You know that content marketing is a cheaper, more efficient way to reach your target audience than traditional advertising is these days. You might even already be blogging, posting to social media and producing helpful buying guides for your prospective customers. But if you’re making these seven content marketing mistakes, you could be missing a huge chunk of your target audience — or worse, alienating those you do reach.
Avoid these content marketing blunders like the plague…
1. Not Knowing Who Your Customers Are
Most established, successful businesses can tell you who they’re selling to. But many can’t tell you much more about their customers, and this is where they get in trouble with content marketing.
Knowing your customers goes beyond gathering demographic data. It doesn’t matter as much where they live, how much money they make, or if they have one child or three – what matters is what matters to them.
- What do your customers believe in?
- What gets them out of bed in the morning?
- What is their biggest struggle?
- What is their dream solution for their biggest struggle?
Paying attention to what your customers have to say in feedback surveys or on social media is a great start. But go farther. Engage with your customers, connect with them. Soon you’ll find that you can articulate their needs better than they can – and giving customers what they need is the key to a long-term, loyal customer relationship.
2. Ignoring the Headlines
On average, 80% of people will read the headline of a piece of content, but only 20% will read the article. In other words, the headline matters a lot.
If you’re not putting effort into writing great headlines, you’re stopping people in their tracks. A persuasive headline will impel a reader to keep reading your post, marketing email, white paper, e-book or whatever other content you have created.
So how do you write a great headline? Here are some resources:
- How to Write Headlines that Make People AND Google Read Onward, from Horizon Peak Consulting
- How to Write Magnetic Headlines, from Copyblogger
- The Formula for a Perfect Headline, from Quick Sprout
- How to Write Better Headlines, from HubSpot
3. Not Knowing HOW Your Customers Consume Content
This goes hand-in-hand with knowing your customers. How do they like to consume content?
- Are they readers, watchers or listeners?
- Do they listen to podcasts on their long commute?
- Do they work 80-hour weeks and rely on their subordinates to give them the highlights?
- Are they busy moms with no time to watch a 15-minute video?
- Are they scholarly types who process written words better than audio?
If you are producing podcasts for visual learners, you’re missing the mark. If you’re writing 1,000-word blog posts for people who prefer video content, you’re not getting through.
Find out how your customers like to consume content, and provide them content in their preferred format(s). Not sure where to start? I recommend asking them.
4. Writing to More Than One Person
In marketing circles, your target customers are often collectively called your “ideal customer avatar” or your “buyer persona.” There’s a reason for this. Creating a single person out of the most common traits of your target audience makes your content marketing a thousand times easier.
When you write to a single person instead of a crowd, you’re more apt to connect with your target audience.
When you have a single person in mind while you’re creating content:
- You can convey a stronger message
- You can target your messages more effectively
- You can use that person’s specific language and overcome their specific objections
Not sure where to start? HubSpot offers a free template you can download.
5. Not Proofreading
I harp on proofreading a lot. A LOT.
This isn’t just because I’m a perfectionist.
This is because the quality of your writing influences your reader’s opinion of you and your business.
If your content is riddled with mistakes, your customers – especially B2B customers – will question your professionalism. They will question the quality of your product or service — because if your content stinks, it’s not a far leap to say your offering might stink too.
And then there’s the problem of miscommunication.
A mistake in grammar or spelling can drastically alter your message.
Just do it. Proofread your work. In fact, have another person proofread your work, because you’re too close to your work and a second set of eyes will catch things you missed.
6. Not Offering a Range of Content
Blog posts are relatively easy to produce. If your employees or team members have the bandwidth and the writing ability, they can contribute to the blog. Or you can hire a ghostwriter to help you out so you can stay in your zone of genius.
But if the only thing you’re producing is blog posts, you might be missing a huge swath of your target audience.
- Social media can help publicize your blog posts and get them in front of the right audience
- E-books or e-guides can increase your credibility and cement your expertise in your audience’s mind
- Video can reach visual learners and podcasts can reach audio learners
This goes back to knowing your customers and understanding how they like to consume content. Likely they get their content from multiple sources. So why only offer one source of your wisdom to your audience?
This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. You can repurpose your content in multiple formats.
- Take a series of related blog posts and turn them into an e-book
- Create an audio version of your blog or e-guide
- Produce a short video of the highlights from your white paper
- Turn that sales presentation into a SlideShare deck
- Post links to all of your content to social media
7. Not Focusing on the Top One or Two Social Media Platforms
Social media. The can of worms. So many options for platforms… where do you start?
Start where your customers are.
Now, there’s something to be said for having a presence on every big social media platform. Certainly claim your URL on every single one. Seriously. Go do it right now.
But as for putting effort into that social media presence – pick and choose your platforms.
Find out where your customers are. If your target audience is hanging out on Twitter and you’re buying Facebook ads, you’re wasting your money. If your target audience is on LinkedIn and your social media manager is spending half her day on Google Plus, you’ve got a problem.
If you don’t have a market research program already giving you this data, lean on Google for it. Type “best social media platform for [your industry]” into the search engine and peruse the latest articles on the topic.
Are You Committing These Content Marketing Sins?
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of some content marketing mistakes to avoid and how to avoid them. No matter how far along you are in your content marketing program, success hinges on agility. Pay attention to what’s working and do more of that. Ditch the strategies that you haven’t seen results from in a year.
I’d love to learn from YOU today. What mistakes have you made in your content marketing, and how did you fix them? Comment below or send me a tweet!