Welcome to the second article in our 2-part series on all things content marketing for small business (you can check out part 1 HERE). This time, we’re sharing 5 common mistakes to avoid and 6 steps to help you get started with content marketing today.
So why is the “strategy” part so important?
Do you find yourself wanting to start this whole content marketing thing but also worrying about coming up against writer’s block? Are you wondering how the heck you’ll consistently come up with something interesting to say?! That’s where your strategy comes in to save the day. Things run much more smoothly when you focus on it up-front: mapping out a game plan for topics, formats, placements, and timings before you jump head-first into creation mode.
If you want to generate awesome results then you’ll need goals to aim for and a way to measure ROI (return on investment). After all, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”, as they say (whoever “they” is!). In the content marketing world, strategy and consistency are everything.
5 common content marketing mistakes to avoid
1. Not talking to the right audience
You need to make sure your content is talking directly to your ideal customers. Often, businesses produce great quality content, but it doesn’t achieve the desired result because it isn’t laser-focused on the goals and challenges of their ideal customers. Your message needs to resonate with the right people in order to drive engagement, action, and ultimately, sales.
If you aren’t sure what your audience is looking for – ask! You can do your own research by sending out a short survey via email or taking note of questions that come up during sales meetings and customer service interactions.
2. Not creating evergreen content
This one is an easy trap to fall into if you’re not careful. Ensuring maximum “bang for your buck” from content involves writing articles that won’t easily date. Don’t spend too much of your time posting blogs about specific news events (although “newsjacking” can help your post go viral if you do it well!), fashion trends, pop culture references, or mentioning specific dates because the information will become redundant very quickly. Search engines prioritize relevance, so you want your content to remain fresh for months and years to come.
Evergreen content is content that is always relevant—much like the way evergreen trees retain their leaves all year around. Interesting and relevant content that does not become dated is necessary in order to be found online by search engines. Evergreen content can help deliver traffic to your website and hold a valuable position in search engine rankings…The Balance
3. Not taking your audience through a funnel
Building out some sort of funnel is not as complicated as it sounds – promise! All we mean here is that you need to include “next steps” for people after they digest your content. It’s a wasted opportunity if you don’t include a link to something else – a meatier piece of content, a product page on your website, a call-to-action to book a free demo of your services, or whatever else you have to offer.
Remember, we want to take people from awareness through to consideration and purchase. Each stage of the buyer’s journey requires a different type of content; from top-of-the-funnel trends blog posts through to detailed guides on your products or services.
4. Not promoting your content
It’s no good creating content and then leaving it to sit, unseen. It’s your job, as a knowledgeable and generous business owner, to deliver the people what they need! Unfortunately, this step is where many marketers fall flat. If you don’t already have lots of traffic to your website or blog, you’re going to need to get your content in front of as many new faces as possible.
Share it on social media, send it out to your email list, reach out to industry publications to wangle some free PR, and (if you have the budget) play with paid advertising too. There are countless ways to distribute your know-how and maximize results, you’ve just got to use some good old initiative.
5. Not tracking and measuring results
We won’t labor this point too much because, well, it isn’t quite as much fun as the others! Despite the numbers being the serious and sensible part of content marketing, these numbers are what keep you on track for success. It’s vital to think about what your core goals are, and what an effective content strategy means to your business. Brand awareness? Lead generation? Sales?
Next, think about how you can best measure success. What metrics would be the most meaningful, considering the goals you’re working towards? Perhaps you’re looking for an increase in page views, better email click rates, more social shares, or stronger conversion rates. It’s up to you, just make sure you know what you’re looking for, then track it.
6 steps to create your content marketing strategy
Now, all of the above might seem like one big list of “what not to do” but remember, we’ve also explored how you can turn those common mistakes into positive, productive actions that will move your content strategy forward. Result!
So, knowing what you do now, it’s time to start ticking things off from our content marketing starter checklist:
1. Define some simple goals. What do you want to achieve with your content?
2. Set aside time to brainstorm ideas and create buyer personas. Recruit colleagues and bribe with pizza if needed!
3. Create an editorial calendar. Consistency is the most important thing here.
4. Decide where you will promote and share content. Which social channels will work best for your business?
5. Get started with email marketing. Even if it’s just a monthly newsletter, your subscribers are a VERY valuable asset.
6. Measure your efforts. Start small, create a template report and leverage free tools if it helps!
These 6 steps incorporate some of the pillar concepts we’ve discussed throughout the post. They should help you prioritize where to start and what order to go about it in. Now, what are you waiting for? It’s your time to shine. Go!