Charles Owen-Jackson

Independent Freelance Writer | Blogger | Content Marketer | Digital Marketing and Tech Writer

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5 Obnoxious Content Marketing Mistakes that Turn Readers Away

Content marketing is a great way to achieve a multitude of important business goals, such as building trust, developing a strong brand and forming meaningful relationships with your target audience. In this respect, it’s very different to outbound marketing, which doesn’t need to rely on offering real value to capture people’s attention. Unfortunately, however, many marketers don’t seem to understand the difference, instead using content purely to push sales.

 

#1. Autoplay Video

Videos that automatically play when someone visits a website are among the most obnoxious and aggressive forms of marketing of all. In fact, they’re significantly worse than even popups, particularly for those on metred connections where such content consumes valuable megabytes in just seconds. It can also be quite embarrassing, particularly for those browsing in public or at work. Unless your goal is to simply troll your would-be customers, you should never, under any circumstances, bombard them with autoplay video.

 

#2. Gateway Pages

Gateway pages, as well as their partners in crime popups, are extremely annoying to most readers who just want to get to the content that they were promised when they clicked on the search result. To an extent, it can work, as it does with Forbes, but not without raising more than its fair share of controversy. The gateway page is yet another method to try to get people to pay attention to advertising without making any effort to draw attention to carefully crafted, value-adding content. What’s more is that studies have shown that fewer and fewer people are paying attention anyway.

 

#3. Hyperbolic Headlines

Internet users are becoming remarkably good at distinguishing between sponsored content and real content just from the headline alone. Most people immediately associate hyperbolic headlines with clickbait, which has undoubtedly become one of the biggest scourges of the Internet. If your headlines promise to ‘blow peoples’ minds,’ ‘change people’s lives’ or achieve something else unspeakably amazing, then you’ll likely succeed only in tarnishing your brand’s image and losing your credibility. By contrast, good headlines accurately represent the content they lead to.

 

#4. Automation

People are surrounded by intrusive advertising, sponsored content and pure spam almost everywhere they look, so it takes some consistent effort to build trust these days. However, you cannot expect to build trust if you’re not present, and that means putting your content marketing on autopilot or outsourcing everything on the cheap is out of the question. It is crucial you keep the human element strong with all your content, and this means being present to answer people’s questions and thank them for their support. No one wants to read content created by yet another faceless brand.

 

#5. Bad Spelling

It should be obvious that good spelling and grammar are important in marketing, but there’s no shortage of online content that looks like it is, and probably was, written by people who don’t even have a solid command of the English language. Such content, which is often a result of outsourcing to the cheapest writers you can find, will harm your brand’s reputation, and it sports all the hallmarks of pure spam. While not many people are likely to be too bothered by the occasional typo, content that is littered with errors will do nothing other than turn your brand into a laughing stock.

 

It’s not easy to build up a sustainable content marketing strategy that really speaks to its target audience and represents the core values of a brand. As such, many marketers try to take shortcuts, whether that involves using objectionable marketing tactics or paying next to nothing to people who don’t have a clue to create content for you. What brands need to remember is that content that offers real value leaves people satisfied, thus it’s only advantageous in the longer term.

3 Content Marketing Hacks that Every Strategy Needs

Every successful brand knows that content is the lifeblood of any modern marketing strategy, and no one is likely to tell you that you need to create less content. Currently more than 80% of marketers are using online content of some form, according to the Content Marketing Institute, and around three quarters of them intend to increase their content output in the coming years. At the same time, content creation is a complex area and, since it’s rarely considered to be a core business routine, many brands often find it difficult to develop enough of the right stuff, whether it’s video, blog posts, social media content or something else entirely.

#1. Repurpose Content
 
Most content takes a significant amount of time to create and, if you’re outsourcing your content creation as many brands do, it can quickly get prohibitively costly. For this reason, you need to make sure you’re getting as much out of each piece of content as possible, hence the necessity to relentlessly repurpose it. Although constantly and consistently releasing fresh content should still be your number-one priority, regularly repurposing old content can greatly complement your strategy. For example, you can start small by combining things like old blog posts, cheat sheets and how-to guides into larger e-books, whitepapers or a series of infographics.
 
 
#2. Curate Content
 
Content curation is similar to repurposing content in that it gives you an opportunity to breathe new life into old content. However, curation relies on bringing together previously published content and presenting it in such a way that it helps your audience find more content they like. For example, you might decide to send an email newsletter or publish a blog post that features the most successful content you’ve published in the last year on a specific subject. Content curation is a good idea when budgets are low, but it’s also something you can do on a regular, routine basis, particularly if you use a third-party tool such as Feedly or Scoop.it.
 
 
#3. Encourage User-Generated Content
 
Considering that most people make purchases online based on things like recommendations from friends or positive reviews, it shouldn’t be hard to see why user-generated content has become such a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy. Additionally, you don’t have to spend time and money generating the content yourself, since it’s entirely sourced externally. User-generate content, such as on-site reviews or feedback on social media serves as an authentic and public demonstration of why others should do business with your particular company. Always go that extra mile to encourage people to leave feedback.
 

Although you should undoubtedly work hard to get more out of your existing content while also encouraging others to leave reviews and other feedback, you should never underestimate the importance of regularly publishing fresh content as well. After all, the content marketing mix always needs some diversity, particularly if your target audience consists of multiple personas who all have different needs and preferences. By diversifying your content strategy, you’ll also be better equipped to find out what works best for your business as well as isolate the strategies that are perhaps better avoided.

Does Your Content Solve Problems?

Most brands are aware of the importance of content marketing, but many still don’t quite have a handle on how it really works. A good starting point, however, is to understand the difference between content marketing and outbound marketing. Whereas outbound marketing is all about telling people how great your product or service is, content marketing (also known as inbound marketing) is about adding genuine value by solving problems.

Content marketing is, of course, promotional at its heart, but it’s not just about illustrating how your own products or services solve people’s problems. That’s what sales content does, and that’s not what content marketing is about, for the most part. There’s also content of the clickbait kind, which typically comes in the form of so-called sponsored content (also known as native advertising). This type of content is basically a scam, since it masquerades as content that solves real problems while all it’s really doing is trying to sell a junk product.

 

But My Product Does Solve Problems!

A successful, or at least a reputable, brand is obviously one that’s proud of its product or service and genuinely believes in it. After all, you’re in no position to sell something that you yourself think is rubbish unless, of course, you’re an accomplished scam artist. Scammers and spammers aside, a reputable brand recognises how its product genuinely solves a problem, so this might sound like the obvious subject to talk about when it comes to content marketing. However, talking only about your product is a matter of writing sales copy, and there’s nothing wrong with that, depending on the context. Where the bulk of content marketing comes in, however, is not talking about your brand and its product, but building up a reputation as an industry authority.

 

Representing Your Brand as a Thought Leader

Although a woefully overused term in the world of inbound marketing, thought leadership is what content creators should be aiming for. A thought leader is an informed individual who becomes a go-to authority for trusted information on a subject. They are the people who build communities of dedicated followers and ultimately get people believing that the brand they’re representing knows exactly what it’s doing. As such, a thought leader’s job is to present a brand in such a way that transcends the product alone to the extent that the brand itself becomes synonymous with authority and brilliance in its niche. Thought leadership starts with a driving passion that builds influence by solving real problems and, ultimately, inciting a revolution in your industry.

 

It’s Not About Putting Your Genius on Display

Content marketing differs enormously from more traditional forms of advertising in that it’s a lot humbler. Rather than being about putting your knowledge on display, it’s about helping people make their lives better and, in doing so, earning their gratitude and, consequently, their patronage. To this end, it might sound like content marketing is about giving away something for free and, to an extent, that’s exactly what it is. However, offering genuine value for free is precisely what builds trust in your brand while also humanising it to the extent that consumers will be in a better position to empathise with you.

Let’s provide an example to help give a better idea of how content marketing works. Whole Foods Market Inc. is an enormously successful chain of supermarkets in the US that’s specifically orientated towards healthy eating. It’s also a company with a fantastic content marketing strategy. Anyone can visit the Whole Foods Market website and check out their recipes page to access thousands of user-rated recipes covering an extensive variety of categories. They also have an extremely popular blog offering everything from healthy-eating tips to saving money on groceries. At the same time, their content is active and inclusive to the extent that it draws readers in and makes them a part of the whole experience. Ultimately, by educating, helping and entertaining its website visitors, the company has built itself up as the industry leader in its niche as well as becoming a household name across the US.

 

Content Marketing Applies to Everyone

It’s often easy to dismiss certain industries as unsuitable for content marketing. After all, it makes sense that anything related to healthy lifestyles has a major advantage when it comes to content marketing, since most of us do spend a lot of time thinking about our health. However, content marketing applies to absolutely every industry without exception. It doesn’t matter whether your company specialises in selling sock monkey sewing patterns or smartphone-operated hydroponics systems for the living room – there’s always the potential for content that can solve problems or entertain. Even the most obscure and specialised niches of all are worth writing about and, if they’re not, then there’s not going to be a product or service worth selling anyway.

 

Final Words

A good customer is a happy customer, and a happy customer is someone who has found a way to solve their problem. As a brand aiming to build up its reputation, one of your key goals should be to create content that solves the problems that your target audience faces, whether that involves providing invaluable lifestyle tips or simply being a great entertainer.

 

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