product or service will help protect their health and improve their feelings of well-being and safety. It will give people a more positive impression of your business, and work toward building trust (that word again)!
The take-home message and our strong CTA (otherwise known as our blatant self-promotion)
That concludes this year’s edition of the top content marketing mistakes! Hopefully, our 2021 edition will return to the usual blunders and nothing pandemic-related.
Unless your business has an in-house digital marketing department, content marketing that checks all the boxes for best practices is a daunting task when you go it alone. Virtual Stacks Systems offers a wide range of digital marketing services – including PPC advertising, website design and redesign, SEO marketing, review management services, social media marketing, video production and much more!
Contact us today to get started.