Julia McCoy (searchenginejournal.com) explores 10 common content mistakes you need to avoid in 2017. About the contributor: Julia is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster, and avid content marketer. She’s the founder and CEO of Express Writers, a leading online content creation agency with over 60 content writers and strategists. Search Engine Journal (SEJ) is dedicated to producing the latest search news, the best guides and how-tos for the SEO and marketer community. Image courtesy of AntonioGuillem via Bigstockphoto.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
We’ve all heard phrases like, “Tomorrow is another day” and “The future is still unwritten.”
While this may be true, we can improve our chances in the future by learning from today’s mistakes.
In the world of content development, we have the advantage of sitting under expert advice, future predictions, and trends backed by authoritative statistics. Our interconnectedness provides us the opportunity to learn quickly and apply what we know to our own industry.
With so many quality resources at our disposal, there is little excuse for content marketers who choose to remain stuck in the same old methods and day-old practices of development.
10 Content Mistakes to Avoid in 2017
Content marketing has seen its share of changes over the past several years, much of which is thanks to ever-evolving technology and the rise of social media. As we move into a new year of content development, here are mistakes to avoid or fix.
Mistake 1: Not Maintaining a Consistent Blog
Do you know how many blogs are started, created, or put on a to-do list…but never properly maintained?
Don’t be one of them in 2017. Having a well-functioning website to display your services and promote your brand is important. But today, not having a blog means you are missing out on inbound leads, traffic opportunities, and losing the interest (and click-throughs) of your readers.
When content creators use blogging as a marketing tactic, there are some key benefits, including:
- Increased traffic
- Connections to social media
- Exposure on search results
If you are not blogging at all, you are missing out on all the traffic that could turn to leads, especially when you add a call-to-action at the end of your posts. If you are blogging, but you aren’t consistent, it’s time to start dedicating time to making it happen.
Just 60% of marketers are making blog posts a priority this year, but nearly a third of consumers say they want to see more blog content in the future (HubSpot). I’ve been blogging five times a week on my site for months now, and it brings on average 90% of our new customer revenue for the month. Nothing to sneeze at!
Readers want more content, and they want to absorb it through blogs. Get on a consistent blog publishing schedule to gain more inbound traffic in 2017.
Mistake 2: Ignoring Email Marketing Opportunities
A successful email marketing campaign can help you build a massive subscriber base, which means keeping your brand and service fresh in readers’ minds.
Email marketing is affordable, generating nearly $41 in sales for every $1 spent (Huffington Post). This outperforms social media, display advertising, search engine marketing, and mobile marketing. Crazy!
Maybe you have tried email marketing, but your click-throughs haven’t been what you hoped they would be. Take some steps to improve open rates by:
- Making emails mobile-responsive
- Adding multiple CTAs
- Using custom social media links
Always remember to put time into creating an awesome subject line, one with language that spurs action and includes personalization (if possible). An engaging subject line is the doorway to your content.
Repeat after me (well, after HubSpot): clarity first, catchy second.
Mistake 3: Misusing Social Media
Social media channels provide a variety of (free!) ways by which content marketers can reach a wide audience, but too often we misuse the innovative tools at our disposal.
By not understanding the audience, not paying attention to our competitors, and not engaging with social users, we are leaving something so powerful by the side of the content road.
Scheduling posts on the most effective social sites will do wonders for your reach efforts, as will looking at how your audience interacts with each other. If you don’t have a social media presence, you need one. If you do have one and you don’t post consistently, now is the time to start.
Mistake 4: Failing to Proofread and Check Grammar
Sounds too simple, right?
But for those of us with an eye for grammar and spelling, mixing up words like there, their, and they’re is more than annoying—it is an insult to the modern education system.
Another mistake that is all-too-common is the misuse of apostrophes, it’s versus its, and failing to make subjects and verbs agree in a sentence. It’s understandable if you feel like you can’t spell to save your life—get someone to spell check for you. Have another set of eyes (or two) look over your content and check for grammar mistakes. Invest in a copyeditor before you publish.
Because, really, there is nothing more unprofessional in online content than misspelled words or random apostrophes.
Mistake 5: Not Focusing on SEO
The combination of ever-evolving practices, changing algorithms, and new machine learning technology present their own challenges in the world of search engine optimization, but that’s no excuse to be unfocused.
By ignoring relevant content development, stuffing keywords, overloading your website, and allowing content to become stale, we are missing out on top rankings that may be rightfully ours to own.
While we may never see SEO come to completion, we can keep up by staying in step with changing technology and providing the best content in the most efficient way possible.
Mistake 6: Choosing Quantity over Quality
Producing a large amount of content that has little to do with your area of expertise, rehashing what someone else has already said, or is backed by weak references will result in less-than-stellar material.
When content developers take the time to understand their audience, they can then create the quality content that doesn’t just fill a page but leaves an impression. By aiming to influence the behavior of readers, the focus will shift from mere content to shared/liked/retweeted content.
Mistake 7: Neglecting to Develop Relevant Content
Better content gets results. Why? Well, for starters, a reader sees an awesome headline that appeals to their interest, demographic, and personality, and decide they want to click-through. Then, if they love it, they share it. (Sometimes, based on the title alone they share it.)
Their friends also end up loving it and sharing it, and on and on it goes.
But the way this circle (a great one for content marketers) started was from someone who sat down and created relevant content to their reader’s interest. Know your audience, and put out content that attracts them.
Mistake 8: Using Only One Tactic
The average content marketer uses 13 tactics in their creation and distribution. This includes social media channels, blogs, infographics, and videos. Staying stuck in just one tactic limits both your reach and your creative powers.
The way we present a webinar may differ slightly from the way we present social media content or blogs, which means the creative freedom marketers have across channels is wide open.
If e-newsletters or online presentations would work for your brand, don’t be afraid to try your hand at a new tactic and see how it works. The worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work, and you move on to the next content marketing challenge.
Mistake 9: No Real Content Goals
Are you looking to create content, or just make noise?
Every content marketer should be looking to develop awareness of their brand, drive traffic to their site, and create custom content for a specific audience. According to CMI’s 2016 Benchmark report, only 31% of content developers have a documented strategy.
Setting content goals starts with creating an audience persona, developing a keyword list based on their search terms, understanding the content they need, and writing in a style that appeals to your readers.
After that, you need a plan to find out how often to post and through which channels. Putting out blog posts will be a bit different from putting out tweets, but how often that happens depends on your audience and what their needs may be. After all, content strategy is the foundation upon which all else is built.
Mistake 10: Not Optimizing for Mobile
- 40% of us look at them within five minutes of waking up.
- Over the course of a day, we check our phones between 47 and 82 times a day.
- 30% of us check our phones 5 minutes before going to bed.
- Half of us check our phones in the middle of the night.
Based on these numbers alone, choosing to not optimize websites and online content for mobile users is a big mistake.
Mobile devices have completely changed how we connect, converse, and interact with our favorite brands. Because of this, mobile users want short snippets of scannable content that gets to the point.
Avoid the Content Mistakes of Yesteryear
Sometimes, it helps to know what not to do.
If your vision for this next year includes improved content, reaching out to your audience with relevant and authoritative information, and reaching them through new channels, you are on the right path.
None of us is immune from making mistakes, but when we are armed with the right tools, we can develop into the leader our audience needs to find the solutions they need.