3 Content Pitfalls To Avoid

When I was at the CLA Outcomes Conference this year, I felt a certain amount of pride as a content strategist. Looking at the conference schedule, it was clear that more people are thinking (and hopefully doing more) about content than ever before. I counted 6 sessions with “content” or “story” in their title. Numerous others undoubtedly touched on related topics even if this wasn’t the main focus of the session.

This is really exciting. After all, content is the main way a non-profit connects supporters to the cause it champions.

If you and your organization are jumping into the digital content game, make sure you aren’t just persuaded by the all the shiny objects. Over the years I’ve learned that all that glimmers isn’t gold. It’s up to you to make sure you’re investing in the right things when it comes to content. To get you started, I’ve listed three common pitfalls you should seek to avoid.

Pitfall 1: Diving into content marketing without a plan.

Content marketing is a simple concept. The team over at the Content Marketing Institute defines it in the following way:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

In plain English, content marketing is the tactic of producing high-quality and targeted editorial or journalistic content that builds trust with your audience. Your goal with content marketing is to prime your audience to respond the moment they have an opportunity to support your organization.

There’s a problem, though. Content marketing is expensive and requires a longer period of sustained effort before returning revenue than does traditional direct marketing. Before you get started, it’s important to have a defined strategy to guide your investment as well as an agreement on what success looks like.

Piftfall 2: Assuming everyone is interested in what you have to say.

Not everyone cares about your cause. This may seem harsh, but it is true. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can start creating good content. So, where does that leave you? It’s time to focus in on the people who really love you.

If you want to be successful, you should take some time to learn more about your most rabid fans. My experience is that upon taking a deeper look, you’ll discover some groups of people among your supporters that share common characteristics. Once you understand who these people are, it’s your job to find more people like them.

These core audience groups should influence the types of content you create, the messages you convey, and the channels that you use. If you stick to it, you may not speak to everyone, but I’ll bet you start building a larger base of loyal fans who love and trust you.

Pitfall 3: Forgetting about the boring, evergreen content.

It’s easy to only think about the exciting content. I mean, who doesn’t want to make stunning videos like Charity Water or create the next viral campaign like the ALS ice bucket challenge?

These types of campaigns have captured our imagination, and we should definitely learn principles from them and apply them, but we should also make sure that all our resources aren’t focused on creating the next big thing.

It turns out that in the content world the boring stuff is equally as important as the bigger ideas. For example:

  • Do you have a clear statement about who you are on your homepage?
  • Does your donation page microcopy (the little instructional content that guides a user through the process) make the process of giving a donation simple and easy?
  • Does your 404 page redirect people back to other valuable content on your site instead of just telling the user they made a mistake?

Thinking through some of these more boring questions will help you improve your digital content by leaps and bounds.

My hope in sharing these common pitfalls is that you won’t have to experience them yourself. Pursuing great digital content is a worthwhile endeavor. The process isn’t easy, but the benefits far outweigh the effort. Be bold. Go forth and create.

If you want to have a conversation about a strategic approach to digital content, or just want some more resources, shoot me an email or connect with me on Twitter. I’d love to talk about how Masterworks can help.