The Biggest Mistakes Small Businesses Make With Content Marketing

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about startups, entrepreneurship, content marketing and branding for a number of publishers including Convince and Convert, Inc.com and The Daily Muse. To read more posts by Kayla, check out her blog productivitytheory.com.

The world of content marketing is vast, and growing every day. This growth isn’t just with the total number of websites and portals that exist, but also the content that’s being created, shared, and viewed across the internet.

Here are a couple of stats to get you thinking about the industry’s growth:

  • Nearly 70% of B2B marketers have plans to create even more content in 2017 than they did last year.
  • Blog content is becoming longer on average, and now includes a lot more visual materials. The average blog post has increased in length by 19%, weighing in at nearly 1,050 words total.
  • Long-form blog posts generate up to nine times more leads than short-form content.
  • A whopping 45% of marketers say blogging and content production is their top and most important content strategy.

What purpose does this waterfall of stats serve? It merely proves that content marketing and content creation are becoming more popular by the day. A growing number of brands are starting to rely on the medium as a form of marketing, and have added content production into their routine.

That also means there’s a lot more competition in the space, which leaves more room for others to fail—like you.

As a small business competing directly with much larger brands, you’re already at a disadvantage because they have the influence. They also have more capital to throw their weight behind content production, both in a text and visual sense.

What can you hope to do to keep up, let alone get ahead?

The short answer is that you can tighten your content marketing and production efforts and fine-tune the process to create more effective, engaging, and quality material. But before you can do that—kickstart a well-oiled machine—you need to understand what you’re doing wrong.

Here Are the Biggest Mistakes You’re Making With Your Content Marketing Efforts

The key to optimizing or fine-tuning any process is understanding what works and what doesn’t. In your case, you need to correctly identify areas—even potential ones—that are holding you back.

1. No Mobile Support

Nearly every digital platform—especially WordPress—supports mobile users. If you’re not offering a mobile-optimized version of your content stream, you’re doing yourself and your readers a disservice. In most cases, enabling mobile responsiveness is as easy as enabling or turning on a specific feature in your CMS or backend.

Have you ever tried to read long-form content on a mobile device that’s designed for viewing on a desktop? Panning, scrolling, pinching, and piecing together the different screen points is just exhausting.

A mobile-optimized version will always adapt the text, layout, and even images to fit on the smaller mobile screen. It’s easier, more convenient, and not frustrating, which is super-important.

Consider: 80% of internet users own a smartphone. Eighty percent! If you’re not catering to mobile users, what are you doing with your time?

2. Relying on Outsourced Material or Poor Writers

Look, we know you’re on a budget, but if content marketing is your game, you can’t skimp on creating original content and keeping it fresh. Outsourcing the work or hiring cheap, unreliable team members is not the way to go. Even as a small business, you need skilled, professional writers.

Poor grammar, terrible writing styles, and confusing run-on sentences negatively affect your brand. If your content lacks a professional touch, people just aren’t going to waste their time.

Does that mean you have to throw millions of dollars at content creators? No! Just put together a team of writers and creators who are passionate and love what they do. More important, reward experience and quality over quantity.

3. Spreading Irrelevant Content

Your brand has a style, personality, and reputation. Yes, it’s possible to change some of those things over time, but your audience and customers know you well and come to you for a reason. Hone in on what that is and really focus on delivering useful, engaging content in your niche.

Are you a local tool and hardware store? Start creating content on DIY projects for homeowners.

Are you running a bakery or restaurant? Start sharing recipes and cooking techniques people would love to learn and share with others.

Own your niche, whatever it is, and create relevant content that truly resonates with your audience. Don’t be the brand that’s severely out of touch and publishing confusing, random content.

This applies to other forms of marketing, too, at least when it comes to your content marketing team. Offline marketing can be very industry-specific, for instance.

Offline marketing, as you might already know, includes any form of marketing that’s not deployed on the Internet. It involves radio and print advertising, telemarketing, television ads, and more. The end game is to keep your content relevant, tight, and related across all your channels—even offline.

4. Delivering Text Only

Yes, blog posts, articles, guides, and tutorials will always be a staple of content marketing and production. But there’s a reason why platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are so popular. People love visual content, too! That includes videos, images, infographics, and more.

Don’t make the mistake of limiting your content to text only. Spice things up!

If you absolutely feel the need to stay focused and organized, you can keep the text and blog content confined to your official website, while saving more visual content for social media. In fact, this is a great way to separate the different media, without sacrificing one form of content or another.

5. Being Inconsistent Without a Schedule

Here’s the single most important takeaway from this article. If you remember nothing else, absolutely take this advice to heart. People expect you to be consistent and predictable. It’s okay to deviate now and then for a special event or announcement, but you want to keep your mainline content regular.

Don’t miss a scheduled publication date. Meet all your deadlines, and that means staying on top of your content production team if you absolutely have to. Writers can be a fickle bunch, but they’re used to meeting deadlines—don’t be afraid to hold them to it.

If content marketing is your game, then make it your game. Make it a critical component of your brand’s strategy and stay consistent. We cannot stress that last point enough.

6. Losing Focus

If you want your content marketing strategy to succeed—especially in the face of the monumental brands out there—you need to follow these basic, yet crucial, guidelines. There are other things to consider, of course, like finding the appropriate audience, engaging and reacting to them appropriately, encouraging shares, paying for promotion, and more. But the most important elements of content creation are listed above.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about startups, entrepreneurship, content marketing and branding for a number of publishers including Convince and Convert, Inc.com and The Daily Muse. To read more posts by Kayla, check out her blog productivitytheory.com.

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