If you have talked to any marketing professional in the last five years, the topic of content marketing has probably come up more than once. Everywhere you turn, people are talking about content marketing. They make it sound so easy, you just write a blog and share it, right? Well, not exactly. There is a huge difference between creating content, and creating effective content.

Too often well-intentioned business owners spend time creating content that misses the mark and fails to deliver the results they hoped for. So how should you approach content marketing? I asked a group of content marketing practitioners on Twitter for a list of common content marketing mistakes.

You can find their list of top mistakes below, along with my suggestions on how to avoid the mistakes. After you are done reading this post, take some time to get to know these folks on Twitter, you’ll be glad  you did.

Common Content Marketing Mistakes

Robert Nissenbaum, (@RNissenbaum) of Tactical Social Media in Tacoma, Washington, kicked off the conversation with this response:

Robert NissenbaumNot having a purpose for your content – what do you want from the reader?

He hit the nail on the head. Not every piece of content is going to lead directly to a sale. However, each should play a part in moving someone through your sales funnel, helping them get to know you, your brand and your expertise.

What is the purpose of this piece of content? Clearly I am not selling anything with this post. It helps support our reputation as a “well-connected” company, a resource for clients even when we don’t have all the answers. By curating content from other social media and content professionals in a linked post we reinforce that image, and hopefully reach a wider audience as they, in turn, share the post with their community.

Hope Williams, (@HopeworksDesign) of Hope Works Design in New York, took the conversation one step further. It isn’t enough to have an objective for the page, you need to spell it out for your audience.

hopeMistake is not including a CTA. Make/share great content and always tell the prospect what you want them to do (CTA).

As you write a new blog post, create an infographic or newsletter. It is important to think about what you want someone to do next. Having a contact us button buried in a busy sidebar is not going to be enough to move a reader forward.

What can you do? Consider offering more content on the same topic to keep the reader on your site longer, share a link to a video or a report they can download. Or you can invite them to call you to talk about one specific thing. “Let’s talk about web design” is going to be more effective than just a general “Hey Call Us”.

Don’t be afraid to interrupt your content with a call to action (CTA). Many people don’t read all the way to the bottom, so try testing CTA’s somewhere in your content like this:

Great content doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a little planning. To help your get started we have created a simple content calendar.

 

Content is not a one and done as Carol Stephen, (@Carol_Stephen) of Your Social Media Works of San Francisco, shared:

Carol stephenNot being consistent is one of the biggest mistakes. Writing on a schedule is important. And then recycling older content.

Writing your first blog post is easy, but the fifth or the fiftieth gets a little more challenging. The trick is to commit to a schedule you can manage. If you only have time to write one blog post a week, that’s fine. Schedule the blogs to publish on the same day. If you get inspired, write a few at a time and then pace them out, scheduling them on the same day each week. Your readers will get used to the rhythm and look for your content.

Carol’s comment opened up a conversation about how often and what the best days of the week are for posts. Hint, the general conscientious is avoid Fridays. Carol wrote a pretty compelling argument against posting on Friday on her blog.  If you only post once a week, mid week is probably best. People are too busy on Monday as they try to get caught up from the weekend. Friday is also not great as people are trying to wrap up the things which have to get done.

Interestingly, Saturday mornings work really well for some audiences. At Roundpeg, we publish blogs 5 days a week. We found our traffic didn’t really improve over the weekend if we shared new content, so we stopped. Instead, that is when I post a blog on LinkedIn. My Saturday morning posts there do quite well. It seems my audience likes to hop on LinkedIn with their Saturday morning coffee. The lesson is two-fold: Create a schedule you can manage and post when your audience is most likely to read it.

We had some local folks weigh in on the conversation as well.

Randy Clark, (@randyclarktko) of TKO Graphics here in Indianapolis, challenged us to look more broadly than just another product update:

Randy clarkDon’t limit your content to your product, include content covering your target markets’ interests.

Your readers, customers and prospects are people with a broad range of interests and needs. Expanding the scope of your content definitely gives you more opportunities to connect and build a meaningful relationship.

Think about the last time you went to a party or networking event.  My guess is you were drawn to interesting people with whom you could converse on a number of topics.  You are likely to remember those people long after the party is over.

When your blog is filled with interesting content people are more likely to drop by and then think of you when they are ready to buy. This is important when you have a product that people don’t purchase very often.

kevinI have focused most of this post on blogs, but  Kevin Mullett, (@kmullett ) of Cirrus ABS, in Ft. Wayne, reminded us to look at content through a wider lens.

Blogs may be part of content marketing, but not all blogs are content marketing. 

Videos, podcasts, informative graphics, live events, radio commercials and even a full length feature movie might fall under the umbrella of content. Don’t limit yourself to just 450 words and a few social shares.

Ready to take on the challenge of content marketing?

Remember to have a purpose and a call to action. Publish your posts on a schedule and write about more than just your product. And as Kevin Mullet showed us, when the opportunity arises, have a little fun and throw in a Lego reference to get attention for your message.

Roundpeg is an Indianapolis content marketing firm.