The 6 Biggest Content Marketing Mistakes

Before we dive into a list of content marketing mistakes, let’s get the number one worst thing you can do as a content marketer out of the way — creating content just for the sake of creating content.

Content marketing has long surpassed the point of buzzword to become as much of a standard of a marketing strategy as direct response. Should you be doing it? Probably (if you want to grow). Does that mean you should add a blog to your website, write the first thing that comes to mind, and throw it up for all the world to see? Absolutely not.

Because anyone can be a digital publisher, many newbies to the content marketing world fail to put the same amount of thought into their content marketing strategies as they would into marketing strategies for any other channel. If you purchased ad space, you wouldn’t just jot down a few words at random and see how it goes. That ad space cost something, so you define your audience, plan your strategy, and go through iteration after iteration before landing on a final concept.

Content marketing should be given just as much consideration. You have to know the “who” and the “why” of your content before you get to “what” you’re going to write. Start there, then consider these other six content marketing mistakes you need to avoid.

1. Not Finding Your Unique Value

More than 2 million blog posts are created every day. With that vast output of content (which doesn’t even account for social media and video) it’s crucial that you strategize a way to stand out. Here are a few places to start:

  • Your data: One of the most valuable things you own is your data. No one else has the same data as you. Get together with your analytics team and look at that data. What kind of content can you produce surrounding it? Here are a couple of examples of sites that have had viral success thanks to using data-driven content.
  • Your voice: Think about your favorite blogs to read or social channels to follow. Chances are they have a distinct tone of voice that you’d be able to pick out of an unbranded lineup. Work with your team to define what your brand voice should be. Make sure every piece of content you put out — from a short tweet to a long whitepaper — fits that tone.
  • Your approach: Even if 100 people have already covered the same topic, you can make your content stand out by taking a unique approach. Perhaps all the other coverage has been done as an article, and you can spice it up by making an infographic, video, or interactive poll. Try something different.

2. Not Testing

Content marketing needs to be tested and retested just as much as any other marketing strategy. And there is a multitude of things to test — length, topic, layout, platform, the list goes on. Create a piece of content, put it out into the world, and closely monitor its impact. You probably already have analytics tools that will provide this insight. . If something seems to be working, do more of that. If something flops, try a new direction.

3. Not Promoting

It’s like the old adage: if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around, does it make a sound? At the bare minimum you need a multi-channel social strategy, an email campaign, and cross-promotional relationships with influencers. After you do all of that, you need to do it again. Make sure you’re including promotion strategies when you set up each deliverable in your content marketing software or project management software so it’s not overlooked.

4. Only Sharing Your Own Content

In the early ‘90s, Progressive became the first insurance company to tell leads its competitors’ rates. It was a smart strategy, one that has helped them become one of the biggest insurance companies in the country. It might seem counterintuitive, but the same approach works for content marketing.

Sharing the content of other experts in your field via social media or even in an industry roundup newsletter does a couple of things. First, it shows your customers that you have confidence in your own product that transcends the competition. Second, it establishes goodwill with those brands and influencers that makes it more likely they will also share your content in return, thus expanding your reach.

5. Overlooking Content Talent

There’s a good chance you have content talent hiding right in front of your eyes on teams like engineering, finance, HR, and sales. Team members with a knack for writing, a personality for video, and a specific area of expertise can contribute excellent content you wouldn’t be able to create  yourself. To find them, you can either put out a wide call for willing talent and see who comes forward, or proactively pitch content ideas to various teams.

6. Not Editing At All or Editing Too Much

Have you ever written a piece of content you’ve thought was practically genius only to find it falls flat for readers? Most of us have. When you’re left to write in the wild, you sometimes veer off course into self-indulgence that loses sight of your audience. That’s why having a great editor to provide a second opinion of your content is so important.

It’s equally as crucial to ensure your work isn’t over edited. Too many voices providing feedback will result in content that’s unfocused. Your content marketing or project management software are great tools for ensuring that the right parties are in play to provide feedback when it’s needed, and stay away when it’s not.

You have great stories to tell.

Avoid these content marketing mistakes to ensure those stories are going to be heard, and you’re sure to see excellent results.