The Biggest Content Marketing Mistakes You Might Be Making [Expert Roundup]

Content Marketing Mistakes
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We reached out to content marketing pros across the interwebs and asked them to riff on the theme of content marketing mistakes:

“In the middle of 2015, what are you seeing content marketers do that they shouldn’t?
Or not do that they should?”

Their comments build on each other, reminding us of how to address content marketing mistakes via best practices and how we can all do better. Their keen insights tease out a few common threads and areas for improvement, such as:

  • Focus on generating quality content that your readers will want, enjoy, and share, as opposed to churning out ho-hum content like a hamster on a wheel.
  • Pay attention to your distribution strategy and channels so that your content finds an audience and vice versa.
  • Don’t waste good content by letting it lie fallow, used only once or twice.
  • Don’t cut bait too soon. It takes time for the investment in content marketing to pay off.

Here they are in their own words. Take it away, experts!

(NB — We did not interview the late leadership consultant and author Stephen Covey for this piece, but his canonical work on Highly Effective Habits gets a hat tip, particularly the 7th, which you can review further on his site.)

10 Experts on Content Marketing Mistakes They See Everyday

Janet Fouts

Janet Fouts

Founder and CEO
Tatu Digital Media

I see content marketers missing opportunities to get their message heard. Sharing a blog post once, broadcasted simultaneously to all your networks, really is a drop in the bucket. Pull out the points in the post and share it in different ways at different times to reach different audiences. Share it again in a few days, a week or even months later. A one time blast is simply a waste of your great content.


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen

Chief Content Officer
Actionable Marketing Guide

The biggest content marketing mistake I see again and again is marketers failing to promote their content enough. Take Social Triggers’ Derek Halpern’s 80-20 rule to heart. Spend 20% of your time creating amazing, quality content and 80% of your time promoting it.

Marketers must think beyond once and done promotion. Consider repromotion in the form of re-imaging content for different platforms. Here are 50 ways to repromote content marketing.


Jim KeenanJim Keenan

CEO and President
A Sales Guy Inc.

Creating content that doesn’t provide any value to the audience. Content is about teaching. Therefore it needs to align with the issues, challenges and problems your target market is facing. Too often content today is bland, simple, uninspiring drivel that doesn’t educate users on how to solve, address, capitalize on or leverage big, hairy, problems.

The biggest mistake content marketers make today is they’re too busy focused on the frequency, and quantity of the content and not on the quality and value of the content. Few people are creating really meaty shit.


Kristy MeyerKristy Meyer

Owner
Online Bridge

Please stop making your own business’s news the priority in your content feed. Get someone’s ear up at the top and show them how great brands are becoming greater by participating in the conversation. Let them know that playing it safe and only sharing carefully crafted messages about your own brand makes your brand too boring to be looked at as a contributor to bigger conversations in the social media space.


Joe PulizziJoe Pulizzi

Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Content Marketing Evangelist

Well, we see a couple things. First, the focus on campaigns, or short content bursts, is killing most marketers efforts.  It takes time to build a loyal audience. It typically takes over a year when targeted a specific audience in a content niche.

Second, there is little focus on actually building audiences. More of the focus is on lead generation or lower-level metrics like web traffic, clicks and “engagement”.

Third, there is still incredible priority put to building social audiences on platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, rather than building opt-in email audiences. We have no control over other platforms, where we have much more control over our own databases.

To sum up…if ROI expectations are less than a year, the initiative will most likely fail. Marketers need to build audiences for the long-term. If that can be done, we can build amazing assets that will ultimately lead to growing the top line. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.


Rand FishkinRand Fishkin

Wizard of Moz

The four areas I see content marketers making the biggest mistakes / missing the most opportunities are:

 

  1. Targeting content exclusively at your buyer/conversion-ready audience, trying to convert them to a sale directly. That’s very rarely how great content marketing works. Instead, I urge content creators to consider the entire conversion journey, from discovery to engagement to interaction with a brand (all the stuff that happens before a purchase/conversion). You’re trying to build your expertise, create a relationship, and grow your brand, so you need to target a broader audience (including potential influencers of your buyers), and a broader set of needs (like information a potential buyer would need long before they might even consider a purchase).
  2. Too many content marketers ignore SEO and search as channels for content distribution. Some keyword research & targeting, basic SEO-friendliness, and technical SEO best practices can help you get in front of the billions of searches that happen every day on Google. Google still sends vastly more traffic to websites that every social media platform combined (Facebook included) – and for certain types of businesses, that number is 5X+!
  3. Content gets produced without a great answer to the question “Who will help amplify this and why?” If you don’t have a list of at least 5-10 specific people you know will love that content and want to share it with their own audiences, don’t bother making it and focus instead on an idea where you feel great about that list.
  4. Content investments are often abandoned way too soon. Content marketing takes a long time to develop into a scalable, powerful channel, but many companies give up a few months in because they’re unhappy with the results. Just learning what your audience wants, what resonates with influencers, and what has potential legs can take months – if you expect results in <6 months with content (other than just learning), you’re setting yourself up for failure. Of course, that’s what makes content a great channel – most folks give up, which makes the few who keep at it and learn from their failures the exceptions that stand out.

Ashley ZeckmanAshley Zeckman

Director of Agency Marketing
TopRank Online Marketing

New and seasoned content marketers alike are facing a similar issue. How to consistently create high quality content that inspires action, often with limited resources and budget. It’s easy to get caught up in producing content and forget that every asset should be following a defined content marketing strategy that is based on understanding what customers need and want.

The solution? Use data and customer insights to guide your content marketing strategy so that you can focus on only creating the most impactful content assets. Secondly, repurpose your best content to breathe new life into topics that you know resonate with your audience.


Mike AlltonMike Allton

The Social Media Hat

One of the biggest mistakes that I see businesses and agencies making, still, when it comes to Content Marketing, is of course not unique to this area. I see it all the time across disciplines. And that’s a lack of effort put towards learning and adopting best practices.

Content Marketing is a skill, and like any skill it needs to be honed. When I see publishers who still don’t have social sharing icons on their articles, for instance, it’s clear they haven’t taken the time to read even the most basic guides on how to do effective Content Marketing.

Dr. Stephen Covey

As Dr. Stephen Covey said, we always need to be sharpening the saw. That’s true as both individuals and as businesses. Those hoping to take advantage of all that Content Marketing can provide as a technique for reaching and converting prospects need to dedicate time to learning and improving.

I recommend starting with Feedly as an RSS reader, and subscribing to some of the top Content Marketing publications and blogs. Spend a few minutes every morning sifting through the latest articles. To that, I would add working with a consultant or attending one of the major conferences, where the learning and networking is concentrated.


Marcus SvenssonMarcus Svensson

Head of Growth
Albacross

The biggest content marketing mistake I see more often than I would like is bloggers/marketers/website owners filing to keep their ideal customer in mind while producing content. It’s not just about quantity or even quality of the content. It’s whether or not it appeals to your readers.

Before you create a single piece of content, make sure it will bring value to your audience. This means that you should know your website visitors first. In this way, you’ll deeply understand your prospects’ needs and requirements.

For example, what are the problems they face? How can you help them solve the issue? With this in mind, you can create an outstanding content marketing strategy for your business.


Sarah ParkerSarah A. Parker

Social Media Manager
Union Metrics

One of the biggest mistakes content marketers make- and it’s an easy one, I know I’ve been guilty of it myself- is not practicing what we preach. We say over and over that every piece of content should be valuable to our audience (is it helpful? does it solve a problem or pain point? does it, at the very least, entertain?), that it should find our audience where they like to spend time, and it should be tailored for every place we share it (that is hopefully a place our audience likes to spend time).

Particularly when you’re strapped for resources, it’s easy to focus on production alone and ignore being sure what you’re sharing is really resonating where and how you’re sharing it. Always make time to review your key metrics and revise your distribution plan if you’re not getting the results you want. The best content in the world isn’t doing much if nobody is reading it.


Harsh Argawal of ShoutMeLoud - Head shotHarsh Agrawal

Founder
ShoutMeLoud

A common content marketing mistake is not focusing on the visual appeal of your content. No one wants to load up a blog article and see a long block of text. This tires out the eyes and makes it hard to find the pertinent information.

When crafting your posts, focus not only on what you’re saying, but how you’re presenting it. Break up long paragraphs into shorter sections. Add section headers to clearly define where new sections begin. Add in high quality images and videos so that your post isn’t only text. Make sure you’re using a color scheme that makes reading your content easy.

Taking steps to improve the visual appeal of your content will not only make your readers happier, but it can improve on page SEO. And, if your content is more enjoyable to read, it’s also more likely to get shared by others.

You’re spending a lot of time crafting well-written, valuable content. Don’t let all that time and effort go to waste by presenting the content in an unpleasing fashion. When done right, the visual elements and the written word will combine to form a powerful piece of content.


Featured image credit: Flickr User Joe the Goat Farmer, License: CC BY-SA (commercial reuse with modification)

Stephen Covey image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, License: CC BY-SA (commercial reuse with modification)

 

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Suzanne Hoenig is a strategist and writer helping small businesses, nonprofits, and private practitioners craft their marketing copy, grow their online and offline community, and navigate the changing tides of social media and digital content marketing.

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