That’s how long it takes to create a piece of great content.
Hour upon grinding hour of researching, outlining, data-gathering, writing, editing, and polishing.
Yet you happily work away, hammering out piece after piece because you know content marketing works.
So how would you feel if I said that you may be wasting your time? If I told you that those hours that you’re “investing” in your content may not be an investment after all?
In fact, you might be making some deadly content marketing mistakes that act as nails in the coffin of your “invested” time?
When I work with clients, it takes anywhere between 20-45 hours to create one piece of amazing content, spanned over several days. And that’s just to write it. That doesn’t even count the time it takes to publish, promote, and optimize it.
So I’ve dug up the top content marketing mistakes that we’ve seen most online entrepreneurs and bloggers make to save you time, money, and effort.
Table of Content
Mistake #1: You're Paying Attention To The Wrong Analytics
I’m a magician.
Want to know why?
Because I know what most of you did when you sat down to work on your blog or website this morning. You checked your blog stats.
If you saw a sudden spike in pageviews, you were probably excited. A ton of traffic? Overjoyed.
But these are vanity analytics.
What really matters in content marketing is whether your audience is actually consuming and using the resources you publish.
More page views won’t matter if those visitors are staying for only 30 seconds and reading only 1% of your content.
We’ve already established that a ton of resources go into content marketing. So you need to ensure that your visitors are consuming the content that you’re working so hard to create.
Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and letting go of potential leads by not having the full picture.
The Fix: Keep an eye on readthrough rate of your content.
Instead of focusing just on the vanity metrics, focus on average readthrough rates as well. Once you understand the average readthrough rate of your content, you can do two things:
- Put your calls to action above the average drop-off point, so more of your visitors see and act on those CTAs before they leave. Embed opt-in forms throughout your content before most people drop off. Trigger a scroll box or a pop-up that slides in from the corner of the page for above the average drop-off point. Offer a content upgrade or a freebie in the opt-in to collect more email addresses.
- Make tweaks to your content to keep your visitors on the page for longer, so they consume more of your content. The average readthrough rate on a piece of content I publish is between 28-35%. For one piece though, we noticed that the average read was only 4%. This article was unlike the others, in that it had an image almost immediately at the top. It makes sense that less of the article would be read – we were breaking the flow of the reader before they were even able to dig in!
Because we had this data, we were able to diagnose the problem in the content and remove the image from the top of the article, in favor of moving it down after a few paragraphs. After the change, our read-rate on that article jumped up to 24%, resulting in hundreds of CTA clicks.
You can easily collect this data, too, and use it to make your content marketing far more effective.
Mistake #2: You Don’t Know Who You’re Creating Content For
If you’re making this mistake, all of your content marketing efforts will be for naught.
Sure, you might get lucky here and there. Maybe by fluke, you’ll create the perfect piece of content to woo your audience.
But that success won't be replicable unless you fix this content marketing mistake:
Not knowing who you’re creating content for.
If you've never defined exactly who you are trying to reach with your content, then you can’t create engaging content.
Think of it like this: if you’re in the fitness industry, who you create content for matters the most. After all, a new mom who wants to get rid of the weight she gained during pregnancy will need different content than a 65-year-old marathon runner.
The Fix: Dig into the demographics and psychographics of your target audience.
You need to know your target audience like the back of your hand. When you can define exactly who you’re trying to reach, you can create content that will impress them.
Spend some time defining your target audience so you can create content to engage them.
- Demographics: Demographics are important to know about your target audience. Content created for a 16-year-old American boy will differ vastly from a 55-year-old Indian woman so it’s important to be clear on your audience’s demographics. But they’re not the end-all.
- Psychographics: Psychographics are the preferences, values, fears, goals, and core beliefs of your customers. These will be the most useful in understanding your target audience. Not sure what the psychographics of your target audience are? Get on the phone for a quick 15-minute call with a handful of your customers or email subscribers. Ask them questions about what their goals, fears, and beliefs are about your niche. Customer interviews are incredibly insightful to get to know these key data points.
- Behaviors: If you don’t know how your target audience actually behaves online, including how they interact with your website, the social media platforms they spend time on, which influencers they read, and which websites they visit – then you can’t very well get your content in front of them, let alone understand how you need to structure your content to be effective. Behavioral segmentation can help take your strategy to the next level. We employed behavioral data when analyzing readthrough rate.
Getting to know your target audience so well can be challenging, but it’s worth it. Get on the phone with members of your target audience and chat with them.
Set up an email in your autoresponder series asking some crucial questions of your audience to engage them.
Their answers will help you create amazing content every single time.
Mistake #3: You're Squandering Your Traffic
My friend has an excellent food blog.
Her recipes are on point, her writing is engaging, and her food photography makes even the most pathetic of appetites stand at attention.
It’s so good, in fact, that the internet is starting to notice. Over the past couple of months, she’s been featured on websites like:
- Food Gawker
- Taste Spotter
- Huffington Post
This attention has helped her significantly increase her traffic. But besides bringing in some ad revenue, all that traffic has resulted in not much at all. Why?
Well, because traffic is useless if it doesn’t convert.
My friend didn’t do anything to actually capture those traffic spikes. Her visitors were landing on her website, reading or printing a recipe or two, and leaving.
The sad truth is that most of those people would never come back again. And it’s not just her – most of your traffic is a one-hit wonder, too.
One of the biggest content marketing mistakes you could make is to just let your traffic slip through your fingers like flour through a sieve. Pun intended.
The Fix: Include plenty of opt-in opportunities on your website
You can convert 3-5% of your email list from subscriber to customer with a product launch or product email. Compare this with the average eCommerce conversion rate of 1% of your traffic to your website, and email marketing comes ahead every single time.
Not only that, but email marketing allows you to build a tribe – a group of people who are engaged with you and your business, so you can:
- Build relationships with your customers
- Find out exactly what they want so you can create products that are almost guaranteed to be successful
- Gather rapid feedback.
So, one of the best ways of ensuring you’re not squandering your traffic is to capture the emails of those visitors.
Welcome them to your website by giving away something of value with an opt-in offer like we do at FLIGHTFUD:
Entice your visitors with a feature box like Growclass:
Capture their attention as they go to leave with an exit intent pop-up like Magic Spoon:
Give your visitors plenty of opt-in opportunities when they land on your site so you can keep engaging with them in the future.
Mistake #4: You’re Creating the Wrong Content
Once you know exactly who you’re creating content for, a huge mistake that most bloggers make is wasting their time creating the wrong content for them.
In 2015, I wrote one of the most popular articles on Buffer of the year:
Earlier this year I wrote an article on Elite Daily that raked in 30,000 shares:
Not to mention several of the most popular articles on Sumo that generated dozens of shares, likes, and leads every day:
And I could reverse engineer this level of success again and again because I can predict what will be epically popular on any given blog before I create the content with an alarmingly high accuracy rate.
That’s because I know my audience insanely well.
Whether I’m writing for Buffer, Fast Company, Unsettle, Smart Blogger, or the Huffington Post, I can find out exactly what my target audience wants.
This makes my content incredibly effective.
This is why it makes me sad to see so many content creators make this deadly mistake: creating the wrong content for their audience.
The Fix: Use the tools available to you to find out what your audience wants.
You can achieve the same success rate as me. You just need to know what your audience wants.
You don’t have to guess, though. Use the tools available to you. Tools like:
- Buzzsumo. BuzzSumo is the perfect weapon to find out exactly what your target audience wants – even if you don’t have an existing audience. Check out your biggest competitors (or websites that already reach the audience you want to reach) on BuzzSumo by typing in their URLs. BuzzSumo will sort their content by the most shared. If they reach your target audience this will give you an idea of what topics will be the most popular on your website, too.
- Your email list. If you even have 100 people on your email list, those people will be the most useful tool available to you to start creating content to delight your target audience. Ask your subscribers what they want to read about in your autoresponder, and read every answer. Do you see any patterns? Make a spreadsheet with the topics and group the answers together.
- Google Analytics. If you already have existing content, you can find almost anything you need to know about what your readers want from you just by visiting Google Analytics. Check to see what content your audience has already been responding to. What topics are they the most interested in? This can help you guide future content, too.
- Keyword research. Anybody who says you shouldn’t create content for search engines misses the point, because guess who uses search engines? Everybody, but more importantly, your target audience. Finding out which keywords they’re searching and creating content around them is essentially just answering your audience’s questions and being there for them when they need it.
There’s no need for guesswork in content marketing. You can find out exactly what your target audience wants by using the tools you already have access to.
Mistake #5: You’re Wasting Your Time Creating Amazing Content
They say content is king.
After all, 7.5 million blog posts are published every day. If your content isn’t on point, it won’t rise to the top.
So this might surprise you…
But you’re probably wasting your time creating amazing content.
The trajectory of a typical piece of content goes something like this:
Create the content > Hit publish > Schedule Tweets, Facebook posts, IG Stories, and Pins about it > Forget about it all together and start creating new content.
This is problematic. You just spent a ton of time creating fresh new content. The least that content deserves is to be promoted properly so it can get in front of more eyes.
A good rule of thumb is to spend:
- 20% of your time creating your content
- 80% of the time promoting and distributing it.
In fact, if you’re creating so much content that you can’t spend 4x the amount of that time you’re taking to create it to promote it, you’re creating too much content.
When I was working with a previous client, we stopped publishing two articles per week in favor of only publishing one very strong guide on the blog each week. Our traffic per article increased because we freed up time to spend on promotion and distribution, as well as create content upgrades which have led to email subscribers, more traffic, and a greater reach.
The Fix: Create a promotion plan for your content.
Instead of just creating content and throwing it out there, you need to promote and market your articles and podcast episodes.
Create a promotion plan of the things that you do every time you hit the “publish” button. Then, revisit those older pieces of content in your archives to get them out there again.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out where to promote your content, check out these 50 ways to market your blog posts.
Stop Making These Content Marketing Mistakes
Every single hour you spend creating content carries an opportunity cost.
If that content doesn’t do the job you intend it to, your company or blog is kissing thousands of dollars goodbye.
Those are expensive mistakes.
Instead of just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks with your content marketing strategy, pivot stop making these mistakes that kill your content and make sure you’re mindfully creating content to drive the most traffic, conversions and value to your visitors.