I don’t know about you, but I hate reading something I wrote and finding a big, fat typo. I immediately cringe, autocorrect it in my head, and then frantically try to find a way to fix it.
The good news? It’s usually a quick fix. But that’s not always the case in content marketing, where your assets may go through an approval process, get professionally designed, and then shared across your different marketing channels.
Every day, even the best content marketers make mistakes that slow us down, create more work, and steal our credibility. Don’t let this happen to you! To avoid some of the biggest mistakes in content marketing, you can start by reading this blog, where you’ll learn about three mistakes that you simply can’t afford to make and how to fix them. Then, if you’re hungry for more, join me for my 8 Biggest Mistakes Content Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them webinar.
Let’s get started! Here are three common mistakes that content marketers make and how to fix them:
1. Not Writing Your Content Strategy Down
A written strategy isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have,’ but a foundation for businesses with successful content marketing. In general, B2B and consumer marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy, over no strategy or just a verbal strategy, get better results and are more effective, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study.
If your content strategy needs to be written down, could use some polish, or doesn’t exist at all, start by thinking about your content strategy as the business case for creating content, as a whole and on an individual asset level.
To get started, here are a few key elements you’ll want to document in your content marketing strategy:
- Goals: Seems important, right? Your strategy should include why you are creating content (in general), as well as why you are creating each piece of content. As you’re documenting those answers, make sure to include what you want the outcome to be. You can’t exceed expectations if you never set them.
- Audience and persona maps: Next, you’ll want to document who you’re writing for. In many businesses, you may want to engage a few different audiences with your content. While it’s great to have a general idea of the different groups of people, it’s also important that you understand and include more details about who those people are. That detail can come in the form of a persona, which is a description of who your buyer is, their characteristics, their responsibilities, their biggest challenges, etc. Being specific about who you want to reach with your content will help you understand how to create content that resonates with them.
- Channels: Content’s pretty cool, but without the right distribution and promotion, you may never get the eyeballs you want on it. Use your content marketing strategy to detail how, when, and where you will share your content.
- Types of content: Format can vary based on the industry, audience, channel, how much you have to say on a topic, and other variables. But if you know you’re only going to produce, say, infographics and blogs, write that down. And then, explain why you chose those formats and what types of audiences or topics they would be the best fit for.
- Content guidelines: Content guidelines can include many things, such as your brand’s style guidelines which answer questions like: is internet capitalized? Do you use an oxford comma? And, how do you talk about your brand and solutions? They might also detail your content creation process, and define who writes, edits, and approves your content.
2. Not Understanding What Content Already Exists
The demand for content can be intense, and while it’s critical to deliver value to your audience and enable your team with the right content to engage them with, you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel each time. Chances are that you aren’t the first person in your organization to create content—maybe you even have many content predecessors.
One of the biggest mistakes that a content marketer can make is not taking the time to understand and familiarize themselves with the content that already exists. At Marketo, my team and I create content, but we also like to think of ourselves as Content Librarians—the people in our organization who can help someone find the assets they’re looking for. That means understanding what we have in our content library and blog backwards and forwards—a skill that has saved us both time and resources because we don’t have to recreate assets that still have value but have gotten buried.
3. Falling Into the “More” Trap
Understanding your existing content is helpful, but equally important is understanding that there are limits to how much content you can create and distribute, and ultimately how much your audience wants to see. ‘More content’ can be a crutch that organizations use to churn out content that is organization-centric instead of buyer- or customer-centric.
Is another, slightly different asset going to deliver more value to your audience than the asset you already have? Can you even promote your current content to your audience effectively today? Or are they already inundated with other marketing messages and content from you? Today’s buyers have reached a saturation point when it comes to marketing messages. Just think about how many communications you receive from different brands every day. And while content can break through the noise because it offers real value, I urge my fellow content marketer to question “more.” Instead of answering the call for “more,” ask yourself how you’re currently leveraging the assets you already have and why a new piece would be better.
And those are just the start—join me for my webinar 8 Biggest Mistakes Content Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them, where I’ll share five more mistakes that content marketers make.
I’d love to hear what other mistakes you’ve seen content marketers make and how you think they can solve them—please share in the comments below!