The Most Common Content Marketing Mistakes Rookies Make (And How to Avoid Them)

It’s tough dipping your toes into the content marketing ocean. As a rookie, you’re likely to make more than a few content marketing mistakes.

Learn how to avoid these often cringe-worthy boo-boos by first learning about some of the most common errors. Then, tweak your content strategy to help you soar to success.

It’s simpler than you think. Let’s discover these common content marketing mistakes — and, more importantly, how to steer your way clear of them.

Not Looking at Your Customers’ Data

Content marketing success starts and ends with one critical factor: how well you know and address your target customers’ unique needs, pain points, and preferences. If you don’t start with your content analytics, you’ll never get to know the customer and their needs.

Before you type out even a single word, look at the characteristics of the people that engage with your social media posts, blog posts, and other content the most. One of the best ways to do that is to take the raw data you find in your analytics, and use it to create buyer personas — fictional people that share the characteristics of your target customers.

It’s a lot easier to craft custom content for “Dr. Susie Gyno” than it is for an impersonal list. You can picture her in your head and dream up exactly what she needs to read to solve her OB-GYN practice’s business challenges. The same is true for your “CEO Charles,” “Daniel Developer,” or whatever personas you dream up.

Staying in Your Silos

It’s easy to run short of ideas if you keep content creation within the sole purview of your marketing team. Instead, venture outside those silos and pick your other teams’ brains for content ideas.

If you design and manufacture equipment, for instance, consult your engineering team for content ideas. Your sales team, too, will know what kinds of objections potential customers raise. Content that addresses those concerns can go a long way toward building trust.

Not Finding Your Voice

Every brand has its voice. No, it’s not driven by its CEO’s personality. Nor should it.

Your voice should reflect the types of customers you serve. Look at some of the most successful brands in the world for inspiration:

  • Progressive: This insurance brand’s target customers are quirky, imaginative and prefer value over prestige. Their content, therefore, reflects those values.
  • Coke: Thirst — and a lack of energy — are two of the foundational needs that unite humanity. Its content, as well as its products, meet those needs in word and in deed.
  • Nike: If there ever was a brand that knows its target audience, this athletic footwear brand takes the prize. From its iconic swoosh logo to its edgy messaging, its voice matches its customers’ preferences, needs, and pain points like no other — even at the risk of losing some outliers.

Use your customer personas to define your brand’s voice. Then stamp it on every word, every image and every product you produce.

Making Your Product, Not Your Customer, the Hero

Chiding rookie content marketers, Australian content expert Zoe Palmer puts it this way: “You talk about your solutions and not their problems.” We get it. It’s easy to put your product in the hero role. You believe in it with all your heart (and probably your life’s savings).

However, we here on the other side of the pond have discovered the same thing. Using your customers’ problems as the challenges along the hero’s journey helps put your target audience squarely in the middle of the action.

When you position your customer as the hero — and your product as the sword that slays your customers’ challenges — you’ll gain their emotional investment. And lest we forget, emotion is the key driver of your customers’ purchases.

Using Outdated SEO Strategies

With every tick of the clock, Google’s search engine algorithm shifts as its sophistication increases. Using an SEO provider that doesn’t keep up with every change in the winds can give rise to an unmitigated disaster.

We’ve heard some SEO horror stories in our day; these stories’ Frankenstein strategies given life by stitching together theories that died a decade ago.

One CEO scratched his head as he lamented the poor performance of his blog posts — and his website. Turns out he had hired an old friend whose SEO strategy was forged oh, maybe sometime just after the millennium bug was a thing.

She advised him to never use the words “you,” “your,” and “yours” in his copy because she believed that Google’s algorithm would identify those pronouns as his keywords and rank it for those instead of his actual keywords. So wrong on so many counts.

Google’s algorithm stopped considering pronouns, prepositions, and other such connective words as relevant years ago. Secondly, addressing the reader — “you” — is essential to maintaining an emotional connection. And that connection is essential to good SEO.

Then, there’s the CEO that read a book about SEO over a decade ago and insisted that his content team stuff his blog posts full of exact-match keywords that sounded awkward and turned his audience off. Stuff like “When you’re looking for furniture New York, choose the New York sofas that customers love.”

Not only is it blatantly self-promotional, but it turns off readers with its awkward wording. Same with overcapitalizing Important Words. Just don’t.

Today’s search engines recognize “furniture in New York” as the same thing as “furniture New York.” Nor do they care that you’ve Capitalized every Other Word.

Most importantly, readers won’t share that kind of verbal awkwardness. it turns out that those shares — as well as clickthroughs to your website — are some of the most critical factors in today’s SEO algorithms.

Failing to Resist the Grammar Police

In the same vein, you need to embrace your inner rebel when it comes to the grammar police. Or that indelible image of your high school English teacher who bled red ink all over your term paper — just because you began a sentence with “And.”

It’s time to fight the power. When it comes to successful content marketing, your writing should read like a conversation, not like a scholarly tome.

I’m sure that your teacher probably told you to NEVER end your sentences with a preposition. Never to write a sentence fragment (like this one). And never to juxtapose the tried-and-true adverb placement directly after the verb.

But you probably do in real life all the time. When you talk to your friends. When you meet with clients. And (note the beginning of this sentence) some of these grammatical thought crimes have formed some of the most memorable dialogue in film and literature.

  • “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” (Star Trek)
  • “Why so serious?” (The Dark Knight)
  • “Old age. It’s the only disease, Mr. Thompson, that you don’t look forward to being cured of.” (Citizen Kane)
  • “He had never seen a home, so there was nothing for him to say about it. And he was not old enough to talk and say nothing at the same time.” (William Faulkner, from Light in August)
  •  “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” (Robert Frost, from “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”)

You’re in good company. Boldly write.

Failing to Include “Road Signs” and Visual Content

When you’re reading a blog post, especially a longer one, your eyes tire. Visual signposts that tell you where you are, like bullet points and informative subtitles, make your readers’ eyes happy.

Not only do they make things easier for your readers, but those guideposts also help search engines understand what your post is about. The same is true with visual content, particularly when you include metadata with every image.

Visuals’ magic doesn’t stop there, though. They actually influence purchases. By a factor of 85 percent, people are more likely to buy a product after seeing it work in a video. Posts that include images yield 180 times as much engagement than those without them. Neglect visuals at your own peril.

Forgetting to Test and Distribute Content Properly

With a comprehensive content marketing platform, you can take a deep dive into your analytics to test various versions of your content to see which versions perform better among which customer segments. You can also use this information to discover the best times and channels to post your content.

Content distribution is all about finding where and when your target customers hang out online. Using content automation to publish your content at the right place and time is a game changer, working 24/7 to optimize your content’s reach among likely buyers.

Finally, Use This Post as a Checklist as You Write

As you can see, rookie content marketers have a lot of stuff to remember when they sit down to write their first blog and social media posts. Simplify your first posts by using this post as your checklist — and you’ll avoid the common mistakes most first-time content marketers encounter.

Speaking of simplifying, one of the best things you can do as a rookie content marketer is to have one platform where you can do everything: Analyze your target customers, store your notes (like this post), plan and create your content, distribute your content automatically, and track its performance. Make your life easier. Start your 14-day free trial of DivvyHQ today!