When creating content over and over again, it is really easy to get stuck in that rut of telling our audience what they should be doing. Hence, there are a bunch of articles, white papers, and podcasts with titles like “10 Ways to Write Awesome Content” and “The Super-Simple Method to Getting Better Content ROI.” Which can be totally useful.

However, what is arguably even more useful is strategies we should avoid. So, I decided this month’s round-up on content marketing will focus on what not to do.

Who says you have to make the mistake yourself to learn from it? Instead, let’s learn from other people’s mistakes.

this month in content marketing november

7 Popular Blogging Tips That Don’t Always Apply by Larry Alton

It is shocking, I know, but not all tips apply to all situations, brands, or businesses. When giving advice, we tend to make is sound like it will apply to everyone, but you need to remember your situation might be different. In this article on ProBlogger, Larry delves into some of the most common blogging advice (write every day, stay in your niche, when something works stick to it), and discusses when it might not apply.

This information is fantastic advice for newbies, but it also helpful for more experienced content creators who are stuck in a rut.

Read This If: You are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of blogging ‘advice’ out there, or find yourself creating the same type of content over and over again.

7 Deadly Sins of Blog Post Writing by Janice Kersh

This article by Janice Kersh on jeffbullas.com offers helpful tips for newer writers and those who hare experienced, but maybe aren’t seeing the returns they would like. My favorite tip from her post is #6: Trying to Promote Yourself Instead of Your Ideas. Too many writers, particularly for company blogs, see blogging as straight up marketing, when it can also be used to establish your brand as a trusted source of information.

Read This If: You aren’t seeing good results from your blogging. Particularly good for small business owners or brand bloggers trying to establish a voice for their brand.

Danger Ahead: When Content Distribution Is On Auto-Pilot by Clare McDermott

This is actually in interview of Andy Crestodina, the co-founder of Orbit Media, but it is packed with tons things to avoid when it comes to creating and distributing your content. In this interview, he addresses how to avoid putting your content promotion plan on auto-pilot. Which he defines as writing a post, share it on Twitter, share it on Facebook and call it a day.

My favorite quote from the interview is: “The gap between good and great isn’t a quality gap; it’s a promotion gap.”

Read This If: You think you are writing high-quality content, but can’t seem to get the traction or reach all the online experts say you should. Or if the phrase “Just write good content!” has ever been part of your content promotion plan.

5 Things Companies Do That Ruin Storytelling Success by Kathy Klotz

Published on Convince and Convert earlier this month, this article addresses the main mistakes companies make when trying to tell their story. Kathy is a huge proponent of being human, which is a trait many companies struggle with. The most important mistake on her list, in my humble opinion, is “The Perfect Ending”, that is when you wrap up a piece of content by giving the customer an economic benefit, like how your product will save them time or money.

But wait – isn’t that what content should do? Kathy says you should instead be looking to fulfill an emotional need instead.

Read This If: Your brand is struggling to create real, human connections with your audience. Remember, content marketing isn’t just about marketing, it is about creating emotional connections with real people, not just buyer personas.

10 Time Wasters That Limit Your Blogging Productivity (And How to Avoid Them) by Danielle Irigoyen

This article on HubSpot’s marketing blog is a solid read if you are unable to find time to blog. Some people legitimately do not have time to write. Or, it may just be that your time is better spent on other tasks. If that is the case, there is no shame in hiring a good writer or delegating the task to someone who is better suited.

But, if you actually want to write, but can’t find the time, this is a good read. Ask yourself this: how often do you check Facebook for non-work related reasons? Or, how many meetings do you sit in a week that are a complete waste of your time?

Read This If: You want to write more, but can’t seem to find the time.

The Takeaway

The point of focusing on what content creators shouldn’t be doing this month was to get those brain gears turning a little bit. It is pretty easy to get stuck in a rut, particularly if producing content is just one part of your whole job. After a while, you might find yourself churning out the same style of not-terrible content over and over again. It’s not bad, so what is the harm?

There is plenty of boring in the world. Don’t add to it. Instead, I challenge you to create content that is just a little bit more awesome than your last piece.


Featured Illustration: Created by Paulo Bobita 

In-Post Image: Shutterstock|retrorocket

We all like to believe we’re special. Or as anthropologist Margaret Mead wryly put it, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique — just like everyone else.”

That belief (or state of denial) is why so-called “batch and blast” email is usually less effective than email campaigns customized to your unique market. In a recent study of marketing professionals by Experian Marketing Services, 62 percent said a personalized email subject line is crucial.

The study also revealed that personalized promotional emails generated transaction rates and revenue per email six times higher than non-personalized emails. The personalized mailings had 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates. For triggered email campaigns (in which emails are triggered by a calendar event, a business action or an action taken by a website visitor), personalization doubled transaction rates.

Because today’s email marketing services allow for more detailed data about customers, users can implement some pretty impressive personalization that likely wouldn’t have been possible a couple of decades ago. Logistics like fully optimized mobile applications and time-delayed messaging are now par for the course, as is message micro-customization based on consumer behavior.

“With so many available tools, businesses of all sizes can now employ the best email strategies for reaching customers,” writes Jayson DeMers in the Huffington Post. “When used correctly, these tools let businesses of all sizes compete with even the largest corporations. As more marketers discover the value of personalized marketing, businesses that don’t personalize their efforts will likely find their campaigns are largely unsuccessful.”

Reasons to Ditch

“To get started with such customization, conducting customer research is imperative,” explains Vertical Response Senior Content Marketing Manager, Linzi Breckenridge. “Your success with email marketing lies in understanding as much as you can about your contacts so you can better communicate with the groups of people likely to find your message relevant,” she says.

Since personalizing messages for a world’s worth of potential customers is probably still out of technology’s reach, here are tips for identifying whom to target in your next campaign.

Identify your target market(s), segmenting the groups of customers most likely to buy your goods and services. Think about which segment of the population has a problem your product is able to solve. Narrowing that down keeps you from wasting time and energy, and maximizes your chance of gaining and keeping customers, growing profits and expanding market share.

The most common ways to segment are by demographics, geographic location, purchasing behavior and/or psychographic segmentation (interests, hobbies, lifestyles, values and attitudes). The most common demographics used are age, gender and income level, notes social media blogger Lisa Furgison, all of which can be collected from your customers and embedded for reference onto your website or blog platform.

To help you form your messages, some marketing professionals recommend identifying common themes among your best customers and conceiving of actual “personas” that represent them in their various forms — including their shopping objectives and possible objections to buying.

Further fine-tune your target market by analyzing email data to identify customers who answered calls to action, like clicking to open windows announcing new product arrivals. “Knowing if, when and how contacts engage with your email is useful in determining which contacts find the message relevant,” notes Breckenridge. “You can continue the communication with those who respond, and tweak or completely change the message for those who don’t.”

Limit your target market to a manageable size. Warns Furgison: “If you overdose on segmentation, you could get frustrated and make your email marketing strategy more complicated than it needs to be.”

Consider rewarding loyal customers with discounts or special sneak peeks of products. “With a marketplace overflowing with options, repeat buyers are a much smaller segment than they once were,” Furgison notes.

Identify, target, and maybe reward brand advocates — customers who praise your products on social media or provide you positive feedback.
Make an effort to bring back inactive customers, possibly with a promo. Such emails have titles like “We miss you!” or “It’s been a while,” notes Furgison, who also advises that surveys should find out why customers have strayed.

Place the customer’s first name or user ID at the top of the message to quickly capture attention, advises Kevin Gao on targetmarketingmag.com. “If the user took the time to register with your business, then there is some implicit trust between both of you,” he says. “Remind them of your relationship by promptly showing their names. This tactic is especially important for consumers on mobile devices as the limited space means brands need logical personalization right away.”

Ask customers for information so you can provide even more apt customization in the future. “But avoid being greedy,” warns Gao. “Customers don’t want to spend time with a detailed registration page that asks for demographic data or other personal information. Ask for the minimum, use that in personalized emails, and expand your data as the relationship grows.”

Messages to customers triggered by real-time behaviors — such as reminders that items have been left in a “shopping cart” — can be very effective. “Even if the visitor receives it minutes after leaving the site, it does help the brand to stick in their mind,” states Gao. “Personalization should also be included in standard messages, such as shipment confirmations, where companies can suggest additional products or services, perhaps at a discount.”

Consider customizing email messages to arrive at the optimal times for your customers depending on demographics and time zone. For example, emails to student customers could arrive in the evenings when they’re most likely to be browsing via computer.

Lastly, always test your email campaign before sending. Having more than one pair of eyes review the email reduces the chance of suffering from an error. After making the effort to boost open and click rates with personalization and segmentation, the last thing you want is to waste it on a typo.

Conclusion:  Move beyond the old-fashioned and ineffective approach of “batch and blast” to get the best results with email marketing.

Source: Reasons to Ditch “Batch and Blast” and Get Started with Email Marketing Personalization