Content marketing ain't easy, but it's particularly difficult if you're not sure what mistakes you're making. Our guide to the 8 content marketing mistakes you need to avoid will help! (Psst, please do not tweet us if we've made any of them in this blog. Ignorance is bliss.)
1. Writing for the sake of it.
Yes, yes, content is important. It helps you connect with your audience, it helps promote your products or services, it establishes you as an authority on your topic and it’s crucial for boosting your SEO ranking. In short, it’s a must-have.
The problem with must-haves is that, weirdly, even though they’re the most important things we do, they often end up being the least inspiring parts of our day. We’ll get caught up in exciting new opportunities or creative ventures, and the daily rigmarole of churning out fresh content becomes exactly that – a churn.
An accurate portrait of you writing content for the sake of it.
Problem is, your readers know when they’re reading something that the writer didn’t really want to write. Hurried disinterest or boredom seeps through onto the page and inevitably makes for dull, dull content. Churning out content just because you know you should is a recipe for disaster, and you’ll end up with a resentful team of writers bashing away at their keyboards with no real drive or inspiration.
Feeling like you or your team might be in a bit of a content rut? Click here for our guide to what to do when content makes you :’(.
2. Not knowing your audience.
Steven Bartlett from Social Chain did a great little video on how nobody cares about your business quite as much as you do. Now, it might send you spiralling off into an existential crisis about The Point Of It All, but stay strong! Just because nobody cares about what you do now doesn’t mean that’ll always be true. What you need to do is get to know them.
Knowing your audience means you stop writing for you and start writing for them. You might think you know your audience already – in fact, you might think your audience is either a) you or b) everyone (neither of which is the case, we assure you). But unless you’ve gone to the trouble of building actual buyer personas, can you be sure?
Building thorough buyer personas and really getting to know the people we’re writing for is an absolute imperative at Noisy Little Monkey. But, if you’re not sure if you really need them, you can click here to find out.
(Got personas, but not sure how they can help you with content? No worries – we’ve got a blog post on that too. Hey, it’s almost like we knew you were coming!)
3. Not doing any STR.
STR stands for Search Term Research, and it’s a crucial way of building SEO into your website. Before we get started on any blog post, we’ll do a hefty amount of STR, digging through tools like Answer The Public or SEMRush to find out what people are actually searching for related to our topic and, crucially, the specific phrases they’re using.
With this knowledge, we know whether there’s actually any point to our content or not. There’s basically no point writing an article about the merits of purple vs green logos if nobody’s interested in reading it – or perhaps they are, but we were just using the wrong words to describe it. Maybe ‘branding’ is a stronger title to opt for rather than ‘logo design’ – who knows! You won’t know unless you use STR.
STR lets you know what your audience want to know and how they want to know it. Don’t skip it.
4. Clickbait headlines that don’t actually deliver.
Clickbait has become a bit of a dirty word round these ‘ere parts in the past few years, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Mmkay, but did she actually, tho?
Thing is, though, successful content marketing does inevitably include baiting clicks. After all, if one of the main ways you’re driving people to your content is from social media then you’ll need to stop the scroll. You’ll need a headline so attention-grabbing and impossible to resist that the reader simply can’t scroll past without clicking your link!
Crucially, the difference between good clickbait and bad is that bad clickbait doesn’t actually deliver what it promised. So there’s no harm at all in a title like ’13 Amazing Dogs That Look Like Bears (Number 8 Will Shock You!)’ as long as you do actually then deliver 13 amazing dogs that look like bears, and number 8 actually is pretty shocking. Your readers aren’t stupid, after all, and if your content marketing promises something which it fails to deliver, they’ll notice.
5. No images.
This is a ridiculously easy content marketing mistake to avoid! You need to break up your text with images. Simple. It doesn’t matter if you are the next Poet Laureate, the next Pulitzer Prize winner, or the next great wordsmith – if people are greeted by a great big wall of text as soon as they click on your blog, guess what? They’ll click straight back off. Especially if they’re a first time visitor.
When people hear or read information, they generally only tend to retain about 10% of it three days later. But, if the text is paired with a relevant image of some kind they’ll remember about 65% of it. Convinced? Thought so.
Totally agree, Mariah, but sometimes other pictures are important.
Always remember that the majority of people clicking to your content from social media will do so via mobile, so make sure you’re checking how the blog post looks on a smartphone as well as on desktop. Two or three images might be plenty to break up the text on desktop, but when everything’s condensed on a screen you’re likely to need a lot more to make sure it’s sufficiently broken up and not too daunting.
Need to get your hands on some actually decent royalty-free images? Tash’s favourite free image sites will sort you right out.
6. Getting too caught up in the thing.
Always remember that people are extremely busy. Even if you’ve done loads of search term research and you know your personas backwards, in all likelihood, you are really only catching people when they’re bored on their lunch breaks – and as soon as something more interesting comes along, you’ve lost them. In short, the moment that your content becomes disinteresting is the moment you’ve failed.
Now, your first thought might be “But I’m not a good writer! I can’t write interesting content!” - but unfortunately for you, we disagree entirely. Anyone can be a good writer, but you need to make sure you can identify when the content is becoming boring. Always try to put yourself in the shoes of the reader and, with every single sentence, ask yourself if it’s actually useful and actually engaging. It may be the case that you need to get an excellent editor on hand to help you with this (a second pair of eyes never hurts, after all) but eventually you’ll develop the tools on your own.
An accurate potrait of you being FANTASTIC AT CONTENT.
Basically, don’t get so caught up in your content topic that you forget to be engaging. If people don’t enjoy reading your work they won’t come back – and if they don’t come back, you’ve probably lost them for good. It’s as simple as that.
7. Not proofing!
Argh, proof reading! Isn’t it just the most boring thing in the world? Yes, yes it is. Every second spent laboriously poring over paragraphs and repeatedly googling ‘apostrophe use’ (just me?) is a second that could be spent doing – well, frankly, anything else.
We’re all really busy, and proof reading is one of those things that inevitably slips to the bottom of the to-do list in the midst of a super stressful day. After all, 9 times out of 10 it’s totally fine, right? And ultimately, who cares if you misspelt ‘excellent’ or used your instead of you’re?
Well, your audience might. Those little grammatical errors or spelling mistakes that our eyes so easily scan over when we’ve written the piece can be really jarring to a new reader, and immediately disrupt the flow of your text. Also, more importantly, they just make you look kind of sloppy and amateur-ish.
Couldn't agree more, Meryl.
Always get a second pair of eyes to look over your text or, if you’re really stuck, run it through an online proof reader like Grammarly (though we always think an actual person is preferable). When you’ve poured sweat, blood and tears into a carefully crafted piece of content, it’s a real shame to have it ruined by a stray comma.
8. Keeping it to yourself.
The absolute worst mistake you can make with your content is to not tell anyone about it. That's. What. Social. Media. Is. For. If you've written something wonderful, don't be shy! Share it on all the social media platforms going (disclaimer: as long as they're appropriate for your personas, duh) and don't be afraid to do so multiple times.
If you're looking for imaginative ways to reshare and even repurpose your existing content marketing, have a read of this 'ere blog post.
And there we have it - a super simple list of the content marketing mistakes to avoid when creating your content strategy. A strong content marketing strategy is the backbone of a strong social media strategy; the two are inextricably linked and, if you do it right, success in one will lead to success in the other. But - time! Argh, isn't finding the time to do it such an issue? Don't worry - we can help. To learn how to manage your social media super quickly, super efficiently and super superbly, you can download our free eBook by clicking the link below. It's freeee!