Ok, so content marketing is a big thing these days. Every other marketer and his parrot are actively preaching to publish “great content” as the answer to more sales, higher traffic, lifelong customers etc.

Big name publishers like Buzzfeed, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and a bunch of others are now publishing “sponsored stories” and all into native advertising campaigns costing a tiny fortune (which most of us fail to identify as sponsored, by the way).

There are brilliant content marketing campaigns like tons of free educational content you can find on Buffer Blog or IBM’s resources library. Yes, that’s still marketing and yes it’s awesome.

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And there’s a tons of other businesses struggling with getting it right when it comes to content marketing. You took an expository or technical writing class in college, right, so developing a blog and content that reaches across several platforms can only be easy. Right?

Not exactly. From someone who’s been doing it professionally for the past five years, here’s why nobody really likes your content:

1. You write only for yourself

When you’re writing a personal blog or maintaining your personal social media accounts, you can totally write for yourself. Share all the cat pics you like or weird statuses and that’s totally fine.

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But when you are writing content for your customers-to-be and the audience you’d like to attract, stop focusing on yourself. Think (or better ask) what interests them the most. What are their pain problems? What keeps them awake at night and most importantly - how can I help you? From customers to clients and prospects, you need to consider what they’ll get from your content.

2. Your content doesn’t provide independent value

The purpose of content marketing is to increase the time that users spend in your sales funnel, establish you as an expert in your industry, and increase the influence you have over client decisions about products and services in your industry.

Content marketing can make that happen, but if all you use your platform for is to talk about your products, your company retreats, and your super awesome business events, then you won’t get the results you want. You need to talk about your customers and their needs. Product hacks, industry news, and changes in how people use your services are all fair game.

3. You aren’t using calls to action

Asking an engaging question at the end of a post with a tacked-on “Tell us in the comments!” has become over-used over the last few years. Ending on an engaging question that can stimulate conversation is still a good idea, though, and every post should end with an idea of what the customer can DO. Go and build a loft bed for their kid with these plans? Share this article to help other people understand how to use their privilege for better in the world?

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The key is to make sure that your audience knows the next thing they should do when they finished your article, and it shouldn’t always be about you.

4. You don’t have a backlink strategy

Backlinking – showing Google that you’re an authentic and well-crafted website by having other websites link to you – is only a good strategy if you’re willing to put in the work to do it the right way. In the dark days of the Internet, you could pay people to spam your links in comments sections everywhere. You can still do this, but it will get your page flagged as spam, and keep you from getting the results you deserve.

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Build natural links by collaborating with bloggers and online influencers, writing guest posts, and building authentic relationships on the web.

5. You aren’t embracing the power of varying formats

Content marketing often focuses on written content, but you can use podcasts, vlogs, memes, charts, polls, and more to make useful content with a purpose. With the proliferation of smartphones and inexpensive editing software, everyone has the opportunity to do amazing visual things (even if you are far from being a design guru)

If you feel your subject is best presented in writing, great, but don’t limit yourself! Experiment.

6. You’re repeating content without adding perspective

There are many websites around the Internet that consider themselves content aggregators. They pull in articles from all over the web and rewrite the content well enough that it won’t ping them on Google, but they add little or nothing fresh to their content.

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Don’t be among those guys.

It’s fine to link to other articles or indicate that you’re responding to something happening somewhere else, but every article on your page should include something fresh and exciting for your readers. For example, if you’re linking to someone else’s DIY instructions, you should talk about how they worked when you used them.

7. You’re being lazy with your headlines

There are two ways to be lazy with headlines, and neither of them work well in the long run. You can use click-bait headlines, deliberately designed to be inflammatory, and that have nothing to do with the article you’ve written. You can also use keywords in the headline that will catch Google’s attention, but won’t serve your audience.

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Don’t do either of these things. Sure, they might buff out your page’s views for a little while, but as the bounce rate starts to climb, you’ll lose what viewers you have.

Craft authentic, well written headlines that use Google keywords but are relevant to your article.

Just because content marketing is necessary, don’t assume it’s simple. A great content marketing strategy will do great things for your business, but you need to avoid these mistakes and do it the right way.