Content marketing is simple, right? You just write a few hundred words every so often and post it on your website. Pretty soon, the organic search traffic is so good that you can cut the rest of your marketing budget and you’re good to go.
Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple. But along with having realistic expectations, the next most useful thing that website managers, small business owners, and marketers can be armed with is the knowledge of the most common content marketing mistakes.
That’s because once you know these mistakes, you are better placed to avoid them, and just by doing that, you are better placed than the “average” website and content source in your field.
Let’s get started.
Mistake #1: Website Owner Knows Best
This is a pretty simple trap to fall into. You own a business or publish a website, and you work on it day in and day out. So naturally, you’re best placed to know what topics you should write about as part of your written content, right? Not necessarily.
You see, a lot published content is dismissed as “not relevant to me” by website readers, and they don’t just stay and look for what they want, they leave. That’s a huge missed opportunity and a waste of time for businesses who value their online presence.
Do some basic research to find out what your readers want to read about, and the most obvious type of research is getting direct feedback. Ask your existing customers what they want to know more about, and look at the questions they are asking on social media or your help desk. You might consider including a quick multi-choice survey on your emails or at your physical office location to help choose between topics, and include a response that says “other” with a blank space next to it for suggestions.
The best brands and blogs take the time to create a content calendar that helps to plan the flow of content. I like to keep the topics that I am suggesting to my clients in a Google Drive spreadsheet, and then add them to the content calendar once approved. So if you are outsourcing content writing to someone like me 🙂 you will just need to let the writer know the topics for the months ahead and let them work their magic.
To identify even more topics, why not engage in a little harmless espionage……take a look at your competitors’ websites and social media pages to see what types of content is getting the most engagement. Take the concepts, and more research, and end up with even better, more meaningful content appropriate to your audience.
Mistake #2: Using Big Blocks Of Text
Novels are great, but they aren’t the best forms of communication that we’ve ever invented. Large blocks of unbroken text are rarely enough to grab and hold the attention of a screen-reader. And while we don’t suggest that any content marketing you do is overstuffed with graphics, gifs and interactives, a well-chosen non-text element goes a long way to making your content memorable and useful.
Having an interaction element to your content is a perfect strategy. This can be done most simply in the form of a rhetorical question at the beginning of a piece of content that you answer later in the article. To make the experience more engaging, you can insert an interactive poll into your content, which displays live results when clicked.
Judiciously using graphs, tables, diagrams and graphics to convey or reinforce meaning where the text is more complex or technical is also a proven way to improve your content strategy.
Mistake #3: Christmas Decoration Content
Christmas decorations on houses and trees in late November and December are a welcome reminder of the festive season. Christmas decorations in mid-April? Well, that’s a little jarring and out of context.
It’s the same with content. Content that is too focussed on a particular event or point in time can quickly become dated. And dated content that is no longer relevant can have a knock-on effect on the credibility and perceived value of your other material and by extension, your website.
To counter this, the majority of your content should aim to be “evergreen”. This means that it should be useful, no matter the time of year or context. That means being conscious of avoiding concrete near-term predictions (as these will quickly be proven right or wrong) or referencing topical events (especially sporting contests or elections). While it takes a little time to get used to, the lifespan of your content and your return on investment significantly improves when you write this way.
If writing content is not your thing, then it is best to outsource this rather than do it poorly, or ignore its importance completely. My team and I can help you with this, and I invite you to contact me directly to discuss how.