Most marketers stress the importance of not falling for these 8 content marketing mistakes.
It’s funny how most of them fall for those mistakes themselves.
If you want to invest in content marketing in 2019, you should know what to pay attention to. This is what I’ll be covering in this blog post.
If you want to succeed in content marketing, these are the 8 mistakes you definitely need to avoid. Let’s get started.
- Mistake #1: Not Having A Strategy
- Mistake #2: Not Having Good Knowledge Of Your Audience
- Mistake #3: Talking Only About Yourself
- Mistake #4: Not Having A Distribution Plan
- Mistake #5: Looking For Cheap Content Creators
- Mistake #6: Focusing Too Much On SEO
- Mistake #7: Publishing More To Get More Traffic
- Mistake #8: Not Being Patient
- Wrapping Up
This is one of the most common mistakes I see among businesses investing in content marketing. In my experience, not having a strategy is like trying to find your way in the forest without a compass to guide you.
Let me explain why having a strategy in place matters.
Define The Main Topics
Let’s assume you have a keyword research tool similar to Long Tail Pro.
When starting with content marketing, you need to know what topics you’re going to cover. In other words, you have to know what topics you want your business to be associated with.
For example, is the topic “keyword research techniques” something you want to cover?
Image Source: Google
Is it relevant to your business and is it going to help you achieve your goals?
In our case, this topic (or keyword) is relevant, and is, therefore, something we need to include in our strategy.
To come up with a list of content topics, I suggest creating topic clusters.
Topic clusters are categories that are directly connected to your business goals and overall objectives. You can map your topic clusters using a tool like draw.io—here’s an example of what that might look like:
As you can see, your map consists of the main topic (in this case, “keyword research”), sub-topics, and sub-sub-topics.
This process isn’t easy.
However, it’s essential if you want to get the most out of your content marketing efforts.
Define Your Goals And Objectives
Next, you need to define how you’ll measure the success of your efforts.
What are the metrics you’re going to use? Are these metrics connected to the business objectives? Are you going to define your success by measuring…
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
- Organic traffic
… Or maybe some other metric that’s relevant to your objectives and easy to track?
Author’s Note: Although I included MQLs here, I don’t really believe in their effectiveness. I believe that most SaaS businesses should follow Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) instead.
These are the questions you need to answer before investing in content marketing.
One of the metrics used more often by content marketing teams is leads-generated. Just make sure to come up with your metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before investing in content marketing.
Create Your Content Roadmap
After coming up with a) the topics you should focus on and b) the metrics you’ll use to measure your success, you need to create your content roadmap.
Think of your content roadmap as a timeline that will guide you—the compass that I mentioned earlier.
Here’s what the content roadmap I’m using for all my clients looks like:
Let’s take a closer look at each column.
Priority is based on the prioritization process we followed earlier. Here, you have four options:
Category has the following four options:
In your case, most content pieces will belong to the “Content” or “SEO” category, as you want to create content that attracts new customers.
Last, we have effort, which is affected by the format you’re going to create, the experience of your content marketing team, and the complexity of each task/project:
All the other fields are fairly self-explanatory.
I believe that using a roadmap for your efforts will make your life much easier.
If you do though, be sure to keep one thing in mind: Don’t add tasks just to show impact.
I know that many content marketing teams and marketers want to show impact, and thus, become overly optimistic when creating their content roadmap.
However, the truth is that they don’t manage to deliver most of the things they included in the roadmap.
Thus, I suggest you focus on the quality of the content you’re going to produce rather than the quantity.
This is the second mistake I notice businesses make in their content marketing efforts.
Not having good knowledge of your audience can negatively affect your strategy. However, there is something odd happening here:
One of the first things I ask during a discovery call with a new client has to do with their target audience. I usually get a general answer like:
“Our target audience are founders between x and y age who have a college degree, live in the US, and are involved in startups.”
Of course, this is very general—a very rough idea of who your target customer is.
Assuming I’ve agreed to help this client with their efforts, I always ask them to be more specific with their customer avatar (or buyer persona).
This is part of the onboarding process, where we ask the client a series of questions about their business, objectives, and general information that’s essential for us to do our job:
Even though most clients are absolutely sure as to whom they’re trying to reach in the beginning, when we ask them to dive a bit deeper into the “who” and “why,” they suddenly get stuck.
The problem is that they don’t have a clear idea of their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
It’s essential to know who your ideal customer is if you want to succeed in content marketing. For example, take a look at this guide on how to get backlinks by lemlist:
Image Source: lemlist
Taking a look at this guide may make you wonder: What does a cold outreach tool have to do with backlinking?
This is the thing: lemlist knows that people who are building links belong to their target audience.
Thus, investing so much time in building a resource that will help them do their job better seems perfectly reasonable.
My advice here is, therefore, to start by identifying who your customer is—and when you know exactly who you’re trying to reach,to start investing in content marketing.
This is a common mistake among many content marketers.
I’ve noticed that many businesses, which invest in content marketing, usually talk only about themselves.
What I mean is that they only talk about their products and services, without discussing other important issues in which their audience is interested.
However, talking only about yourself or limiting your content marketing strategy to topics strictly related to your services is a surefire way to fail.
Some of the most successful software companies cover several topics unrelated to their product.
For example, by taking a look at Hubspot’s organic traffic, you’ll notice that most of their top pages aren’t related to their software:
Image Source: Ahrefs
Author’s Note: The above numbers are monthly estimates based on the top keyword’s monthly search volume.
In fact, one of these top pages is about shrug emojis:
Image Source: Hubspot
You may be wondering why a company that invested so heavily in content and inbound marketing creates content that’s not related to its business.
It’s because Hubspot knows that when it comes to content marketing, you can’t talk only about you.
In Hubspot’s case, talking only about CRM, lead generation, sales, and prospecting would be kind of boring, right?
Moreover, after a while, they would have literally no more topics to cover.
This is why Long Tail Pro also covers topics such as…
… On its blog.
Thus, my advice is this: Don’t be afraid to get a bit off-topic with your content.
“Okay, so we published it on our blog—when can we expect traffic?”
I see many businesses fall for this content marketing mistake consistently. You see, creating content is only one step of the process.
Distributing that piece of content so that the right eyes get to see it is a totally different story.
There are some popular content creators and SEOs who state that you should spend 20% of your time creating your content and 80% of your time promoting it.
In my experience though, one in ten SaaS businesses have a documented distribution plan for their content marketing efforts.
As you can imagine, that can cause a series of problems, but most importantly, it won’t get you the results you want.
For one of our clients, this piece got 16.6K views in approximately six months.
The interesting part?
We didn’t do any promotion or distribution of the piece whatsoever.
However, this doesn’t happen every day.
You don’t want to just hit the publish button and pray for the best; you need to come up with a distribution plan.
For example, if you’re a SaaS business, distributing a content piece may include:
- Sending an email to your subscribers
- Sending an in-app notification to your users
- Publishing the post on GrowthHackers
- Publishing the post on zest.is
- Publishing the post on social media
- Sending a message to your Messenger subscribers
There’s really no limit as to what you can do to distribute your content.
However, you always need to think about whether or not your potential customers “live” on the channel you’re promoting to.
For example, look how email marketing tool Moosend promotes one of its main content pieces about landing page best practices on zest.is:
Image Source: zest
This way, an additional 5,500 people see the content piece that this company publishes.
Would have they seen it otherwise? Probably not.
This is why distribution is so powerful.
Remember though, distribution isn’t only about getting content in front of new users or potential customers.
It’s also about educating your existing ones and adding value to their lives so that they keep using your product or buying from you.
Let’s move on to the next mistake.
This is one of the most critical mistakes businesses make with their content marketing.
Trying to get cheap content will harm your business in the long term.
Unfortunately, this is something many businesses across different industries fall for:
Image Source: Upwork
It’s also not just on Upwork.
Businesses are looking for cheap content creators everywhere online.
In my experience, if you want to find someone to create content for pennies, it’s better not to do it at all.
However, I want to make one thing clear here:
It’s one thing to hire a junior content creator and help them to evolve. It’s quite another to try finding an experienced content creator who’s willing to do the job for only a few dollars.
For example, I work with junior writers for my agency, but use SOPs…
… And many other supporting documents and templates that will help them do what any experienced content creator would.
My advice here is, therefore, to set up processes and don’t just look for cheap content creators.
They will cost you and your business much more in the long term.
I know what you’re probably thinking:
I invest so much in content marketing—shouldn’t I expect a return in terms of organic traffic?
Of course you should.
However, that doesn’t mean you should be obsessed with SEO.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve built a content marketing agency on top of SEO. being overly obsessed with SEO will get you nowhere.
Remember what I told you in the beginning—that your strategy should focus on helping people overcome their problems and answer their questions?
This means you should be creating content for people first, and for the search engines second.
In other words, try to find the right balance instead of just creating content that search engines will like.
This is the Performance Overview report in Google Search Console for one of our clients:
As you can see, traffic is steadily growing, starting a couple of months after we started working with this client (January 2019).
For this client, we’re currently creating content without any kind of SEO action yet.
From the very beginning, we focused on creating content that will add value to our visitors without focusing so much on SEO.
Simply put, it works.
This doesn’t mean that we’re not following our process and aren’t doing our research. It just means that we write for people first.
After all, they’re who we want to satisfy with our content marketing efforts.
If people are happy with what you offer, you’ll see the impact in traffic as well.
One of the content marketing mistakes I see most often is publishing more to get more traffic.
The truth is, nobody can guarantee that publishing more will get you results.
Many content and SEO experts state that creating more content can often harm your website traffic rather than help you gain more.
After all, literally no-one pays attention to the majority of the posts that are published on a daily basis.
According to a content study by Backlinko, 1.3% of all articles get 75% of all social shares.
Image Source: Backlinko
This just goes to show that publishing more won’t get you anywhere.
On the other hand, publishing better will definitely help you.
Needless to say, if you manage to find the perfect recipe for creating more and creating better at the same time, go for it.
For example, Brian Dean, the person behind the popular website Backlinko, has less than 20 blog posts published on that website to date:
Image Source: Google
Moreover, he has just 26 videos published on his YouTube account:
Image Source: YouTube
Can this be effective?
With over 580K monthly visitors on his blog and more than 234K subscribers on his YouTube channel, this strategy is clearly working.
Thus, I highly recommend focusing on the quality over the quantity of your published content.
Let’s move on to the final mistake.
A couple of years ago, after working with a client for two months and publishing 3-4 content pieces for the company’s blog, he told me:
“We’ve been publishing content for two months now—why hasn’t organic traffic gone up?”
This is a common misconception among many businesses.
However, the truth is that content marketing takes time to bring results.
Regardless of whether you’re a SaaS trying to get traction or an eCommerce business trying to grow your revenue, your content marketing efforts won’t pay out immediately.
This isn’t simply an excuse that content marketers use to explain a longer commitment—it’s just the reality of the situation.
The following graph from WordPress proves that competition nowadays is huge:
Image Source: WordPress
According to this graph, there were 82,517,594 posts published on WordPress in July alone.
No matter how many people are online and searching for this kind of information, there’s no way all these pieces will be consumed.
Thus, you need to understand that getting results quickly isn’t easy.
Copyblogger is a website that receives an estimated 112K+ monthly visitors:
Image Source: Ahrefs
However, did you know that it took Copyblogger 19 months to monetize their blog?
Keep in mind also that back when Copyblogger and other, similar websites first started, competition wasn’t so rough.
What you need to do is stay focused on your content roadmap (which we mentioned earlier) and be consistent with your efforts.
Be consistent, and the results will come.
By now, you will have realized that content marketing is not easy.
However, avoiding these 8 content marketing mistakes will help you greatly increase your chances of success.
You now know that there are many things you need to pay attention to if you want to master the content marketing game.
My ultimate advice is this: Try to add value to other people—your audience—in any way possible.
Add value and you’ll get value in return.
About the Author
Georgios Chasiotis is a marketing consultant who drives organic growth for tech companies through Content & SEO. He runs a strategy and consultation agency and is based in Thessaloniki, Greece. In his free time, he reads about psychology and tries to understand the “why” behind human behavior. To learn more about Georgios, you can connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.
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