21 Common Mistakes Every Content Marketer Should Avoid (Checklist)

Content Marketers are responsible for educating and informing their audience. In fact, it is based on the content marketing efforts that a brand or a business builds a wide base of followers.

With such a great responsibility to shoulder, content marketers often make mistakes. One or more of these mistakes are common to most writers. I’m sure you’ve made some of them. I’ve definitely made quite a few.

However, these are all common mistakes that can be avoided. All it takes is a keen eye for detail and a bit of extra effort on our part. Next time, try avoiding these 21 content marketing mistakes.

1.    Not A/B testing content

One mistake that a lot of content marketers make is to assume that a certain kind of post would work. As a content marketer, it is crucial that you test what kind of content works for your industry and audience, and what doesn’t. You also need to determine what content performs better than the others.

Play around with the length, topic, and format of the content piece. Track and measure results through metrics such as unique visitors, comments, click through rate and engagement on social media.

2.    Not creating content for a specific niche or audience

Another mistake that content marketers rampantly make is writing generic content.

If you don’t identify your niche and your audience, you will be wasting time and effort creating content that provides little to no value and isn’t targeted.

A good way to start identifying your niche audience is by creating buyer personas. Find out who your readers are, what stage of the buyer’s journey they are in, and what their pain points are. Once you’ve determined that, write content that fulfills the purpose of solving your readers’ problems.

3.    Not developing a brand voice

A lot of content marketers make the mistake of not identifying a brand voice before they start writing for their audience. It is important to define the tone, style, and language that you will use, depending on the industry you focus on.

This helps build and maintain familiarity among readers. They know how you write and what to expect every time you present a piece of content to them.

Ensure your individuality and personality as a brand shines through. It is important to maintain consistency in order to gain loyal readers who keep coming back to you because you have managed to build trust.

Spend some time inculcating your brand voice into your posts? Who do you want to come across as? Warm, humorous and casual? Professional and corporate? Whatever it may be, it is also a good idea to develop brand guidelines, especially if you write for a company.

4.    Writing more as a brand and less as a person

While it’s important to establish a brand voice, it is also crucial that you don’t lose your personal touch. In fact, your brand voice and your personality should go hand in hand.

Readers like feeling connected to the writer every time they read an article. If you don’t provide the comfort of a human connection, you would find it difficult to build a strong audience.

5.    Not documenting your content strategy

Do you have a documented content strategy in place?

For a long time, I wrote whenever I wanted to, whatever I wanted to. I realized soon that it went all haywire and I was never able to produce an article that I myself wanted to read. How could I expect my readers to look forward to my content?

Once I had a plan in place (something as simple as an excel sheet with my ideas and a tentative deadline to meet), I had a specific path to follow. I spent time researching what kind of content would help keep my readers informed. It also helped me remain consistent with content delivery.

Thus, it is always a good idea to have a strategy in place where you note down your goals, target audience, strengths, and weaknesses and how you’re going to create and distribute the content.

6.    Ignoring the importance of keyword research

Content marketing and SEO are interdependent on each other, especially after Google’s Panda update. This is a fact that a lot of us fail to remember.

As a content marketer, you need to have some knowledge of SEO. Keyword research especially can come in handy. Using tools such as Google Keywords or Moz Keyword Explorer can go a long way in producing content that reaches the right audience.

Take some time out to find out the keywords that your target audience uses to search for content. Once you’ve done that, writing specific content will be a breeze.

7.    Committing the ‘crime’ of keyword stuffing

Once you’ve done your keyword research, it is a good practice to incorporate those keywords into your post. Not only does it increase your chances of ranking higher organically (which means you get noticed more often), but it also establishes you as a thought leader.

However, as content marketers, we often make the blunder of “keyword stuffing”, a practice that could put you in a tight spot. Remember the last time you searched for an iPhone and read a 600-word post with the term at least 30 times? Looks and sounds spammy, right? Even search engines arrive at the same conclusion and penalize the site for keyword stuffing.

8.    Not doing research on the relevance of your topics

So you’ve zeroed in on a topic that you want to write on. But have you thought if it would perform well not just on your blog but across all your promotion channels?

Do some research on the popularity of your topics using content marketing tools such as BuzzSumo. Find out which topics are trending and what influencers in your industry are talking about and sharing. Doing a little bit of homework eliminates guesswork and helps with creating great content.

9. Either focusing only on quality or only on quantity

Some of us like to produce high-quality content every time we write. In the process, we tend to write a lesser number of articles, so much so that our readers are unsure of when they should expect the next post. What happens in such a scenario is that you tend to lose out on loyal readers who keep coming back to your blog for more.

There is, of course, another group of writers who keep writing continuously but with little regard for the depth of the article. In such cases too, we fail to keep our audience engaged.

The key is to strike a balance between quality and quantity with a strong emphasis on consistency on both fronts.

10. Not writing content that informs

When it comes to the quality of your content, it is absolutely essential that you pledge to give to your readers, information that is worth remembering and cherishing. It is a way to give away as much as you can for free.

But free does not mean inferior content. Content should be used to empower others, to inform and educate them. Thus anything you write has to be researched and presented in detail. Your article should be a one-stop solution for a reader’s specific needs.

11. Ignoring headlines

I cannot stress upon the importance of headlines enough. Headlines are the packaging of your content. That’s what will attract your readers. So if you spend time on writing that great blog post without a catchy title, forget the chances of your post being read by your audience.

Use tools such as CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to experiment with different titles for your blog post. As CoSchedule suggests, write down at least 25 different headlines before settling on one. Spend some time on choosing your titles with care and trust me, you won’t regret it.

12. Not editing and proofreading

What if you found an article online that provided great information, but you had to skim through an ocean of spelling and grammatical errors to digest the knowledge? You would be stressed out, isn’t it?

While it may seem obvious to proofread your content before you hit the publish button, a lot of content marketers overlook this important step. Irrespective of whether you have someone to proofread your work or not, you need to be your own editor. The first round of editing should be done by you. For further editing and inputs, seek help from your friends or a professional.

Let your content shine, instead of being marred by bad grammar. Grammarly, for example, is a tool that helps you identify mistakes, even when you assume your writing is error-free.

13. Forgetting to add calls to action

Calls to action are a lead generating magnet. Choose and use them with great care. Every piece of content you write should encourage the reader to take an action as the next step. Your Call to action could be as simple as commenting or sharing. But unless you tell your readers what to do, they will never do so.

Incorporate calls to action in your posts to reach an end goal. This could be done through a simple sentence, a hyperlinked text, a button or even an image. Whatever you use, your message should be loud and clear. I ensure I include one at the end of every post. That way, my engaged readers know exactly what to do next, and they do it while the information is still fresh in their minds.

14. In-your-face selling tactics

It is okay to sell in your posts. However, selling should be done subtly. Consider the buyer’s journey whenever you’re including a call to action. While it’s a great idea to use CTAs, it is also important to use them optimally instead of stuffing your posts with them. If your posts are stuffed with hardcore selling tactics, your readers are going to get fed up and they might not even come back to your blog the next time.

15. Failing to promote your posts

So you’ve finally written the article of your dreams. You know people are going to benefit greatly from the information you provide. So you give yourself a pat on the back and forget about it. What happens to the blog post? It gets buried somewhere and no one ever gets to read.

What did you do wrong?

You wrote and you forgot to promote. Let people know what you’ve done and appreciate your efforts. I have committed this cardinal sin ‘n’ number of times, until recently, when I started cross-publishing my posts on social media. If you spend an hour writing that blog post, spend 4 hours promoting it.

16. Using either too many or few promotion channels

Promoting your content across platforms is an effective way of getting the word out. However, using too many distribution channels can turn into a waste of time and effort. Use only those promotion channels where your target audience is active.

Using less number of social media platforms is also not a great practice since that limits the reach of your content.

The idea is to strike a healthy balance to promote your content effectively and reach the optimum number of readers.

17. Publishing only articles that only contain text

As a content marketer, you may argue that writing is what you do best. However, any blog post that contains only text is most often incomprehensible for a reader. As a reader, we all have a short attention span. Thus it is important to keep your audience engaged through visuals such as images, infographics, and videos, especially if you’re writing long form content.

It has been found that articles with images attract 94% more readers. This proves the power that visuals have to make your post more engaging and digestible.

18. Producing content that only has visuals

While visual content is highly popular with readers, it isn’t a perfect medium. Search engines find it hard to read images (which is why it is so crucial that you add alt text to all images). Visual content is also quite difficult to optimize.

Thus a balance needs to be maintained between text and visuals. It is also a good practice to add images only when the context demands it.

19.  Ignoring commenters

The best way for content marketers to flourish is by building a base of loyal readers. You know have an active reader when you have at least one comment on your blog.

Most content marketers tend to ignore that one commenter who has the potential to be your blog’s brand ambassador. It is always a good idea to keep a track of comments being posted on your blog and taking that extra time out to respond to each and every comment individually. This helps gain valuable feedback about your content and helps maintain a relationship with your audience.

20. Not re-purposing older posts

Often we tend to concentrate wholly on producing new content every other day. What happens to those posts you had created a year back, ever so painstakingly? You can’t just let them sit in a forgotten corner of your blog.

If they had performed well then, there is a likelihood of it performing well even now. Thus, make it a practice to refurbish old content by either reposting them in their original form or reproducing them in other formats.

For instance, if you had written a series of posts on DIY projects during the Christmas holidays, you might want to repurpose them as an eBook, or maybe a curated Pinterest post or even a slide share. That way, the content you wrote in the past continues to live and make an impact.

21. Not measuring content marketing efforts

Finally, you’ve taken care to avoid most of the common mistakes a content marketer makes. Now how do you know you’re successful as a writer? What do you consider as a measure of success? Website traffic, or Facebook likes and shares, or comments on your blog, or new email subscribers, or Twitter mentions?

As content marketers, we tend to forget the importance of setting up metrics to track our progress. Unless you’ve measured the results of your content marketing efforts, you haven’t measured your success or the attainment of your most important goals.

These aren’t the be all and end all of the innumerable mistakes that content marketers make. But all these mistakes can be avoided with a keen observation, time, effort and practice.

Here’s a checklist to help you avoid making these common mistakes as a content marketer.

Download Checklist

Is there any mistake that you’ve made as a content marketer? How did you overcome those challenges and what did you learn from them. Do let us know. We’d love to learn from you.

Director, Gambit Technologies

Prolific writer, editor, voracious reader, photographer and dog lover.

About the author: Priyadarshini Das Sharma

Director, Gambit Technologies Prolific writer, editor, voracious reader, photographer and dog lover.

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