Content marketing is everywhere. The 2018 State of the Creator Economy survey revealed that 62 percent of US marketers had experience with content marketing in the past year. The Content Marketing Institute’s B2C Content Marketing 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America report showed that 86 percent of respondents used content marketing.

Although content marketing is popular and more and more brands are embracing it, there’s still a lot that can go wrong with it. Some brands are making the same mistakes over and over again, which gets in the way of them having any real results from content marketing.

Take a closer look at what content marketing is, what the most common content marketing mistakes are, and what you can do to avoid making those mistakes.

First: What Is Content Marketing and Why Should You Use It?

Content marketing involves the creation and distribution of valuable content. The goal of the content is to bring in an audience and meet their needs in some way. Content marketing shouldn’t be promotional. It should take an audience/customer-first stance, rather than a brand-first stance.

There are heaps of reasons to use content marketing. One key reason is that it builds trust. When you give people not only what they want, but also what they need, they are going to begin to trust and rely on you. That increase in trust often results in leads, and ultimately conversions.

Another reason to use content marketing is that it tends to be cheaper than other options. According to the Content Marketing Institute, it tends to cost nearly two-thirds less than outbound marketing approaches, while bringing in three times the number of leads.

Of course, if your brand is making one or more of the most common content marketing mistakes, then you’re most likely missing out on the benefits of content marketing.

Top 10 Content Marketing Mistakes

What are some of the biggest content marketing mistakes? Take a look:

Pretending Your Reader Doesn’t Matter

Although changes to Google’s algorithm mean that more and more content marketers are putting on emphasis on user intent these days, there are still plenty of marketers out there who seem to have missed the memo.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a content marketer is to create and publish content that completely disregards its reader (or viewer, or other type of content consumer).

When creating content that serves your audience, you need to think about who that audience is and what they want and need. If you do that — and you end up creating content that’s useful and relevant for your specific, target audience — you’ll be filling a gap in the content world. More than half of people say that brands produce content that has no relevance or meaning for them.

Not Creating Content for the Web

Content that lives online needs to take a different form than content you read in a book or print newspaper, or video content that’s meant for a movie theater or TV screen. If you’re still publishing written content with no headers, no images, and with massive blocks of text, you are scaring off your readers.

No one wants to read what looks like a sea of words when they are scrolling through articles on their phone. Keep it short, cut your paragraphs down, and find ways to make your content super skimmable to keep the attention of your target audience.

Being Too Promotional

When you create content, you aren’t exactly pushing a product or service. Or at least you shouldn’t be. But it seems some marketers missed that memo too.

Your goal with content creation should be to solve a person’s problem first, and promote your brand second. Content that’s not inherently useful to the person reading it is content that’s going to flop. People aren’t dumb — they know when something has value to them and when something is just a thinly veiled attempt to promote a product.

Forgetting to Give the Final Push

Although you don’t want to be super promotional with your content, you also don’t want to leave the audience hanging.

Give them a “so what?” or a “now what?” at the end of a piece of content. Focus on their needs, and highlight what you can do to meet those needs. The goal of your content should be to move a person further along the sales funnel. If it’s not doing that, then you need to ask yourself what the point of the content is.

Being Lazy About Content Marketing

While it’s true that content marketing isn’t rocket science or brain surgery, it’s also true that it’s not something “just anyone” can do. You want to be careful about being lazy with your content marketing.

Don’t just tack it onto the list of tasks assigned to a member of your marketing team and figure that’s enough. But you also want to avoid outsourcing it to the lowest bidder, or assuming that you can take a relaxed approach to it.

The more thought and effort you put into your content marketing, and the more you rely on people with experience and expertise, the better your results will be.

Copying Everyone Else and Figuring It’s OK

It’s pretty common to see brands copying each other when it comes to content marketing. One topic will get popular, and suddenly every company will have a blog post or video about it, even if the topic has nothing to do with them.

Although copying other brands can make it easy to come up with content ideas, it makes it more difficult for your brand to set itself apart. Instead of doing what everyone else does, think of what makes you different, then create content that highlights your uniqueness and demonstrates how that uniqueness will serve your audience.

Being Too Sporadic

While you don’t want to produce content for the sake of producing content, you also want to be careful not to be too relaxed or sporadic when it comes to content creation. If you go for months without sending out an email newsletter, people are going to wonder why you stopped and then started again.

If you don’t publish new videos or blog posts frequently, people aren’t going to subscribe to your channel or feed, or they’ll assume you’re inactive, and will unsubscribe.

Set up a reasonable posting schedule, such as once a week or once a month, and stick to it.

Using Just One Type of Content

Content marketing is more than just blogging. If your brand has only been using one type of content, you are potentially missing out on connecting with a wider audience. Different audiences are drawn to different forms of content, so it can be worth trying out videos or graphics if you’ve been producing text.

Plus, expanding the content formats you use gives you the opportunity to put a fresh spin on topics you’ve already covered.

Trying to Force It

Few things are less funny than someone who is trying so desperately hard to be funny.

If humor isn’t your strong suit, it’s best not to try. People can see when the tone isn’t right, and your attempts at jokes might just fall flat.

Not Measuring Your Results

Usually, someone is going to want to see the numbers behind content marketing to see if it’s really worth all the time and effort. If you’re not tracking the results of your content marketing, you have no way of knowing what it’s doing, or if it’s coming anywhere near hitting your target.

Measuring content marketing results also lets you see where you’re hitting it out of the park (and where you might want to continue to focus), and where you might be better off giving it a rest.

You can measure content marketing in a few ways. You can track how many people are reading or viewing your posts and where they are coming from (such as Google, social media shares, or email newsletters). You can also measure responses to your content. Are people clicking through to a new page or contacting your company after reading or viewing something, or do they bounce away, never to return?

Once you know the answers, you can adjust your content marketing efforts to produce even better results.