By Tony Sorensen | Wednesday February 1, 2018
Content marketing has emerged as one of the most effective ways to build your business’s brand and voice. Additionally, it can also help generate customer loyalty and improve your company’s website ranking on online search engine results pages. As a business owner, content marketing is one of the best tools in your toolbox, but you can’t reap the benefits by aimlessly churning out content without a strategy and authenticity.
To benefit from content marketing, you have to do it right, otherwise it may be working against you and could be giving your competitors the edge. A finely-tuned content marketing strategy can help establish your authority in the marketplace, bring in new business and raise awareness for your brand, if you avoid the common but critical mistakes listed below.
1. Hiring Ghost Writers to Write for You
The bottom line is that the content you publish cannot be authentic if it does not come straight from the mind of a relevant expert. I see companies on a daily basis who publish content blatantly written by a ghostwriter and, in my experience, it detracts from the business’ overall credibility. In one instance, an US based competitor published a number of blogs containing words with British spellings, which made it obvious that they didn’t write it themselves.
From the customer’s perspective, if the content you’re putting out appears “fake” and doesn’t capture authentic thoughts and feelings, how good can your services be? Without the involvement of a genuine thought leader who has real expertise, using a ghostwriter is a shortcut that appears as a red flag to customers. You have to ask yourself: What does my content say about my company? Am I simply putting out content for the sake of doing it, or do I want to offer valuable and authentic content that people can learn from?
2. Over Promoting Yourself and Your Business
When the majority of your posts focus on personal accomplishments or newly retained assignments, you’re missing out on what makes social media so valuable: sharing and promoting the work and accomplishments of others, especially your individual employees. Promoting personal and overarching company accomplishments has a place, however, when you do it too much it gives off the impression that you’re only concerned about things that benefit or relate to you.
Rather than focus on your company and yourself, start sharing and talking about others more. Keep in mind that prospects are always watching you on social media, not necessarily your company. When they see that you are sharing and supporting others, it reflects positively and shows that you care about the success of your employees and learning from your peers. For example, rather than post about your company’s newest client, consider a post congratulating a loyal employee on their recent accomplishment.
3. Post and Pray, Not Tracking Metrics
Not tracking the effectiveness of your content marketing and thought leadership efforts is one of the most counter-productive mistakes you can make. If you don’t track key performance indicators (KPIs), there’s no way to know whether or not all your hard work is paying off. Without analyzing data and evidence to show what’s working and what isn’t, you’re simply guessing when it comes to your content strategy.
You’ll be far better equipped to make informed choices about how to approach content marketing if you know which types of content are resonating with your audience, which platforms are generating the most engagement and so on. It can feel tedious, but tracking basic analytics metrics such as clicks, visitors, and conversions (and analyzing that information) is important when it comes to refining your marketing strategy over time.
4. Writing for the Wrong Audience
You may also be writing to the wrong audience, or taking a guess on what they’re interested in. Your thought leadership can fall flat if you have the wrong people write or target an irrelevant audience.
Getting your intended audience right and properly defined can work wonders. Understanding who you’re writing for gives you a better understanding of the perspective you should take, the tone you should adopt and the level of knowledge your audience has. Additionally and perhaps most importantly, you’ll know what the pain points of that particular audience are so you can speak to them in your writing. For example, if your business is B2C, you’ll want to write directly to customers, but if your business is B2B, you’re more likely going to write to business owners and high-level decision makers. These two target audiences are very different and content needs to be finely tuned to resonate with any niche.
5. Don’t Allow Your Content Strategy to Work Against You
Above all, my point is that there’s truly no shortcut for building a great brand, owning rankings in search engine results pages, or becoming an authority in your market. Simply pushing out content without a plan is not enough and, unfortunately, can actually work against you if customers walk away with a bad taste in their mouth after reading it.
The key to avoiding this common pitfall is ensuring your content is authentic and comes straight from the mouth of a respected and experienced thought leader with genuinely valuable advice to give. While ghostwriters are convenient, they can’t deliver this. If you avoid these mistakes, share and support what others are posting about, and establish a way to track the effectiveness of your thought leadership, you’ll be able to build a strong brand based on memorable customer experiences.