Want Blog Traffic? Stop Making These Content Marketing Mistakes

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Content marketing can be an asset to your company if its used well, but it can also become a gigantic liability if the execution is poor.

When done well, content marketing will increase your traffic and increase the number of prospects in your sales funnel. However, there are 13 regularly made content marketing mistakes that will hold you back.

1. Inconsistency

Content creation can be overwhelming. After starting out with tremendous amounts of energy and passion, too many companies burn out. This causes inconsistent content creation.

Inconsistency comes in two forms – quantity and quality. It is hard to regularly produce great content and it is also complicated to maintain a regular posting schedule.

You need to find ways to make producing high quality content on a regular basis a priority for your business.

Here are some examples of blogs that maintain a consistent quality:

2. Writing for the wrong audience

Too many businesses start writing content without knowing their audience. The purpose of blogging and content creation is to build brand awareness and trust. If you speak to the wrong audience, you will not be able to achieve this goal.

one-simply-create-content

Sometimes writing for the right audience involves changing the topics you cover. Other times writing for the right audience means staying on the same topic, but using less jargon and more everyday language.

3. Using only marketers to produce content

High quality content comes from experience and insight. The experience and insight you need to write compelling content doesn’t always exist within your marketing department.

People can see right through thin, low quality content. That’s not all though. In 2011, Google created its Panda update to combat content that it perceives as thin so it’s in your best interest to create content of value for your audience.

Don’t be afraid to branch out to others departments within your organization and external experts to assist your content marketing efforts.

4. Putting your concerns first

A lot of content marketing sounds too much like a commercial – that’s not what it is meant to do. Content marketing is supposed to educate and inform, not pitch. The trend is that as you educate and inform people start to think of you as an authority and that, as an authority, people will want to interact with you, consume your content, and, eventually, enter your prospect list.

Remember: the goal of your content is to build familiarity, build likability, and build trust.

Bonus: if you need more details, Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz does a tremendous job of explaining what content marketing is in his Content Marketing Manifesto. Here’s the slide:

5. Boring headlines

While content marketing isn’t supposed to pitch, it does need to be compelling and persuasive to grab readers’ attention. A great headline will grab attention, hold people’s interest, be clear and easy to understand, and should include keywords.

Certain headlines are always popular – people love “How To” and list headlines. Those aren’t the only way to grab attention. Copyblogger also says there are other foolproof headline formulas that work. For example, “Who Else Wants …?” “The Secret Of …” or “Here’s A Quick Way To Solve …”

Here’s a good resource for strong headlines:

10 Surefire Headline Formulas That Work
(good headline huh?)

6. Only focusing on owned media

Owned media is, as the phrase suggests, platforms your business owns. For example, a blog or company website is a type of owned media. Too many businesses will write a great piece of content and only post it on their company website. Unless you have a highly trafficked blog, that’s not enough.

Content marketing involves guest posting and the use of third party distribution services to ensure your content is properly distributed and seen.

Here’s a resource to get started with guest blogging:

The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging

7. Not using a call to action

As I mentioned above, content marketing needs to inform and educate, but it also needs to be palatably persuasive. Part of such a technique involves using a call to action whenever you are creating a great piece of content.

You may want people to take a certain action after reading your material and they may take that action without actually being asked. The chances of someone subscribing, leaving a comment or sharing your content increases exponentially if you politely ask them to do so – don’t forget your call to action.

8. Putting quantity before quality

There are a lot of companies blogging and implementing content marketing strategies. With more and more companies involved, the need to create great content is more urgent than ever. Too many companies prioritize publishing three to five times per week over publishing one great piece of content every week.

Focus on writing that one great post per week and then you can think about scaling up once you hit the quality that you’re aiming for.

9. Not setting goals

setting targets

You need to set content marketing goals before you jump in. Without such goals, you will never know if you are being successful.

It’s also a big mistake to set vague goals. You need to set specific, measurable, and data-driven goals before you jump into content marketing. For example, are you looking to increase traffic by x%? are you looking to increase e-mail subscribers by a certain amount?

Don’t skip out on this. It’s very important to hold yourself and your team accountable to hitting these goals.

10. Forgetting to create landing pages

Creating landing pages and the associated offers is a complicated process and, understandably, companies are hesitant to incorporate landing pages into their content marketing efforts. Creating a great blog post and including a call to action will have minimal impact without linking to an offer specific landing page. Having offer specific landing pages will let you make specific pitches to the right audience.

11. Forgetting about search engine optimization

Not having an SEO strategy to go along with your content marketing strategy is setting sail for fail. This starts with keyword research to optimizing your titles and much more. Some people think SEO is either black magic or really hard. It’s neither of those. SEO is just hard work.

Sure, if you’re just starting out you’re going to have to be scrappy about reaching out to others to help promote your content and get guest blog posts placed but that’s what it’s going to take. Don’t give up :)

12. Forgetting about the real world

If your content doesn’t consider real world events it will lack the human element necessary for success. Your content should incorporate special events, customer success stories, promotions, new product offerings, and alliances with new partners.

Here’s a nugget for you, if you’re extremely fast about picking up news quickly, there’s a tactic you can use called Newsjacking. If used correctly, it can be a very powerful tool for pulling in traffic. Don’t abuse it though.

13. Only hitting one social network

Companies get comfortable and develop habits – we all do. However, habits can be defeating.

If you spend all of your time focusing on one social network, you can miss potential customers within your target demographic. Focusing too much on one network also leaves you vulnerable if that network starts making changes – for example, Facebook just made changes to the algorithm that decides what appears in people’s news feed.

If your content marketing strategy involves using social networks to spread your content, discover all of the networks your potential customers are on and go there. Diversifying your distribution channels will ensure you’re not left too vulnerable to such unexpected changes.

This doesn’t mean you should be on all social networks at the same time – it means you should constantly be testing different channels to see what sticks and what doesn’t. Being on every social network at the same time will lead to marginal results because you’re spread too thin.

A lot of these mistakes happen because of habits and an organizational culture that develops. They can and must be overcome to ensure the success of your content marketing efforts.

Conclusion

If content marketing was easy, everyone would be doing it. But there has to be a reason why successful companies are doubling down on publishing, right? It’s because it’s worth it. You won’t exactly get direct conversions from all of your content marketing efforts but you can damn well be sure that your traffic and assisted conversions are going up because of all the hard work you’re putting in.

Just look at the 8 startup founders that revealed their #1 user acquisition tactic… What was the common theme? Content.

Finally, if there is any key takeaway that you want to get from this article, just refer to the following image. These are the people you want to write for:

content-relevance-scale

Source: Rand Fishkin’s Content Marketing Manifesto

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Eric Siu

Eric Siu is the User Growth lead at Treehouse. He likes Apple products, food, travel, and Monopoly Deal. You can follow him on Twitter at @ericosiu.

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