Content Marketing: 21 Mistakes to Avoid This Year

Content is one of the most effective ways for a brand to market itself. It’s the mode through which you can convince your audience to take action and guide them towards a specific goal. However, content marketing can be a complicated and time-consuming process. There are a number of things that could go wrong. In this article, I’ll outline 21 content marketing mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. Not determining your purpose – What exactly do you plan to achieve through content marketing? For your efforts to be successful, you need to build your business strategy. Doing so requires you to have a strong idea about what your purpose is.

Are you trying to build awareness for your product or brand? Do you wish to generate more leads? Or, do you want to increase customer loyalty. Many marketers fail to ask these questions upfront, resulting in some of these critical content marketing mistakes.

2. Not having a documented content marketing plan – One of the major content marketing mistakes made is failing to create a specific marketing plan. At least 48% of B2B marketers still don’t have a documented content marketing strategy. While this is the case, those who properly document it seem to be more successful. 53% of the most effective marketers have their content marketing plan documented.

content marketing strategy by b2b

3. Giving up – Content marketing takes time, so the results don’t show overnight. One of the biggest content marketing mistakes is giving up before building a captive audience. Failure in content marketing isn’t usually because of content quality. It’s mostly because of inconsistency and discontinuance.

4. Not optimizing for search – It’s crucial that you don’t over-optimize your page content for search engines. Yet, not optimizing it at all is among the biggest content marketing mistakes. You want to capture the attention of your audience with useful information, but you also need search engines to notice your content. That’s the best way to attract the right audience.

In the case of Nike Golf, search engines had difficulty crawling the content published on their website. After rebuilding the site with keywords and SEO-optimized content, there was a 169% overall increase in organic search traffic. The images below show the original page design and what the page now looks like. The images on the left are what users saw, while the right is what search engines saw.

This is what the page looks like now:


5. Writing poor-quality content – Even though you should optimize your content for search engines, that doesn’t mean you should lose focus on the interests of actual readers. Some businesses make major content marketing mistakes by devoting their efforts solely on attracting search engines. This often results in content that fails to speak to their target audience.

6. Focusing only on your own interests – Another of the biggest content marketing mistakes is writing content that appeals to you without thinking twice about what your audience wants. Instead of focusing on topics that interest you, produce content that your readers would like to read. Analyze social media activities, comments, consumer reviews, and queries pinpoint what your audience is looking for.

7. Underestimating your headlines – Headlines can make or break your content. Even a highly interesting article may not attract your audience simply because it doesn’t have a captivating headline. Underestimating your headlines is one of the major content marketing mistakes. We all know that websites like Buzzfeed produce interesting articles and lists with catchy headlines that make readers want to check out more.

A case study found in Pick the Brain shows that there’s a stark discrepancy in how different headlines attract readers. An original post, titled “The Two Types of Cognition,” received 100 visitors within a two-day period. After changing the headline to “Learn to Understand Your Own Intelligence,” the same article attracted 4,930 unique views. According to Conductor study, the following are the top headline preferences:

Conductor headline preferences

8. Not conducting keyword research– When developing quality content for your site, keyword research should be one of your main priorities. Avoiding keyword research leads to content marketing mistakes. Marketers can end up targeting phrases that no one is searching for. Finding the right keywords is critical when keeping your work smart and boosting your traffic.

9. Sticking with the same thing– Most people tend to stick with something familiar. If a content strategy proves effective for their brand, they continue using the same thing over and over again. With the content marketing landscape evolving at a rapid pace, it may be a good idea to experiment with new strategies every once in a while.

“The voice of the consumer is the heart of the brand.”

When Coca Cola rewrote their marketing strategy, they placed content at the core. They even applied a 70/20/10 investment principle when it comes to creating what they call “liquid content.” According to this principle, 70% of content should be safe and 20% should be an innovation of what already works. However, the remaining 10% should be high-risk ideas that could become your brand’s core content.

10. Using too many social media channels – Not being active on social media is one of the content marketing mistakes. Yet, it’s possible to overdo it by trying too hard on too many social media channels. Most marketers can’t solidly build their presence across all. If you’re distracted by too many social media sites, you could miss out on a chance to reach the right audience.

Instead of participating in every single platform available, try focusing your efforts on the right channels. Find social media ROI and carefully study your target audience to select the most ideal platforms. For instance, if you’re targeting teenage boys, you could benefit from focusing on platforms like YouTube. A Pew Research study found that this demographic is an avid user of such video-sharing websites.

11. Forgetting about quantity– Quality should be a priority when developing content, but quantity shouldn’t be overlooked either. The frequency in which you publish content can have a significant impact on your overall traffic. When some marketers are too focused on delivering quality content, they may fail to publish enough posts to make a positive impact.

According to research conducted by Hubspot, websites that published more than 16 posts in a month received over three times more traffic than those who published 0-4 posts monthly. Consistently publishing fresh, quality content helps curb content marketing mistakes.

blog_monthly_traffic vs leads

12. Not planning a distribution channel – Distribution is an important element in content marketing. Many marketers fail to realize this and start making content marketing mistakes. Maybe you already have a loyal social following, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to focus all your distribution efforts on one channel. Conduct a thorough study to determine which channels would be most effective in delivering your content to the right people.

13. Trying too hard to sell – Readers can easily detect even the subtlest of sales pitches. According to the 2015 Content Preferences Study, 65% of buyers strongly recommend that sales messages be curbed. Sales-oriented posts are terrible content marketing mistakes that can make potential customers feel pressured and more likely to leave.

14. Producing only blog posts– Blog posts are a major aspect of content marketing, but they aren’t everything. Producing content only in the form of blog posts is another of the content marketing mistakes to avoid in 2016. It can chase away a number of potential audiences. According to ROI Research, 44% of online readers tend to engage more with brands that provide content with visual imagery. Try varying your content type with infographics, podcasts, and videos in addition to articles.

15. Being the same as your competitors– Too many content marketers fail to stand apart from their competition. Although keeping up with their efforts is highly important, you need to avoid mimicking their practices. Instead, use your findings to devise creative ways you can provide something unique and valuable to readers.

16. No call-to-action – What do you want your audience to do after they read your content? Do you want them to make a purchase? Do you want them to share your post? Or, maybe you want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Another of the content marketing mistakes is producing content with a dead end, i.e. without a call-to-action. In fact, 70% of SMBs don’t have a call-to-action. Give clear instructions to your readers on what they should do next after consuming the information.

In a case study conducted by VWO, it was found that simply adding a call-to-action button on the homepage of Consolidated Label helped increase conversions. As seen in the image below, the original design didn’t have a CTA button. Their new design has a prominent CTA button that yielded a 62% increase in conversions.

17. Ignoring influencers from other niches – Most marketers know that it’s important to watch what influencers in their industry niche are doing. This helps learn new tricks and techniques on improving their own performance. However, you might be missing out on useful insights and ideas if you’re solely focusing on your niche. Looking out on what leading innovators in different industries are doing can help.

In the case of Movoto, a real estate services company, it was of great benefit to derive ideas from websites like Upworthy. By implementing the same model in their content creation and marketing efforts, they were able to increase their monthly blog views from 2,000 to 18 million within just two years.

18. Not measuring your content efforts – It’s impossible to find content marketing mistakes if you fail to measure your marketing efforts. Measuring content effectiveness is the second biggest challenge faced by B2B content marketers. 52% face challenges in measuring the ROI of their content marketing program. You need to keep a close eye on the number of leads you’re generating from different traffic sources. You should also run A/B tests to determine which types of content generate the best results.

challenges by b2b marketers

19. Ignoring customer queries– Not listening to your customers is one of the worst content marketing mistakes you can make. Yet, many marketers are struggling to understand what their customers need from them because they ignore them. Take time to find out the top queries and problems faced by your audience. Analyze comments and posts made on social media. Forums and review sites are also a good resource for determining these queries.

For Shopkeep, a point-of-sale solution service for SMBs, taking a direct approach did wonders for the company. Before the team launched their Counter Culture news and advice center, they interviewed merchants and did site visits to ask SMB owners about their areas of concern. This has helped them come up with content that their audience truly wants to consume.

Small Business Advice Counter Culture ShopKeep

20. Not having a brand voice – For your content marketing strategy to be successful, there needs to be a powerful voice behind your brand. Sounding overly formal and robotic is another of the content marketing mistakes. Failing to find the right voice prevents your audience from connecting to your brand. You need to maintain consistency in your tone and presentation while addressing your audience in a warm, friendly manner. Tech Crunch is itself a great example of this.

21. Not having a dedicated team – Content marketing requires teamwork and a cohesive, dedicated effort. It’s not something that one person can successfully implement alone. Placing the content burden on one person’s shoulders will lead to content marketing mistakes. For 61% of the most effective B2B marketers, their teams meet on a daily or weekly basis to discuss their content marketing program.


It’s important to realize that content marketing is constantly evolving like every other field of marketing. Something that once worked for you may not be so effective today. Enhance your efforts by avoiding the above content marketing mistakes. Any of these 21 terrible content marketing mistakes could be deadly for your business’s overall strategy. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with me in the comment section below.

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