If you’re like me, a marketing newbie, you’re just now discovering how critical good content marketing is for your brand. I must admit, I was totally naive to the importance of not only everything that goes into producing great content but also having a cohesive strategy. Let me ask you, “Do you have a content marketing strategy?” “Would you know if you’re content wasn’t effective?”
When I was first hired at Genoo, I was arrogant about my ability to craft great content because many marketing pundits had me believing how easy it is to craft weekly articles with the skillfulness of a NY Times best-selling writer that are SEO optimized, visually captivating, and are user-focused. So you get all hyped and say, “OK, I got his!” Sound familiar?
If only it were that easy. Well, it’s not. I’m really starting to see how continuing to make simple content marketing blunders can poison a business’s progress. I’m just now understanding the importance of great content and how it affects brand equity.
You basically have two choices when it comes to a content marketing strategy. First, you can put in the time and effort required to create masterful content to solidify yourself as a subject expert and build a prosperous brand. Or two, you can fly by the seat of your pants and push out poorly written, shallow content that will ultimately destroy your reputation and push you farther down the Google hierarchy. Of course, the later of the two will result in a waste of time, energy, and resources. Not knowing any better, you’ll think content marketing (or worse, online marketing) just doesn’t work for your company.
Not knowing any better, you’ll think content marketing (or worse, online marketing) just doesn’t work for your company.
If your content isn’t powerful or detailed, don’t panic …(help is on the way).
I’m learning all too well that newbie marketers make mistakes…Here’s my list of the 3 easiest to fix blunders.
Blunder #1: Your Content is Poorly Constructed
No matter whom you are writing for or where it is published, poorly written content is not going to be well received and it will not be well received by Google either. However, content that is creative, fun, conversational, relevant, and produces an emotional connection with your reader will be far more effective and is more likely to be shared by your readers.
Content marketing tip: sharing and linking to your articles are cues to well-written content.
In the event your poorly constructed content gets read, your reader won’t get much use out of it, let alone return to you as their subject matter expert.
As my buddy says, “a wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. Not to self: “don’t be the fool.”
Speak because you are the subject expert and deliver content that answers questions people are searching for.
For starters, get a qualified editor to look over the article’s mechanics [punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar]. If your content inundates the reader with spelling errors, typos, improper phrasing, or lacks the personalized connection between problem and answer, they are far more likely to bounce quickly and never to return.
Now, here are some more quick tips to help define quality content:
- Inject fun visuals into your posts that creatively align with the message.
- Craft headlines that attract and engage your audience within 3-5 seconds.
- Posts and articles should be written at a level everyone can understand [test your article’s readability here: Assess My Readability] – we go for an 8th-grade level. This post is at a 9th-grade level. Just a bit outside 😉
- Surprise people with a fact or statistic that is revealing.
- Write in a conversational tone — people like to read articles that are written like they talk.
- Content must solve problems and inspire and entertain the reader – so do what you can to get inside your audience’s heads and address the real issues you can them solve.
Blunder #2: Your Content Lacks Creativity and Originality
Raise your hand if this is the line of thinking around the office when it comes to content marketing:
- “So, how can we produce content as quickly and cheaply as possible?”
- “Should we hire inexperienced writers at sweat-shop prices to mass produce filler content?”
- “How ’bout we just cut-and-paste copy from the web to create Frankenstein articles?”
- “Can we use Fiverr or a content factory to produce regular posts?”
STOP! THIS THINKING WILL KILL YOUR CREDIBILITY!
You must create original content because Google loves originality. Your content should be fresh and never repetitive! Don’t just regurgitate the same old posts over and over. If your content is yesterday’s news, no one will read it or link to it — and that defeats the objective of writing content.
I found this great quote that embodies the power of original content:
“Perhaps the best lesson that I ever learned as a blogger was that people are drawn to others who speak their mind, who have something unique to say and who say it in a creative and fresh way. Say what everyone else is saying in the same way that everyone else is saying it and you’re almost guaranteed of being largely ignored.”
— Darren Rouse on ProBlogger
Instead of pushing out shallow content that you or your audience could care less about, spend time understanding your audience’s behaviors. What questions are they asking you? How are they asking? What are their biggest challenges? How can you leverage your subject matter expertise to provide content they’ll digest?
Taking the extra time to understand all the nuances of your audience will pay dividends in the years to come. Learn how to get into the heads and hearts of your audience with this Quick Persona Worksheet.
Blunder #3: Your Headlines Don’t Make an Impact
A headline is your first line of engagement — or your first impression. If it’s boring or irrelevant, the article will not attract the reader’s attention or gain any traction. On the other hand, if the headline offers trending news, has a creative delivery, supplies helpful information or promises an answer to a problem, then that headline opens the gate to your content.
To quote the great David Olgivy “Unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”
Key metrics have shown that using puns, metaphors or divisive language hurts more than helps. There’s a chasm between creative, clever headlines that confuse the reader and straight-to-the-point headlines that uninspire the reader. It’s up to you to figure out which headline templates resonate best with your audience. Best practice is to test, play, and view your metrics.
If the headline doesn’t grab and pull the reader IMMEDIATELY into the copy, then you’ve just wasted all that time crafting the content. Remember, you are not writing a headline to show off your creativity; your main job is to sell a product…the article, post, or email!
If you’re concerned about your headlines effectiveness, have it analyzed here [write a few before clicking the link]:
Did your headlines score well?
If you want a deeper dive in headline writing, go read this great blog: Crafting Headlines that Work.
These quick fixes can add miles to your content and traffic to your sites! When done properly, content marketing is one of the most powerful— as well as cost-effective — ways to market your product and services. By creating content that people can relate to, learn from and share with others, you increase the odds of becoming viewed as a valuable resource in not only the industry but also in the reader’s life. This will make it easier to capture leads, increase engagement, and increase your sales.
I challenge you to take them on. I’ll continue to post my own learnings, including not just the “wins” but also the “failures” — all in the name of helping you improve your content and to get the marketing success you’re after.
What mistakes have you seen in your content marketing?
Want to prevent yourself from making more blunders or fixing the ones you’re already committing? Here’s a start: