7 Ways to Screw Up a Content Marketing Plan

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Content marketing is all the rage right now – and with good reason!  Not only can content marketing help you to expand your brand’s recognition and increase your website’s overall traffic, it can provide powerful SEO benefits to the companies that take advantage of this highly effective strategy.

Opps! Content Marketing

Of course, it should go without saying that there’s a right way – and a wrong way – to do content marketing.  But while there are plenty of different tutorials out there that will show you how to effectively plan and launch a content marketing campaign, there aren’t many articles telling you what not to do.

So, without further ado, here are seven specific pitfalls that’ll doom your content marketing plan to failure from the start.  I hope you find them useful when it comes to putting your own content promotion strategy into place!

Idea #1 – Failing to deliver high quality content pieces

The underlying assumption of content marketing is that if you publish good quality content pieces, your website readers and brand followers will feel compelled to pass your marketing materials on to their friends and family members.  The resulting viral-style sharing drives content marketing success, but it’s the sentiment behind this person-to-person sharing that makes the strategy so powerful.

Obviously, then, if you fail to deliver high quality content pieces, the odds of people going out of their way to pass your articles on to others are pretty slim!

To prevent this occurring, you simply must make content quality a primary consideration when working on your campaigns.  Take the time to put a thorough editorial review process in place that ensures that every piece of content that leaves your digital doors is free of errors and reflects well on your company in order to prevent low quality articles from tarnishing your brand’s reputation.

Idea #2 – Sharing content pieces that aren’t interesting

Really, though, a content marketing piece doesn’t need to just be error-free – it needs to be interesting to read as well!

Think about it…  How often do you come across a content piece that truly captivates your attention?  Odds are, in today’s digital culture of disposable information, it’s not very often that you encounter content that’s interesting, innovative and exciting to read.  And since it’s rare that you come across these pieces, it’s also equally as rare that you’ll take the time to actually pass on any of the content pieces you read online.

Therefore, if you want to give your content marketing campaign the best chance at success, put some effort into identifying topics that you can cover in some new and interesting way.  Don’t just regurgitate the same old topics that have already been covered in your industry hundreds of times before.  Bring something exciting to the table and you’ll dramatically increase your odds of encouraging viral sharing.

Idea #3 – Deploying content pieces in the wrong medium

In addition to building high quality content marketing pieces around interesting subjects, it’s also vitally important that you consider the type of materials you deploy.  There are plenty of different formats that content pieces can take, including:

  • List posts
  • Case studies
  • “How to” articles
  • Image posts
  • Link round-ups
  • Infographics
  • Instructographics
  • Video files

And while this gives you plenty of different opportunities to reach your target audience, be aware that individual content styles aren’t interchangeable.  As an example, if your customers and brand followers don’t spend a lot of time watching internet videos, you’d be better off releasing the types of text-based content they’d prefer to digest.

Really, the only way you’ll be able to figure out what types of content your audience prefers is by observing their behaviors online and testing the results of different content types within your campaign.  Pay special attention to the types of links that are shared most frequently on the Twitter and Facebook profiles of your industry’s authority figures, as these will give you some insight into what types of content your niche supports.

Idea #4 – Failing to adequately publicize content pieces

Unfortunately, putting out great content in the right types isn’t enough to guarantee content marketing success.  Although I do recommend publishing most campaign materials to your own website first, simply adding them to your site and crossing your fingers won’t get the traffic flowing!

Instead, you need to take the time to publicize any campaign pieces you create.  The best way to do this is to link to your content from within your social network profiles – although, even then, you shouldn’t do a “once and done” mention.  Since people are active online at very different times of the day, you’re better off using a service like the Buffer App that will allow you to pre-load links back to your new content pieces that will go live throughout the day.

In addition, once you’ve published your content marketing pieces to your own website, look for opportunities to share your materials on other web properties.  One obvious example is sharing your video files on Youtube in order to boost your audience exposure, though there are plenty of other content sharing alternatives you’ll want to consider as well.

Idea #5 – Building content based around false assumptions

One last concern when it comes to the quality of your content is to be sure that you’re basing the materials you create around measurable, confirmed data regarding your audience’s interests and online preferences.  Don’t simply make assumptions based on what you like the most – take the time to conduct the market research needed to inform the content creation process.

As an example, suppose you run an industry website that covers three primary topics.  Topic #1 interests you the most on a personal level, so you decide to base your content marketing campaign around this subject.  But what if your followers are most interested in Topic #2?  At the end of the day, you’ll have sunk a lot of time and money into content pieces that aren’t as engaging to viewers as they could be.

Instead, use all of the data sources at your disposal (including Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Youtube Analytics and any paid research tools you use) to learn as much as you can about your audience’s interests, demographics, ages, geographic locations and more in order to create content they’ll truly find compelling.

Idea #6 – Not committing to regular content releases

Now, unfortunately, not every content piece that you publish will go viral and send thousands upon thousands of new visitors back to your website.  Although content marketing certainly has the potential to bring about this result, it’s not guaranteed and there’s no way to predict with 100% accuracy which of your materials will go on to this type of success.

As a result, if you only publish a handful of content marketing pieces, you’re severely limiting the odds that your campaign will wind up successful.  Often, it takes time to understand what works – and what doesn’t work – with your particular audience, which makes giving up too quickly a surefire way to screw up your content marketing plan.

Idea #7 – Failing to measure the ROI of your content marketing campaign

One final caution to you is to get into the habit of measuring the ROI of your content marketing campaigns.  Too many people think of content marketing in terms “contributing to the conversation” or “sharing value,” but really, this type of wishy-washy attitude can doom your campaign to failure from the start.

Given the amount of time and resources required to run an effective content marketing campaign, it’s reasonable to want to know whether or not your investments are paying off in terms of measurable improvements in your company’s target metrics.  If you’re engaging in content marketing to grow your social following, for example, meticulously tracking your number of followers, social shares and Facebook “Likes” is a vital part of determining whether your efforts are paying off.

Alternatively, if you’re using content marketing as a technique to increase sales on your website, set up the necessary tracking systems to determine whether visitors that arrive on your website and convert to buyers came from your content marketing efforts or from some other traffic source.  Depending on the complexity of your website, this can be challenging to set up, though most online businesses will be able to use the Event Tracking and Advanced Traffic Segment features within the free Google Analytics program.

Yes, this all sounds like a lot of work.  Content marketing isn’t as simple as tossing up a few infographics and calling it a day – but really, no website traffic strategy is this easy to implement.  By putting in the effort needed to avoid these seven potential mistakes, you’ll dramatically increase the likelihood that you’ll see positive results from your content marketing campaigns.

Photo credit: Opp! Content Marketing – courtesy © Glenda Powers – Fotolia.com

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their... Read Full Bio
Sujan Patel
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