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Marketing Content Strategy

7 Sins of Content Marketing: How to Avoid Common Mistakes

The Pitfalls of Content MarketingWhether you’re running a website for your business or your own personal blog, content creation involves careful planning. To strike into this terrain without putting in time and research is against a marketer’s code of conduct.

Don’t put your brand or business in jeopardy or lose out on an opportunity by making mistakes with your content marketing strategy. Learn what problems to watch out for and how to avoid them. In the end, your audience will praise rather than condemn your content.

7 Sins of Content Marketing

Sin #1: You don’t have a purpose.
You want to get ahead of the game, so naturally you set out to create and publish content. However, if you do it too quickly and without structure, it won’t serve a purpose. Before you know it, you’ll be left scratching your head and asking yourself, “Why am I doing this, again?”

Redemption: Set goals.
Goals are the seeds of your content marketing, but these won’t be the same for everyone. Before creating content, ask yourself, “What is it that I want to accomplish?” Once you know what you want to get out of it (e.g., driving traffic to your site, building attendance for your event, positioning yourself as a leader in your field, etc.), you can begin developing the focus.

Sin #2: You built it and automatically assume they will come.
You may assume that because you created great content, people will automatically start reading it. However, your result won’t always be that of a certain Kevin Costner movie. Not all content goes viral overnight with a million views the next morning. You have to plan how to draw eyes to it.

Redemption: Promote your content.
Search and the social web are the primary ways that consumers find content. First, optimize your article, image, or video for search. Research the keywords and phrases your audience uses to find the information they need. But don’t overdo it—black hat tricks are so B.P. 2011 (i.e., Before Panda). Second, create a plan to share your content via the social web. These two pieces work together to lift the views on your content.

Sin #3: You’re inconsistent with publishing.
You’ve just launched your content marketing plan, and you’re excited to build momentum. Though you start out publishing daily, eventually you trickle down to posting a few times a month. The result? Readers who initially were excited about your work have forgotten all about you.

Redemption: Create an editorial calendar.
Sometimes you get writer’s block, or other business needs get in the way—we’ve all been there! By creating a content calendar, you’ll know exactly what you need to create and when you need to have it by. This will help you plan ahead, stay organized, and keep on track with your content goals.

Sin #4: You didn’t proofread your work.
This is where things get embarrassing. There’s nothing worse than trying to come off as an “expert,” only to have readers point out grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in your work. Just one instance of “its” used in place of “it’s,” for example, is a deal breaker and will deduct points from your credibility.

Redemption: Have your work professionally edited.
If you’re serious about generating leads or positioning yourself as a professional in your field, it’s essential to have a knowledgeable copy editor review your work.

Sin #5: You talk only about yourself.
Nothing will drive your audience away faster than content that talks about you, you, and only you. Think of it this way: How long would you engage in a conversation at a dinner party with a self-absorbed guest? You’d likely excuse yourself for a “very important phone call” or a trip to the lavatory. Even if what you do is pretty great, no one wants to read an entire blog about how awesome you are.

Redemption: Create content your audience wants to read.
To prevent your audience from walking out on you mid-sentence, create something they want to consume. This isn’t always easy to figure out. Take the time to find out what will be of value to them. Let their needs help guide your content creation efforts.

Sin #6: You think you can do it all.
You’re an expert in your field, but you learn that great content creation isn’t an easy task for one person to handle. Don’t feel incompetent if you can’t do it all on your own. Think about it: How many TV shows, newspapers, or magazines are created by just one person? Sometimes it takes an army, or at least a solid team, to make things happen.

Redemption: Bring in the forces.
If you run your own blog, it’s OK to ask someone to lend a hand. In fact, it can keep things interesting to have guest bloggers contribute. This provides your audience with fresh perspectives. If you’re running a much larger site, be prepared to recruit quality writers; and if it’s not your field of expertise, consider roping in a strategist to provide guidance.

Sin #7: You don’t know if your content is working.
Publishing content without ever establishing a way to measure its success is a big waste of time and resources in the long run. Without anything to measure, how will you ever know if your content marketing is having an impact?

Redemption: Create a set of metrics to measure your content’s success.
Like goals, metrics for success will vary across content programs. Finding a way to measure your program’s success is important not only because it will show you whether or not your content is working, but also because it can help you optimize your future performance.

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