There's lots of definitions of content marketing out there, but the most direct and easy to understand (in our opinion) is: "The process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and engage your target market – with the objective of driving profitable customer action."
Sounds great, right? It is! An effective Content Marketing strategy, can boost your customer engagement, create meaningful connections and ultimately drive sales. At it's heart it's really quite simple you need to deliver the content your audience is seeking in all the places they are searching for it.
To help you get the most from your content marketing we've put together a list of some common mistakes and simple yet effective ways to avoid making them:
Number One: Only Pushing Social Content
The most common Content Marketing mistake among small-to-medium businesses is only using social media as a content sharing platform. Whilst social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can add value to your content marketing, they only form a portion of a well-planned strategy.
The channels where your audience comes in contact with your content can be divided into three key traffic sources: Earned, Owned and Paid. Whilst
social content makes use of your brand’s earned traffic, other channels must also be included in order to secure attention on the remaining two traffic types: Owned and Paid.
Firebrand's Marketing Intern, Jake McKay accurately sums these up as:
"Owned traffic comes from any platform that you as a brand hold ownership rights to. This includes your Website, Blog, Facebook Page and also physical collateral such as brochures and white papers. Paid traffic is any kind of promotional activity that you are spending money to capture leads, so this includes Google AdWords promotions, online banner ads and paid or boosted social posts. Earned traffic comes from reposts, shares or the likes of reviews. A good content marketing strategy needs to make use of all of these channels in order to maximise engagement and reach"
What To Do? Ensure you have identified and optimised the use of multiple promotional channels for your content, making sure to capture all three types of customer traffic: Owned, Earned and Paid.
Number Two: Not Owning Your Own Content
Another issue we often see is that business' primarily push content that was not created specifically for the purpose for which it is eventually used. This information, termed secondary content, could include providing links to industry blogs, sharing recent news articles or retweeting other posts.
The fundamental principle of Content Marketing is that the content you share was created specifically for YOUR target market– not someone else’s. Whilst secondary content may be relevant to your customers, purpose-written content will be inherently more valuable as you can specifically tailor messaging based on their behaviours and motivations. Whilst this can seem overwhelming to many businesses, particularly if marketing or copy writing aren't your areas of expertise, there are plenty of online resources to help you out – take a look at this in-depth infographic or this blog for overcoming writers block for some inspiration. Remember you know your business better than anyone else and as such your always perfectly positioned to write great content on what you do and how it can benefit your customers.
What To Do? Own your own content! By building your own collection of content you can target your customers with information that is specifically relevant to them. This practice of thought leadership will also help build your businesses’ reputation as industry experts and leaders in your field.
Number Three: Creating Content Without an End-User Focus.
Similar to the above, another issue we often see is content that has not been created with the end user – your customers – in mind. What we often see is blog pieces that use overly complex language, unfamiliar themes or content that the audience simply finds uninteresting or irrelevant. Whilst you as the writer may understand your piece of content, or find it interesting, unless your audience actually notices the content, it's not likely to drive sales.
What to do? Writing content with an audience focus is simplified through creating target market personas. These personas are personified descriptions of your target market which make on-paper summaries appear more human and ultimately more relatable. By replacing lists of demographics and lifestyle choices with a narrative depicting a real person, it’s much easier to write with them in mind – just pretend you’re having a conversation with them in person! Check out this beginners resource for creating target market personas for yourself!
Number Four: Reusing Identical Content Regardless of Media Platform.
The beauty of content marketing is that you can use the same key messaging across all of your promotional platforms to create a singular cohesive brand voice. Whilst a single piece of content should be shared across multiple platforms, the content should always be tailored to suit the characteristics of each of the platforms used.
Take content viewed on the two most popular social media platforms for example. The way in which your customers process information on Instagram and Facebook are very different. On Instagram, people browse in a very fast paced manner. People will ALWAYS look at the image first, and if interested they may read a SMALL caption or tagline second. On Facebook, we work a lot slower. Our brains are trained to work opposite to Instagram and we read words first and then process the corresponding image or video. We are also more likely to read a lot more words without losing interest or focus. If you are using identical posts on both platforms neither has been optimized to the way your audience will take the content in. By doing this you run the risk of your audience skipping past your content.
What To Do? Think about the nature of the platform you’re sharing your content on and tailor the post accordingly. This can be as simple as shortening a 2 sentence Facebook post to a simple headline & link for Twitter, or adding a compelling image for an Instagram.
Number Five: Non-existent, Irregular or ad-hoc Content Schedules.
Content marketing is at it’s best when your audience begins to actively search for your content, as opposed to them coming into contact with it unintentionally. Take for example the following scenario: It’s 12.05pm and you open your email inbox in search of daily deal site updates such as GrabOne or 1-day; the exposure to this content has become a habit and you are now searching for the content yourself.
The number one rule for getting your audience to actively seek out your content is regularity. Regular exposure will increase the chances that reading your content will become an integral part of your audiences’ life. The two main mistakes we see here are:
- (b) Irregular content sharing schedules (e.g. sharing content every day for one week and then sharing nothing for the rest of the month)
What To Do? The best way to ensure regular content sharing is to create a formal monthly promotional schedule. This could be as simple as a word document or excel spreadsheet detailing what, when and where your content will be posted. Doing so will help you create an effective promotional plan and ensure you know just how much content needs to be created and identify due dates/content responsibilities. Many sites also allow you to schedule content that will automatically post at a future date and time. This means you can upload a month’s worth of content all at once, saving you time and ensuring your audience gets relevant content regularly – a win-win for you and your brand!
We live love and breathe Content Marketing experts, so if you'd like a hand optimising your marketing spend and making the most of a well thought out content strategy, please feel free to get in touch for a coffee and a chat - we would love to help!