Are You Making These 5 Content Marketing Mistakes?
By Megan Krause
Well, stop. Please 🙏🏻
Help is on the way. While there’s no shortage of do’s and don’ts for content marketing, the items here are five of the most common mistakes I see companies make in their blog and web content.
1. Always Selling Yourself With Your Content
From small mom-and-pop shops to enterprise-level corporations, this is prevalent: Brands focus too much on themselves and not enough on their audience.
Let’s say you sell Puffleberry brand healthy breakfast products. Your target audience is searching for recipes, answers to their questions about healthy eating, and advice for eating breakfast on the go and/or weight loss.
Now, if all your content does is promote Puffleberry brand products, a few things are likely to happen:
- You won’t show up very high in the SERPs. Google likes in-depth content that meets a searcher’s intent; if all you’re doing is publishing 200-word posts announcing Puffleberry’s latest offering, don’t expect to rank well in search.
- When users who weren’t searching for branded terms do happen to land on your site, they’ll bounce quicker. There’s not much there for them, after all, is there?
- You miss an untold number of opportunities to engage new users, increase email signups, establish yourself as a leader in the food industry, earn backlinks naturally, get social shares—all because your content is Puffleberry-focused and not audience-focused.
There’s a rule that’s been floating around content marketing circles for more than a decade that says 80% of your content should be audience-focused, and 20% should be brand-focused. There’s no science to that ratio, and your content creation efforts don’t have to be divided exactly 80/20. The point is this: The bulk of your content should focus on your audience and answer their questions, anticipate their needs, and occasionally make them smile or tug at their hearts. Then you can talk about you.
2: Thinking You Can’t Do Video
In its annual report, State of Video Marketing 2021, video production company Wyzowl reveals these important stats:
- 85% of people would like to see more video from brands in 2021
- 68% of survey respondents say the pandemic has affected the amount of video content they’ve watched online, with the whopping majority (96%) saying it’s increased
And just look at you, sitting there, not making video.
Let me guess. You:
- Don’t have the budget, time or resources to create video
- Don’t know where to start
- Aren’t sure of the ROI of video
There’s no need for video editing equipment, fancy production or music overlays. You can shoot it on a smartphone; they take excellent quality videos.
In the beginning, go for a short-and-sweet-but-informative style of video. Start with a 30-second video in which one of your subject matter experts answers a commonly asked question. Keep in mind:
- Buy (and use) a tripod
- Be yourself; speak as if you are in a room with a client or customer
- Remember to include your company’s website and contact information in the video and in the description that goes on the video page.
As with any content you create, video included, make sure your audience can find it. That’s where keyword research comes into play, which I cover next.
3: Not Doing Keyword Research
Keyword research and search engine optimization help ensure your content shows up in search results when your audience is looking for information online.
Start simple. Begin with what you know—your brand, your services, your products and commonly asked questions. Think like a potential customer: What would someone type in a search field that would lead them to your website? List those keyword phrases in a spreadsheet.
Some top SEO tools are listed below. Keep in mind that these tools (except Google’s, obviously) use their own algorithms to estimate what their developers think Google and other search engines see when they crawl your website. They’re pretty good at estimating high-volume searches, keyword opportunities and ways to iterate on keyword phrases. However, don’t get caught up in the exact numbers that any of these tools report; they’re best guesses, not an exact science.
- Moz is a web-based SEO platform that offers free and premium services. In the upper right corner, select “Free SEO Tools” and create an account. Try some of your keywords from your spreadsheet to see what Moz estimates monthly search volume, difficulty and opportunities are.
- SEMRush is another a web-based tool with free and premium services. It has excellent functionality not only for keyword research but also for improving online visibility and discovering marketing insights.
- AnswerThePublic is a fun tool that visualizes related keywords. It doesn’t give the data behind their algorithms, but it does report related search inquiries to your keywords. In the image below, you’ll see what the keyword map for “healthy breakfasts” looks like. In some cases, you’ll see an almost endless supply of content ideas related to your topic. AnswerThePublic lets you export the list of keywords in a spreadsheet for free, too.
- Google is a valuable tool for keyword research. Try their keyword planner tool. At a very basic level, you can use Google’s autofill search function to see which keyword phrases people search for. Using our “healthy breakfasts” example, this is what Google Suggest says:
Google just gave you five ideas for blog content that we know are highly searched topics (or Google wouldn’t have suggested them).
You’ve researched your content, optimized it with the right keywords and published it on your website. Now what? What do you want your readers to do next? And how are you going to help them find that content? Those are our last two tips: calls to action and amplifying your content through other channels.
4: Not Using CTAs
Whether your content is a social media post on your Facebook page, a blog post on your website, or an email newsletter, every piece of content should have an exit door that leads to a conversion point.
In other words, no piece of content on your website should be a dead end. Always ask, what do we want our readers to do next? And then ask them to do it with a CTA. The call to action (CTA) is a link, button or instruction that leads the reader through the customer journey.
Example: A blog post titled “10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas” could include a CTA to sign up for your newsletter to get more recipe ideas. It could also include a CTA to browse your product pages.
When I say every page on your website must have a CTA, I mean every page. Those 404 error pages that readers sometimes land on accidentally? Even those pages need CTAs.
5. Not Amplifying Your Content
You create content and publish it on your website. Then what? Hope people find it? If you’ve optimized your content, eventually they will find it, but you’ve got other channels through which you can promote—or amplify—your content, so it finds the right audience.
Before I sing the praises of social media, let’s be clear on one thing: I recommend using social media to build an audience for your website and your business. Think of social media as a means to build your business, not the end goal.
In other words, you don’t want to build an audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. When you build an audience on those social channels, you’re building an audience for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You don’t own those audiences. You want to funnel that audience through those social channels to your website, where they can ask questions, subscribe to your newsletter, sign up for alerts, make appointments and buy products. That’s your owned audience.
However, social channels do have value, and you can build an audience organically by sharing your content through these platforms. Don’t forget to provide social share buttons on your site, so your existing audience can share through their social channels.