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5 Content Marketing Worst Practices

Posted by Michelle Keefe on February 19, 2015

Here’s an unsettling truth: There are just as many ways to mess up a marketing communication as there are ways to make it stand out from the rest. Here’s another unsettling truth: Most people don’t need a marketing background to detect a poorly executed marketing communication.



The function of content marketing is to inform and guide consumers in the decision-making process. When paired with other channels, it can give your digital marketing efforts a noticeable boost and lead consumers to take action. But many mistakes can be made in the process, as the purpose of content marketing is often misunderstood. Avoid these 5 worst practices for the best content marketing results.


1.) Misplacing the focus of your content. Some marketers get really excited about their brand. You can’t blame them for this. It’s their job. But claiming that your brand is the best by making hyperbolic statements is not the way to go. Marketers should avoid focusing too intensely on selling their products and services. Customers do not enjoy being stalked by a store clerk as they shop. The same can be said about a marketing communication. Do not stalk customers with declarations of greatness. Instead, let the facts do the championing.


For example, content marketing for an automotive campaign might mention stats on fuel economy, vehicle size and built-in technology. Readers will spend time with content if the information satisfies their interest in a product. Content generates interest when it focuses on consumer needs and preferences, so avoid the urge to divulge unnecessary information. Instead, focus on the consumer.



2.) Providing too little information. The opposite problem of the one above is to rely on a slogan to do the selling. Not everyone appreciates brevity. Marketers must bring more to the table than wit.


In fact, if the length of a content marketing article is under 200 words, Google Panda, Google’s search results ranking algorithm, will cite the article for extra scrutiny.1 It is a best practice to aim for at least 600 words. In order to be considered an authority in your field, you must prove that you’re not just loading your article with links and keywords. Also, consumers do not appreciate being led on a seemingly aimless tour of your website, with snippets of information on this page and that. Eventually they will lose interest, so make sure you engage them with articles that answer specific questions about your products and services.



3.) Forgetting that keywords are central to digital marketing. Keywords are an opportunity to shine a light on your brand. When you neglect to include solid, brand-defining keywords in an online article, you restrict its search engine ranking. Digital marketing is supported by keywords, so make sure your online communications center around them.


Marketers can use a keyword analytics tool like HubSpot to develop effective content. This tool can help you target the right keywords and show you terms your audience is I searching for as well as terms your competitors use. To read more about how content marketing and search engine optimization work together, check out J&C’s blog article “Content marketing’s impact on SEO.”



4.) Relying on sass over substance. Sass and wit and hipster cheek (a.k.a. “copy”) in a marketing communication only go so far before the audience starts to ask some serious questions. When marketers borrow lingo specific and familiar to one segment, they risk alienating and possibly confusing all other segments. Not everyone is familiar with hashtags, nor is everyone on board with #wordswithnospaces.


That’s not to say that marketers cannot be successful by targeting a narrow audience or a specific segment. As long as consumers know what they’re reading and why they’re reading it, marketers need not worry. A light, airy tone has its place in marketing, but it should be used sparingly in content marketing. Marketers should take the time to learn the difference between content and copy because each serves a different function in marketing communications. To learn the difference between copy and content, click here.



5.) Forgetting to include a call to action. So you’ve crossed through your checklist of content marketing must-haves, but you’ve forgotten perhaps the most important element of any digital marketing communication: the action button. Once consumers are equipped with information, they should know what to do next. And marketers must make all steps leading to this transaction as easy and seamless as possible. Otherwise you’ve just rendered hours and weeks of hard work null and void.


Including multiple calls to action in a single piece is recommended. Whether you decide to employ links or buttons, make sure the call to action is noticeable and leads to the transaction. The easier you make the process for consumers, the more likely they’ll follow through with a purchase to completion.



Content marketing is meant to inform with a purpose. When executed correctly, it can have a major positive impact on your brand. To learn how your company’s content marketing efforts measure up, check out J&C’s Content Marketing Assessment.


Topics: Content Marketing

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