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Bad Digital Content Marketing Habits and How to Quit Them

By Jessy SmulskiApr 5 /2018

You invested in digital content marketing but still aren’t seeing ROI. You keep falling short of your goals. And your audience doesn’t seem to care about anything you publish. This is right around the time people start formulating an arsenal of objections…

“Content marketing doesn’t work.”

“My audience doesn’t like to read.”

“My industry is too boring for digital content marketing.”

Hold up! This mentality is like getting into a fender bender and blaming the vehicle instead of the driver. More likely—this is the result of user error.

Content marketing doesn’t come naturally to most people, and many people have to learn it on the fly. Business isn’t going to slow down so we can catch up, right? Under this type of pressure, it’s really easy to pick up bad habits that stunt your progress. Today, I’m showing you how to kick these bad habits to the curb so you can finally start to see some content marketing gains.

4 Digital Content Marketing Bad Habits

1. You don’t have a long-term plan.

Marketing experts put so much pressure on content because we know firsthand how valuable it is to the buyer’s journey. But that doesn’t mean you should impulsively throw a hat into the ring and save the details for later. The long-term plan is everything.

Think of each blog article as a stepping stone guiding someone through the buyer’s journey from awareness, to consideration, to a decision. You can’t pave this path without an idea of where it’s going. Here are some quick tips to help you plot a content journey that aligns with the buyer’s journey:

  1. Audit your existing digital content: Assess all marketing assets and find gaps or opportunities based on which parts of the buyer’s journey lack content support.
  2. Do an event-based audit: Assess all upcoming events and organize them based on criteria like month, initiative, blog topic or inbound campaign. Once again, identify gaps or opportunities for content support.
  3. Set SMART marketing goals: Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timely.
  4. Create a content compass: Your content compass can be as simple as a spreadsheet that organizes the direction of your content creation. Hubspot provides a great step-by-step tutorial with examples here.
  5. Up your CTA game: Every piece of content should give the reader a clear and simple next step. At Kuno Creative, we often lead readers back to a gated piece of content, like a guide or eBook. That way, we can continuously engage them and empower them with valuable information that we already know aligns with their needs.

2. Talking too much about yourself

Content marketing is a form of social interaction between your brand and your target audience. As such, it’s important to maintain a certain level of self-awareness and social etiquette. Most of us wouldn’t make dinner plans and spend the entire meal talking about ourselves. We shift the focus by saying something like, “So, what’s new with you?” Likewise, we shouldn’t bogart the conversation online. Jay Baer, a content marketing guru, author, and career keynote speaker said it best.

“If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling…it’s a brochure.”

Take a look at your content inventory. How much of it focuses on product or service features and your brand as a solution? This content works for some readers who already know who you are and what they want. For everyone else—it’s like having a friend that artfully makes every topic of conversation about them. Instead, talk about the meaning behind your brand’s existence. What is the bigger picture, here? For example, if you’re Patagonia, you don’t just talk about hiking gear, you talk about the environment, social responsibility and the transformative experience of nature. If you’re MassMutual, you don’t just talk about insurance coverage, you talk about human decency and people taking care of people.

3. You echo what everyone else is saying.

Content marketers walk a fine line between saying what audiences want/need to hear and being authentic thought leaders. One of the worst habits we form is treading lightly on topics. If all you ever do is report on what everyone else is saying, how will you ever stand out?

The first time I received a comment on a blog article that shared a difference in opinion, I had an instant hot flash followed by an overwhelming wave of self-doubt. It was my editor at Kuno Creative who helped me realize it was actually an opportunity. My definitive stance on the subject of outbound/inbound selling sparked a debate! It started a conversation, inspired audience engagement, and—it scored us another touchpoint with a member of our target audience. This is what content marketing is all about!

Obviously, you don’t want to rattle off opinions about everything and anything. At times, it makes sense to play both sides of the debate, especially if you don’t actually have an opinion or enough evidence to support one. But when appropriate and genuine, go ahead and take a stand. Make bold statements instead of vapid recaps. Challenge perspectives and welcome your audience members to participate. Even if viewpoints differ, the conversation is a bonding activity that ultimately helps connect your brand with buyers.

4. You’re stuck in a content rut.

Do anything for long enough, and you risk complacency, especially in marketing. Content ruts often manifest in two ways:

1) You have the same conversations over and over again. Once again, you can defer to your content audit for clues. If content and topics frequently repeat themselves, get out of the office, engage with your customers, attend a keynote or talk shop with other professionals. You need fresh ideas and, sometimes, that means mixing things up!

2) You use automation software to post the same content using the same words and visuals on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. In other words, you just told the same story four different times to your most engaged audience members. Audiences don’t appreciate being yacked at like this and, apparently, social media channels know it. Just last month, Twitter made a move to limit automated re-posting by changing its algorithm to block evergreen content. That means no more cross-posting, re-posting or altering posts and re-tweeting them.

Automation software is an incredible gift to marketers, but if overly relied upon, it can make your brand appear robotic and ingenuine. It’s going to take extra time, but tailor your posts according to the social channel used for distribution.

  • Facebook: keep it casual, short, fun, and informative.
  • Instagram: post something visually alluring and loaded with strategic hashtags.
  • Twitter: be spontaneous and conversational.
  • LinkedIn: use professional prose and focus on advice or how-to content.

Content is often your brand’s first impression with a buyer. What is yours saying about you?

If you aren’t happy with the answer to this question, check out this free guide: How To Create A Digital Marketing Strategy. In it, we show you how to build a content calendar that puts your newly acquired good habits to work. You’ll also gain access to top content marketing tips and advice on how to create an all-encompassing digital marketing strategy that delivers results.

Download How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

Jessy Smulski
The Author

Jessy Smulski

Jessy is a professional creative writer with over 8 years of experience working with businesses, marketing agencies, news papers, and magazines. Intrinsically empathetic, her talent is transforming the experiences of others into meaningful recounts that connect brands with customers, readers with stories and words with purpose. She also specializes in brand development and content marketing. When she’s not creating content, you can find her snowboarding out west, backpacking or capturing life through the lens of her camera. She takes her coffee black, her wine red and her books non-digital. Catch Jess on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter @Jsmuls.
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