Content marketing is often considered the holy grail of online marketing. It’s one of the most effective methods for obtaining new leads and converting them into customers. If you’re not involved in content marketing, you’re potentially leaving a ton of money on the table.
Some of us become complacent when it comes to content marketing. We get in a groove and keep on with our same habits as if everything we write is as good as gold. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. There are many mistakes that can happen when we allow complacency to set in and don’t pay attention to the details of the content we’re creating.
Let’s face it. You can find a ton of articles out there about content marketing mistakes and how to fix them. What you won’t find, however, is too many articles that talk about what I am talking about now. Most will talk about keyword stuffing or similar black-hat techniques that you need to stop. These are common, and the advice related to them is common as well.
Instead, I’m writing about less obvious ways you can fix your content.
5 Content Marketing Complacency Traps to Avoid
So how can you stand out from others?
There are many mistakes you can make with content marketing. I believe the following five are some of the most commonly overlooked that can really do damage to your marketing campaign.
1. Being Too Much Like Everyone Else Gets You Nowhere
One of the best techniques you can use is called the Skyscraper Technique. Created by Brian Dean of Backlinko, it basically has two components that are applicable to making your content different. The first is to find content that’s “link-worthy” (quality content that people want to link to). The second is to make it better by building off what’s already written.
You aren’t necessarily duplicating content as you are instead making something better than what’s already out there. For instance, if everyone is talking about “creating quality content,” maybe you can create an article about different ways to make your content high quality. You can also use examples within the content which is something others may not be doing.
If you write content that’s the same or similar to others, you won’t get much traction. You’re simply regurgitating what others have already said and not providing value for your readers. This isn’t the way to stand out from your competitors. Being different (and better) is what will set you apart with your content marketing.
2. Stop Selling and Start Answering the Question
Content is all about giving the readers what they want. Trust me, they don’t want to be sold on your product or service. People are coming to your website as they are looking for answers to their questions.
Blue Nile Research put out a great study in 2015 that showed most search queries are made in the form of a question (who, what, when, where, why, and how). This means that people are looking for answers. If you are able to provide them with the answers, they are more likely to do business with you.
Image: Search Engine Land
So, instead of trying to sell a product or service, write content that answers questions related to your product or service. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have a real estate website. Instead of trying to sell people on how good a realtor you are, create content that talks about the local schools or places to visit. People will often search for information about schools in an area before they start looking to move there. Great content that talks about the schools will likely bring visitors who lead to customers. Make sense?
3. Are You Writing Your Own Content?
We all get busy, but you need to stop outsourcing your content writing to cheap content writers. Stop using freelancers to create your content as chances are they’re creating content just like everyone else (see mistake #1 above).
Chances are you know more about your niche than anyone on ODesk or Freelancer.com. Start writing your own content as you are the expert and it will sound better in your own words. If you do decide to hire someone for your content, spend the money for quality. Check references, review samples, and even get a test article to make sure it meets your quality standards.
And yes, I know that content writing consumes a great deal of time. However, a well-written article will get more traffic for you than 20 poorly written articles you place in various locations on the internet (or your own blog). People want to read what you have to say, not what a content mill pumped out for you to post to your blog.
Remember, quality is the key and you are not going to make it by outsourcing to cheap writers. Hire the best copywriter or do the job yourself.
4. Set It and Forget It Is for Infomercials, Not Content
You may have the best content in the world, but if no one knows about it, don’t expect it to do you any good. The best content marketers know that content marketing begins after you post your article.
Simply writing and posting content is no longer enough. You must let everyone know about it. This is the only way to jump start it going viral. Without your help, it will simply sit there on your blog and collect dust.
There are common ways to share your content that we often neglect. You need to not only share it on social media, but also respond to other’s comments about it. You not only need to include it in our email newsletters, but also need to ask our reader’s opinions about it. Anything you can do to spark the conversation will lead to more shares, likes, and ultimately higher page authority.
Don’t stop at sharing. Make sure to use your content for other content (quote one article in another and use internal links in your website). You can also repurpose content into an eBook and promote it on Amazon. This is another way to help spread the word about what you have to say.
On a final note about sharing, don’t trust automation. Don’t abandon it either. Automation is good but has its limits. Make sure to always check your feeds so that your content is flowing the way it should be. Make changes as necessary to fit the content you’re sharing.
5. Your Plan Needs to be an Actual Plan
After everything said above sinks in, don’t just go and start plastering content everywhere you can. Even with the little things taken care of, you must still have a content marketing plan. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 37% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
Image: Content Marketing Institute
So why do you need a plan? Well, according to experts, those with a content marketing strategy have better return on investment than those who don’t. As your ultimate goal is to convert your readers into customers, it’s essential to know what content is achieving such goals (and which is not).
With time being a precious commodity, you want to make sure to spend time where it is needed. If you know what content is working, then you can build off of that. If you know what content is not working, you can look closer to find out why. This information is all vital to creating future content.
To have an effective content marketing strategy, you need to analyze your content. At a minimum, you need to use all the free tools available to you from Google such as Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. There are also many online services that will track keywords, visitors, shares, and check the overall health of your content.
Final Word on Content Marketing Mistakes
Content marketing is an effective way to gain traffic to your website. It’s arguably the most powerful digital marketing tool that you can use to obtain leads and turn them into conversions. However, if done poorly, it can cost you dearly.
Create quality content that is different than everyone else. Write content people can relate to that answers their questions, without attempting to sell them anything. Take control of your content to ensure you’re doing things correctly. After all, your competitor is.
What have been your worst content marketing mistakes? What steps did you take to fix them and what were the results?
Anthony Gaenzle is the Director of Marketing at SE Healthcare and Founder of the AnthonyGaenzle.com marketing blog.
He previously served as Director of Marketing for a global content marketing agency and founded AG Integrated Marketing Strategists, serving in a marketing consulting role for companies across a variety of industries.