5 cringeworthy content marketing tactics

Is your blog full of sales pitches? Is it fine-tuned to the concerns and questions of your audience? How are you measuring success? Consider these strategic messaging essentials.

5 cringeworthy content marketing tactics

We all make mistakes–and typos.

No one is perfect, but the following five practices could be digging a grave for your content strategy:

1. You are overly promotional.

The point of content marketing is to earn the trust of your readers.

People are bombarded with ads all day long. The last thing they want is to have another sales pitch thrown in their face while they’re trying to read a blog post and learn something.

Avoid using pushy language that encourages your readers to buy something from you right then and there. Try subtly showing your readers why they should buy something from you. You’re the expert, so educate them on what they need to solve their problems.

Instead of overtly touting your product or service, talk about awards that you’ve won or opportunities that you’ve received, such as speaking engagements or press mentions. That way, members of your audience still get the message that you’re successful without feeling like they’re watching a YouTube ad.

2. You’re using black hat SEO.

We’ve all put a filter on a picture to make ourselves look a little better—which is fine. However, tricking out your website to be something it’s not really isn’t a good look for anyone.

Black hat SEO is a sneaky way of manipulating a page on the internet to increase its ranking on search engines. It actually violates search engines’ terms of service and is mostly used by hackers and virus creators. This can sometimes happen without your knowledge if you hire someone to create and manage your website without proper vetting.

You can tell that a site is using black hat SEO if a page is covered with links that provide no value to the reader, has duplicate pages or sneaky redirects, or is consistently bashing a competitor.

If you’re creating your own content, you can avoid black hat SEO tactics by asking yourself whether every link you’re inserting serves a purpose. Are the keywords you’re using beneficial for the content, or are they a way of trying to climb the search engine ranks? If you outsource your content, make sure that the creators you’re working with have good values when it comes to SEO practices and are using your keyword list for good, not evil.

3. You’re ignoring your audience.

Think about your buyer personas and what they’re looking to learn about your product or service. If you need help figuring out who your audience members are, what content interests them, and how you can target them best, check out NetLine’s Audience Explorer.

Also, find out what real-life questions your leads are asking during sales calls. What do your sales reps find themselves explaining to customers frequently? Those are the kinds of topics your content should be addressing.

Think of the value prospective and current customers could get from reading your content. If the answer is “little to none,” then direct your content creation efforts elsewhere.

4. Publishing overly-short or extra-long content.

Make sure that what you’re delivering provides enough information that your readers feel satisfied and have learned something. On the other hand, you don’t want overwhelm them with more than they can handle.

There’s no “right” length for content. Try to focus on making sure your content is clear, concise and easy to read. If the subject you’re covering requires more detail, then let that be a piece of longer-form content. Juts don’t ramble on only to end up making a piece longer than it needs to be.

5. You’re not measuring your efforts.

As Billie Jean King said: “Champions adjust.”

To be successful, you have to make changes based on what you’re currently seeing.

Everyone with a website should be monitoring Google Analytics. If you’re using a marketing automation platform, keep tabs on what’s performing well so you can build on successful practices and nix the unsuccessful ones.

Lauren Morrow is a content marketing specialist with Influence & Co. A version of this article originally appeared on the Influence & Co. blog.

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