Today’s guest post is by my good friend Michael Reynolds, owner of SpinWeb

Inbound marketing is catching on and a lot of organizations are starting to see the value in creating content-driven marketing by systematically tying together various tactics such as SEO, social media, blogging, ebooks and video.

Inbound marketing works when done with the right strategy. With quality content at the core of this concept, inbound marketing seeks to earn the attention of your target market, rather than purchase or demand it.

However, is it enough to just whip up some blogs post and ebooks and wait for the masses to flock to your content? I can’t even count how many organizations have “given this inbound marketing thing a try” only to give up after a few months because “it didn’t work.”

Why didn’t it work? One of the most common causes of a failed inbound marketing strategy is bad content. It’s remarkably easy to write bad content. This is probably why you see it so often!

While high-quality, relevant content earns attention, poor content damages your brand and lacks value.

So how do you write bad inbound marketing content? Let’s take a look at some of the more common traps that well-meaning marketing fall into.

1) Sell from your content

Guess what? No one wants to read your blog post that goes on and on about your company. Blog posts should solve problems and be focused on the reader. A subtle mention or link to your product/service is fine but if your blog post is a thinly-veiled ad for your company, it will have very little value to your inbound marketing strategy.

Solution: Solve problems and ask nothing in return. Focus on the reader.

 2) Write generic content

 Got a shiny new ebook? Great! Does it vaguely cover a general topic that everyone else has already talked about? Bummer… no one cares. Your target audience has Google. They can do research on their own. If your topic is too general and your content just scratches the surface then it’s not going to have much value.

 Solution: Choose very specific topics and go deep. This will attract more people because your content will be unique and targeted to specific problems.

3) Outsource to a “content farm”

It can sometimes be tempting to outsource your content to one of those magical content writing services that claim to produce blog posts fast for $30/post. Sound too good to be true? It is. Cheap, fast content is almost never worth it. It’s often written poorly, researched poorly, and minus any personality. Your readers will notice and move on.

Solution: Work with a real digital agency or hire talented writers in-house.

 4) Produce content designed for marketing

 “But wait a minute,” you’re saying, “I thought inbound marketing was all about content!” True, my friend… it is. However, if you create blog posts, ebooks and videos that are produced with your marketing in mind, you run the risk of missing the mark with your target audience.

 Solution: Write blogs, ebooks, and other content as if you’re solving a problem for your best friend. Don’t think about what’s in it for you.

 If you find yourself guilty of any of these problems, there is hope! Consider some of the solutions presented and see if there are any ways you can improve the quality of your content. Your target audience will thank you.

About Michael:

michael reynoldsMichael Reynolds is President/CEO of SpinWeb, a digital agency located in Indianapolis, IN. As an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional with Honors Distinction, Michael regularly blogs, publishes educational industry content, and speaks at conferences around the country covering topics like social media strategies, inbound marketing, and technology.

In addition to his obsession with marketing and technology, Michael devotes part of his brain to ballroom dancing and classical music. Prior to earning degrees in both Cello Performance and Management Information Systems from Ball State University, Michael studied the cello with a real live Klingon and still plays regularly in church and the occasional chamber music gig.

Michael enjoys playing tennis, cycling short distances very slowly on the Monon Trail (usually on the way to Bazbeaux Pizza), traveling with his beautiful wife, and eating lots of sushi.