Writing is an art form. That’s true whether you’re writing a 150,000-word novel, or 450 words of content marketing.
You may think the latter is less important, but certainly not where your customers are concerned.
After all, a well-crafted blog post could make all the difference between pulling in a steady stream of leads and sales, or just sitting around hoping for a miracle.
With that in mind, I’ve put together the following 7 cardinal sins of content marketing, so you know what to avoid:
1. Large paragraphs
White space is your friend. It makes your writing much easier to follow, and easier on the eye.
If you clump your writing together in paragraphs that are five or six lines deep, people will be less likely to stay and read to the end; this is known as a ‘text wall’.
Instead, take a new paragraph when it feels appropriate, and ensure your writing is laid out in manageable, bite-size chunks.
2. Not getting to the point
So, I was talking to my friend the other day who recently started up their own inbound marketing consultancy, and had met me for lunch at this new restaurant in town. It was a really nice restaurant, actually. I ordered the steak. Anyway, just before the dessert arrived, we were talking about content and what to avoid doing, and he said…
Okay, so the above is pretty much all unnecessary content. There’s no need to waffle on in a blog post, unless your story is relevant to the point you are making. People don’t have the time, and when they click on a promising blog title, the last thing they want to read about is your lunch date.
Which brings me to my next point…
3. Not delivering what you promised
Your title has to grab their attention, but there’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on a blog called something like ‘Where’s the Best Place to Get Quality Content?’ and then just reading an entire blog post about where NOT to look, and the author’s terrible experiences.
Best case scenario, they see it’s not what they wanted and click away. Worst case scenario, they read through to the end and leave feeling frustrated having wasted their time. They may even leave a comment telling you as much.
Always deliver on what you’ve promised your readers in the title – or simply change the title.
4. Ignoring your buyer personas
Anyone will tell you that your buyer personas are oh-so important, so why would you ignore them when it comes to your content marketing?
Writing vague content that could basically appeal to anybody may seem like a good game plan, when actually you’ll end up appealing to no-one at all.
Instead, make it as personal and possible by talking their language and addressing concerns that you know they already have.
5. No actionable content
Actionable content can make all the different between a decent blog, and a great one. You’ll find most people are actually searching for actionable content – i.e. content they can then take action on.
Just as example, imagine searching for ‘wholesome winter foods’. One blog has a list of exactly what you’re looking for, with some colourful photos. That’s nice.
But wait, the next link you’ve clicked on provides everything above, as well as the recipes you need to make them yourself. Which are you likely to prefer?
This blog is another example of actionable content, as we’re telling you what to avoid – as well as what you can do, instead.
6. Too many cooks
Or in this case, too many writers. Ever heard the popular saying: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’? This is especially true when it comes to content marketing.
One person thinks something should be phrased one way, another has a ‘better’ idea, and then a third comes along and thinks that it’d make more sense if the whole thing is rewritten.
Best case scenario, this just delays your content. Worst case scenario, the content suffers, becomes weak, and is littered with typos and various different voices to the point where it becomes hard to follow.
Instead, I’d recommend having just one (good quality) writer, and one editor to check the work for spelling and grammar.
7. Vague subheadings
Finally, people like to know what they’re reading before they fully commit. It’s likely they’ll scan down the page to get a good idea of what you’re talking about before spending the next five minutes properly reading through.
One of the things you can do to give them a good idea of the gist of your blog is a good title. However, you really need to apply the same principle to your subheadings, otherwise they may click on your blog and then lose interest.
Quality content is absolutely essential for any inbound marketing strategy; in fact, getting it right can be an art form. There’s a lot more to quality content than meets the eye, and often I see companies falling for the same old amateur errors like the ones above.
Follow my tips above to avoid making the same mistakes, and you’ll soon start seeing the results in the form of more leads, sales, and social shares.
Have you made any of these content marketing mistakes?