Content marketing is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience and establish yourself (or your brand) as a thought leader.
You could use it to drive traffic to your site, improve your SEO, build brand awareness, grow your lead list, and skyrocket your sales – and you can do all of this without spending a dime on advertising.
Plus, there are plenty of tools you could use to get the job done, from content curation and marketing automation platforms to SEO plug-ins and web analytics.
Strategies abound too. You could focus on producing high-quality, evergreen content. Or you could use a combination of different techniques like SEO, social media marketing, and email marketing.
Unfortunately, though, not everyone is a natural at content marketing. In fact, many marketers make the same mistakes over and over again (like focusing on traffic instead of conversions or publishing stale content).
You’re bound to make mistakes, too, as this is part of the learning process. At MediaOne, we’ve made our fair share of these mistakes over the years – but we’ve also learned a lot along the way, and we want to share some of our best knowledge picks with you.
So in this post, we’ll look at some of the top mistakes aspiring content marketers make and, most importantly, how to avoid them.
Let’s get started!
Why Invest in Content Marketing?
Perhaps the first mistake that aspiring content marketers often make is not fully understanding why they’re even investing in content marketing in the first place. After all, there are countless other digital marketing strategies out there, such as social media marketing or email marketing.
So, before you get started with content marketing, it’s important to take the time to understand what makes this particular strategy so effective – and why it’s worth your time, effort, and resources.
Investing in content marketing is like hiring salespeople to work with you 24/7 to help your customers find what they’re looking for. It helps you reach more people and attract a larger audience while improving your brand’s visibility in search results.
Plus, it allows you to connect with your audience on a more personal level, building trust and loyalty along the way. And it can help you establish yourself (or your brand) as an expert in your field.
Think about the topics you write about as the answers to FAQs, only much more detailed and in-depth. This content helps customers find solutions without contacting support or searching old emails.
Customers come online looking for answers – so you compete with other businesses to be the one that serves it.
The idea is that you continuously create a library of resources that your customers and potential customers can access at any time. The more valuable the content is, the better it is for your brand.
And while it takes time and effort to produce this content, the ultimate payoff is well worth it.
The 7 Biggest Mistakes Aspiring Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them in 2023
But along with these opportunities come a few challenges. From the need to produce more content than ever before to the pressure to constantly outshine competitors, there are plenty of mistakes that are common with aspiring marketers.
Here are 9 of the biggest ones – and how to avoid them.
#1. Not Using Data to Guide Your Content Marketing Decisions.
In 2023, data will be the lifeblood of marketers everywhere – so those who make decisions based on instinct and guesswork will be outshined by their competitors.
What makes this data so valuable?
Data helps you learn more about your audience, understand what works and doesn’t for them, and adjust your strategy as needed.
Without it, you’re essentially flying blind. You have no real idea what your customers want, so you can’t deliver it to them.
And the best part? Data isn’t just limited to your website traffic or how many followers you have on social media.
It can also include things like:
- Customer feedback on your products or services, including the questions they’re asking and how they feel about your brand.
- Data from your competition, including what they’re doing right (or wrong) and how it’s impacting their sales
- Customer searches on the web, including what keywords they’re using to find you and what types of questions they’re asking
You’ve heard about the “see what sticks” content marketing approach. It’s a blind approach to creating new content and is ineffective.
Instead of just throwing anything together and hoping for the best, aspiring marketers should focus on using data to guide their decisions.
That means collecting and analyzing data and then using it to create content that resonates with their audience.
So of the ideas you have, which resonate with potential customers? Which topics do they want to learn more about?
And yes, you don’t have to write about every blog idea that comes to mind. Instead, use data to determine which ones are worth investing time and resources in.
Some of these content ideas are great. But a majority of them will flop – and that’s okay. With data to guide your decisions, you can focus on the ideas likely to bring results.
Here’s what you should do:
Your content marketing strategy must always start with data. Analyze your existing content, as well as that of your competitors.
See which articles or blog posts drive the most traffic and engagement and which offers or promotions perform the best.
Then, use this data to inform your content marketing decisions going forward.
You also want to analyze other top-ranking articles one by one. Look specifically at what makes them successful, and then apply those learnings to your own content.
As part of your analysis, you want to answer the following questions:
- How long are these articles, and how comprehensive are they?
- What topics do they cover, and which ones are most popular?
- How engaging are they? What types of headlines do they use?
- And if I searched for an article on this topic, would I find everything I was looking for in this article?
- Most importantly, how many backlinks does each of these articles have?
By analyzing your competitors’ content this way, you can learn what makes a successful piece of content – and then apply those lessons to your own.
You also want to find the weakest links. Figure out which topics are underperforming, and then adjust your strategy accordingly.
From there, head to social communities like Reddit and Quora and search for topics your audience is asking about. See which ones are most popular, and add them to your editorial calendar.
With only a few hours of research, you can create a data-driven content marketing plan that will help you reach your goals and improve your results – without wasting time or resources on irrelevant or ineffective content.
And finally, don’t be afraid to try new things! After all, data is only as good as it is up-to-date, and you can’t rely on it 100% of the time.
#2. Not Defining Your Reader
Each new piece of content you create needs to be focused on your target reader.
Too often, marketers publish articles without thinking about who their readers actually are — a huge mistake, as it makes your content less effective and fails to build a connection with your readers.
Start by asking yourself:
- Who is my target reader?
- What needs do they have that this article will help them with?
- What is their pain point, and how can I address it in my content?
And most importantly, what value does this reader provide to my business? Are they potential customers, or can they help you spread your content to a broader audience?
You could interview a few existing customers and ask them about their needs, pain points, and what they are looking for in your content.
You can also look at their browsing data and purchase history to understand who they are.
An article intended for decision-makers will look very different from one aimed at new business owners. The same goes for an article intended for a technical specialist versus a general audience.
And after identifying who’s likely to benefit the most from reading your article, you want to circle back and ensure the reader is equally valuable to your business. Otherwise, there’s no point in targeting them in the first place!
By taking the time to define your target reader, you can ensure that each new piece of content is focused, relevant, and offers real value to your readers.
Here’s what you should do:
At MediaOne, our target readers are mostly marketing specialists, business owners, and decision-makers at large companies.
We know that our readers are looking for actionable advice on how to improve their content marketing results, so our articles always focus on providing practical tips and strategies.
We also know that our readers value in-depth, well-researched content, so we do extensive research and use data whenever possible.
When defining the value our readers have to our business; we know they are a great source of high-quality backlinks and social shares.
As a result, we always prioritize creating content that will resonate with our target readers while ensuring they are valuable to our business.
#3. Not Determining the Goal of Each Content Marketing Topic
Unless you have a clear goal for each piece of content, you’ll find it difficult to track the results and determine what’s working and what isn’t.
We’re not talking about the overall goal of your content marketing strategy here, but rather the specific goal for each topic that you are writing about.
For example, one goal for an article about the latest research on content marketing trends might be to get more social shares, while another might be to increase your website traffic.
The article’s goal will determine what type of content you create, what distribution tactics you use, and even who your target reader is.
So before you sit down to write a single word, take the time to think about what you hope to accomplish with this article.
To start, ask yourself why this topic is important to your business and what you are trying to achieve.
For example: is this article intended to get new prospects interested in your product or to provide value to your existing customers?
Let’s borrow an example from MediaOne.
Before we wrote this article, we determined that our goal was to increase website traffic and drive more prospects to our site.
To achieve this goal, we knew that we needed to provide valuable, timely content that would be helpful to our target readers.
To accomplish this, we focused on creating a detailed article that included recent research and data, along with actionable tips that our readers could use to improve their content marketing results.
HubSpot takes customers through a process before they’re considered ripe to make a purchase:
- Awareness: The prospect becomes aware of a problem and seeks out information.
- Consideration: The prospect researches potential solutions and evaluates their options.
- Decision: The prospect decides on a solution and purchases a product or service.
As a leading provider of marketing automation software, HubSpot knows that each stage of this buying process represents a unique opportunity to capture a potential customer’s interest (and business).
What stage of the purchase process are your target readers in?
Nobody wants to read an article about a product they’re not ready to buy yet, so you must focus your content marketing efforts on the right audience.
Someone reading about the latest trends in content marketing isn’t going to say, “Ah ha! I need to buy a marketing automation software solution right away!” Instead, they’ll want informative and actionable advice that will help them improve their content marketing strategy.
To determine the best type of content for each stage, HubSpot considers its customers’ needs, industry, and the specific challenges they face.
But someone in the awareness stage might be interested in top trends, while someone in the consideration stage would want to read a case study or product comparison.
With this in mind, we create content for each stage of the buying process – from high-level trends and case studies to product reviews and comparisons.
By understanding our customers’ needs and challenges, we can create content that addresses their pain points and helps them move through the purchase process – and, ultimately, become our customers.
So before you start writing your next piece of content, take some time to think about what you hope to accomplish with it. Is it intended to drive website traffic, increase social shares, or nurture leads?
Here are some goals and the type of content that’s best suited to help you achieve them:
- If your goal is to drive website traffic, you want to create highly informative and engaging content that resonates with your target readers.
- If your goal is to increase social shares, you will need to focus on creating highly shareable and entertaining content.
- If your goal is to nurture leads, you must create content that addresses your target readers’ specific challenges and pain points.
- If your goal is to attract editorial backlinks, you will want to create high-quality, in-depth, research-driven content that is well-suited for publishing in reputable industry publications.
- If your goal is to drive sales, you must create high-converting content that focuses on your product’s or service’s benefits and highlights the key features that make it stand out from the competition.
#4. Not Accounting for SEO
What if someone told you that investing in item A has 10x more ROI than item B?
How much time and resources would you invest in item A?
SEO drives massive website traffic, yet content marketers often fail to consider it when creating content.
So, where do you start with SEO?
It helps to lay down an SEO foundation before you can even think about creating content. That includes researching keywords, optimizing your site’s architecture and technical setup, and producing high-quality backlinks.
To begin with, you should identify the keywords that are most relevant to your business and industry. To complete this, use a tool like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Ahrefs.
Once you have identified your target keywords, you must optimize your site’s architecture and technical setup by creating a well-structured site map. Be sure to optimize individual pages for each keyword using proven on-page SEO techniques like keyword density and internal linking.
Finally, to drive high-quality backlinks, focus on creating authoritative, high-quality content well-suited for publication in high-authority industry publications and blogs.
Pro Tip: Focus on publishing press releases and utilizing the services of PR distributors such as PR Newswire, PRWeb, and PitchEngine. These services can help you get your content in front of journalists and bloggers looking for interesting stories to cover.
Here are some of the basic SEO stuff you should consider before creating your content:
- Conduct keyword research to identify ideal keyword targets
- TF-IDF optimization to account for semantic search and discover hidden keyword opportunities
- Optimize your site’s architecture and technical setup, including things like page load speed, mobile responsiveness, structured data markup, and internal linking
- In link optimization
- 5, H1, H2, H3, and other headings strategies
It’s not just about content marketing; if you want your content to be successful, you must also focus on link building.
Analyze top-ranking webpages for your target keywords, and identify the key tactics these sites use to build high-quality backlinks.
Some common link-building strategies include guest blogging, content syndication, influencer outreach, and broken link-building.
So, how do you start building backlinks for your content?
Take time to build relationships with other websites and blogs in your industry
Spend weeks or a few months getting to know other bloggers, editors, and influencers by commenting on their blog posts and engaging with them on social media.
Eventually, reach out to the most promising candidates with an offer to collaborate on a guest post or invite them to share your content with their audience.
Find broken or outdated links on websites and blogs within your industry
Use tools like Majestic to identify which links are no longer working, then reach out to the site owners and editors with an offer to replace these broken links with your content.
In addition to these strategies, you can also try submitting your content to PR distribution platforms like PitchEngine and PR Newswire, which can help you get your content featured in top industry publications and blogs.
#6. Not Reviewing and Revising Your Content
Perhaps the biggest mistake many aspiring content marketers make is failing to review and revise their content once it has been published.
While you should always aim for high-quality content from the start, it helps to review and update your content over time regularly.
That can include updating outdated facts or statistics, removing or revising sections that are no longer relevant, and improving the overall quality of your content through editing, formatting, and proofreading.
To start reviewing and revising your content, make a habit of checking your published content regularly.
Set aside time each week or month to review your most popular blog posts, ebooks, white papers, guides, etc., and identify opportunities for improvement.
Here’s what you should do when reviewing your content for performance:
- If a piece of content performs better than expected, double down on that specific tactic or strategy.
- If a piece of content is not performing as well as expected, consider revising that content with new or updated information. You also want to cut down on that specific tactic or strategy.
- If you notice any factual errors or outdated information in your content, make the appropriate changes to improve its accuracy and relevance.
In addition to reviewing your content performance, ensure you are also reviewing the data and metrics from your website, such as traffic, engagement metrics like time on page or bounce rate, and conversions like email signups or sales.
Finally, consider working with an editor or proofreader to polish your content before publishing. Whether you outsource this task or use your team’s internal resources, having another set of eyes can help you avoid common mistakes and ensure that your content is well-written and error-free.
#7. Not Considering Outside Experts
In addition to hiring content writers and editors, it can also be beneficial to bring in outside experts to help you create your content.
Depending on the specific type of content you are producing, this could mean working with a graphic designer or video editor to create visuals for your content or reaching out to industry influencers for an opportunity to work together on a project.
Some familiar outside experts include:
- Graphic designers or video editors to create visuals for your content, such as infographics, videos, and GIFs
- Industry influencers who can contribute their expertise to your content through interviews or guest articles
- Subject matter experts to help you create in-depth guides or research reports on a specific topic
When considering outside experts, you want to check their availability and budget requirements.
In addition to the cost of hiring outside experts, you should also account for the time involved in managing those relationships and integrating their work into your existing content strategy.