You probably know that content marketing is a long term strategy. To be successful, it’s important to know how to do it “right”.According to content marketing institute, even though 86% of B2B marketers say that they use content marketing strategies for their organization, but only 38% say they found it effective. So, definitely everyone out there is not doing it right. So, I reached out to some of the prominent content marketers and let them answer to this question:
What are the top 3 beginner content marketing mistakes?
I really want to thank all the participants who have taken the time to answer the question.
For those who don’t have the patience to go over all these 3400 words responses, here are some of the points that they all have in common:
- Making the content promotional.
- Not writing consistently or give up too early.
- Spending all time in writing content and not promoting it.
- Copying what everyone else is doing.
- No defined content strategy.
- Expecting quick and direct results.
Founder, Content Marketing Institute
The first big mistake beginners make with content marketing is that they stop, or become inconsistent with your content. If you are going to be the leading resource for your niche, you need to set the expectation that you deliver, on schedule. What the greatest media companies do best is that they deliver consistently.
Second, they are NOT niche enough. You need to go small to go big in content marketing. Focus on one defined audience with one very defined content niche. Set the goal to become the leader in that niche.
Third is leave out the sales pitch. If you start selling in your content, your audience will tune you out. Be remarkable and helpful and build an audience over time. Once they begin to rely on your content you can begin to sell them outside your content.
The 3 biggest mistakes I am seeing in content marketing are:
1. Bloggers and companies aren’t blogging consistently. Once you lift your foot off the gas peddle, it’s hard to recover from the traffic loss. It takes months if not years to build a popular blog so the last thing you want to do is give up early by not blogging consistently.
2. Bloggers are writing mediocre content. Blogging is a saturated space and unless you are going to write exceptionally good content, you aren’t going to gain any traction.
3. Bloggers are spending all of their time writing content. Content creation should only be half of your efforts. If you don’t focus on marketing your content, very few people will read it.
The biggest mistakes beginner content marketers make include
1) Making the content promotional. Content marketing is focused on providing customer value, not on promoting the brand. Your first editorial rule should be to not publish anything promotional, about you or your competitors. Outside of that, if it helps your customers, it will help your business.
2) The brand is the platform. We see many brands focus their efforts on rented land. Content marketing is owned media and needs to be built on a brand platform. It doesn’t have to be your corporate website, and you can debate how much branding you want on the site, but effective content marketers make the brand the platform and the content about customers.
3) Don’t give up. Content marketing is a commitment not a campaign. It starts with some form of regular cadence and a continuous delivery of content to support our always-on, digital world.
1. Inconsistency Creating content isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work, no matter the format. One of the reasons we do content marketing is to build and grow an audience. Audiences want a rhythm and cadence. Inconsistently delivering content to them breaks the cadence they expect. This isn’t a quantity play, either. If your audience is used to five blog posts a week than deliver five a week. It’s okay to deliver more, but never deliver less. Time magazine delivers a monthly publication. What if they decided to skip a month or two? Their subscribers probably wouldn’t like that. One the expected cadence is set make it consistent.
2. Over the top SEO I started doing content marketing last decade so I know what the old days of SEO were like. Some of today’s newbies are falling into yesterday’s SEO trap and creating content for the search engines and not for an audience. Exact match anchor text and repeated fat-head keyword phrases can make for an uncomfortable reading experience. Create content for people, not for search engines.
3. Brands don’t create content, people do I truly believe that all top of the funnel content created by a brand should give explicit credit to the person or persons that created it. I’m not saying this as an Authorship thing for Google, but a motivation thing for content creators. It feels good to get credit publicly for your work. Brands can develop fans, but people can, too. How much more effective would a brand’s content marketing be if the people creating its content had a significant fan base? It would likely be more effective.
Founder, I Pull Rank
Copying what everyone else is doing. Whether content format or subject matter.
Expecting hockey stick growth overnight and giving up when they don’t see it.
Not measuring content marketing initiatives effectively.
Founder, Marketing Mentor
Being too ambitious. I’m going to blog every day (or every week)! If you think everyone will find your blog, or that blogging is the answer”it’s simply not true. Blogging takes work. Writing takes time, and once you post, you still have to disseminate the information, which requires more time and focus. Tip: Start slow and small so you can keep it up.
Being too humble. I don’t have anything to write about. Saying you don’t have anything to write about or pretending you know nothing is a pointless obstacle. It’s not about what you know”it’s about what your market needs to understand better! You certainly know that. Tip: Don’t be arrogant, but do share with your audience the information they need.
Being too wordy. It’s all important. Once the floodgates open, you might discover more content than you thought possible. Clarify. Less is more. When it comes to content, make one simple point. If you come up with 5 pages”and it really is all important”then you have a series. Tip: Be short, sweet, and to the point.
1. Not placing content marketing in the greater context. As I’ve described elsewhere, all marketing is simply a sender placing a message into a piece of content that is then transmitted through a channel to an audience. “Content marketing” just a new buzzword for the transmission of content to an audience. In the 1950s, a door-to-door salesman giving a sales catalog to a housewife was content marketing” the catalog was the content and the transmission was the physical act of handing over the book. Today, it might be a business publicizing an e-book over Facebook. The content is the e-book and the transmission was via Facebook advertisements.
2. Not realizing that the production of the content is the last step of the process. First, it is crucial to identify and research the content’s target audience. What are their demographics? What do they want? What questions do they have? What are they looking for? What problems do they have? What solutions do they want? Then, once you know everything about the target audience, then you can craft the messages that the content will communicate and start thinking about a design that will appeal to them.
3. Not publicizing the content. Here’s my rule of knowing whether a piece of content is good enough: “Would you pay to advertise and publicize it?” (If not, then it’s not good enough.) It’s not enough just to post something on your blog or Facebook page and just hope for the best. Ninety percent of your investment should be on the promotional side of the content. If the content is good enough, then sometimes even just a little paid promotion can be enough for it to get traction and go viral. Lastly, the earlier audience research will tell you where your audience is located in the first place” are they on Facebook, in online communities, watching YouTube videos, or somewhere else? This is crucial to know where to promote the content.
Founder, Louder Online
Creating content for the sake of having content as opposed to creating content that is of value to people. Too many people are just creating blogs nowadays because they think that just any content on their blog will get the results they desire. What’s needed is quality content that provides value to people and is engaging to the point where readers cannot help but share it socially and link to it from their own blogs.
No defined content strategy. As with the above, people just go out there and start writing with no idea of the direction of the content, the purpose, the calls to action, the business drivers that this content needs to align with, the tone, style and voice to be used, the content frequency and consistency, or any of the other important things to have identified prior to spending the time actually writing content.
They ignore the marketing in content marketing. People think they will just create the content and traffic will come and the content will be an instant hit. Without proper marketing of this content it doesn’t matter how awesome the content is, or whether or not their is a fantastic content strategy in place, no one will see the content unless you market it. Neil Patel and I put together a great guide on how to build your blog audience that can be found here.
Founder, Blog Tyrant
This is a really awesome question! I wish I had taken the time to learn from others mistakes when I was first starting out as it probably would have saved me literally years of experimentation.
Firstly “ beginners need to know the importance of having their own web property set up perfectly for conversions. That means you need to start a blog or website with a strong brand, your own domain name and a design that is optimized for converting readers into subscribers/customers.
Secondly, make sure you have some concrete goals in mind. Write them down. Too often you see bloggers and content marketers having a vague idea about getting more traffic to their site. Well, lots of traffic is a waste of time if it isnâ€™t targeted and from the right sources. You want to tap into the right audiences for your specific goals.
Lastly, I’d recommend that all beginners avoid guesswork and just get started with A/B testing right away. Experiment with different marketing methods and then test which ones work best. Test different landing pages or parts of landing pages. Try and improve conversions by small amounts, bit by bit, until you start to make a good return.
Founder, Ask Aaron Lee
1. Not focusing on a subject
Most content marketers make the mistake of trying to cover too many different topics instead of covering a specific problem that their customer faced. They will soon realized that they are a jack of all trades and a master of none blog.
2. Trying too sell immediately.
Content that adds value builds trust! Instead of focusing to solve people’s problems, beginners tend to make the mistake of trying to sell immediately even before they add value. It’s a nice idea to think that will work but it doesn’t.
3. They give up too soon
Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same concept applies to blogging. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. 10 blog posts won’t make content marketing successful. Beginners tend to forget this and they give up just when their blog is about to take off.
Founder, Kings Point
Here’s my thoughts on the 3 major mistakes beginners make when it comes to content marketing.
1. Keyword research. If you don’t perform keyword research, then investing time into new content is almost a complete waste of time. There’s no point ranking for a keyword that’s no traffic. At the very least, use Google’s keyword planner and perform a search in Google to see the current state of rankings.
2. Quantity. I’ve seen it time and time again; brands choose quantity over quality. There seems to be an understanding that Google loves fresh content and so they publish blog posts two or three times per week and it does nothing for their traffic or conversion rates, only to label content marketing as a failure. Instead of publishing average content three times per week, spend that time on creating one great piece of content. Here’s a great example, at Tribes.no, we publish new content once every 4-6 weeks and we’ve seen organic traffic grow by 175%.
3. Analysis. Once the content has been published and promoted, very few companies are looking at the results. The key to content marketing is to find what works and do more of it. If you don’t analyze the content, then you will never know which content performs best. Some examples of metrics to start with are page views, social shares and comments.
Founder, Content Mastery Guide
1. Scattered focus. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, who you’re doing it for, or what you want to accomplish, it is impossible to succeed with content marketing“ or to determine what success will be. Take a focused approach by having a specific plan for your marketing (audience, goals, strategy, measurement), your time (when and how you will implement your plan), your topics (categories that are most relevant, interesting and informative for your audience), and each blog post (your main point and sub-points).
2. Expecting quick and direct results. The trust, awareness and relationships you create by producing valuable content take time. Quitting or making radical shifts too soon just makes it harder to gain any momentum. Be willing to commit to your initial plan for at least a few months.
3. Multi blog-tasking. Small business owners tell me it’s too hard to write a blog post, but that’s because they’re trying to do it all at once. Blogging requires many smaller tasks like brainstorming, research, outlining, writing, editing, formatting, publishing and promoting. Each task should be scheduled for a time when you’re best equipped to get the job done.
1. Audience Personas
You cannot engage your audience if you don’t know who your audience actually is, this is true for all forms of marketing and especially true for content marketing. When starting out it is extremely important to work out who exactly your audience is.
2. Content Creation
A lot of businesses believe that writing self-serving sales letter type content is the way to engage their audience and to maximize sales. Nothing could be further from the truth, a company should seek to answer and educate their audience with their specialist knowledge, aiming content at each of the three sales funnels groups, by focusing on all three sales funnel persona groups your content actually starts to perform the marketing aspect of content marketing in that it gets people to move along the sales funnel.
Steve Pro Tip I often advise businesses to go to each department (sales, customer service, support, production, installation, etc) and write down all of the questions and answers they have ever been asked by customers. This will provide you with lots of content which is highly targeted at your audience and unique to your business, utilize this with a uniform call to action and success isn’t far away.
3. Unrealistic Time frames and Lack of promotion
Most businesses fail at content marketing because they don’t hit the publish button enough times, how many times should you hit it? Until you are successful is the simple answer.
Content marketing is a long term marketing tactic and not a quick fix for a business’s struggling to fill order books. It takes approximately four months (sometimes longer) before you can see a traffic spike due to your content marketing activities and that’s provided you not only produce content but also promote it via all the usual social media channels.
Founder, Greenlane SEO
The first beginner mistake I see is writing for perfection. There’s a million ways to tell the same story with no perfect way. Content marketing has to contend with plenty of web-noise, so plan to write a lot. Getting hung up on a piece, editing it to an unrealistic standard, letting too many cooks into the kitchen, etc., just holds up the piece and adds (or removes) ingredients that often don’t make any impactful difference. It only burns new writers out on the process. Accept that perfectionism is a bad trait in marketing and it’s truly about the message vs. the rules.
Second, I know a lot of writers tend to just put pen to paper without a planned outline. Draft out the path through an outline with the purpose, goals, and KPIs logically ordered throughout. This isn’t the sexiest part of writing but can be the key to finding more homes. However just as important, spend some time thinking about this flow and if it fits the target websites. Here’s an example I once wrote a piece with a strong outline but didn’t really write for the particular audience of the website I wanted to appear on. In this case it was Search Engine Watch. I like telling stories, and had a sense that I was offering something different, to which Search Engine Watch is typically more “to the point” in their published pieces. My article was rejected by Danny Goodwin, the editor at SEW. Through his notes in the rejection letter I quickly realized I hadn’t written for their tone (and they didn’t want to bend). So, I thought about the tone, and submitted it to a more fitting website where it was wildly popular.
Third, I think we’re flooded with results of content is king. So new writers might see this mantra and believe that any content will do. If you’re not writing to prove something unique or stand apart from everyone else, you’re not doing much good. I once worked for a company who had no differentiators, nothing interesting to say, and didn’t want to take a stand for anything; frankly was about as vanilla as a company could be. Not only did it make writing and developing ideas extraordinarily hard, but no single piece took off. I didn’t stay long. The mistake is keeping yourself in a situation where you don’t get to expand as a content marketer. Keep looking until you find the opportunity that feels like a perfect fit so you can truly grow your career as not only a content marketer, but a thought leader.
1 Failure to create content every day. One of my DRGRs Daily Revenue Generating Activities “ is to create some kind of content first thing each day
2 Failure to be consistent Being consistent pays off over time. For example, there’s one piece of content, an article, from 2005 that still brings in around 1500 new people a month
3 Failure toÂ re-purpose We’ve all been told to work smarter instead of harder, but never been told how. Re-purposing is how. Create a 3 mistakes articles and turn it into 3 blog posts and 3 videos, and more.
So, do you find any of the above characteristic in your marketing strategy? If yes, it’s time to refine now. Let me know what else is holding you back from being successful with content marketing in the comment below.