Content marketing requires analysis, creativity and courage. It’s also difficult. It involves PR, social media, SEO, conversion optimization, and much more. With such a complicated topic, you’re bound to make mistakes. In order to try and keep errors to a minimum, let’s run through some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them!
Mistake 1: “Content marketing strategy and planning is overrated. Save time and just get on with it”
No, the opposite is true! An incredible amount of content marketing attempts in the communications world still feature random, haphazardly produced content. Why? Because it’s easy. The copyrighter dreams up a subject that he or she thinks is interesting – and hopefully the reader too – and sets off writing about it. Stop! The key to good content marketing is strategic thinking and planning! An appropriate, middle-to-long term strategy must be be found, aimed both at reaching company goals and addressing the right target audience. Otherwise you might as well throw your content straight in the bin because it just wont work – internally or externally. Concrete targets should be defined right at the start. Don’t just set off and see what happens. Targets must be realistic, measurable and planned. If you start your daily content marketing work without plans or goals, you’ll quickly lose your way and you wont even notice it. Straying off the beaten track isn’t necessarily the end of the world in content marketing. After all, you can learn a lot about new target groups down those little side alleys, and if you’ve already got a pre-defined strategy you can always find your way back to the “right path” once you’ve finished your daisy-picking. A much bigger problem however is impatience …
Mistake 2: “We didn’t go viral on our first day so we’re sacking it off”
Impatient content marketing operators and impatient superiors demanding instant results. And then losing confidence in the pre-agreed strategy when they don’t get a thousand re-tweets on day one. Content marketing doesn’t happen overnight! Not every article or post will have your readers dancing in the streets of Facebook and Twitter. Content also needs time to develop within search engines, to be shared, linked and spread its wings. So don’t throw in the towel after just a couple of weeks. Content marketing is a complicated business and involves PR, social networking, Google knowledge, tracking and analytics and much more. You’re bound to fall off and make a few mistakes from time to time but that’s the best way to learn. And it takes TIME.
Mistake 3: “Let’s organise a meeting to discuss tomorrow’s tweet”
Whilst there should be no mad rush to have instant success (as discussed above), daily decision-making does need to be efficient and swift. This is the basis of content marketing. Speed, trust and courage. Indecisive content marketers hesitate and panic. Hesitation takes up time and resources, colleagues run out of ideas and motivation, and the online world has moved on anyway. Perfectionist, over thought-out content which meticulously covers every base is likely to miss hammering the home the actual point and is therefore counter-productive. In content marketing, the opposite is required! Spontaneity and gut feelings are the order of the day. But, I hear you ask, is that really a good idea? YES. And not just from personal experience; there are studies too. When it comes to daily content production it really is best to follow your instincts. As long as your head stays focussed on the agreed overall concept and strategy, you can allow spontaneity, bravery and fun to take over the day to day, hour to hour operations. The result is perfect content marketing.
Mistake 4: “It’s just like free advertising, so post more about us”
Content marketing is not one big advertising reel. Far too many marketers think that customers care about their company and their products. They don’t. Customers care about themselves and their own problems. The aim of content marketing should therefore be to produce content which solves their problems. It places the target audience and their needs in focus. So how do you work out what your target audience wants? You have to crawl out from behind your computer screen and talk to people. Yes, talk. Interact. With real people. With your customers. What are they interested in? What do they need? What do they want to know more about? Win their attention by addressing their needs.
Mistake 5: “The online world is too fast for proper editorial planning”
Planning isn’t just for the “real” world. Good short, medium and long term editorship is important in online content marketing too, from initial research and fact-finding to storytelling to the final Facebook post, so that sufficient topics and subjects are available even when the going gets tough. You’ll find that infinitely more ideas and knowledge flow during a team brainstorming session than just trying to dream something new up on your own each morning. Editorial meetings should also include a discussion of illustrations for all topics large and small. There is nothing worse than a well thought-out and well written piece which is then let down by a rubbish image or photo. Fewer readers are attracted to the content and the whole strategy stagnates.
Mistake 6: “Multimedia is just difficult and expensive – stick to texts”
Businesses are increasingly producing glitzy, fancy adverts in the hope of going viral. But regardless of the special effects, the best videos remain those which are genuinely useful for the target audience. How to change a phone battery? How to cook a great tomato sauce? How to do my make up for work? The most “loved” content on the internet is the content which manages to successfully translate helpful text into even more helpful multimedia formats. Videos do the “translating” for the user. They take the effort out of consuming content and make it easy! The best videos are therefore easily accessible, comfortable to view and – most importantly – entertaining! One of a content marketer’s most important jobs is to understand successful YouTube bloggers and the way they work.
Mistake 7: “SEO is a technical process. What’s content marketing got to do with it?”
Google has learnt to think outside the box. From now on, “good” content – this means content which is genuinely useful for the user – will rank better in search results. Which in turn means that SEO and content marketing need to work together! Genuinely good content can become evergreen, consistently generating traffic in the medium and long term and attracting more new visitors to a website. Content marketing campaigns can also be used to plan and create link bait, making backlinks easier to predict. Nevertheless, link building should not be the only goal of your content marketing. If your business is conducting it’s content marketing purely with the aim of optimizing for Google, you’re missing a trick! When content is well prepared, well planned, well produced and well promoted, it will fulfil it’s own purposes automatically. And it certainly wont harm your rankings either.
Mistake 8: “We need an all-round content marketing specialist”
The key to good content marketing is like a chain: Content marketing needs good content. Good content is produced by experts who deal with the issues on a daily basis. These experts are probably already in your office. Sat next to you. Marketing, operations, development, personnel, PR, management. Every department contains specialists. Say hello! A good content manager is able to sift out the best topics from each area. The whole team is therefore intrinsically involved, in both content generation and the production, including PR, social media, SEO and conversion optimization. Yes, it’s complex, and there’s no such thing as an all-rounder.
The number of businesses eager to jump on the content marketing bandwagon is on the increase – and so, accordingly, is the hype! Many however find that, apart from high expenditure, they’ve not actually achieved much. The most crucial errors can be avoided before you even get started and the solutions often aren’t all that difficult. Strategy and planning, combined with realistic expectations and targets, are the foundations. Then, when it comes to the day to day production and promotion of content, the focus shifts to ease, simplicity, confidence, creativity – and fun!