By Neil Patel published July 5, 2016

9 Mistakes You Might Be Making With Your Content Marketing Strategy

mistakes-content-marketing-strategy

Content marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies available today. All you need is to write a few thousand-word articles several times a week, produce masterful, in-depth, search-engine-optimized, intensely visual, user-focused content, and unleash it with the grace of an industry maven and the power of a market leader.

Easy peasy.

If only.

Content marketing is the modus operandi for modern digital marketers, but doing it right is no easy feat. And the future is challenging.

But there’s hope.

As I’ve executed content marketing over the past few years, I’ve spotted a few common and easy-to-make mistakes that many marketers make. If you can nip these mistakes in the bud or make some improvements, you’ll be a force to contend with in the wild world of content marketing.

Mistake 1: Your content isn’t great

No matter when your content is published or who you are writing for, poor content is not going to be well received.

If you are lucky, Google will simply sandbox the page or bury it on Page 49 of the search results. In all honesty, having no one read your poor copy is better than having someone read it and share it for the sake of making fun of it.

In the event that your content is read, your reader isn’t going to get much use out of it. A reader who has to battle through spelling or grammar errors is going to focus more on those problems than on your overall message. Even worse, this person isn’t likely to subscribe to your email list or your online services, or choose to buy any of your products.

I understand the problem. I really do. You hear about content marketing. You decide to do it. But pressed for time and pressured for results, you simply churn out a few blog posts, hoping that it will work.

But it usually doesn’t work — at least not with the results you wanted. Instead of gaining traffic, you simply have a spent budget, tired marketers, and a disappointed executive glaring at you.

Better content will get results.

How do you improve your content? A few things should be obvious — consistent style, no typos, images, etc. But, here’s a quick process from Backlinko to help you visualize your future (better) content.

It’s called the skyscraper technique: Find great existing content and make it better. In other words, improve on the best. Boosting your content quality should be priority No. 1 for excelling in your content marketing efforts.

Mistake 2: Your Content Isn’t Useful

A well-written article that doesn’t solve a problem or answer a question isn’t going to get a much better reception than a poorly written article gets.

If someone is looking for advice on how to get rid of an ice dam and you give them information about how ice affects the gutter, that person isn’t learning from you how to get rid of the ice dam.

Sure, it’s nice that you have explained why the problem exists and detailed the consequences of not taking care of it, but you haven’t answered the reader’s question. This person now has to search elsewhere for that information, which means you may have lost a sale or the chance to build a relationship with this individual.

How do you improve the usefulness of your content? This requires getting in the head of your users, identifying the questions that they are really struggling with, and answering those questions directly with your content.

Ann Handley’s excellent process will put you on the path to creating super-useful content.

Step-By-Step-Directions

Image source

Mistake 3: You’re selling instead of teaching

The focus of content marketing is to educate first and sell second. Ideally, you don’t mention yourself or your business until the call to action at the end of the article or video.

The focus of #contentmarketing is to educate first & sell second says @neilpatel Click To Tweet

Your goal is to teach your reader how to solve a problem and who to reach out to for help. If readers or viewers want to know how to change a car battery, they should know how to do so by the end of the article or video.

Your goal is to have people share your content to help you or your client look like an expert who gets paid to perform related services or sell related products.

Mistake 4: You don’t come off as an expert on the subject

When creating content for the purposes of marketing a product or service, you have to know what you are talking about.

If you read an article about baseball bats and the author mentioned how they would help you hit more touchdowns, would you trust that source? (The answer to that question should be no.)

Therefore, you have to take great pains to make sure that you know what you’re talking about and seem credible to your audience. If you can’t do that on your own, it may be good to work with an outside source who can.

Mistake 5: You don’t know what you want the content to achieve

Do you have a concrete plan for what you want a specific piece of content to do for your company?

For instance, you should know if you want your latest video to go viral through social media or whether it will be fodder for a landing page. If viral is the goal, you may need to create a video that’s more upbeat or vibrant that will get people thinking and talking about that content and sharing it with ease. If the content is meant for a landing page or a corporate site, you may focus more on selling yourself or what you have for sale.

Mistake 6: Your content isn’t evergreen

You want your content to provide value both today and long into the future. Evergreen content is anything that provides a basic overview of a topic or provides information that is just as true 10 years from now as it is today. An example may be an article about Earth that says it is the third planet from the sun and it takes 365 days to complete an orbit. Another example would be an article about the moon being Earth’s only natural satellite.

These facts won’t change and are accurate whenever you decide to publish them. Such content is valuable because you can use it in a blog post today, an e-book tomorrow, and as part of a webinar or as social media content a week, month, or year from now.

Evergreen content allows you to market to your customers and possibly increase revenues without having to spend any time or money on new marketing materials.

Mistake 7: Your content isn’t ideal for your audience

When creating content with the ultimate goal of marketing a good or service, you have to know who your audience is. Understanding and targeting your audience is crucial to a successful content marketing campaign.

Here’s the mistake, visualized:

Content-Centric-VS-Audience-Centric

If you’re on the left side of this spectrum, you’re doing it wrong.

First, identify your target audience. Know them. Research them. Figure out what they want.

Identify your target audience. Research them. Figure out what they want says @neilpatel #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

Tip: Creating content for the right audience will probably force you to produce super-focused content. That’s good. This level of content will drive the most focused and engaged potential customers.

Audience-Centric-Content

Image source

In some cases, you will target a niche or narrow market within a broader market, which has its own expectations when consuming content. For instance, you may decide that your target market is 25- to 45-year-old males. However, within that group are individuals with different educational backgrounds, economic backgrounds, and other variables that will play a role in how they respond to content.

While using basic language may cater to a younger person with no education or experience, it may turn off a highly educated executive with years of experience with a given product or service. Therefore, your best bet may be to create multiple pieces of content that may contain the same overall message but are slightly tweaked to meet the needs of each segment of your target market.

Mistake 8: Your content isn’t optimized to your target social channel

Marketing your content on social media is a great way for it and yourself to gain exposure. However, no two social media channels are the same. Those who use Twitter tend to like to share links or have the information condensed to a basic overview. Those who use Facebook want content that they can “like,” comment on in depth, and share with their friends who may have similar interests.

The audience on Twitter and Facebook may vary wildly from what you will find on LinkedIn or other professional networking sites. While you may be able to get away with snarky or edgy content on your Twitter account, you may want to maintain a more professional tone when using a social media site catered more toward professionals.

Mistake 9: You aren’t using SEO to enhance marketing efforts

Too often, content marketers and SEOs are at odds over how their disciplines mesh. I am both an SEO and a content marketer, and I see the two blending magically.

SEO is what will help drive traffic and decrease the cost of customer acquisition efforts. However, SEO is more than just using keywords or phrases in the hopes of landing on the top spot in the SERPs. In addition to knowing which keywords you are targeting, you have to use them consistently throughout your page, which includes using them in title tags and in paragraph headings.

#SEO is what will help drive traffic & decrease the cost of customer acquisition efforts says @neilpatel Click To Tweet

Furthermore, you should know how to optimize content for Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites. Doing so could increase the odds of readers finding out about you or what you have to sell by finding your social media pages as opposed to an article, video, or landing page that you created.

Conclusion

When done properly, content marketing is one of the most effective — as well as cost-effective — ways to market your goods, your services, or yourself.

By creating content that people can relate to, learn from and share with others, you increase the odds of becoming seen as a credible source in your industry. This will make it easier to acquire leads, increase sales, and get future content read and shared by increasingly larger audiences.

What mistakes have you seen in content marketing?

Want to prevent yourself from making more mistakes or fixing the ones you’re already committing? Subscribe for the free daily or weekly CMI newsletter with tips, trends, and insights to make your content marketing program even more successful.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he has created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. You can connect with him on Twitter @neilpatel.

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  • https://cheapresearchpaperforsale.blogspot.com/ Research

    No need to fear of errors, all of them do…

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      True

  • http://KHealey.com Kyle Healey

    Great guest post Neil.

    Mistake #10: Giving up too early on a piece of content. I am consulting a guy and we are outreaching to over 10,000 different media outlets, bloggers and influencers on a single piece of content.

    I should mention it’s a trailer for a movie, so we need to go all out. The bigger the content, the more outreach you need to do.

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Sounds like solid advice especially for such a big production

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    I ran into Mistake #3 just yesterday.

    My TV started acting weird. *Shame and loathing floods my body as I admit to spending time sitting in front of a television among such enlightened company

    So naturally I went to YouTube to find a way to trouble shoot the problem.

    I wanted to see if there was some stupidly simple hack that I could do to fix it myself like – “Just turn the TV upside down and give it two shakes to the right and left… flip it back over… rub your belly in counter clockwise gyrations on the middle of screen that sits over the hyphendufenator panel behind the glass… turn the TV on and off four times and the problem should be fixed.”

    So I clicked on a video near the top of the results – not an ad – that was described something to the effect of “Troubleshooting For X TV for X problem” and what I got was an ad. But not even like a low key infomercial ad. All this genius did was have a slide that sat on the screen with his business contact information on it. That’s it. For an entire minute.

    I clicked out of there so fast wishing I possessed the ability to put a curse on this dude that would make him super aggressively poop his pants the very next time he was standing with someone in their home, in front of their television diagnosing what was wrong with their TV.

    GTFOH.

    Any nobody got time fo that.

    If I wanted the Yellow Pages I would have grabbed them in the first place. No, wait, I take that back. That course of action wouldn’t have been possible since I haven’t allowed a Yellow Pages book to enter my home in OVER TEN YEARS NOW.

    So I click the next promising video and it does exactly what you’re preaching here and exactly what I wanted it to do – It walked through a number of things that could be wrong and showed me exactly how to diagnose what the potential problem was. And after I watched it, I felt like I knew exactly what the problem was.

    Now if the problem persisted, I’m not opening this TV up and making any kind of repairs on it. Even if I had a YouTube tutorial that walked me through the entire process. Nope.

    But I got lucky because later on last night my friend told me about the kind of a hack I was hoping to bumble into initially. He told me to just unplug the TV for 30 seconds and then plug it back in, which completely solved the problem so far.

    Disaster averted.

    But if hadn’t worked out that way and the problem got worse and the guy who shot the trouble shooting video that I devoured was a local handyman who gave a low key 10 second invite at the end of the vid to reach out to him if I wanted him to fix it, he would have gotten a call from me.

    All of that say, follow Neil’s advice.

    Don’t be the person leading with your hand out that gets cursed to poop their pants when they piss off the wrong person by showing up with useless advertisements in the wrong media.

    Be the person who makes the viewer’s/reader’s life better with your marketing and advertising… whether they give you money or not.

    Thanks Neil and a-hole TV repairman for reminding of such an incredibly important lesson. 🙂

  • Abigail Meisterman

    I don’t know if I would consider making more ephemeral, non-evergreen content a mistake. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to capitalize on a moment and with a content lifecycle in place you won’t end up with outdated content on your site.

  • Bhupinder Kaur

    Great Post Neil
    Your articles and the visual content you publish are evergreen and highly inspiring