Just because content is king doesn’t mean there aren’t a few ill-advised jesters holding court. This is problematic because content mistakes will quickly undermine a company’s marketing objectives and cause readers and site visitors to tune out, perhaps for good. Worse many of the most common content traps are surprisingly easy to fall into and even savvy content marketers may be guilty of a few content missteps here and there. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most common mistakes content marketers make.
Too Much Automation – Automating your content is an integral strategy for increasing output and working smarter, not harder. We’re certainly not advocating against publishing automation or preset social medial posts. However, if content marketers simply “set and forget it” and don’t review posts before they go live they run risk of seeming overly robotic, missing great opportunities, or even making embarrassing mistakes.
Imagine a content marketer who writes an article about the booming industrial sector of a given city, state, or region and then sets it to post a few weeks later without following up. What if unexpected information comes to light, such as a large company going out of business and laying off its entire workforce? What if there’s a safety, health, or environmental scandal in the meantime? Such events would make the article very poorly timed and could cause the company to lose credibility.
No Underlying Strategy – It’s easy to get so enthusiastic about content marketing that the content and marketing take off in all directions without a solid, underlying strategy. The content marketer should first determine the goals for the content. Is it to increase site traffic? Establish credibility and expertise in a market? Get people to subscribe to a newsletter or email list? The purpose of the content should determine the subject matter, format, frequency, length, and just about all other specifics.
No Regularity – Some content marketers start off with a bang, rapidly producing and publishing high quality content only to taper off and stop completely. Others may continue in fits and spurts but never establish a rhythm, much less an actual content schedule. The trouble with this is that it keeps readers and visitors guessing, may give the impression that the company is not committed, and prevents any type of momentum from building. It’s better to establish a slow and steady stream of quality, regularly published content, than to buffet your audience with floods and droughts.
Too Little Research – Writing good content takes work. It requires research into the given topic of the post and may also require researching related disciplines and events. Sometimes reliable source material may be hard to come by and the entire process can be time consuming. However, good research is the linchpin of good content. The fastest way to get discredited is by making factual mistakes or engaging in wild speculation.
Research doesn’t end with the content itself either. Once again it is important to have an underlying content strategy and often that too will require research. The content marketer may need to research the target demographic, keywords and search terms in a particular industry, the company’s competitors, and much more.
Failing to Promote the Content – It’s ironic that the core purpose of content is to in some way promote the company it’s from, and yet to do that effectively the content itself must also be promoted. It doesn’t matter how great a piece is, if no one knows it exists it’s a waste of time. Part of the strategy is usually to encourage readers to subscribe or visit the site regularly for updates, and once again this is why content regularity matters so much. Another effective strategy is to promote the content on social media.
Writing Inaccessible Content – For content writers who are truly experts in the field in which they are writing, or who have simply done all their homework and have a deep understanding of the topic, it is easy to forget that uninitiated readers may not be as well versed on the basics. This can lead to articles and contents that is very highly quality, but over the heads of the target audience.
On the flip-side, however, if the content is specifically targeted at industry insiders or others with a strong background in the subject matter, writing content that is too simplistic or basic will also be detrimental. This is another key reason why having an overarching content strategy and researching your demographic is so important.
No Creative Flair – Almost as bad as articles that are inaccessible to readers are those that are simply too dull to read. Indeed extremely boring content is itself inaccessible if readers are unable to remain engaged. It’s important to set the right tone for your audience and to remain professional if the situation calls for it; however, injecting a touch of creative flair and author personality can go a long way toward livening up the content.
Underestimating Headlines – It’s tempting to get so wrapped up in the body of the article and the groundwork it takes to write it that you forget all about the importance of the headline. Yet it is typically that headline that will determine whether or not the audience actually decides to click a link or title.
Over-reliance on Text – Text isn’t the only type of content. Today’s web surfer has come to expect video, audio, tables, graphs, and infographics. Even a simple picture or illustration can often tell a story far more succinctly than text alone ever could. These additional elements will also give each piece of content its own unique character and personality and help set it apart from other, similar articles.
Falling Behind the Times – Trying too hard to be trendy will likely put some readers off and it is also a surefire way to make your content appear dated in just a few years or months. However, keeping up with certain large scale shifts in your particular industry or in society as a whole is crucial to keep your content and your brand relevant. Staying current will also allow you to address the most timely topics that your audience is truly concerned about.
If you are a content market then avoiding these 10 common mistakes will give you a major head start in what is becoming an intensely competitive content market. It isn’t enough to produce adequate or even good content; today’s web user is surrounded by fantastic content and marketers who want to succeed must do whatever it takes to ensure that their content is top quality.