You've spent hours writing blog post after blog post or making infographics for your social media channels but you're not seeing an increase in site traffic or sales. If this resonates with you, it could be that you need to improve your content strategy.
Content strategies can help you reach any number of goals that you have for your company. You can use them to build your content calendar and decide what you want to share on your blog and social media channels. However, it's very easy to make a few misinformed decisions that aren't earning you the results you deserve or need.
There are a variety of common content marketing mistakes that could be preventing you from reaching the position you want on the first search engine results page or slowing down your conversion rates.
Content strategies should change over time as you discover new data, tools and information about your target audience. To help you on your way, we've compiled a list of content strategy mistakes you should avoid making in the future.
Nine content strategy mistakes you are making
Continue reading to find out what you should avoid when making a content strategy and ways that you can improve your plan of action.
No clear content strategy
There's not much use in creating lots of content if you don't have a clear content plan and goal in mind. Effective content marketing requires great content that forms part of a tactical plan. The internet is saturated with all kinds of content. You need to plan and produce marketing content that stands out and attracts customers.
The best way to form a content marketing strategy is to research and listen to your target audience. This will help you to produce tailored content that will appeal to them. You might become an active participant in various social media groups or pages that your target audience is in or produce a number of customer surveys. The research could help you develop a better angle for your content or different channels to market it on.
If you work in a team, you need a way to know what everyone is planning and currently working on. There's no way to know if every aspect has been considered or if you're stepping on each other's toes unless you share the same plan. You need to organise your team together and form a clear strategy with achievable goals. This will help you coordinate how you can work efficiently and effectively.
Not documenting the content strategy
It may seem like keeping a mental note of your content strategy is working fine, but it can prove detrimental to your goals. You're more likely to change your mind based on a whim if your plan isn't properly documented. There are benefits to making some decisions by following your instincts, but the majority of changes should be decided upon using research and proper consultation.
The best course of action is to document your content plan. You should organise your research and strategy so that it can influence your future decisions. It should include information such as buyer personas, budgets and the buyer's journey and sales cycle. You can also detail which social media channels you want to target your content at or the frequency that you post on your website's blog.
Aside from planning for the future, it's also hard to reflect upon your content marketing performance unless the plan is documented. You need evidence of your past goals and strategy so that you can see if they have been successful.
Forgetting the target audience
Your content needs to be created with a target audience in mind. Without one, your content may not land the way you want it to or give you the results you deserve. Before you start planning and creating content, whether that's a blog post, newsletter or another type, you need to know who it's aimed at.
Once you have decided who you are creating content for, you need to determine what you want your target audience to gain. This could be anything from providing a solution to their pain points, entertaining them or expanding their knowledge. You also need to consider what your audience can do for you and your business. Whether it's buying products and services from you or referencing you as an authoritative source, you need to target individuals who can benefit you as much as your content helps them.
If you don't fully understand your target audience, they won't feel recognised by your brand and may not interact with your company. Even if you think you have a well-defined target audience, it's a good idea to regularly review the situation. You may find that your products and services have evolved in a way that attracts new customers that don't fit with your original buyer persona. It could be time to reevaluate who your target audience actually is.
Not utilizing data
Your content strategy won't reach its full potential if you don't collate and use data. A good content strategy needs plenty of research, including statistics and market trends. Quality data can reveal a full picture of customer behaviour, the success of different products and the direction that your company is heading, amongst many other things.
Some companies may choose quantity over quality when it comes to content. They might brainstorm random ideas that loosely fit their branding and rush to create content as soon as possible. While this will fill their blog and social media channels, the majority of ideas will likely fail to gain traction.
You need data to prove that your customers will likely show interest in the content you are producing. It's a good idea to look at previous content that you've published and review how it performed. You can also look at your competitors' statistics (such as interaction, website traffic and sales).
There are a number of great tools that you can use to collect data concerning your content. This includes Google Analytics and Google Search Console, as well as the data analytics from each social media channel. You should also be able to find data about your email campaigns through your email management software.
Not creating evergreen content
Trending content can gain you a high level of interaction, but it shouldn't be your sole focus. Evergreen content doesn't have a sell-by date like reactive content does, which means it will always have some level of interest or relevancy to your audience. You should aim to produce evergreen content that answers customer questions and establishes your experience and knowledge around your subject area.
Interest in your evergreen content will likely ebb and flow over time. However, it should consistently draw some level of interest throughout the year. Evergreen quality content can help you to improve your website's ranking on search engines, improve your company's standing as an industry leader and provide a continuous draw of site traffic.
Some of the best evergreen content formats include listicles, how-to guides and subject tips. As long as you're providing your audience with informative and engaging content, your content should provide an ongoing source of site traffic over the coming months and years.
Not producing SEO content
It's important to consider Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when you plan and produce your content. Without it, you're less likely to rank well on search engine results pages (SERP) or build authority for your website. You should aim to research relevant keywords and phrases that your audience is searching for. This can help your content to rank better on search engines and potentially draw more traffic to your website. You can also make sure that the content you produce aligns with the type of information that your target audience is searching for.
You can plan blog titles around questions that are trending on Google. Along with covering broader topics, you can also tailor your keywords and phrases to reach leads that have high search intent. This is when a potential customer knows exactly what they want and is at the point in the buyer's journey where they are ready to make a purchase.
Along with the language you use in your content, there are other areas that you need to optimize. This includes the speed and navigation on your website, the visual appeal and how often you publish content.
Ignoring your competition
The only way to do better than your competitors is to know what they are doing and how you can do it better. You can try to collect data from the performance of your competitors' websites and social media presence and review their overall online presence. Along with looking at their highest-performing content, you should also consider which content hasn't performed as well. You can then put your own spin on the topics and try your best to produce better content than your competitors.
When you are working on your branding, style and voice within your content strategy, it's a good idea to see what works well (and not so well) for other companies in your industry. You should study how they build brand awareness, who they target and ways that you can implement similar strategies for your own content.
It's important that you don't focus too heavily on your competition, however. You don't want their actions and results to distract you from your own digital marketing strategy. While it is possible to collect and analyse your competitors' data, you won't have everything you need to make fully informed decisions. This could cause you to encourage you to change your content strategy without necessarily earning similar results.
Tracking irrelevant KPIs
It can be tempting to get distracted by vanity metrics, such as likes on social media or your blog. They can be good indicators that your content is well-received, but these statistics can be warped by the likes of bots. Likes and upvotes aren't complete evidence that your content marketing efforts will have long-lasting success or translate to sales.
You need to establish suitable key performance indicators (KPIs) that will provide you with an accurate idea of your content's performance. This could include conversion rates, repeat visitors or search engine traffic for your website. You could also look at comments, shares and mentions in conjunction with other measures on your social media accounts.
Whatever KPIs you decide on, the measures need to align with your content marketing strategy. They should provide you with evidence of how your content is performing, which can then inform your future content decisions.
Using hypothetical buyer personas
Buyer personas are an important tool for content marketers. They can help you establish the age, gender and lifestyle of your average customer. However, you shouldn't assume that your entire customer base fits into one broad group. Your content won't appeal to everyone in your target audience, and you shouldn't try to attempt to.
There needs to be a deeper level of understanding to find out what motivates and appeals to your customer base. This can help you to develop content that resonates with your audience and earn greater interaction and conversion rates.
It's helpful to conduct surveys with your current customers. Their responses can help you discover their goals, concerns and the journey that led them to find your company. You can conduct the surveys in a number of ways, including via email, over the phone and in person. Adding a pop-up survey to your website can also help you find out about your customers' experiences while they are viewing your content.
The answers from your research should help you to identify smaller groups within your target audience. Once you have found out more about each one, you can tailor your content to target and connect with them individually and as a whole.
Content strategies can help or stunt your company's success. By avoiding the mistakes we've mentioned, you've got a better chance of boosting your brand authority and attracting more people to your website. It's also important to remember that your content strategy should evolve over time. You'll uncover new data, start using new tools and change as a company which will affect the direction that you take your content creation.
You should keep an eye on your competition and customer base so that you know what works well and what parts of your content strategy can be improved. A good content strategy should be based on research, thoroughly planned and focused on quality over quantity.