We all know good copy when we read it. The text that keeps your eyes glued to the page; the writing that feels fresh and gets you all excited even when you’re on the bus or sat in your office chair. But creating relevant and engaging content that people respond to can sometimes be a struggle nowadays. Striving for that careful balance of producing and then promoting content that is original yet accessible, informative but not dry, can make even the most talented of marketers want to hit their head against a wall. And it’s easy to see why. Dozens of articles get churned out each day on how to write great pieces and strike gold, but what about the things we shouldn’t do? Those marketing errors that so many of us could be making time and time again without our knowledge? With this in mind, we thought we should ask the question:
What is the ultimate content marketing sin?
We reached out to some of the world’s biggest content marketing experts to see what their thoughts were on this topic, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. From all corners of the globe, they put their thinking caps on and gave Kubix their words of wisdom. Have a read and see if you agree with what they had to say!
Joel Klettke – A self-employed copywriter and digital marketing whizz, Joel spends his days making copy smarter. In 2013 he launched Business Casual Copywriting, and since then he has been busy writing high-converting copy for dozens of digital agencies, niche clients and some serious venture-backed SaaS businesses. (Canada)
The ultimate content marketing sin is not having a plan. Most companies are winging it with content marketing. They write without direction, publish without intent, have no plan for promotion and don’t even consider repurposing as a strategy. They don’t give proper time and attention to researching what they should be writing or who they should be writing for, and then wonder why they aren’t reaching people with their copycat content.
If you want content to be a serious lead-gen channel, you can’t fly in blind, publish at random and hope for the best. And yet, if you surveyed most companies and asked them the tough questions around their process, goals and audience, you’d learn most haven’t done enough homework on any of the above.
Joanna Wiebe – Founder of one of the internet’s most popular copywriting sites Copy Hackers, Joanna has been sharing her expert advice for the last 12 years. Whenever she’s not writing kick-ass copy, Joanna can be found running courses, helping businesses and optimising content for companies across the world. (Canada)
Sharing information should not be your only goal. Content marketing is part of marketing – and it needs to produce business results or you shouldn’t spend time on it.
Kane Jamison – Kane is an online marketer based in Seattle. Managing websites and content since 2005, Kane now runs his own content marketing agency called Content Harmony. (Washington, USA)
I’d say the biggest mistake would be ignoring the three core elements that all content marketing strategies should be based upon: Who is your audience? What are your goals? What are your resources to accomplish those goals?
There are obviously many other details required to put together a complete strategy, but typically those three factors will largely decide what can be reasonably accomplished.
Without knowing them, you can’t decide anything along the lines of what topics you’ll be covering, what formats you’ll be using, what channels you’ll be using to promote content, or who will be doing the work. And that is fundamentally what makes up a content marketing strategy.
Ferg Devins – After 30 years in the beverage alcohol and hospitality industry, Ferg gained exposure and experience in communications, public relations, marketing, and all things social media. He is now the Communications Strategist at The Devins Network Inc. (Canada)
Not integrating social media, public relations and word of mouth into the core planks of a marketing plan. Today’s world is as much about the dialogue about the message as it is about the message.
Julie Joyce – Julie began working in search marketing in 2002 and eventually started her own link development firm Link Fish Media, where she now serves as Director Of Operations, focusing on working with clients in ultra-competitive niches all over the world. (Illinois, USA)
I think the ultimate content marketing sin is not doing enough research on your intended audience beforehand. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Sometimes a team will create content and then do the research on how and where to promote it, and many times that’s ok. However, there are instances where you will end up redoing your content and outreach and I’d rather put more thought into the plan upfront than spend time having to redo my original work.
jay-acunzo6. Jay Acunzo – Jay is the founder & host of Unthinkable, a highly produced, story-driven show about the “content” part of content marketing. He also spends his time as a speaker, writer, and host for brands. (Massachusetts, USA)
The ultimate sin would be ignoring the intuition of the people on your team. In the noisiest world we’ve ever experienced, we all have access to the same tools, data, and experts. But the only truly differentiating factor is your people. If someone on your team is funny, unleash that! If they’re great on camera, try video content! If they have a hunch that writing a story is better than writing yet another list-based article, give them that creative leash. (And if this is YOU talking in your own head: act on your desire.) The way we communicate is THE differentiating factor today, and the only way to stand out is to do what others might see as totally unthinkable: Trust your intuition.
- Doug Kessler – A self-professed content marketing junkie, Doug is the co-founder and creative director of B2B marketing agency Velocity Partners. He’s a copywriter at heart but has a secret penchant for analytics and Lagavulin. (UK)
In today’s competitive world, it’s an unforgivable sin to start a piece of content with the line, “In today’s competitive world.” (Cheers Doug.)
Karola Karlson – Karola is the Digital Marketing Manager at SaaS startup Scoro. She’s all about cool ideas, growth marketing, and taking new marketing approaches on a test drive. Karola has also spent the last two years running the content marketing engine for Scoro’s blog. (Estonia)
Missing the ultimate goal. I’d say that only 20% of content marketing activities are based on in-depth analysis and data-driven goals. Publishing content, i.e. blog articles just for the sake of getting out new blog posts that nobody ultimately reads is a waste of time and resources. No matter whether you’re already implementing a content marketing plan of are still in the phase of realizing that you need a content strategy, answer this question: Why? Why are you publishing content? Why would anybody read it? Why is it relevant to anyone? Complement the “Why?” questions with “How?”: How could we serve our audience in the best possible way? How to put out high-quality content? How do we measure the attainment of our content marketing goals? Without a clear content strategy, you’re never going to make it to 10 000+ monthly readers.
Lee Odden – Lee is the CEO of TopRank Marketing, a digital marketing agency specialising in strategic internet marketing consulting services. He is frequently cited for his digital marketing and PR expertise by leading industry and business publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. (Minnesota, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin in a sea of such sins has to be creating content without empathy for the customer. Far too many brands continue to use things like SEO keyword lists or their own perception of what kind of content should be created. Understanding the key questions buyers have at each stage of the buying journey is essential for delivering relevant content that inspires action. That said, when you can marry SEO insight with customer data, you get the best of both worlds: findable content that attracts, engages and converts.
Christoph Trappe – Christoph (aka The Authentic Storyteller™) is a career storyteller who has worked as a journalist, nonprofit executive, and a content marketing strategist and consultant. He is a global keynote speaker, frequent blogger and author, and is currently helping hospitals across the United States share their authentic stories. (Iowa, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin is when people just add to the crap of content that already exists. When they’re not sharing things that are unique and highly relevant to their specific audiences. On the flip side when people share uniquely original and useful content – that’s content marketing gold.
Ted Rubin – Ted is a leading social marketing strategist, keynote speaker, brand evangelist, and acting CMO of Brand Innovators. Known for his enthusiastic, energetic and undeniably personal connection to people, Ted is listed as the most followed CMO on Twitter according to Social Media Marketing Magazine and #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers. (New York, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin is not having a content marketing plan, and believing the “experts/gurus” that there is a pre-prescribed “best” way to do things.
Richard Lorenzen – Richard is an American entrepreneur, investor and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of the New York public relations firm Fifth Avenue Brands – a firm which on media relations serving the tech, finance and policy spaces. He is regularly cited as one of the most influential millennial entrepreneurs in America and now spends significant time speaking worldwide to audiences ranging from schools to executive conferences about entrepreneurship. (New York, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin is not writing content for your target audience. This is increasingly important in the digital world we live in. Its easy for content to get lost in an inbox, a blog feed, or twitter, feed, if its not what your reader is looking for.
Write content that not only engages your target audience, but speaks directly to their needs. Bottom line, identify your audience, and create your content directly for them.
Luan Wise – Luan discovered social media in 2009, and hasn’t put her smartphone down since! Today she runs a successful marketing consultancy, providing marketing advice, practical hands-on support, and training at luanwise.co.uk. (UK)
It’s a sin to lose focus on what is relevant. Your content should always be relevant to you, and relevant to your customer.
Jayson DeMers – Founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing firm, Jayson makes it his mission to demystify and simplify online marketing for entrepreneurs. When he’s not writing or researching, you can find him traveling, and exploring the world, bit by bit. (Washington, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin is producing content that sucks. Years ago, when content marketing was just starting to become popular, marketers often took a “quantity over quality” approach, thinking that more content was better. What we now know is that hastily-produced content that doesn’t offer readers significant value is not only bad from an SEO perspective, but also from a user experience perspective. It can reduce your brand loyalty, along with conversion rates, and hurt your reputation in your industry.
So, even if you only have the time or resources to produce one piece of content per quarter, make sure it’s better than what anyone else has already published on the topic. That’s what will make Google want to show it in search results, and what will improve conversion rates and brand loyalty.
Chad Pollitt – A decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander, Chad has been creating profitable online campaigns for over 15 years for some of the world’s most recognisable brands. Now VP of Audience and Co-founder of Relevance, a digital magazine, agency and events company, he dedicates his time on content strategy, promotion and marketing.
There’s a couple of ultimate sins I’d like to mention. The first being trying to build a content marketing machine without having the promotion and distribution logistics established. Content marketing without promotion is a recipe for disaster today. Oftentimes, enterprise companies build walls separating owned, earned and paid media. Without having all three working together content marketers are just publishing and praying.
The next sin is all too common in the B2B space – focusing on just the top of the funnel. Content marketing needs to account for every stage of the buyer’s journey and be tracked all the way to closed won business, revenue and lifetime value. That’s how marketers prove the value of content marketing.
Harris Schachter – Harris is a digital marketer, speaker and consultant. A self-professed all-around marketing geek, he also owns and operates his own blog OptimizePrime. (Virginia, USA)
The biggest marketing sin I see time and again is the inefficient use of data, or even the complete lack of data! Your marketing campaigns are not a Ronco showtime rotisserie grill; you can’t just set it and forget it. I have seen so much waste when it comes to marketing spend simply because people aren’t constantly optimizing spend or using all the tools they have available.
On Facebook, the most common example is a small number of campaigns set up to target everyone, with broad targeting (or none at all) and a generic marketing message. On Adwords, the most common thing I see is campaigns loosely set up around broad match keywords but then never using the search terms report to see what keywords are actually causing clicks (and adding the unexpected ones to your negative keyword list). You wouldn’t buy food and throw it right in the garbage, or buy shampoo and dump it down the drain. Why spend on marketing and not get the most out of it?
Rebecca Lieb – Rebecca is a strategic advisor, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist. She specialises in digital marketing and media, working particularly on content strategy, content marketing and converged media with some of the world’s leading brands such as Facebook, Nestlé and Adobe. (New York, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin is “committing” content marketing without the underlying framework of a content strategy that outlines goals, measurement and processes. Only by using these can you make your content marketing truly effective.
Erika Heald – Currently the Chief Content Officer for Spin Sucks and Arment Dietrich, Erika is a content marketing and social media consultant. She focuses on helping enterprise technology start-ups with their marketing strategies drive lead generation and customer loyalty. (California, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin is forgetting who your audience is. So much content that gets produced is focused on a company’s products and services, and getting their messaging out into the world. That may be traditional product marketing but it’s not audience-focused content. If you want your content marketing to resonate with your ideal customer, it has to help them in their job, and be focused 100% on them—not you!
Ian Cleary – After spending 15 years in the technology industry, Ian turned to entrepreneurship and founded his marketing company RazorSocial. Now a globally recognised influencer, Ian regularly gives talks and writes for high end companies all over the world. (Dublin, Ireland)
Creating great content but not spending the time promoting it is the ultimate sin. No matter how good your content is, if you don’t promote it then it will not achieve the success it deserves.
Pam Didner – Pam is a marketing consultant, author and speaker. She leads a boutique-consulting firm that trains, coaches and provides strategic guidance on audience development, messaging architecture, editorial planning, content creation and media outreach on a global scale. She also regularly shares her insights at www.pamdidner.com. (Oregon, USA)
Content marketing is all about your target customers. It’s about how you can educate, help, entertain, challenge and facilitate their purchase decisions. Incorporate your products and services as necessary, but you need to start from the mindset of being helpful. With that spirit, you really need to understand them: where do they go to get information? What keywords do they use to search? What format of content do they prefer? What are their challenges and desires?
The sin is to forget your customers. You need to know them well to create relevant content. You need to know them well to serve them.
Pawan Deshpande – Pawan is the founder and CEO of Curata, a content creation and marketing platform. Now blogging for a variety of technology and marketing publications, he also regularly gives speeches at webinars such as the American Marketing Association, SXSW, Online Marketing Connect and Content Marketing World among others. (Massachusetts, USA)
It’s common for marketers to “repurpose” their own content. This is perfectly acceptable. But “repurposing” other people’s content is plagiarism—and may be the ultimate content marketing sin. What makes this tricky is that there are no clear black and white rules in terms of what’s ethical and what’s not. Common offenses include repeatedly mining the same source for content, reproducing a large portion – or entirety – of someone else’s story, using the same headline as someone else’s story, not identifying or linking to the source of an article, and not adding your own voice in any significant way to a curated article. It’s an important topic that marketers should be aware of. If you’d like to learn more, you may be interested in this popular eBook I wrote, Content Marketing Done Right: The Definitive Guide to Executing an Ethical Content Curation Strategy.
Carla Johnson – As the Chief Experience Officer of Type A Communications, Carla Johnson helps marketers unlock, nurture and strengthen their storytelling muscles. Carla has worked with companies that include American Express, Dell, Emerson, Motorola Solutions, VMware, Western Union and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on unveiling new ways to bring their brand stories alive in fun and captivating ways. (Colorado, USA)
The ultimate content marketing sin is when marketers create ad hoc pieces of content instead of connecting them together to create a bigger, richer experience. Much of this come from a lack of creative thinking “in the moment”…meaning that we’re not trained to think in terms of the overall experience we’re creating. We’re responding to requests or fall into legacy thinking that looks at content as a way to describe the products and services that we sell, rather than looking at content as a valuable asset that’s separate and distinct from what we sell. As we become more creative in our approaches, we’ll become more creative in the content-driven experiences that we create.
Shama Hyder – Shama is founder and CEO of the award-winning The Marketing Zen Group, an integrated web marketing and digital PR firm. She is also a highly acclaimed keynote speaker, bestselling author, and a regular media correspondent. Her latest book, Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age is now available on Amazon and across bookstores: https://amzn.to/1sqMmZs
The ultimate content marketing sin is writing just for the sake of writing. You need to bring value to your readers and provide new insights that haven’t been covered before. Another top 10 list isn’t going to cut it each week.
So what can you do? Research, research, research. It will pay off, and you’ll probably find some astounding statistics that might even spark another content marketing idea. And before writing a piece, ask yourself “If I Google this, will a bunch of similar posts come up in the search results?” If the answer is yes, hone in on your topic more, change your approach, or scrap your idea and come up with a better one.
You want your readers to gain value through your content marketing and want them to keep coming back to you, thinking of you as a leader in your industry. If you’re doing what everyone else is, your readers will find someone else better.