Content marketing is one of the staples of every good marketer’s tool stack in 2018. With content generating three times as many leads as outbound marketing at 62% smaller costs, there’s no wonder.
However, with the abundance of content marketing material out there, not all of it is equally successful. With 3 years of writing content for the web, I’ve made some mistakes along the way that helped me learn to write and plan out better content. Here are some of those mistakes, as well as ways to prevent them from happening to you.
- Thinking that writing is all there is to it
- Thinking that there is only one type of content
- Thinking you know your audience well
- Thinking that your work is done once you publish
- Going for the hard sell
- Producing tons of content
Thinking that writing is all there is to it
Coming from a background in English language and literature, I was faced with plenty of writing tasks in my college years. Essays, reviews, research papers – you name it, I’ve written it. As I read a lot, I was also pretty good at writing, and it came naturally to me.
Once I landed my first job as a content marketing writer, I thought that I could immediately transfer this knowledge and skills to my new workplace. Writing an essay should be more or less the same as writing a blog post where you need to pitch someone’s products or services, right? I was in for a surprise.
While my college background gave me a good foundation of proper language use, sentence and essay structure, it was not enough for marketing purposes. I soon had to learn all about keywords, SEO, buyer personas, calls to action, landing pages, funnels... Just writing was far from enough to provide quality content for the web. I had to learn every day so that my writing didn’t feel like an essay on medieval literature anymore.
The question arises – can you be a great content marketing writer without a background in language/literature?
Absolutely, there are some excellent writers out there coming from various walks of life. However, some formal education in writing goes a long way in helping you create engaging content.
Thinking that there is only one type of content
For most business owners (and writers, unfortunately), when they hear the word content, they think of blog posts. While blogs are the most widespread form of content, they are most definitely not the only one.
Depending on the type of business you write for, blogs may be a completely wrong format to attract your target audience.
There are plenty of other formats to consider, such as whitepapers, case studies, ebooks, guides, infographics, webinars...
They all take a slightly different skill set to do right, but if you can write great blogs, you can master other formats as well.
What’s more, not all content types achieve the same marketing goals.
For example, one of the companies I worked for had excellent results with their blog. I wrote engaging content which was highly SEO optimized for proper keywords. The site soared in search engine results within just a few months.
Then, another company I worked for assigned me to write case studies. While these were nowhere nearly as in-depth and researched as blogs, they worked beautifully. They turned out to be the best way for the company to generate qualified leads – although they did very little for SEO purposes.
Thinking you know your audience well
One of the biggest reasons why content flops is that writers don’t know the people they're writing for. No matter how much research information you have at your disposal, unless you actually talk to the people you're writing for, you'll miss the mark every time.
To write compelling content that makes an impact, you need to truly reach out to your readers. Your writing needs to solve actual problems and touch upon their pain points.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know this information off the top of your head.
Instead of relying on your instinct, simply ask. You can conduct interviews by phone, email or in person.
Ask the company’s clients about what they want to read. What kind of problems do they have? How can you help them and make their lives easier?
Once your writing is aligned with their needs, you’ll have a readership base that keeps coming back for more.
Thinking that your work is done once you publish
If you’re a writer, once you publish a post, you can put your feet up and call it a day – your work is done. However, even the best quality posts get lost in the online realm quickly if they’re not properly promoted.
If you’re a content marketing manager, you should think of promotion during and after the writing. The best way to maximize the potential of a piece of content is to get as many eyeballs on it as possible, and your blog visitors alone aren’t going to cut it.
There are lots of strategies for effective promotion, with the lowest hanging fruit being social media. Simply share your posts on your social media profiles and do it more than once – you can even set up automatic sharing using tools such as MeetEdgar or Buffer.
Another way that works is reaching out to influencers in your area. For example, when writing about content marketing, it’s a good idea to tag Neil Patel or Brian Dean and let them know about your newest article. Who knows, they may like it and share your post, and it can become viral overnight.
Going for the hard sell
At the very essence of content marketing is the idea to provide value instead of pushing your product. As one of the cornerstones of inbound methodology, content allows you to solve problems and help improve the readers’ lives or businesses.
For example, if you have a web development agency and you make websites, your primary focus shouldn’t be to sell your services in your blog posts. Instead, create content that explains the best practices in website development, how to overcome common problems, tips for creating a great landing page, ways to design with user experience in mind, etc.
Always remember that visitors aren’t reading your content because they want you to sell to them – they want a solution to a problem.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you cannot sell at all. You absolutely should use every opportunity to link to other relevant content on your website, including landing pages. Finally, a great call to action at the end of each piece of content goes a long way in getting visitors to opt in with their email or click through to a product or landing page.
Producing tons of content
Everyone seems to be trying out content marketing these days. While this is a great thing, as it spreads awareness, at the same time, there’s an overproduction of content. This handy tool shows you how many blog posts get published every day – at the time of writing this post, the counter was over 4 million for the day. Most of that never gets read by anyone.
One of the mistakes I’ve seen with companies I worked with is the overproduction of content. They would write several 500-word posts each day. Needless to say, the posts lacked depth and they never really got traction with readers or search engines.
It’s a never-ending battle of quality over quantity. Many marketers think that by publishing lots of content regularly, they will gain more readers and have their sites do better in search engine rankings. As experts have shown, quality always prevails over quantity. However, it does help if you publish regularly as well.
If any of these mistakes happened to you as well – don’t worry. With a plethora of learning tools at your disposal, you can find new ways to create better content that engages visitors and performs well in search engine results. To get you inspired, here are some interesting statistics regarding the visual aspects of content marketing.
And most importantly, keep your eyes open and never stop educating yourself.
Author: Mile Živković