Content marketing is effective when it is done right. It engages potential and existing customers, increases brand recognition, and drives sales. That’s why most businesses have a content marketing strategy and put their time, energy, and resources into creating marketing content.
But, what happens when content marketing isn’t done right? It probably won’t surprise you to learn that content marketing mistakes can be costly in all the ways that effective content marketing can be lucrative. Clumsy marketing can alienate your audience, tarnish your brand, and drive customers away.
With that in mind, let’s review some of the most common content marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.
Creating Content for a Hypothetical Audience
Content marketing works only if you know who your audience is. That means not guessing but doing a deep dive into audience research. You’ll need to understand who is in your target audience, why they’re there, and most importantly, what they want from you.
How can you find out about your target audience? If you’re active on social media, you can review your analytics to get demographic information about them and data about their interests. If you have a mailing list, you could create a short survey and send it to people. You could also do general research about the market for products like yours.
Posting Content That’s Not Tailored to Your Audience
Let’s say you’ve done the legwork and you know who your target audience is. You understand who they are, where they live, and why they need your products. That’s great! But if you’re not creating content that’s specifically tailored to their needs and wants, your content marketing strategy will fall short.
One of the most common mistakes I see people make is posting content that’s not directly relevant to their audience. You might love a cute cate meme – who doesn’t? – but unless you’re marketing a cat-themed product, it has no place on your blog or social media pages.
The solution is to take your audience information and use it to conceptualize content they’ll love. You can use your analytics again to determine which types of content get the most engagement. Then, create content to keep your audience engaged.
Putting Content Before Strategy
Anybody can create and post content. If you haven’t planned out a marketing strategy, it’s unlikely your content – even if it’s fantastic content – is going to get the results you want.
Before you create content and before you post it, you need to know what you want to accomplish with that content. Is its goal to increase brand awareness? Sell low content books? Launch a new print on demand product? Attract more followers on social media? Asking these questions will help you craft the right content to achieve your marketing goals.
Being Tone Deaf
Once you create a content marketing strategy, you may create content far ahead of time and schedule it for posting. But what happens if content that you created three months ago is no longer striking the same tone because something in the world has changed?
There are multiple examples of companies posting content that backfired on them thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. A supermarket ad featuring a Thanksgiving “Super Spread” feast fell flat at a time when people were being urged not to hold large gatherings. A marketing email providing tips on how to get started as a travel writer when most of us aren’t traveling had a similar fate.
My suggestion is to review your content calendar once a week and make sure there isn’t anything there that could offend or appear tone-deaf because of events in the news or a cultural shift.
Overselling Your Product
We’ve all had the experience of walking into a shop with the intention of browsing and having an overeager salesperson descend on us the moment we step in the door. It feels overwhelming and intrusive, and nobody likes it.
Despite that, a lot of people still post on social media relentlessly to get people to buy their products. It’s one thing to create content that’s informational and entertaining and another thing entirely to bombard people with hard sales pitches every day.
As a rule, your content should be about four-to-one in favor of engaging content. You can try to sell people your products, of course, but don’t overdo it.
Not Diversifying Your Content
You’ve posted a few videos and they get higher engagement than your content in other formats. That means you should post only videos from now on, right?
Wrong! Even if your videos do outperform your other content, it’s still important to diversify. Your content should be a mix of written content, video, and graphic content. You may choose to add audio to the mix by starting a podcast.
Not Making Your Content Accessible to All
Not everybody can watch videos or listen to your podcast. If you post content in formats that aren’t accessible to everybody, you run the risk of alienating people who might be interested in your products.
The solution is easy. If you post videos, make sure to create a transcript and enable closed captioning for people who are hearing impaired. Include captions and descriptions with your images for people who might not have high speed internet to download images or for those who use voice software to read content. Publish transcripts of your podcast episodes. The more accessible your content is, the bigger your audience will be.
You want results. That’s understandable but you should know that content marketing is a long game. Most people who engage in content marketing never have a viral post – and if they do, it often happens after a string of posts that never got close to virality.
If you’ve done the work of researching your audience and creating content to serve their needs and expectations, your marketing campaigns will get good results. It won’t happen overnight. So, continue posting, review your analytics, and keep an open mind!
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