You wash your whites with a red shirt. You park a little wonky in the space. You stay up too late binging a Netflix series and oversleep the next morning. Everyone makes mistakes. As they say, to err is human. But it can get frustrating when you repeatedly see the same mistakes in your industry. We want to save you from costly, time-consuming marketing mistakes. So, here are eight common content marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.
Before we get too far into this discussion, you may want to know how I came up with this list. I didn’t sit down and brainstorm the items myself, but I also didn’t perform a stringent academic research process. Instead, I did what most of us do when we’re curious about something — I asked our leadership team and my marketing connections on Twitter.
I expected some overlap in the answers, of course. I didn’t anticipate that the responses would be almost the same. Now, I know this doesn’t necessarily make this valid, reliable research, but when industry pros identify a list of common mistakes, it seems we’d all be best to avoid them.
Common Content Marketing Mistakes
So, what are the content marketing mistakes the pros identified? Here are the eight identified most commonly and how you can avoid them. Not doing any of these? Fabulous! Carry on with what’s working for you. Notice yourself in some of these points? Not to worry! You can’t fix what you don’t identify.
1. Not Performing Audience Research
I sometimes feel like a broken record when I’m talking about audience. It seems like encouraging audience research and knowing everything you can about your audience is the first point in many posts I write here. Yet, here we are…
You have to understand who your marketing efforts are for. Otherwise, it’s like you’re standing on the street corner shouting at random people. Once you truly understand your audience — and I don’t mean data on paper, but who they really are — you’ll begin to recognize what they want and need from you. Then you focus on speaking directly to them and serving them through all of your marketing efforts.
2. Avoiding Strategy
We get it. You get super excited in those initial discovery meetings. You see the possibilities marketing can bring to your business, and you want to jump right in. Trust me, we do too! But you can’t go about marketing as if you know everything your audience wants or needs from you and how they’ll best receive that information. In other words, marketing from your gut won’t work.
You need strategy to back up each of your decisions. Without it, you aren’t just shouting at random people from a street corner. You’re running from corner to corner, trying to get anyone’s attention through any means possible. That’s not an effective use of any of your resources.
3. Letting Your Website Sit
Our friend Sheryle Gillihan says, “If you build it, they won’t come.” She’s not wrong. You can have the fastest, fanciest, most impressive website out there, but if you just let it sit and wait for people to find it, you’re going to get disappointed.
Too many people put a lot of time, money, and effort into building amazing websites, then think the site will solve all of their marketing problems. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. You still have to do work to build your website’s traffic. The good news is that once you start building site traffic, it can last and continue growing for years.
4. Writing Too Short
As a former journalist, I love short, sweet content. Nothing gets me like a great quote that creatively summarizes a big thought. For years I’ve taught writers to “write until you’re done.” No more and no less. I’m not a fan of word counts. Unfortunately, the length of a post matters for search, and writing too short is a negative for a blog’s rankings.
So, how long should a blog post be? That’s a bit of a trick question in content marketing. Every expert has their opinions about post length. And the type of post you’re writing matters. But, generally, blog posts should range from about 800 to 2,500 words, depending on the purpose, with items like pillar pages running 4,000 or more.
Most importantly, you want the post to show your expertise on a topic. Writing too short doesn’t allow you to do that. So, I still say “write until you’re done,” then look for places to provide links, examples, or other content to help your audience better understand the full issue.
5. Failing to Repurpose Content
Blog content takes a long time to write. On average, it takes about four hours to write a blog post. So, you don’t want to put it on your blog and not use it anywhere else. You need to get the most out of the time you spend!
To get the most out of your blog posts, share them on social media and encourage shareability among others. Use a series of blog posts to create an e-book. Host a webinar, put it on your YouTube channel, promote it on social media, create blog posts out of it, and share it all in your email newsletter. Create lead magnets out of multiple blog posts or other types of content.
In short, never use content once. Think about how you can repurpose it for your various channels and audience members there.
6. Not Tracking Metrics
You don’t know what’s working and where you need to adjust unless you’re tracking it. Failing to watch key performance indicators is another common content marketing mistake. But it’s also an easy mistake to fix. Set objectives based on what you want to grow. Watch your Google analytics, social media analytics, and KPIs attached to your email newsletter service. Note content that goes as planned and things that surprise you. Adjust accordingly.
7. Using Every Social Platform
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Every social media platform you choose to be on takes time to manage. And, if you’re being honest, you’re probably doing better on some of them than you are on others. But here’s a little secret. You don’t have to use every social platform. It’s better not to use some of them than to show up in a mediocre way. Instead, focus on your audience. Which platforms are they already using? Go to where they’re gathered and show up at your brand’s best.
8. Saying Methods are ‘Dead’
Not every marketing method is perfect for every brand. Content marketing is no exception. But just because something doesn’t work for your business doesn’t mean it’s “dead” or won’t work for anyone. Heck, the same tactic may work better for your brand down the road. Don’t write anything off or espouse “truths” to others when an approach is working for them. Learn what works for your business and move forward.
Let Content Journey Help
We hope you aren’t making these eight content marketing mistakes. But don’t fret if you are! You aren’t the only one, or the mistake wouldn’t have made this list. Either way, it’s time to do better once you know better. Need help? Book a call. We love to talk content marketing and are interested in learning how we might partner with you.