As you take your first steps into the world of content marketing, you may have a few concerns: “Am I doing it right?”, “will my content have an impact?”, “is anyone interested?”
The best way to counter these concerns is to follow best practice and avoid the common content marketing mistakes that many companies make when they start out on their content journey.
The Prize Content blog is filled with content marketing advice and information on best practice. But, in this post, we’re going to highlight some of the mistakes that you should avoid to make your content marketing activity a success.
Starting with No Clear Content Marketing Plan or Strategy
The cornerstone of any successful content marketing activity is a detailed plan and a well-thought-out strategy. It’s not enough to just be ‘doing’ content marketing, you have to be following a framework in order to achieve your goals.
And your goals are where you should start. Do you want to reach a new audience or drive sales? Raise awareness or promote a new product? What you want to achieve is the centre of your strategy. From there, you should decide how your content can funnel the reader toward the goal.
Then there’s your audience. Who are they? What are their pains? What do they want to achieve? We’ll cover this in more detail soon, but the audience is crucial in planning how your content marketing activities are arranged and what your content is about.
Once you’ve determined what you want to achieve and who your audience is, it’s time to decide what your content looks like and when it’ll be published. To do this, we’d recommend building an editorial calendar that itemises your content and specifies which dates they’ll be released on. In doing so, you’ll have planned your forthcoming content and have a document that holds you accountable for producing and releasing it.
If you want to know more about planning your content and managing your output, you’re in luck, because earlier this year, we wrote a blog post about just that!
Not Knowing Your Customers
So, we come to your audience. They are the most important people when it comes to your content. If you don’t know who they are, how to reach them, or what they’re interested in, how can your content help you achieve your goals? Well, it can’t.
Many businesses that learn about the benefits of content marketing rush to start writing and publishing without really knowing who they are looking to target. As we mentioned above, planning is crucial, and you can only plan an effective content campaign if you understand your target market.
The key to understanding your audience is research. Get to know your audience through surveys, feedback forms, and market research. Using the information gained from your research, you can gain demographic and psychographic information and build detailed personas, which act as great points of reference when creating content.
By discovering the problems your market is facing, the difficulties they cause, and the solutions you can offer, you’re able to create content that resonates and is meaningful to your audience.
Being Overly Promotional
At the earliest stage of your content journey, it’s important to recognise the difference between advertising and content marketing.
One of the biggest content marketing mistakes companies make is being too pushy and promotional. This, in effect, turns your content marketing into advertising, and it’ll undermine your efforts.
At the core of content marketing, and the primary reason it’s so effective, is that the reader gains all the value at no cost to them. They receive rare insights and valuable information, and benefit from the knowledge of industry experts. In return, they just need to spend a little bit of time reading the content.
The moment you turn your content into an advert and start pushing your products or services, you’re no longer giving the reader value; you’re trying to sell to them.
There is a place for promotion in content marketing, but it’s not at the top or even the middle of each piece — it’s at the end. Why? Because it comes after the value. Once you’ve provided the insight, the reader has the option to leave or to reward the company for sharing their expertise for free.
Sure, you won’t convert every reader into a customer — nor would you with advertising — but the more content you produce, the more loyal readers become, and the more likely they are to get in touch and become a customer.
No Clear Measurement and Analytics Framework
Plan > Execute > Analyse > Refine
This is a process that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is used by businesses that run successful campaigns. Integral to the efficacy of regular campaigns is the ability to improve them with each iteration. The only way to improve them, however, is to identify which areas didn’t perform as intended, and that requires data.
Campaigns can be unsuccessful, but many companies are unable to improve theirs next time round because they don’t have the data and analytics necessary to refine it effectively. Before embarking on your content marketing adventure, you must know what your goal is and exactly how you will measure your campaign’s success.
There are many ways to establish an analytics framework. If you’re launching a social media campaign, then you can use the built-in analytics tools on each platform to measure impressions, reach, engagement, and clicks. If you include links and calls to action in your blog posts or emails, then you can add tags (called UTM parameters) to the URL to track visitors.
Ultimately, the framework will look different depending on your campaign and your goals. The most important thing is for you to know what success looks like and how you will measure if your campaign has been successful.
Inconsistent Use of Brand and Tone of Voice
Brand identity is an essential part of establishing a prominent, respected business. When your company is consistent in its message, appearance, and voice, it’ll resonate with your audience, who will be ambassadors for your brand and help to sustain your growth.
But, if you are inconsistent with your message, appearance, and voice, your followers will soon become disillusioned and lose interest.
So, how do you achieve a high level of consistency, especially within large or multinational companies? By writing a brand identity specification (BIS).
The BIS sets the standards for not just your marketing, but all your content and written communications, such as emails to clients, website copy, and internal messages. It should be followed by everyone within your organisation to ensure consistent, uniform messaging. Your BIS should outline:
- Your vision and values.
- Your USPs and differentiators.
- Your approach to content, such as your tone of voice, personality, and key messages.
- Your house style, covering grammar, punctuation, formatting, and preferred words.
By writing and implementing your brand identity specification, you have a documented approach that ensures all of your communications — both internally and externally — are consistent.
Content marketing isn’t straightforward. In fact, maximising the impact and value of your content is rather complex. That’s why there are so many mistakes that can be made.
By avoiding these common content marketing mistakes, you can set your company on the right path.
Alternatively, if you find marketing to be a real headache, and you just want it to be taken care of without having to worry about these mistakes, we’d be happy to help.
To find out how we can help you reap the rewards of top-quality content marketing, get in touch with the Prize Content team today.