If you have an interest in marketing you will probably have already heard about the recent research report put together by Content Marketing Institute and ADMA – Content Marketing in Australia: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.
Many of the insights were extremely interesting!
I don’t think that many would have guessed that 98% of Australian B2B marketers use content marketing or that the figure for B2C would be 89%.
This does make me wonder about how broad the definition of content marketing was for the report but let’s not get hung up on that aspect.
Top tactics are articles on your website (88%), social media other than blogs (83%), eNewsletters (82%), In-person events (74%) and case studies (71%). Blogs are back at 63% and White Papers are further back at 46%. Surprisingly, infographics is at 43% – really?
No surprises with the most used social media platforms for distribution – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are well out in front.
And it’s good to see that 61% of Australian marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.
This is the big takeaway for me:
Only 29% of Australian marketers rank their content marketing efforts as effective or very effective.
This is more than a little disturbing but not overly surprising, judging from many of the content marketing efforts I review for companies.
Here are 30 of the most common mistakes marketers are making with their content marketing strategies.
1. You don’t have a content strategy
You would think this would be a no-brainer. Before you launch the blog what exactly are your goals? Who is going to be contributing? What will be the focus of the information? What success measurement strategies will be implemented? How will you measure ROI?
2. You aren’t publishing regularly enough
Jay Baer, who heads up the team at Convince and Convert, shared this insight: “If you have an agency blog and you are publishing less than twice a week you should kill the blog”.
Publishing once in a while or every few weeks isn’t worth the effort. There are going to be few SEO benefits and you are not going to develop an audience if there is not regular, engaging content.
3. The C-suite is not involved
If you have a content strategy and you don’t have the support and involvement of the executive suite, you may as well ditch the idea now. You won’t gain any traction with your blogging strategy if the only people who know or care about it are within the marketing department.
4. You’re not giving value
This is one I come across often. Why would you give away information that you could charge for? Why give away IP for anyone to use? Surely your competitors will use the information?
No, this is not how this works. Businesses that share their expertise in a genuine way without hooks or catches are demonstrating their leadership. Just because you describe a complex step-by-step process in detail does not mean that your clients will do it for themselves. What it does demonstrate is that you are the expert people should be talking to when they want the services you provide because you have already demonstrated your deep understanding.
5. You’re too self-promotional
No one wants to be sold to and nobody wants to hear non stop about your products or services – it’s boring. You need to switch away from the sales mindset and consider what your audience is really looking for. Then give them solutions without a sales pitch.
6. You’re not optimising your content
Okay, you’re creating great content and hitting the publish button on a regular basis. But are you ignoring the potential that correct optimisation can bring?
Do you want your posts showing up quickly in the higher reaches of the search engines? Do you want your post to show in search in an inviting, compelling and professional way? This is often ignored. Get good SEO advice on optimisation best practice.
7. You don’t have a unique voice
Too many business blogs have no personality, no unique voice.
Publishing online requires a different approach to offline. You must be communicating one on one in a warm, human way. Speak to your reader as if you are explaining something over coffee to a colleague or acquaintance.
8. You’re using complex language to impress
There’s nothing more uninspiring than having to wade through content where the author is trying to impress with their command of the English language. By all means, be smart with how you phrase things but please leave the multi-syllable, overly complex language for novel writers. And please avoid having lengthy sentences with adjective after adjective.
9. Your posts are too short
Is your name Seth Godin? No? Then don’t think you can get away with writing a couple of lines and your audience will love every word. Be generous with your content but don’t waffle to fill space. Posts with lots of value get links. People link to your post as a definitive solution to a range of questions. Links improve search ranking. Higher search ranking improves business results. No, it isn’t rocket science!
10. Your social media integration isn’t very good
You have this great post, now you want to promote it through your social media channels. Posting once to Twitter with a following of 100 people will be missed by 98 of them. Posting on Facebook will be lucky to reach 10% of your fans.
You need to build a large engaged following of people who frequently share your content with their audiences. But how? Share their content, show gratitude when they share yours, be warm, friendly and consistent.
11. You’re not promoting to your list
Another common fail. If your subscribers gave you their email address, they’re more than likely interested in what you are saying. That is, unless you’re publishing non-stop self promotion. Use your email list – share your most popular posts with your subscribers, share any super important posts that provide solutions for them or discuss industry trends they should be aware of.
12. You’re ignoring comments
First, respond to all comments in a timely manner. Blogs are social media – it’s a conversation. Failing to reply shows either indifference or arrogance, neither of which will do much for your reputation. Second, don’t publish comments for the sake of it if they’re SEO spam ones with atrocious spelling. Or if the name of the commenter is “Ohio SEO services”. Finally, be a good moderator – check in regularly and add to any discussion that is started by visitors, but no spam!
13. You haven’t brought your staff on board
If your staff are involved and are contributing, their personal advocacy says great things about your company culture. You also get to tap into a wide range of voices and expertise in different areas, which increases your potential audience.
14. Your content lacks other media
Images make posts more interesting, break up the text, allow for scanning and give the opportunity to express a point in a different way. The use of embedded videos, graphs, charts, screenshots, tweets and a range of visual additions keeps people reading and delivers information that blocks of text can’t.
15. You don’t have an RSS feed
What is that small orange icon that appears on most blogs? It’s the RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). This is where people can get your content delivered directly to their account by subscribing to the feed. It’s automatic, it gets your new stuff out to a large number of people quickly and it is a feature that is overlooked by many business blogs.
16. Sorry, your titles are boring
This is a content killer!
You only have seconds to get someone’s attention online, so you should be putting at least 20% of your effort into creating great, clickable titles. Learn the successful techniques. Measure results and see which titles get the most clicks and shares.
17. You’ve missed a call to action
I’m not talking about a sales pitch here. This is about encouraging participation.
You often see a CTA like: “If you enjoyed this post please share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn using these share buttons” because it works. And asking a visitor to share their opinions on the topic of the post by leaving a comment should be standard on almost all of your posts.
18. Your content isn’t epic enough
This is content that excites, content that people will use as a reference, content that may change the way people see things, content that people will love sharing.
Does your content offer real value or is it similar to a lot of other stuff out there?
19. You’re not backing up your opinions
It’s all very well to express strong opinions in your work. But without using references through links, graphs, case studies and other research, you may sound like you are pulling figures out of the air.
20. You haven’t optimised your images
When you upload your images for your content do your file names read something like IMAGE0145.jpg?
Step 1: rename your images to describe what they are about.
Step 2: make sure the title of the image is keyword focused.
Step 3: make sure the Alt Tag is slightly different but still keyword focused.
Step 4: fill out the description to describe what is happening in the image.
Search engines can’t see images so you have to use every existing opportunity to tell them what the image is about.
21. You’re not using events to create content
Let’s say you are attending a conference, seminar or some other event. Why would you ignore the opportunity to share insights on the day’s learnings with your audience? This is citizen journalism at its best – share and interpret the most valuable takeaways from any event you attend.
22. You have no outside expert contributions
If all of your contributions are coming from within your organisation, you’re missing out on another great strategy.
Inviting guest posts from thought leaders in your industry will bring a lot of kudos to your site. If convincing these people to write something specific for your site is difficult (they will be busy), interview them and create a post based on their responses.
In most cases the experts will also share the post with their networks, bringing new visitors to your blog.
23. You forgot to set up author profiles
How many times have you visited a business blog to find that all the posts are written by “admin”? Create author profiles for all contributors with good photos and a brief bio. Make sure each post has authorship clearly communicated and link to a full bio if they are internal or to the author’s blog if they’re from outside your organisation.
24. You’re not listening
If you’re not tracking what your audience is interested in then you’re probably serving up content no one wants.
Which of your posts get the most shares and views? What are the biggest discussions in industry forums? What are the highest traffic searches in your niche on Google? Listen for what people want and craft solution-based content to respond.
25. You’re not correctly formatting content
With the amount of information online it’s important to understand best practice web copy formatting.
People will read an opening paragraph, skim headings, check out bullet points quickly before deciding whether to invest their time in reading a post in full. If your content is a lot of long, dense paragraphs with no headers, sub-headings, bullet points, images or other techniques to make scanning easy then you will lose an awful lot of visitors.
26. Your blog is on another domain
Your digital advisor tells you that it’s beneficial to have your blog off the main website. They tell you that this will give you more keyword targeting because you can buy an exact match domain for an industry keyword. Wrong!
Building site authority for some other platform instead of your own website is a massive fail. The content you publish must be on your own domain. Period.
27. You don’t know about links
Who knew that the earlier in the post a link appears the greater the value for the site that is linked to? So why would you give Wikipedia your first link? They already have plenty, thanks.
Don’t forget to use links in your posts – if you can link to other posts on your blog to demonstrate a point (make certain the post is 100% relevant to what you are talking about) this is great and is called deep linking.
If you can link to authoritative sites as reference points to what you are talking about this is very useful on a number of levels. You are giving a great experience to the reader by offering further high quality material and you are getting extra SEO points.
28. You’re not contacting people you reference
If you’re writing posts that feature thought leaders, it’s courteous to let them know you are discussing them. Most will see from alerts they have set up on their own name that you’ve mentioned them and will see a pingback if you link to them in most cases. But send them a message saying something like: “Have included a piece about your thoughts on xyz in our new post. Let us know if you’re okay with how the post reflects your views”.
This is a brilliant way to make connections and they’ll often link to the post or share with their audience.
29. You don’t really get how to use keywords
If you don’t have a basic understanding of how keywords work in search, you’re seriously missing out.
Learn how to do keyword research or get an expert to compile a list of valuable phrases for you to work from. Use the keywords sparingly and in a totally natural un-spammy way. If your keyword works in your title without making it dull, use it there as well as in the post.
30. Your content has all been done before
To really get traction, your content has to be completely unique. If it’s useful information but very similar to content published on a number of other sites, you won’t perform as effectively in search. The algorithms have become so sophisticated that they recognise if you’re covering the same material that’s available on higher authority sites elsewhere.
Also, people are more likely to share similar content from a site with a big reputation than they are to share from your site, which may be a relative newcomer.
A quick tip to finish:
Do things other people aren’t doing! Break new ground. Don’t publish for the sake of publishing, create content that makes you proud to be associated with it.
Mike Morgan is a Founder and Director of High Profile Enterprises – a specialist SEO and Content Marketing consultancy. Mike works with innovative businesses in Australia and New Zealand and has been collaborating with TrinityP3 on a SEO, content marketing and social media project since early 2011. Connect with Mike on Twitter here