Danni White is the CEO of DW creative advicethat helps professional service companies and nonprofits grow their organizations.
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways for organizations to attract and retain customers. In fact one questionnaire found that 50% of respondents expected their content marketing budget to increase this year.
When I work with small to medium business owners, they usually know that content is what they need to work on and share with their audience. But the biggest struggle I hear is not knowing what to produce, how to make it relevant and useful, and when to produce it.
A lack of content creation is what hinders the success of content marketing efforts in business. Many of these mistakes can be avoided by following a few best practices.
A scattered and unclear strategy
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is moving into content marketing without a clear strategy. It’s not enough to throw something on a screen and see what sticks. Without a clear strategy, your efforts will be scattered and inconsistent, which can lead to confusion around your brand and a lack of engagement from your audience.
Having a clear, focused strategy helps build trust with your audience. To get started, create a plan that outlines your goals, understands your audience, and tailors the appropriate formats to your goals. This will help you create more targeted and effective content that resonates with your ideal customer.
Some of the metrics I recommend reviewing are click-through rate, conversion rate, and even bounce rate for landing pages and website pages. You know your efforts are working when your metrics match your goals.
Lack of understanding of your audience
A second common mistake small businesses make is creating content without understanding their target audience. It is essential to know what your audience cares about, how they consume media and where they are active online.
Knowing who your ideal audience is can help you tailor your marketing efforts to their interests and preferences, making your products more engaging and effective. Many business owners have an idea of who their ideal customer is, but having the data to back you up can help you focus your content.
What does that data look like? It can seem like you’re setting your goals or key performance indicators for your content, whether it’s more followers, lead generation, or a certain number of email subscribers. Whatever those goals are, when measuring you want to identify the biggest KPI and align the metrics accordingly.
There are several ways to discover your audience. For example, conduct market research, analyze your website traffic, and interact with your audience on social media to better understand their interests. Which pages do they like and follow? Where do they comment? What questions do they ask?
Too much focus on sales
Selling is not the goal. It is one of the supporting actors. While the ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive sales, the focus on solely promoting your products or services can be an immediate turn off for your audience, especially if you’re just starting out.
Instead of selling, focus on building trust and providing value to your audience through informational, educational, or entertaining content. This will help you build credibility with your audience and get them excited about what you produce so they are more likely to share and buy from you in the future.
Let’s say your company sells coaching services; you may want your content to be more about the type of coaching you do, such as wellness. In that case, you might want to talk about the benefits of fitness, mental therapy, food hacks, and work-life balance. You don’t always want to actively sell your coaching program directly.
To avoid this mistake, create a calendar that balances both sales-oriented and educational content.
It may seem like a lot to create at least one piece of content every day, but with a strategy, a calendar, and the right amount of time dedicated to it, it won’t be such a daunting task.
Inconsequential and irregular creation and posting can damage your brand’s credibility, reduce engagement, and impact your search engine rankings. It’s essential to create a consistent post schedule to keep your audience engaged and improve your visibility online. To avoid this mistake, create a calendar that outlines your posting schedule and ensures you receive a steady stream of content. You can also use scheduling tools to plan ahead and save time.
Don’t pay attention to SEO
Search engine optimization is changing and adapting to artificial intelligence, but it’s crucial to ensure you reach your ideal audience. A lack of SEO can lead to your content not being found, which can ultimately lead to a lack of traffic.
For blogs, websites, or other resources that are openly available online, it can be helpful to optimize them for keywords your audience searches for. You can also use internal and external links to improve your website’s authority, fix technical errors, and ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly.
Content marketing can be an incredibly effective way for small businesses to attract and retain customers. However, it is essential to avoid some common mistakes that can hinder your success. By creating a clear strategy, defining your target audience, building trust and providing value, posting consistently and optimizing for search, you can build a successful campaign that engages your ideal customer and delivers results.