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Picture of Sam Ciabotti
By Sam Ciabotti in February, 2019 | 6 minute read

Blogging - Content Marketing - Inbound Marketing

Common Content Marketing Mistakes and How to Stop Making Them

Even seasoned content professionals sometimes make marketing mistakes, but from all failure comes the opportunity to learn and improve.


If you’re just getting started with content marketing, you can learn from others’ missteps in order to avoid landing in the same pitfalls. And if you’ve made these mistakes before, that’s okay! We’ve also got some great tips on how to bounce back.

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1. Your Content Doesn’t Deliver on the Title’s Promise.

Even if we’re told not to, most readers judge a book by its cover. On the internet, the cover by which your content is judged is typically the title. It’s the first impression a reader will have, and it will either entice them to learn more or convince them to keep on scrolling.

That means your title should be catchy, right? Sort of. While you want to create content that your readers can’t ignore, there’s a reason people dislike “click-bait” and it’s really pretty straight forward - people don’t like being lied to.

If a blog’s title is “13 Puppies Who Love Inbound Marketing,” people are going to be pretty upset if they click through and there are no puppies.

That doesn’t just apply to readers motivated by cuteness - if your title promises something, it has to deliver on those expectations. There’s no benefit for your business if someone opens your content only to immediately close it and never come back. So yes, write titles that catch their attention, but also remember to keep that momentum going all the way through to the last line.

man reading on tablet

2. Your Content is Too Focused on Selling.

Businesses exist to sell their products or services, and marketing exists to help businesses sell faster and better. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, however, the best way to sell more is to stop selling so much.

There’s a reason we’re willing to walk the extra fifty feet through the shoe department to avoid the perfume salespeople at the mall. We’re not looking for perfume, but we know they’re going to trap us in a sales pitch. And honestly, even if we are looking for a new scent, maybe we just want to learn about our options without feeling pressured to go with the one they probably get a commission to sell to us.

The point is that people don’t like being sold to, especially if they’re higher up in the funnel. They have questions and your content should be there to answer them in a way that’s helpful, not pushy. Become their trusted resource, providing all of the information they need to make a confident decision. As they come to see you as the expert, they’ll naturally come back to you when they are ready to take the next step.

3. Your Content Doesn’t Care About the Reader.

Now that your content is helpful and not too sales-y, let’s take that last point one step further. Your business should create content that actually cares about the reader.

While building out your buyer personas, you’ll have uncovered your target audiences’ pain points, goals, obstacles, demeanor, and preferences. Rather than writing from your own perspective, write from the perspective of the client.

Instead of asking, “What do we do really well that the customer will want to buy?” Ask, “What pain is the customer experiencing and what do they need to know to get closer to solving it?”

This approach means that your content library will look less like a list of features and benefits and more like a self-help handbook for your buyers.

It may be uncomfortable to write about topics that don’t seem to directly relate to or promote your own products, but remember that if it’s important to your customers, it has to be important to you.

4. Your Content Doesn’t Have a Clear Call to Action.

Conversion paths are crucial to the success of any form of digital marketing, and this is particularly true for content marketing. Your content is a helpful resource, but you’re still running a business and as such, your content still has to move users through the sales process along the way.

An optimized conversion path gives the reader a clear next step to take. Blogs are a great place to feature CTAs for relevant gated offers, such as eBooks. Content offer downloads allow you to enroll engaged contacts in automated workflows that nurture them based on their content interests.

All content should provide an opportunity for the reader to keep moving. Top of the funnel CTAs may include subscribing to a newsletter or downloading an eBook that further explores the topic, while middle to bottom of the funnel content may encourage them to book a meeting or schedule a demo.

If someone has taken the time to read your content, you’ve managed the often difficult feat of holding their attention in a crowded marketplace. Don’t let that momentum go to waste!

5. Your Content is One Dimensional.

There are three ways that content marketing can fall into this trap:

1) You Only Write One Type of Content

Content, like many aspects of marketing, is an interconnected machine. There are so many different types of content that can fuel your inbound marketing that you’d inevitably be missing out on opportunities if you exclusively focus on just one.

If you only blog, for example, you could miss out on lead capture opportunity. If you only produce gated content, you might see low conversion rates since you’re asking for too much, too fast. Infographics may entice people who might not usually read a full-text blog, and case studies may be more compelling to others looking for real-world examples of success.

There’s content for every style of learning and absorbing information, and they all work together for shared and sustained success.

2) You only write for one part of the sales funnel

No matter the industry, there are multiple layers to a productive sales process. People simply looking for preliminary information need different content than those on the brink of reaching for their wallet.

High-level information can be incredibly helpful for someone just entering the sales process but may appear “fluffy” or elementary to someone whose completed that stage of their research and wants to get more into the nitty-gritty details.

On the other hand, if your content is too technical or granular, you’ll risk alienating those who are earlier on in their journey.

If the idea is to move people through the sales pipeline, your content has to relate to them at each step in that process.

3) You only use one promotional channel.

Even if you write the perfect piece of content, using a single promotional channel (or none at all) limits its efficacy. Those nifty buyer personas come in handy once again here, giving you insight into where your audience gets their information so you can be there.

Email marketing is a great channel for nurturing new leads, re-engaging existing leads, and keeping you top of mind with customers. Social media marketing has the unique benefit of being shareable, multiplying your potential audience every time someone shares your content to their own network. Sharing to LinkedIn groups is a way to get in front of a very specific audience without the cost of formal advertising.

While each has its own merits, the greatest potential can only be reached with a combination thereof.

Mistakes Happen

Content marketing requires time, research, editing, and expertise. All of those moving parts present opportunities for oversights or mistakes. Many of them can be avoided with careful planning and the insights provided above, but no one is perfect and at some point, something will slip through. As with any other part of life, don’t let it stop you. Remember to focus on the solution and keep the lesson in mind as you move onward!

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