Content marketing is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the field of digital marketing, as an alternative or supplement to some more traditional marketing tactics like cold calling, advertising and sales pitches. If you are taking a content-oriented approach as a key part of your marketing strategy, it is important to make sure you are reaching the right audience in the right way.
With that in mind, let’s take a brief look at what content marketing is and the pitfalls to avoid when strategizing and executing your marketing plans.
What Exactly Is Content Marketing?
In the most basic sense, content marketing, as defined by the Cotnent Marketing Institute (CMI), is “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.” Sometimes called inbound marketing, content marketing is a type of marketing that utilizes published content in varying forms to attract and retain new customers. Types of content include, but are not limited to, blog posts, e-guides, infographics, videos, calculators, whitepapers, and ebooks. Rather than promoting products or services to customers, these content pieces are designed to provide pertinent information that will educate the audience by answering key questions or providing helpful advice. The content you provide should be relevant to your ideal customers.
Four Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
1. Making Assumptions About Your Target Audience and Buyer Persona(s)
Your target audience is the intended audience (viewers, readers, and listeners) of your content pieces. A buyer persona is the representation of actual people who want or need the products or services your company sells. Your content should be aimed at your buyer persona(s) and answer their questions, address their pain points and concerns, solve their problems, and most importantly, be helpful and memorable.
Remember, a buyer persona is a representation of actual people, not just a bunch of made up information based on hunches, feelings, and assumptions. In order for you to reach your target audience, your buyer persona must be based on real market research and data. Don’t just guess, do your homework! Talk to your current customers as well as employees at your company who work in customer-facing positions, and ask them lots of questions. Find out where your ideal customers spend their time online and what kinds of content they are most interested in consuming.
2. Having an “If You Build it, They Will Come” Mentality
So you’ve created a great blog post or an engaging content piece based on the research you’ve compiled about your target audience. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for them to find it, right? If only it were that easy! You obviously want to create content that your prospects and customers will find on search engine results pages (SERPs) in relevant searches (more on that in a minute), but your content is not going to be found unless you are making efforts to share it.
Share your content on social media. Look for opportunities to guest blog or have your content published in external publications with links back to your website. Post articles on relevant forums or groups on LinkedIn. Do all you can to make sure your content is being put in high-traffic places where your target audience can find it. Just remember, when sharing articles in forums or offering your expertise to third party publications, make sure the content is relevant, objective and not promotional. You want to present yourself as a subject matter expert and thought leader.
3. Creating and Sharing Content That Is Interesting to You but Not Your Target Audience
The latest viral video you’ve seen on Instagram or Twitter may be funny to you, but that does not mean you should be running to make a parody of it to share with your followers. When creating your content (and deciding on the medium through which you will present it), make sure to always keep your buyer persona in mind. For example, if you are selling financial software to Fortune 500 CFO’s or providing landscaping services to homeowners, you probably do not want to create a blog post or video filled with pop culture references aimed at a younger audience.
Similarly, make sure you are sharing your content in the places and platforms where your target audience actually frequents. If you are a B2C company that sells a popular consumer good like clothing or food, Twitter and Instagram is the way to go. A B2B company looking to target CEOs will be better off investing more time on LinkedIn. For guest blogging and contributions to third party publications, don’t just say yes to anyone who will have you. Make sure the blog or publication is both legitimate and relevant to your buyer persona.
4. Ignoring Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When creating content, it is most important to do so with your audience in mind. After all, you are marketing to people and not search engines. Having said that, people use search engines to look for information, so it is important to optimize your content for relevant keywords. Your ultimate goal should not be creating content that appears high in search engine rankings, but that should be a byproduct of performing research on what relevant terms and keywords your ideal buyers are searching for.
While SEO is important, make sure you don’t overdo it. Don’t just throw a bunch of keywords into a content piece for the sake of having them in there. This will make your content appear forced and artificial. Make sure your keywords flow naturally and are actually relevant to the topic at hand.
So, there you have it. These are the list of some of the common mistakes to avoid when undertaking a content-based marketing strategy. If you can escape these pitfalls, you will be well on your way to marketing success!
What other mistakes have you observed other content marketers make or even made yourself? What are your content marketing challenges and success stories? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.