By Robert Rose published June 23, 2021

How to Build a Content Optimization Process That Goes Way Beyond SEO [Video Series]

About 2,7000 years ago, people began to optimize content so it could be discovered.

How? They built libraries.

Libraries gave people an organized archive they could search for answers to their questions.

About 2,300 years ago, the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt had a famous librarian, Callimachus, one of the most renowned Greek poets and scholars.

But Callimachus’ fame didn’t come from his storytelling. No, he introduced the first topical catalog of the library’s holdings. He ostensibly built the first Google of the world.

In this month’s Marketing Makers episode, I explore the evolution of content optimization, then leap ahead to the challenges of optimizing content in 2021. Watch the full episode here, or skip ahead to the segment where I show you a content optimization model for the future that takes into account all the ways people look for information today.

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By Anthony Gaenzle published June 22, 2021

4 Pitfalls That Can Kill Your Content Marketing (And How to Avoid Them)

For all the value and power content can have for your brand, it also can kill your brand.

Lots of brands are guilty of doing content marketing the wrong way and their efforts turn away potential customers and readers. Let’s take a journey through that downside of content marketing and look at how you can avoid those pitfalls that can kill your brand.

Pitfall 1: Have multiple personalities

Your content’s connection to your brand isn’t clear or is totally unrecognizable across the multiple channels where your content is published.

Failing to connect the dots to bring brand recognition to your content viewers – no matter the channel – can have a lasting negative impact. Audiences want consistency in their lives and simply will not connect with brands that don’t have a consistent omnichannel presence.

Whatever your brand’s personality is, make sure to work it consistently into all the content you produce.

Make sure your brand personality works consistently in all the #content you produce, says @AnthonyGaenzle via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 5 Steps to Find Your Brand Voice

How to avoid it

To avoid brand content confusion, develop a style guide. It helps the content creation team as they create content for your website, social media sharing, YouTube channel, and any other tactic in between.

Style guides inform your visual content as well as tone and voice, structure, spelling and grammar, brand message, fonts, and more.

You can create separate guides for your visual and editorial components or one giant guide that contains it all. Just be sure to clearly define the sections of the guide so your team can easily flip to the page they need.

Wolf Circus Jewelry takes great care to maintain consistency across its content and avoid multiple personalities across the brand. Its style guide kicks off by defining the brand and its mission. Including this info helps your content creation team understand the why of what they do. It also helps them keep the brand mission and message in mind and work it into every aspect of the content.

On these pages of its guide, you can see how the company presents the instructions to their content creators:

You can check out the 19-page Wolf Circus Jewelry style guide here.

The more thorough the style guide is, without going crazy (no need for 200 pages), the better positioned the team is to create a recognizable brand that connects, no matter where your content is displayed.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Brand Style Guide Writing Advice

Pitfall 2: Follow Pinocchio’s lead

Too many content creators fail to do their research. They simply copy the numbers from another site that’s already published the statistics.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught inaccurate, outdated, or just plain false statements or statistics in the article submissions from aspiring guest writers on my blog.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught inaccurate, outdated, or just plain false statements or statistics in guest article submissions, says @AnthonyGaenzle via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

If you follow the lead of content that has trouble telling the truth, you can quickly lose the trust of your followers.

Think about it. You tell someone to take a certain action to grow their business, but your recommendation is based on false stats. That person then takes the action you recommended, and it fails and loses them tons of money.

They are likely to then revisit your recommendation, and when they dig a bit deeper, they’ll uncover that what you told them to do was based on false information. Boom. The trust is gone.

And it doesn’t stop there. That person could start telling people about their experience. Word gets around that you crushed their business because of your carelessness, and your reputation will suffer immensely.

How to avoid it

Make sure any advice or information in your content:

  • Is accurate
  • Actually works
  • Is up to date
  • Doesn’t come from questionable sources
  • Isn’t controversial

Don’t cite statistics that are too old to be currently valuable or that you can’t verify through a native source. And definitely don’t cite “experts” who aren’t.

Don’t cite statistics that are too old to be currently valuable or that you can’t verify through a native source, says @AnthonyGaenzle via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Don’t get complacent. One little slip can hurt. It could even crush your brand if the slip causes someone too much harm or associates your brand with a really bad persona.

Don’t be Pinocchio. Be open, honest, and accurate, and your content will thrive.

Pitfall 3: Gate all your content

Every time companies create a piece of content, they ask the reader or viewer to log in or to provide personal data to access it. Creating a barrier for every piece of content severely limits its impact.

Gating all your #content severely limits its impact, says @AnthonyGaenzle via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Going barrier-free for most of your content provides a value to attract and retain your followers, fans, and customers. When we face a problem, we want an answer fast. We want that answer to be easy to access.

Don’t get me wrong, gated content is important in building your pipeline, generating leads, and growing subscriptions to things like your newsletter. Gated content can be a great way to generate business and even build relationships by allowing you to maintain contact through things like personalized emails.

But if all your content is gated, your audience will get annoyed. Chances are your content competitor is only a click away and providing similar value without asking for anything in return.

How to avoid it

Create ungated content to:

  • Attract a bigger audience to your brand’s content
  • Improve your search engine rankings
  • Encourage sharing of blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.

The company that supplies that info in the simplest, most accurate, and easiest to access manner will gain a lot of credibility in my mind.

You also can answer questions in open spaces like your blog or on social media. Join in conversations on forums and talk to your audience directly. While it may seem like you’re getting nothing at first, the goodwill you generate will come back around and ultimately lead to your desired results.

Pitfall 4: Forget to lock it down

Marketers put some of their most valuable content (e-books, white papers, demo videos, etc.) under lock and key, asking for a few simple non-monetary things to open the gate.

They want the recipient’s contact details to grow their lead-generation pipeline or email database. Then, they forget to lock down that personal data.

Your brand can be in some serious trouble if hackers get ahold of the data entrusted by these visitors. No matter how amazing and valuable the content is, even if it helped them earn some new clients or solve a huge problem if their personal data is stolen, your brand is in trouble.

How to avoid it

Data security likely is outside your purview. But you should make sure that it’s being addressed to protect your audience.

Follow these steps (or make sure they’re followed) to ensure the data’s privacy and security and keep your audience’s data safe:

  • Acquire an HTTPS certificate.
  • Use a CAPTCHA form for submissions.
  • Use database plugins to increase security.
  • Limit the number of team members who can access the database.

Don’t fall into the pits

Content powers marketing. And it powers the best brands as well.

But it’s not all good if you fall into these pitfalls. To avoid them, you should focus on creating content that:

  • Adds value
  • Ensures accuracy
  • Grows trust
  • Enhances security
  • Is consistent
  • Solves problems
  • Builds relationships

If you incorporate these core components into your content marketing, you’ll forge lasting relationships and build a loyal fan base that is eager to talk about how amazing your brand is.

Use the power of content marketing for good. Use the power of Content Marketing World to expand your skills for good. Sign up today for the virtual or in-person event this September.

 Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

By Gavin Bell published June 21, 2021

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