Content marketing can make or break a business’s success.
Just ask Marcus Sheridan – he turned his pool company’s fortunes around by creating content that answered people’s problems. His pool company went from near bankruptcy to firmly in the black.
Want to recreate that success?
Of course you do!
But, if you want to do that, you need to avoid certain content marketing mistakes that are, sadly, incredibly common. Let’s take a look at what they are and how you can avoid them.
1. Making it all about you
Repeat after me: ‘Content marketing is always about my target audience. There are no exceptions to this rule.’
This is, by far, the biggest mistake I see over and over and over again.
As soon as your blog starts talking about how awesome you are, it’s not content marketing. It’s just plain ol’ marketing. Maybe PR. Maaaaaybe even bragging. Sorry 🤷♀️
Content marketing is showing how awesome you are by providing thoughtful, valuable information. That’s quite often in the form of educational or helpful content, but it can be in the form of entertainment too. Bonus points if you manage to do both. (Shoutouts to Andrew & Pete, and The Email Marketing Show, for achieving both!)
Since content marketing is written for your target audience, it should address them directly.
Writing in second person means you’ll create a faster connection with your reader than if you’re writing in third person.
Many businesses prefer third person because it’s neutral and more formal, but it creates a disconnect between you and your reader. This disconnect means the emotional connection between you and them isn’t as strong.
Since we make decisions based on emotions and not logic—even when we convince ourselves that we’re being logical—forming an emotional connection with the person on the other end is imperative.
2. Not knowing who your target audience is
Your audience dictates everything from your writing style to the information that you give them. If there’s a disconnect between your writing style and your audience, it will create a disconnect that reduces conversions.
For example, a brand aimed at teenagers wouldn’t say something like, ‘We seldom feel excitement like this!’ That sounds like something a grandparent would say. A teenager might say, ‘This is epic!’ instead.
Small changes in the phrasing that you use—even when it comes down to if you use contractions or not—influence who you attract and what they expect from you. It can create an emotional connection or it can ruin one.
3. Being too broad/general with your content
Broad content might help more people, but it will lead to fewer sales. Why? Because the market for that kind of content is already saturated.
The more specific you get in terms of your audience, topic, and writing style, the greater your chance of standing out is. It’s then easier to build your thought leadership and attract more people to your business.
There’s a big difference between writing about writing and writing about mental health for writers, for example.
That doesn’t mean you can’t cover more broad topics. What it will change is how you approach those topics.
A post on mental health for indie authors will be very different to one aimed at unpublished writers, for example. They’re at different stages in their careers, meaning they’ll want and need different things.
To be able to provide effective content that converts, you need to know what these wants and needs are for your target audience. Tapping into these are key to conversions.
4. Not having a plan
For content to guide prospects down the funnel, there has to be a clear path for them to follow. A yellow brick road, if you will, where you’re the Wizard of Oz at the end.
Even if the reader isn’t consciously aware that they’re being guided down the yellow brick road, there should still be content for each stage.
You need awareness content to draw them in, consideration content to answer their FAQs, and purchase content to get them over the line. Having enough content in each assists in their decision-making process.
5. Being boring
Most business content is really boring. But content written on behalf of a business doesn’t have to lack personality.
Unfortunately, most businesses think that if they’re too casual in their writing it makes them seem like they lack knowledge or expertise, that they’re unprofessional, or that it will reduce their audience’s confidence in them.
But actually, it works the other way. If you’re writing in a formal tone and in third person, it creates such a disconnect between you and the reader that it can make you seen unhuman. It doesn’t sound natural, and this makes people uncomfortable.
Even if you’re a B2B business, you’re still dealing with a person on the other end. And I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you’re a person, too.
People want to do business with other people. It’s therefore imperative that you make yourself sound like you’re human and not Siri or a stick in the mud.
Having personality in your writing is one of the fastest ways to draw in the reader—and get rid of people who don’t fit your target audience. The stronger your voice is, the more memorable you’ll be.
Innocent Smoothies do a great job of this. Not only is the copy on their packaging super fun (leading to lots of brands copying its style), but their social media channels are some of the best out there too. If you’re in need of a LOL, it’s the place to go.
6. Ignoring SEO
If you want to bring new people into your website and your funnel, SEO is the way to go.
Once posts are optimised and bringing in traffic, they sell for you!
Sure, it’s upfront work, but it’s way less work than something like social media or email marketing, which requires you to constantly re-share your posts if you want to keep bringing traffic to them.
7. Only using your content to sell
While content can be used to sell, it has to be the right sales content, reaching your target audience at the right time. A super salesy post aimed at a brand new prospect will immediately get someone’s back up and cause them to close the tab.
Nobody likes being sold to. Direct marketing is less effective than ever. People ignore adverts. It can lead to a desperation to go in for the hard sell in other ways.
But content marketing isn’t about selling. It’s a subtle, low-touch way to sell. It shouldn’t be aggressive, even if it’s aimed at those in the purchasing stage.
Content marketing isn’t going anywhere. It’s the perfect combination of subtle sales and passive income.
Done right, it can lead to an increase in leads, conversions, and sales from your website. But make these content marketing mistakes and you could put someone off before they’ve even figured out what you do.
Content marketing is a powerful—and often underestimated—tool in a business’s arsenal. Make sure that if you decide to do it in your business, you do it right.
What content marketing mistakes have you seen? Let me know in the comments!