Content marketing is now one of the most popular marketing strategies for attracting and connecting with customers.
But, with more brands than ever tapping into its power, we’re starting to see an increase in the number of content sins being committed every day.
And fair enough – there’s so many tips and so much advice about the topic out there that it’s no surprise many content marketers fail to get it right every single time.
It’s a tall order trying to create amazing content time and time again, but if you simply avoid these seven sins, you’ll manage to create compelling content that attracts, connects, and converts.
#1 Envy – Copying Other Content Too Closely
It’s normal to feel envious when you see another brand doing amazing things with their content. And it’s totally normal to want to replicate that for your own business – if it’s working for them, it’s easy to think that it’ll work for you, too.
But, while it might be tempting to follow suit with your fellow competitors and churn out the same content, you’ll be doing your business a disservice.
Because your unique voice and experiences are at the heart of your content. They’re what make your brand real and help forge deep connections with potential customers.
Think about the best pieces of content you’ve come across.
We’re willing to be they’re unique, compelling, and packed full of individual nuggets of advice and experience. They tend to incorporate stories that are personal to the brand and speak directly to their audience.
Remember, your customers want content that speaks to your value and your job is to serve them juicy snacks of content that they can’t wait to devour.
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The key is to create content that’s imbued with your brand voice and is designed specifically to resonate with your audience.
To streamline this process, you can create a style guide.
This should cover high-level goodies like the level of quality you want your content to reach, your distinct tone of voice, the emotions you want to evoke in your readers, and your brand personality.
Skype has created an entire handbook dedicated to their brand and voice, where they’ve done specific research into the tone that resonates most with their audience.
Not only will this help you stay consistent and unique, but it will also build trust with your audience and position your brand as an authority.
#2 Lust – Chasing Vanity Metrics
It’s a rush seeing numbers soar on your content.
And, when they’re some of the only tangible results you can get from content marketing, it’s easy to see why this is the case.
But content marketing is about so much more than pageviews and social media shares.
Think about your goals and purpose with it – do you want to generate more conversions? Do you want to get more exposure for your brand? Do you want to be seen as a thought leader in your industry?
These are all valid goals to have with your content, but they can’t necessarily be measured by numbers.
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First, consider what it is you want to achieve with your content marketing. This is different for every brand, so figure out your distinct goals, whether it’s increasing conversions, generating awareness, or creating a community of loyal customers.
You can then keep lust at bay by focusing your content marketing strategy on those specific, non-tangible goals.
Buffer has done a great job at creating content that positions them as a thought leader in the social media marketing industry.
#3 Pride – Not Focusing On Your Audience
Back in the day, it was common for a brand blog to feature the goings-on of the company. There’d be updates on new members of staff, information about awards they’ve won, and talk about new projects that were on the go.
This is great, but with consumers being savvier than ever, it’s important to incorporate their wants and needs into your content marketing too.
Sure, you want to shout about your achievements from the rooftops (and you should), but think about it in a way that will benefit your audience.
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Successful content that generates high levels of engagement is geared towards the audience’s wants and needs. It considers the problems they’re facing and provides a solution or soothes a particular pain point.
Squash your pride by remembering that content marketing isn’t just about you and your brand. Instead, it’s about your audience – a.k.a. The people you want to serve and educate with your knowledge and solutions.
In order to do this, you’ve really got to get to know those people; not just with regards to the problems they might have that you can solve, but in every aspect of their life and business.
You can do this by sending out surveys, or carrying out audience profiling where you create personas for each of your audience segments based on their likes, wants, needs, and lifestyles.
Millo has created a piece especially for the graphic designers in their audience.
#4 Gluttony – Quantity Over Quantity
With more than four million blog posts published a day, it can be really tempting to try and churn out as much content as possible to keep up.
Trying to stay level with brands that are producing enormous amounts of content can be exhausting and, most of the time, just not possible – particularly for brands that have smaller marketing teams.
Google pretty much anything and you’re served millions of pages of results.
There was a time when “content marketing strategy” meant pumping out daily 300-word posts. Today, that’s not enough, and instead there’s an emphasis being placed on quality rather than quantity.
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The key to avoiding content marketing gluttony is to focus on creating better content than the stuff that’s already out there.
Create content that’s data-driven and geared specifically towards your audience and their needs. Answer their questions that other blog posts don’t answer.
And, most importantly, don’t just pump out content for the sake of it.
#5 Sloth – Being Inconsistent
The online world moves at such a fast pace, it can be difficult to keep up sometimes.
But, if you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you have to consistently show up with your content and keep on top of current trends.
The fickle nature of the internet means you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention and, if they realize that the post they’re reading is two years old and you haven’t published anything since, they’re going to find someone who’s given a more recent account.
In the worst case scenario, your audience might think you’ve gone out of business if your website is covered in tumbleweed and cobwebs.
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Say goodbye to sloth-ery by staying at the top of your game.
Read up on current trends, come up with a plan and, most importantly, show up consistently for your audience.
HelpScout’s resource center is consistently updated with useful guides and helpful content.
When your audience can rely on you to regularly publish great content, they’re going to keep coming back for more.
A content calendar will really help to keep you accountable here, as it means you can map out exactly when content needs to be created and when it will be published.
#6 Wrath – Too Much Emotion
People want to feel something when they read a blog post or watch a video, whether that’s inspired, happy, or hopeful.
As humans, our emotions drive our actions, and the more emotion you can invoke in your audience, the better – but it has to be the right kind of emotion.
You see, while it can be tempting to tug on the heartstrings or publish content that has a certain shock factor to it, you also have to consider how your audience is going to view that content and what it ultimately says about your brand.
It’s perfectly fine to create an emotive video that might have a few viewers shedding a tear, but be careful with how much content you put out there that sparks negative emotions – that’s things like fear, sadness, and confusion.
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If possible, avoid negativity where you can unless it’s really going to help you get your message out there. Consider the emotions your content might invoke in your audience and be sensitive to how they might feel at the end of it.
Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is a great example of encouraging healthy emotions with content.
Encouraging emotion is good if it’s done sensitively and with purpose.
#7 Greed – Hungry For Sales
A lot of content marketers see content as a means to an end, with the end being more sales and more money.
For them, it’s just another step in the sales process.
When a piece of content doesn’t generate sales straight away, they get disheartened and frustrated. But here’s the thing: studies show that it takes consumers around seven touchpoints with a brand before they warm up and consider buying from them.
Savvy consumers of today can sense when someone is just trying to get a sale out of them, and it can be off-putting.
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Of course you want your content marketing to tie in with your sales strategy, but it should also stand alone as a way to build a relationship with your audience and strengthen your trust with them.
Again, this can be achieved by continuing to give value, putting your audience first, creating content that is all about them, and consistently showing up with great advice that eventually leads into your solution.
Stop Sinning For the Sake of Your Content
If you’re guilty of any one of these deadly content sins, you’re not alone.
But, now you know where you’re going wrong, you can put steps in place to turn things around.
Put your audience first. From there, you can provide epic value time and time again, build trust and, ultimately, get more sales in an authentic and natural way.