“Content is king” has become more of a platitude than a paradigm for SEO and digital marketing. If it’s so important, though, why are so many people still doing it wrong? You don’t have to look far to find puff pieces about touting the importance of content marketing without digging deeper into what it is, what it isn’t and how it can change your marketing strategy. While creating an effective content marketing program is a subject that could easily fill a book or five, pointing out where it can go wrong is as easy as looking around the web.
Ads serve plenty of valuable and even noble purposes. They introduce your business to new prospects, excite your customers and establish your brand. What they don’t do is enhance your content. The point of content marketing is to provide real value to your visitors, not wrap advertising in a thin layer of content to make it more palatable. Customers aren’t pets that need to be given a pill, so wrapping unpalatable content in tasty peanut butter won’t make it easier to swallow. It’s fine to brand your content by mentioning your name; people should know where to go to find more of what they want. What you want to avoid is content that exists solely to put your name in it – which makes it an ad instead.
Skimping on Writers
Who is the voice of your company? If it’s a dedicated writer or team of writers, or if some of your marketing team are particularly talented at writing web copy, you’re in good shape. If your company’s online voice belongs to any one of a few million anonymous content mill writers working overseas, something needs to change. What you post on your blog, website and social media channels is your company’s face as far as your visitors are concerned. Entrusting it to someone whose only connection to your company is that you’re paying him or her a dollar a post is worse than pointless; it actively diminishes the value of your brand.
You’ll occasionally hear from would-be content marketing experts that SEO is dead. It isn’t, and as long as there are search engines that rank pages by quality and relevance, it never will be. It’s changed dramatically from what it once was, but the state of all digital marketing is constant change. No surprises there. Even if your content creator is otherwise excellent, you can’t afford to ignore keywords, forget about backlinks and do away with meta data.
Offering One-Note Content
Content marketing strategies need room to breathe. They don’t thrive on blog posts alone, yet for many companies, following a formula of three 200-word blog posts a week is the most effort they put into their content. What about infographics, newsletters, case studies, white papers, e-books, podcasts and videos? The reason we call it “content” and not “blog writing” is that it ideally encompasses a wide range of media across an equally wide variety of platforms. If you keep up with your blog, that’s good. If you’re supplementing it with how-to videos, e-books, and webinars, that’s outstanding.
Losing Track of Your Audience
One of the cardinal sins of content marketing is trying to dictate what you think your audience should be instead of adapting your content to the audience you have. There’s nothing wrong with being aspirational, and if you’re targeting a new market, you absolutely should give it the steady stream of content that will help it grow. Don’t make the mistake of reaching out to one audience segment while losing contact with another. One great way to keep your audience segmentation clear is with marketing automation that serves customized content based on previous visits. That way, each of your audience segments sees the content that’s most relevant to them front and center with an option to dip into other content as they see fit.