Content marketing mistakes are extremely common – but don’t for a moment assume that only beginners make mistakes. A lot of content marketers, well into business, often tend to forget the basics that got them started, and they lose their chords of connection with their target readers. They then cannot fathom how to get back the “vibes”. That’s why it helps all content marketers to ask themselves every day of their lives: Who am I writing content for? What should this content achieve for my readers? Will this content I’m writing be seen by them as valuable? Have I tuned into their wavelengths?
Content Marketing Basics are all about knowing what you’re creating or writing, for whom, and why. The moment you lose sight of the purpose and impact of your content on your potential customers, you will start to lose that ability to strike the goals you have in mind for your business and its marketing. Always stay in control of what you do in content marketing, and don’t take your eyes off the customer-connect. There is no such thing as writing for the heck of it, when you’re a serious content marketer!
Are you not empathizing with your readers?
As experts say, well before you think of marketing, you’ve got to try and truly understand your audience first. Especially so in content marketing. People will tell you that you’ll get empathy by “putting yourself in your audience’s shoes”, but that’s easier said than done. Most often we’ll think we’re standing in the audience’s shoes, but we will still only hear the voices inside our own heads. What do we do?
The secret to empathy is to stand in your audience’s shoes, but not try to gauge their thoughts. Instead, try to tune into how they may be feeling about themselves, their lives, their satisfactions. Empathy is about “feelings”. You don’t need to put those feelings into words. Just try to visualize, and feel what your audience feelings could be.
What could be their typical emotional states? Do you visualize them as usually harried and overworked? Or feeling happy and at peace? About what? Do you visualize them as always running after “quick fixes”? Why would they run after these? Or do they feel like they’re laid-back long-term players?
Do they like some social media above others, and if so why? Where do they hang out, and with what kinds of other people – and what itches would they love to have scratched by their friends on the social media? Do you know what they like to read? What draws them to read, and what feelings would they be seeking to assuage when they read something? What do you feel when you try to feel like they do … or what stories do you visualize as the daily drama of their lives?
When you’ve found some threads of empathy, what do you think you could do to to help alleviate any pain or suffering they may have – or enhance any joyful feelings they want to have? When you empathize (i.e. feel without words) in this way, you set yourself on the track of creating content that will beat at the rhythm their hearts crave to beat at. That’s what makes your content compelling!
Are you out of sync with market research on reader-evolution?
Aside from empathizing with your audience, market research of the target audience group as a whole – and especially trend studies – help you understand whether you’ve lost track of any evolution in your target audiences.
For example, do you know what recent trends are affecting their behavior, what the new technologies are doing to their reading preferences, what new fads and lingo are taking them over?
Haven’t you heard people say that if you want to pass yourself as younger than you are, you must make sure your aren’t still wearing the hairstyles and make up of your twenties! It’s similar with content marketers. You mustn’t be caught writing to a target audience that has long since changed from how you first knew them.
You can’t afford to be out of sync with changes in your audiences, and this means you have to study people, both separately and as crowds or groups. Most societal evolution takes place when a lot of people adopt new ideas in sizeable groups, so studying the latest market research will give this underlying sense of mass-movements towards new interests, that soon become hardened into definite trends.
Without solid research, you might start barking up the wrong tree – and worse, speaking to an audience that thinks you’ve become passé.
Are you writing without clarity on your goals?
What kinds of goals can you set that are realistic for your content? Every piece of content, even it doesn’t achieve something tangible in and of itself, should at least push your reader a step or two towards your business goals.
One clear goal to try and achieve would be help your readers get to know the true you. Aiming to build brand awareness is one of the most important goals for content marketing. By generating fresh original content that is relevant, and offers value to readers, you can establish your brand as a vibrant entity that exhibits expertise and authority.
Another goal for content could be to drive traffic to your site. But to stop with just attracting traffic would be a state of half-contentment. That traffic must be the right traffic you set out to attract; it must be lively traffic, that is willing to read a lot of what you write and engage with your content; and it must be traffic that is convertible into subscribers and ultimate purchasers of your products. Your goals should be set in terms of traffic quantity and quality.
Your goals should also be reasonable, given the current traffic of your site or blog. No content marketer has been known to drive millions of people to his blog overnight – but even with small traffic, if the content is brilliant and does a sensational job, you can convert a lot of money from just a few prospects. Remember that one!
Another goal you could set could be to offer such good customer education that you are able to build long-yielding relationships with readers. One of the greatest advantages of content marketing over advertising is the nature and depth of the relationship-and-community-building you can do with content. People tend to grow to love certain authors – for their writing style, and for the way their writing answers all the unanswered questions in readers’ minds. That’s how bonding, trust and loyalty get built.
Most importantly, after you have articulated your content goals, you have to know how you will measure and analyze if your content is doing its duty of meeting these goals. It’s not always about hard metrics, it can even be about the soft goals your content can achieve – like goodwill and reputation.
Are you leaving readers without a clear next-action to take?
How do you plan what content to produce when you do your strategizing? The one and only way is to make sure your content helps match the informational needs of readers all through their buying journey.
Below is an image of a buyer’s typical journey in the purchase of any product. It goes from the initial awareness of his need to seeking solutions, finding products or answers that match, comparing them, trying out the ones that seem worthwhile, buying the solutions and evaluating the after-sales experience, and then either buying more or advocating the solution to others.
For each of the stages of the buying journey, the reader has to be able to find your content to be the best for his immediate needs. The diagram below shows how your content library must adequately satisfy all the informational needs of your reader at the different stages of the buying journey.
But the game doesn’t end with just matching needs along the buying journey. Your content must also nudge the customer to take the next step of the journey with you (rather than with your competitor). This means that every piece of content has some form of a Call-To-Action (CTA) that encourages forward-stepping on your site, by opting in for a deeper relationship with you. See below for an example of a CTA at the bottom of a blog post.
Image courtesy: Hubspot
Notice this image carefully because you’ll see there’s a congruence between what the blog post is about and how the CTA enables the person to dive deeper into the same topic – and take action to get that deeper information from the same site, rather than another site.
This is the place where a lot of content marketers drop the ball or lose the grip on their audiences. How can you retain your audience unless you give the audience a way to get more from you? Why let them take just the little you offer, and look for more from someone else?
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing Basics”:
- Content Marketing Definitions: 15 Smart, Thought-Provoking Angles!
- What Is Valuable Content? Well, It Depends On Who Is Reading It!
- Your Content Marketing Business Model … The Choices You Have!
- 10 Skills You Need To Become A Top Solopreneur Content Marketer!
- Content Marketing And Solopreneurs Are Just Made For Each Other!
- How To 16X Your Content Marketing Goals – And Your Business Results!