As a business with an online presence, content marketing is one of the best long-term investments you can make. Unlike social media posts or PPC advertising, it keeps working long after it’s “done” — continuing to drive search engine traffic to your site over time. It also has 6x the conversion rate of traditional marketing.
In short, content marketing is a must-do for any business serious about thriving in 2018 (and beyond), but it’s also easy to fall into a few common pitfalls along the way. Here’s what you need to avoid to have a successful content strategy:
Pitfall 1: Not Sticking to a Schedule
Especially when you’re just getting your content marketing efforts going, it can be tempting to publish whenever you have good content, without trying too hard to stick to a schedule. This comes with downsides, though — it can make it easy to miss a week or more of publishing (when benchmark data from Hubspot shows there are significant benefits to publishing at least four times a month). To get the most from your content marketing efforts, you should be publishing on a regular schedule; once a week is ideal, but even every other week is better than publishing twice in one week and then not publishing again for a month.
Pitfall 2: Fluffy Content
Well over one million blog posts are published every day — and that’s before you count videos, webinars, infographics, emails, whitepapers, and all of the other forms of media that your potential readers are also looking at. Additionally, data from Curata shows that longer, more in-depth blog posts get nine times as many leads as shorter blog posts. Your content needs to stand out from the crowd to get any traction, and that means that it needs to be well-researched, engaging, and come from an interesting perspective. Fluffy “me-too” content won’t stand out from the crowd, show your potential customers that you’re an industry leader, or give them a reason to try your product.
Pitfall 3: Sharing Content Once
When it comes to sharing your blog posts, it’s tempting to just share it once or twice on each social channel. The specifics of your social scheduling should be adjusted from channel to channel, of course — it makes more sense to share an article multiple times on Twitter than on Facebook — but still, only sharing an article once makes it easy for that article to get lost in the noise of everyday social posts. Additionally, sharing posts more than once can drive quite a bit more traffic. An example schedule could be:
- Twitter: Post twice on day of publishing, once on the day after publishing, once one week after publishing, one month after publishing, and put into rotation of posts to be re-shared regularly
- Facebook or LinkedIn: Sharing once on day of publishing, once one week after publishing, one month after publishing, and put into rotation of posts to be re-shared regularly
Pitfall 4: Leaving Content Un-Leveraged
If you publish a blog post, that’s it for that content, right? Wrong. Once you can publish a blog post, if it performs well in the days or weeks following (check out pitfalls 6 and 7 for more on that), you can turn it into a video or a webinar, or a contributed article for another publication/site. If you have several posts with recurring themes or a series of several posts, you can turn that into an e-course consisting of several emails, a lead magnet whitepaper or ebook, etc. Leveraging content, especially content that’s already proved to be successful, is a great way to get more ROI from it.
Pitfall 5: Targeting the Wrong Person
Companies will often target their end-user with their content, not the person who’s actually making the purchasing decision. For example, if you’re a project management tool that has primarily developers as users, it’s easy to think you should target all of your content to developers — right? Wrong, as project or product managers are often the people making the decision on which tool to use for project management. That doesn’t mean you should entirely neglect developers, but your content marketing strategy should make sure to account for both the decision-maker and the end-user, and target each group of people with content that fits their specific needs and interests.
This can also come into effect when you’re trying to personalize content. Research from HBR showed that over-customizing your content marketing (for example, creating completely different content for every person in the purchasing chain) can actually backfire and result in lower-quality leads and sales. Instead, create content that targets the people who are likely to champion your product inside their organization and makes it easy for them to sell your product to all of the decision makers.
Pitfall 6: Not Looking at Analytics
Every single statistic in this post is based off of averages — they hold true in general, but for your specific industry, business, or customer set, you might find that this isn’t the case. And the only way you’ll know is if you’re regularly looking at your analytics. Google Analytics is a great place to start, and using it, you can keep an eye on:
- Referring sites (to see which backlinks or social networks are driving the most traffic)
- Which posts are getting the most visits and have the highest (or lowest) bounce rate
- Which posts and pages on your site are actually converting to users
All of this information can be extremely valuable when you’re back at the whiteboard, planning your next month or two of posts. For a guide to what analytics to keep an eye on, head here.
Pitfall 7: No Audits
This is similar to the last point, but not the exactly same. In addition to keeping an eye on your content’s performance day-to-day, you should also be revisiting all of your statistics quarterly (or, at the least, once every six months) and looking at the dataset as a whole, over time. When you’re dealing with a larger amount of visits, patterns will become more easily visible and the data will have more significance; if you notice that your how-to posts routinely result in more conversions than your industry news posts, you know to mix it up on your next round of posts and add more how-to posts. For a template to help you conduct your own content marketing audit, check out this post.
Pitfall 8: Letting Content Stagnate
In addition to revisiting successful content and leveraging it into other forms of content, you should also be updating your older posts on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be an overly involved process — when you do your regular audit, you can also look over old posts and:
- Check for broken links (which are bad for SEO)
- Make sure that the post is optimized for current standards of SEO
- Add backlinks to other posts on your blog that were published after the post originally went up
- Add in any relevant videos, infographics, etc. that you’ve created after the post originally went up
This not only makes the post more readable and engaging for new visitors, it also help ensure that posts in your archives continue to get organic search engine traffic over time (and improve the ROI of your content marketing efforts).
By avoiding these pitfalls, you’re on your way to creating a much stronger content strategy and reaping the rewards. Don’t forget to keep them in mind in the future, and check back every few months to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.
Michelle Nickolaisen is a content marketer based in Austin, Texas. When she’s not writing B2B trends and tips for TrustRadius, she’s usually listening to podcasts.