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So you’re sold on content marketing as a marketing tactic. Let’s jump in and start blogging immediately right? Whoa! Hold on, you’ve got some brainstorming and planning ahead of you before you take that next step.

Here are a few beginners mistakes to avoid in content marketing to save you some headaches down the road…and that awkward conversation with your boss why content marketing didn’t work for you.

Not Knowing Your Audience

Creating content without having an audience in mind is like starting a business with no prior research. It might work, but the odds would be against you.

Customer research and defining  your audience is a critical element in content marketing:

  • It defines who you are writing for
  • What their challenges are and how your content can address those challenges
  • It helps define tone
  • You have a better idea of which social networks to use to build a following
  • It also helps define what methods of promotion or content types that will resonate with your audience

Content marketing requires significant up front investment. Make sure you invest right the first time.

Writing on a Whim or When Inspiration Hits You

Consistency is the hallmark of a successful content marketing program. Writing on a specific theme or subject matter lets your readers know what to expect from you. A consistent frequency of publishing ensures you keep your readers engaged and you stay relevant.

The best way to define consistency in content marketing is to create a content marketing strategy & plotting out a content schedule. Defining a content strategy and schedule is critical if you expect to grow a following.

Your content strategy  and schedule will help give you and your team a 3-6 month window into what content will need to be created and when they will be published.

This is important for a number of reasons:

  • With a view into the future you can plan around each content initiative and the promotion tactics you need to employ to get the best results when published.
  • Having a list of content ideas in mind will help you determine whether each proposed  idea is in line with the overall objective of your content marketing efforts.
  • You can anticipate log-jams or blank spots in your content calendar and adjust your publishing schedule accordingly.
  • Consistency in publishing timelines will contribute to building your followership in social media and with your blog.

Once you’ve established your content strategy & schedule, you will be able to develop processes that will make content production second nature.

Trying to Do Everything at Once

There is a wide variety of content types available for you to create & publish:

  • Blog posts
  • Whitepapers
  • Case studies
  • eBooks
  • Webinars
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Images or photography on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook
  • Etc.

With so many types of content it’s easy to assume that you have to do everything at once or that the goal is volume of content. Before going down that path, ask yourself what your team is capable of producing well.

  • Do you have access to great thought leaders, but don’t have staff writers on hand? Maybe a webinar or podcast might work for your needs and your audience?
  • Is your line of work very creative and visually appealing? Maybe images on Pinterest or Instagram would be better?

Assessing your content production strengths, the needs of your audience and identifying which social networks your audience use will help narrow down the content types you should be producing.

Do 1 or 2 things well; not 10 things horribly.

Not Establishing What Success Looks Like

Without clear KPIs for your content marketing program, you won’t know what good looks like. Is 100 or 1000 downloads of your whitepaper good enough?

Develop clear KPIs for things such as:

  • How many shares/likes/retweets of your blog posts to determine whether your content resonates with your audience
  • Set a bar for how many downloads of your whitepapers you should expect
  • Define the success of your blog through repeat visitors, RSS subscribers or email subscribers

Defining these types of KPIs will help you improve future efforts or change your strategy altogether if you aren’t hitting those KPIs.

So there you go. Before jumping in feet first into content marketing, take some time to do some planning. Starting a blog is easy, but creating a successful content marketing program is a whole other endeavour entirely.

Hey there, I'm Marc!

I'm the Director of Growth Channels @Hootsuite. I've worked in digital marketing since 2000 for agencies, startups and companies like Electronic Arts & SAP. Thanks for checking out my site where I share digital marketing strategies on how to increase website traffic and generate more revenue.

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