It's no surprise that content marketing is on the rise - one survey found that 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that deliver custom content. Furthermore, the average cost per lead of inbound and content marketing is less than half that of traditional outbound efforts.
With so much buzz around the topic, we're seeing the time invested in content marketing take off. Unfortunately, not all content is good content.
If you'd like to avoid some classic content marketing mistakes and create the type that truly converts, read on to discover the 7 Deadly Sins of Content Marketing.
Thou Shall Not Mass Market
It's no coincidence that the importance of a niche focus speaks to first and deadliest sin of content marketing. The biggest mistake a marketer can make in their content process is attempting to create content that resonates with everyone.
In fact, if you're abiding by the basic principles of inbound marketing, you should have abandoned the mass ideal long ago.
Rather than shooting to reach as many people as possible, your content should be targeted to resonate with a select group of distinct individuals (known as your buyer personas.) This begins with the topic that your content addresses, but it spans all the way through the voice of your copy, the content medium, your promotional channels, and so forth.
From start to finish, every area of your content should be geared around a specific persona's goals, needs, and information seeking habits.
Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Traffic
In the world of marketing, there's always a new shiny object distracting us from the initiative at hand. In the realm of content this distraction is often our competitor.
Maybe they have a reputation for creating stellar eBooks. Maybe their blog is updated more often than Miley Cyrus' Twitter. Whatever it is, their success is leaving you with an acute case of jealous-itis.
This tendency to fixate on the competition is the second deadly sin of content marketing, but it's every bit as dangerous as the first. This becomes an even more pronounced issue if/when you begin to model your strategy and content after your competition's.
Even if you and a competitor are going after the exact same personas, your brand should be presented in a distinct manner. If your content is just a replica of what's already out there, how can you expect your company to be percieved as unique?
I firmly believe that to succeed in business you need to be either the first, the best, or different. Focus on making your content any of those, rather than a watered down version of someone else's.
Thou Shall Not Sacrifice Quality for Time
The struggle to balance time and quality may be the biggest conundrum facing content marketers. More and more, we have content pros telling us we need new, fresh content on a daily basis. This leaves us to wonder how we can create such volume of high quality, user focused content within tight time constraints.
The truth is that it's better to have great content than a lot of content. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not understand Inbound, and they likely are also unfamiliar with modern best practices for SEO.
If your schedule allows for either one great eBook a week or three alright eBooks a week, stick to the former. Remember that your content will often be the first impression a potential buyer has of your company - do you want them to remember you for mediocrity or greatness?
Thou Shall Not Push a Sale
Of all the things a content marketer can do wrong, this is inarguably the most annoying to the reader. People enjoy branded content because it's helpful and relevant to a question they have. If your content is too "selly-selly", you'll quickly lose the interest and trust of nearly everyone who encounters it.
Granted, the entire premise of content marketing is to eventually drive sales for your company. Thus, I'm not arguing that you remove all references to your products or services from the copy. Rather, keep your sales speak to a minimum and visible only in relevant parts of the content.
For example, end your eBook with a compelling statement about the subject matter and include a call-to-action for the reader to learn more about how your company specializes in meeting needs like their's.
Thou Shall Not Be a Copy Monster
Content is all about providing valuable information to the reader, but that doesn't mean it should read like a research paper. Keep your content visual, and break up lengthy chunks of copy with bullets, charts, diagrams, and any other creative way to convey your message.
Keep in mind that 90% of information is transmitted to our brain visually, and visual data is processed 60,000 times faster than text. If you want your message and information to really resonate, the more visuals the better.
Thou Shall Not Be a One Trick Pony
Just as you diversify your content, it's important to also shake up the way you're putting information out there. Depending on who you're targeting with your content, you may need to make adjustments to the way it's presented.
Let's take a sample scenario in which a florist wants to market a free eBook on DIY bouquets. They may have one persona that's a stay at home mom who enjoys hosting dinner parties, and one that is an events manager at a venue. While the same content could easily be relevant to the two personas, their information seeking habits are entirely distinct.
The florist may chose to create a webinar for the stay at home mom, in which they can walk attendees through the step-by-step process of assembling a bouquet. They could even answer live questions. On the other hand, the event manager would do better with a written eBook that they can refer back to from time to time, and even share with their coworkers.
This example helps to illustrate the importance of diverisfying your content mediums. If you get stuck in a rut (eBook afer eBook, over and over again), consider asking some of your most loyal customers what type of content would interest them.
Thou Shall Not Fear Testing
Once you've created quality content that's niche focused using the appropriate mediums, you may feel that you've reached the end of the marathon that is content marketing. However, the launch of your content is really just the begining of a bigger process that helps uncover what does and does not work in your content initiatives.
Everything from your promotional methods, to your landing page, to the content medium can be tested to uncover what's converting the most (and most valuable) leads. This is a time investment in itself, and if will require some additional tools, but it more than pays off in the incredible insights you'll gain into your personas preferences and habits.
If you can manage to avoid these content marketing mistakes, you'll be light years ahead of most marketers out there and well on your way to content greatness. Good luck!