Content marketing is the best way for brands to truly engage with their customers, but if you’re not careful you can take these efforts in the wrong direction and end up hurting your brand. This list may seem obvious, but surprisingly these mistakes happen more than you may think. Here are common errors we see regularly, and a few pieces of advice on how to avoid them:

1) Not understanding your audience:

Some brands/organizations have a target audience based on demographics, psychographics and geography, but quite often they are not going deeper than that to build out useful customer profiles or buyer personas.

Other information such as their media and shopping habits, lifestyle, influences and the triggers that lead them to buy from/interact with you also play a part in determining that ideal customer. You need to understand why your content would matter to your ideal buyer and what they get out of it. If you can spend your marketing dollars on reaching these very specific ideal customers, you will have greater success in selling to them and improved efficiencies.

It takes some research to narrow down who is your very best customer. Conduct some research with current clients about why they buy your offerings, clients you have lost, and prospects you haven’t been able to close. A look to the best clients – i.e. the ones you’ve been able to up-sell or cross-sell, are members of your loyalty program or have given positive reviews – provides you with the key attributes for the type of person you’re most likely to sell to.

2) Content is not differentiated:

Today, people are busier than ever yet are inundated with more content than in the past. This means they only have time for content that adds value to their life by providing information/entertainment they haven’t seen before and that solves their problems. Your brand/organization must have a content mission that provides a unique perspective from your competitors.

3) Content is too sales-y:

Most people don’t want to be sold to from the get-go. They would like some interaction and understanding of your organization/brand before they decide to purchase or engage with you. Smart content marketers are including content about causes, culture and people along with their product/service information to differentiate and provide value. They are also creating quality content over quantity, such as highly visual or research-based content that requires more time to produce but gets better engagement. The content quality should reflect the quality of the brand/organization.

4) Not spending on amplification:

Creating amazing content for your clients and using your owned channels to connect with them – such as your website, email newsletter, organic social media, etc. – can work well to keep loyal clients if you have built up these channels. However, it probably won’t generate new leads and build your business. Ensuring you have some budget allocated for SEO, SEM, digital and social marketing, and other paid initiatives that can help you connect buyers with your brand will help you further drive your results and fulfill your objectives.

5) Expecting instant results:

Content marketing done well takes time and continuous effort optimizing and improving it. Without a constant cycle of creating new content, publishing/promoting/amplifying it, testing creative content, and ongoing measurement and analysis, it is very difficult to know if you are getting the best results. Thanks to the ever-changing consumer habits, media landscape, technology and platforms, this workflow is an ongoing, long-term game that is not simply campaign based.

6) Thinking a blog is enough:

Content marketing can mistakenly be simplified as writing a blog for your brand. In today’s world, content marketing should be a large portion of all your marketing and communications efforts. At Fifth Story, we narrow it down to five main areas of focus: content marketing strategy; creative development (content mission/brand story); content creation; content publishing, distribution and amplification; and content measurement and analysis. You need ongoing resources applied to all of these areas to achieve meaningful results.

7) Not having agreed-upon goals and metrics:

It’s hard justifying budgets or securing internal buy-in without being clear on what the objectives are and how they will be measured. Ensuring that the metrics can ladder up to meet the goals or show positive movement towards an end goal is essential. All content that is created should serve a purpose and help to move your buyer along the purchase journey. Again, what do you want your buyer to do at each touchpoint after seeing your content, and how does it help them in their buying decision at this stage?

8) The biggest mistake: Not having a content marketing strategic plan:

Many brands/organizations have elements of a content marketing plan, but often elements get overlooked or are left to chance. Here are some things to consider including in your content marketing strategic plan:

  • Business goals and marketing strategy
  • Target audience – buyer personas
  • Buyer’s journey
  • Creative strategy (content editorial mission and brand story)
  • Content creation schedule
  • Publication, distribution and amplification plan
  • Processes, guidelines and governance (internal and with partners)
  • KPIs and metrics tied back to goals
  • Resources and budget
  • Data and analysis

Looking for advice or help with your content marketing?

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