As we move into the latter half of 2018, it’s a good time to review and reflect on the success of content marketing programs. Reviewing results may reveal new opportunities or signal areas where you may want to pivot. While there isn’t one right way to do content marketing, but there are definitely content marketing mistakes you should avoid.

If you have made or are making the most common content marketing mistakes, your organization won’t be able to reap the full benefits of content marketing. The good news? You still have time to fix things. Below are some of the most common content marketing mistakes that many tend to make.

Missing a Strategy

If you don’t have goals, you can’t have a game plan. If you don’t have a game plan, you can’t execute efficiently. Hopefully, you launched a content marketing program to achieve specific goals. Sometimes these goals are discussed in a conversation but never documented. Without documentation, it becomes pretty difficult to create a viable, data-driven strategy to reach those goals.

Whether you’re using content marketing to increase awareness, drive engagement, generate leads, or achieve another goal, you need to be able to measure and track success. Remember to tie goals to the metrics that matter. Then, you can create an effective strategy that will help you realize those goals. The best content marketers think like data scientists in order to create valuable and insightful content and distribution strategies that are based on facts rather than assumptions.

There are several places the wheels can fall off here:

  • Goals are discussed but never documented
  • Goals are documented but never mapped back to measurable metrics that will help in evaluating whether your content marketing program is on track or not
  • Failure to get buy-in or agreement from internal teams on the metrics that matter most.
  • Building a strategy that is based on assumptions rather than data
  • Failure to document strategy

First rule of content marketing club is document everything—even if you’re wrong. There will be opportunities to learn, so long as you are keeping track of your goals, strategies and tactics. Missing this crucial stage sets into motion a chaotic, untraceable set of events. Solidify good habits in this area and you’ll be able to pivot and improve more easily.

Not Knowing your Audience

If you’ve managed to avoid content marketing mistake #1, you should have created audience personas as part of your data-driven strategy. If not, you are in danger of creating content that is not suitable for your target audience because it:

  • Is too broad
  • Covers the wrong topics
  • Is promoted on the wrong channels
  • Does not resonate with your target audience
  • Does not solve for your audience’s key pain points
  • Misses the mark

Creating high-quality content takes resources and effort. Without knowledge of who you are creating that content for or what they are interested in, those resources and effort go to waste. Be specific in identifying your target audience. Also remember that your core audience may change over time as your business or your audience evolves. To see if you’re missing the mark, look at engagement metrics:

  • Website: Pages/Session, Avg. Session Duration, Bounce Rate
  • Social: Shares, Likes, Comments
  • Email: Replies, Forward-to-a-Friend

If those metrics are unimpressive, you may be talking to the wrong audience.

No Cadence to Content Creation

Content marketing requires a steady cadence and ongoing high-quality content production. Without a big budget or a stacked team of content marketing experts, this can be a struggle. Recognize if you’re stretched-thin for resources and look for outside help to augment your internal efforts. If you’re relying too much on executives to produce content, you’ll never achieve a steady flow of content that will yield real results. Shift content responsibilities to the content experts, whether in-house or through an external vendor. This prevents content production from stalling, which can be detrimental to your overall marketing efforts.

Rather than getting bogged down in the details, companies can opt to:

  • Hire a freelancer or an agency to assist with content marketing
  • Leverage content marketing tools to more effectively and efficiently execute content marketing programs, campaigns and strategies without breaking the bank
  • Partner with a consultant to guide content creation

Working with outside help can relieve some of the burden of content creation while ensuring that content is of a high caliber.

Missing out on SEO

Content marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand. They should work together, but often, marketing teams are focused on just one or the other. The truth is, content supports SEO. If you have a solid strategy, you can find ample ways to meet both your primary objectives and boost your rankings.

While your primary goal may be to increase awareness through thought leadership, you should still be creating SEO content. Using keyword research as a foundation for your content creation can ensure that you get your key points across while targeting core keywords that can improve your search rankings.

Selling, Not Telling

The mantra of content marketing is “Tell, Don’t Sell”. The emphasis is on storytelling and providing helpful, informative, educational content to your target audience. Even if your content marketing program is geared towards supporting sales, it should not be overly promotional. Internal sales and marketing teams need to work together on messaging that will positively impact prospects.

The purpose of content marketing is to build trust and credibility over time. When this happens, your audience begins to look to your business as an authoritative expert and problem solver. In this way, content marketing builds relationships and ultimately pushes prospects closer to a sale. But it does this in a non-disruptive, non-promotional way.

Content marketing is a critical component to marketing success. It’s instrumental to connecting audiences to your business. Avoid these content marketing mistakes to ensure your content marketing is as effective as possible.

This post originally appeared on the Content Rewired blog.