“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes” according to Oscar Wilde.
As a marketers we all have ‘experiences’ that we wish we’d not made. Sadly, by the time we realise this, the ship has probably sailed.
For Content Marketers excited to impress and show something tangible the content game can be an ‘experience’ minefield, but help is at hand…fortunately we can learn from those who have been there before.
Here’s a list of some of the most common mistakes made by B2B Content Marketers and how to avoid them.
#1. Lack of strategy
It sounds straightforward – when it comes to content marketing, you need to have a plan. However, for some reason, only 37% of B2B marketers in 2016 were found to have actually written a content marketing plan, according to the CMI.
Studies have found that those who have a plan or strategy and keep a record of their goals, consistently review them, and share these goals with their friends and colleagues are 33% more successful at achieving those goals, against people who kept everything in their head.
Documenting your strategy may not seem a priority, especially given that it can be time-consuming. If you have a small team, you may also feel it isn’t necessary. However, it will help you throughout the year, keeping you focused and on track.
As Canadian writer, Arjun Basu succinctly notes
#2. No differentiation
One of the key things that may be killing your content marketing is a lack of differentiation. Differentiation normally starts with your company and your people. What makes you unique to your competitors?
Chances are you have an established competition with a differentiated product, and maybe even a well oiled content marketing program.
To differentiate, it’s important you go back and think about your own business, its unique value, tone and personality and establish how that can be reflected in your content marketing strategy. Part of the solution is asking yourself the question “what makes us different and why should customers care?”
#3. Trying to appeal to a broad audience
Commonly, marketers forget to consider their audience. But ask yourself now; Who am I writing for? Who will be opening this e-mail, or seeing this post on their news feed?
You might have a few different audiences that you are targeting. The goal is to be able to connect with each of them, without feeling too vague. The more focused your message is to your audience, the better the response will be.
Here’s a list of important questions to ask yourself:
- Who is your audience? What is their buyer persona?
- Why are you communicating with them?
- What action do you want them to take?
- What is the benefit for them?
- What problem are you solving for?
- If you didn’t provide this solution, can anyone else fill the gap?
- How are you better than competitors?
#4. Not focusing on the customer journey
Invariably when brands start creating content a common mistake is to forget that your content has a job to do. Of course it needs to interest the reader, but it also needs to deliver your business leads and/or revenue.
Often we get so excited about producing and publishing, that we forget our content should help their customer journey.
To do this you need to consider the customer journey across the sales funnel. Is the reader in the awareness, consideration or purchase phase? And how can you help them along that journey?
Your buyer persona and the answers to the questions above will help you understand how you can interest them along the customer journey, but it’s important to ensure that you are creating content that spans the buying stages, using appropriate content formats.
A topic or story can be developed into multiple pieces of content across the journey. For example, you could have a blog post that sits as part of the awareness journey, an infographic within your consideration stage, then a checklist or guide under the purchase part of the journey.
This allows your reader to fulfil their needs while (hopefully) moving towards becoming a lead for your business.
#5. Producing too much content
It sounds crazy to suggest that too much content can be a bad thing. Can you ever produce too much, and why would that be a hindrance? However, as the adage goes, “quality over quantity”. It doesn’t matter how vast your quantity output is if it isn’t relevant, valuable and effective.
You need to ignite your customers’ minds – are you making them want to know more? Are you helping them? Is your approach something that resonates? If your efforts are careless or vanilla your customer won’t waste their time reading it. They’re busy people and their time and energy should be respected.
However, if your information is on-point, you can guarantee they will be back for more. So what is crucial?
- Keep it relevant and compelling.
- Cover the essentials, while also keeping it interesting.
- Include timely information.
- Be concise. Your customer has a short attention span.
- Make it easy to read: subtitles, quotes and call-outs can help.
- Include links to backup your point.
#6. Solely relying on your social networks for promotion
In recent years there has been an exponential rise in how much content is available. However, we have a relatively finite ability to consume.
To many degrees, the supply is exceeding demand. This becomes nowhere more apparent than on social media, and so it is not a sustainable strategy to simply grow your audience through social media networks alone.
There are lots of other ways in which you can connect with your audience beyond social media. It’s all about creating an authentic, engaging experience that people want to connect with on a media that is appropriate to their persona.
Think back to your audience and ask yourself “where do they spend their time and how do they like to consume media?” You can then consider a raft of media options:
- Owned: website, blog, newsletters, ebooks, whitepapers…
- Earned: press, reviews, influencers posts…(and social)
- Paid: PPC, sponsorships, native, display…
The wrap up
Ultimately, your content marketing can play a key role in how successful your business is, so spending the time getting it right is important. Making mistakes is fine, but mistakes need to be addressed to become experiences. We can’t all be like Jim Morrison (he allegedly said his biggest mistakes were haircuts). Success will come. Keep going!
- Develop a strategy.
- Show your differentiation.
- Focus on your audience.
- Consider the customer journey.
- Focus on quality over quantity.
- Diversify your content distribution.