Common Content Marketing Mistakes

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Does your content marketing need an upgrade? See if you’re committing any of these common mistakes.

1. No Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing only works if it fulfills actual business goals, whether that’s more customers, a larger email list, or more search engine traffic. What are your business goals for your marketing, and specifically, your content marketing? What’s your strategy to achieve those goals? Is your content marketing following suit?

2. Not Using an Editorial Calendar

Content marketing is not an isolated event. It takes months to build up a following and get followers into the habit of consuming and sharing your content. There are a lot of moving parts to even a small content marketing program, and they all have to fit together. This becomes especially true when you’ve got more than one person doing your content marketing. Even coordinating a writer, a designer, and a marketing manager can take some planning.

Editorial calendars can make everything go smoothly (or at least smoother), and will also give you a way to capture and incorporate your best ideas. For example, this free plugin, aptly named “Editorial Calendar,” works well for WordPress platforms.

Editorial Calendar

Use Editorial Calendar, a free WordPress plugin, to plan your content marketing efforts.

3. Not Using Keyword Research

Content marketing and search engine optimization complement each other; each technique should inform the other. Don’t get too far ahead in your content planning (or even write a headline) without pulling out your favorite keyword research tool. Confirm that what you want to create is something people actually want.

This is easier than you’d think. There’s a terrific free plugin to make your keyword research a snap: Try the free version of Inbound Writer. It includes a competitiveness measurement, too, so you can make the most of long-tail keywords.

4. Not Using Multiple Platforms and Formats

Have you heard of “the rise of the visual web”? Internet users want more than words. Blog posts are helpful, but infographics get shared more often. Tweets with images get shared twice as much as tweets without images.

To leverage new formats, make creating videos a habit. And always ask yourself if you could add an image. And don’t forget SlideShares, animated gifs, and podcasts. Want to make all this easier? Here’s a great app for creating social media images on the go:WordSwag, available on iTunes for $2.99. Canva is an excellent desktop alternative.


Canva is a free tool that makes creating attractive visual content a snap.

5. Content that Is Too Simplistic or Too Advanced

Creating content that’s too basic or too advanced is a symptom of a larger problem: Not knowing your audience. I’ll cover the solution to this underlying problem in a moment, but we should still cover creating content that fits with your audience.

How do you create content that fits? Well, first you do your positioning work, so you know which segment of the market you want. Then you create content that leads that segment of the market through the buying cycle. Keep in mind, it’s great to have content for different levels of expertise, but just make sure you’re serving up the right content to the right person at the right time.

6. Not Using Personas

Many content marketers either ignore personas, or don’t use them enough. Don’t let that be you. This is tied into having a content marketing strategy. Forcing yourself to use personas is one of the best ways to make sure you stay on strategy.

7. Content Is Not Actionable or Useful

“Useful” could also be defined as entertaining or worth sharing. But actionable is key. How will your audience be better after having viewed your content? Readers just gave up a few minutes of their life to consume it, after all. What will they get back for that time?

8. No Call to Action

This is yet another way to make sure you execute your strategy. What do you want people to do after they’ve viewed your content? Buy something? Sign up for something? Share something? Decide what you want them to do, and then make it as easy as possible for them to do it.

9. Creating Boring Content

For content marketers, being boring isn’t just… well, boring. It’s failure. Here are some common symptoms of boring content.

  • Similar content is easily found elsewhere (and done better).
  • A tiny bit of interesting content is watered down and made into much, much longer watered-down content.
  • The content is hard to understand (hard to read, hard to hear, or hard to understand how to use it).
  • The content has no personality. There is no playfulness to it.
  • The content is self-centered. It is a barely concealed advertorial.

10. Not Promoting your Content Enough

You can’t just build it and expect them to come… even if you invite them via email and Twitter and Facebook. Aim to spend at least (at the very least) a third as much time and money promoting your content as your spent creating it.

Many marketing experts would consider one-third a woefully low investment in promotion, but it’s a start. Some recommend putting five times the effort into promoting your content as you did in creating it. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but do try to promote for as least as long as it took you to create the content. That’s the formula the movie business uses, and they’ve been promoting content longer than any of us.

There’s an interesting effect to promoting this much. You will get far more results from your content marketing, but you’ll also find yourself creating far better content. No one wants to spend time promoting something he’s not proud of.


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