11 Australian experts reveal common content marketing mistakes
Mistakes are a big part of business, and learning from them is how we grow. Like any industry, content marketing is full of mistakes but luckily you don’t have to make them all yourself in order to get the best from your marketing budget.
We’ve spoken to some of Australia’s most knowledgeable people in the content marketing industry and asked them one simple question:
What is the most common mistake you see in content marketing campaigns?
In the quotes below, you’ll find that there are four main areas where people are going wrong with content marketing:
– not understanding their audience
– not using their content wisely
– expecting short-term results
– not measuring their work effectively
Not understanding your audience
To create effective content you need to know who you’re writing for and why you’re writing for them. There are several ways you should be doing this, and skipping any of the steps might mean you’re targeting the wrong people or the right people at the wrong time — making your content less effective.
James Gilbert, Head of Marketing in Australia, Hubspot
“The most common mistakes are not having a good understanding of the buyer persona for your business and not knowing which part of the customer journey your content is speaking to. You need to orientate your content around those.”
“You don’t want views or likes for the sake of it. You want to reach the people that will care about your business and hopefully, one day, will be a customer. Despite what most marketers will tell you, not all engagement is created equal.”
‘What are you looking to achieve?’
‘We want more leads’
“I have this conversation every day and although I understand the value of leads, I see so much waste with the poor quality leads that are being churned out to meet quotas.”
“So many brands disguise demand gen through content marketing which means they purely concentrate on bottom of funnel content. They are creating great top of funnel, brand awareness and consideration content and posting it organically, but the people they want to reach aren’t seeing it. What they are seeing is the content that is being promoted to them which is lead gen content. This leads to a poor customer experience that replicates cold calling! Brands need to invest equally at all stages of the funnel and build trust before they ask for customer to take an action.“
Belinda Weaver, Owner, Copywrite Matters
“I think it’s a lack of understanding of the people they are trying to motivate. Even though a content marketing campaign needs to be valuable and useful, it should ultimately motivate people to take some kind of action. In order to do that, you have to know what’s driving your readers crazy and what kind of transformation they are looking for (as a purchase is really just a tool for transformation).”
Bec Derrington, Founder & CEO, SourceBottle
“You should know your audience and what their problems are, and then try to solve them through your content. Content that doesn’t inform or address your audience’s pressing questions or needs is unlikely to get much traction. Content should never try to sell – it should educate the reader/consumer.”
Dominic Flannery, Director, Prozely
“The most common mistake is not doing extensive, in-depth research before launching a content creation program. We have a lot of clients coming to us with the same problem; they are creating content, but not getting results. This is usually due to them creating the wrong type of content, aimed at the wrong audience, and not including the keywords that will drive them up the search results.”
“Research on your audience and potential client/customer base needs to be conducted prior to creating any content – creating personas is a great way of clarifying your customer. Figuring out the keywords that best relate to your service and the keywords people are actually searching for is another step that will help lay the foundations for quality content that ranks well.”
Not using your content wisely
Just because you can create content, doesn’t mean you always should. There are plenty of guides online that demand you write monthly/weekly/daily blog posts, but if you have limited time or money to spend on content, it’s better to create less regular content that gives greater benefit to your readers than to keep churning out blog posts for little or no reason other than that’s what you think you should be doing.
Kirsty Tanner, Editor in Chief, In Marketing We Trust
“One of the most common mistakes I see is when companies use up all their content budget on standard blog posts that get published weekly or daily. Instead, small businesses should be putting that money into creating larger and greater content pieces less often. If you can do both, awesome. But most businesses can’t afford both. Opt for evergreen content that will generate leads, instead of posting more often just to stick to a schedule.”
Janine Pares, Managing Director, Thinksmart Marketing
“One of the biggest mistakes I see brands make is focusing on creating more and more content, often with no agreed formal strategy in place. Often this is tied to ill-defined objectives or measures for what their content efforts should deliver.”
“With the proliferation of content today, there is pressure to do more to stand out from the clutter, however this can undermine success. High quality, valuable content is what grows engaged audiences, even if there’s less of it.“
“It’s engaged audiences who will keep coming back, tell others about you, and spend more with you. Having a clear strategy in place, and being smarter about the way that content is atomised and distributed far outweighs a focus on the volume of content.”
Adam Barber, Director, Castleford
“In our experience, the reason most content marketing campaigns fail is that they’re not built around proper goals. Content marketing is about creating something helpful, valuable and relevant, and using it to drive useful actions by your target audience. If you don’t start with what those actions are you significantly reduce your chances of success.”
“A good example would be websites that only cater for the bottom of the sales funnel. It’s important to create content for users who are close to making a decision, but most website visitors won’t be at that stage. You want goals for users at different stages of the sales funnel and then content and an acquisition plan built around those goals.”
Saheem Wani, Online Marketing Coordinator, The Wilderness Society
“For me the biggest challenge has been a lack of good content for various marketing purposes which is not due to the lack of actual content but because of the lack of an overarching, cross-channel content marketing strategy.”
“While an organisation might produce great content for a certain platform, we seldom use it optimally by sharing it across other relevant platforms. For example: a brilliant story on social might never get recycled or repurposed for website, emails, direct mail or other comms. This lack of optimisation means our supporters miss out on a lot of awesome stuff we do, while we miss the benefits of maximising traction. Later, we struggle to generate new content for various marketing efforts and given the shortage of time and resources that content never gets produced or isn’t good enough.”
“It’s true that each channel requires a unique approach and not all content is meant to be shared on every single channel, but due to the lack of a solid strategy, we often miss out on using good content for SEO, lead gen, emails and other marketing purposes.”
Expecting short-term results
Good things come to those who wait. Content marketing, like SEO and most other forms of marketing, takes time to kick in. If you don’t plan for long-term growth it’s unlikely you’ll see any success.
Elmo Stoop, Founder & CEO, Vine Digital
“The biggest mistake I see is that expectations are not aligned – either the marketing team is not aligned with management or the external agency doesn’t manage the client’s expectations with regards to results and ROI. This leads to work being cancelled far too soon as the expectation was that results would be generated sooner or it would be more obvious to see ROI.”
“Content marketing is a long-term investment – think of it like your super. You won’t be rich from investing in your super after a few months, nor will you from content marketing, but we all know the long term benefit of compound growth. Content marketing is very similar.”
Bec Derrington, Founder & CEO, SourceBottle
“One of the most common mistakes I see (and am guilty of) is thinking that content marketing can be a quick, short-term fix. In fact, even the phrase ‘content marketing campaign’ is wishful thinking. The term ‘campaign’ suggests that you can create great content for the life of a campaign and then switch it off. Unfortunately, just like a puppy you get for Christmas, you need to feed and water your content until it fully matures, and even then you can’t stop.”
“Many brands adopt content marketing using a traditional advertising approach – short term campaign planning. The result leads to many marketers and brands writing off content marketing before they’ve truly started with it.“
“On LinkedIn, brands who adopt an ‘always on’ model and have a documented strategy are those who see the most success. This is down to three key things: they’re visible and adding value at any given time a prospect is looking, they are constantly building trust and authority which in a post-trust world is crucial and they are audience centric, they have stopped talking about themselves.“
Not measuring your work effectively
Even if you are doing everything right in the early stages — from research, creating plans and writing great content — you can still ruin future work if you don’t look at the results of your content.
Grant Doyle, Course presenter, Australian Writers’ Centre
“I think too many marketers have ‘performance anxiety’. That is, few of them apply quantitative goals to measure the success or otherwise of their digital campaigns. Hardly any set conversion metrics, let alone monitor and map performance back to their original proposition.”
“It seems quantity outweighs quality too often where deadlines are prioritised over measurable content objectives.”
“Such a lost opportunity to listen, learn and leverage data. And made so accessible via the various analytic programs.”
“57% of marketers say their biggest challenge is measuring content marketing. It is a challenge, just as all digital measurement is challenging, however in 2018, we need to start changing this. The role of marketing is changing and we have to get better at showing valuable data and analysis.”
“This requires better understanding of what we’re actually measuring and then how we are going to do that – this requires a strategy and an agreed approach.”
“This shouldn’t stop in marketing either, this alignment needs to exist between sales and marketing too. LinkedIn has been working hard to develop the platform’s capabilities in this area and it now has some really great tools that help clients to track conversions and to see who is coming to their website.”
Elmo Stoop, Founder & CEO, Vine Digital
“Another key area is to ensure you know how to measure ROI and what it looks like. You might be able to manage expectations and ensure everyone commits to the long-term play, but you still want to see results and improvements.”
“Making sure you are tracking and reporting on data in the right way is key to knowing if what you are doing is starting to gain traction. If you are and you can measure ROI correctly it only gives you further confidence to keep doing what you were doing.”
If any of these comments ring close to home, it’s not too late to make changes. Rather than adding bells and whistles or simply doing more for the sake of it, the best way to improve your content marketing is to get the basics right. With a strong foundation, you can see benefits much more clearly.
Did we miss anything out? Let us know in the comments.