What you don’t know really can hurt you. I can’t think of any content marketers out there who are knowingly sabotaging their own work by intentionally disobeying best practices, yet bad content and seemingly obvious mistakes abound in both onsite and offsite material. The only conclusion I can form is that these writers and creators don’t know what they’re doing wrong—and this effect is made greater by the likelihood that they’re seeing a handful of positive effects from their work.
The more you learn about content marketing, and the more aware you are of your own mistakes, the better your content can become. Even if it’s just a tweak here or a tweak there, these adjustments can eventually mean a much higher traffic volume and a much greater reputation in your community.
As you continue to advance your content marketing campaign, stay wary of these seven common content mistakes:
If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to slip into a “general audience” mentality. When you delve into a certain topic and you’re writing by yourself, you naturally tend to think about the topic in broad terms. For example, if you’re writing about applying to college, you might be tempted to describe the process as objectively as possible. This leads to thorough, but not necessarily appealing content. If your target audience is teenagers close to graduating high school, you might take a moment to talk about the fears and anxieties surrounding the application process. Doing so makes your content more relatable and more appealing to a central target audience—otherwise, its excessive generality might turn people away.
You’ll face a similar dilemma if you try to stick with a “middle ground” approach to a complex and controversial issue in your industry. As a professional, you’re naturally inclined to take sides as rarely as possible, sticking to the safe neutral ground that won’t rile anybody up. However, it’s better to pick a side and stick to it—even though you might turn off a small portion of your audience, the rest of your audience will like you better for it, and you won’t fade into the white noise of fence-sitters that inevitably arises.
Generally, content marketers are specialists in their respective subject matter. Because of this, you’re already well-versed in topics that your target audience may know nothing about. For example, if you’re writing about SEO, you might assume that your audience already knows how link building works and start writing about advanced techniques. This is bad because it can make people feel like they aren’t advanced or knowledgeable enough to appreciate your content. Instead, make it a point to cover sufficient background information—even if it’s just a note and a link to another, more basic post you’ve written in the past.
When you’re writing a post, you have to think about your own perspective. It’s unavoidable. But if you write the entire article about what you think is important, you’ll end up doing more harm than good. You need to think about what your customers’ needs are. For example, you could write a detailed post about a new technology that’s going to change the way you do business. This could be a great topic, but only if you write about how that technology is going to affect your customers directly.
Content marketing is a perfect opportunity to express the value of your products and services, but only when done so subtly. Any overt pitch of your own business (or your own products) will instantly register as advertising to anyone reading it, and most readers at that point will abandon the effort in favor of something more objective. Remember, your primary goal is to bring value to your users. Making pitches and encouraging conversions can only come after you’ve established that groundwork, and must be done sparingly and subtly.
Feedback comes in many forms, and ignoring any of them is bad for your campaign’s potential. Review user comments and social sharing metrics regularly to see how your content is being welcomed in the community. If certain topics, certain formats, or certain approaches are met with criticism or worse, indifference, you’ll need to act quickly to get your content program back on pace. Even if your users aren’t giving you direct feedback, you can use their behavior (such as tracking site visits) to measure their interest levels.
There are dozens of different types of content available, and it’s in your best interest to take advantage of them. There is no target audience in the world who prefers only one type of content, yet so many content marketers settle into a rhythm with one particular format (such as written or video content). Incorporate as many formats as you can reasonably handle to keep things fresh, and while you’re at it, get involved on multiple different social platforms too.
Making one or more of these mistakes doesn’t make you a bad content marketer; in fact, most of us have made at least one of these mistakes in the past. Nobody’s content is perfect, but if you can learn to avoid some of the most common pitfalls, you can ratchet your content up to the next level.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.