4 Common Content Marketing Mistakes

Content marketing has long been talked about as one of the most essential elements of digital marketing. In fact, some analysts suggest that content marketing is the single most crucial marketing type, and is the one area that all businesses should focus if they wish to see results.


Unfortunately, when anything becomes popular and seems to be capable of generating results, many people jump in without really understanding the basics. This is completely natural, of course: people hear stories about how X thing is working miracles, and they immediately want to give X thing a try – this is how bubbles happen, how trends are formed, and, in most cases, how success is driven.

Content marketing has suffered from the same issue. People know it works; people have heard experts and analysts saying things like “content is king” … and so they jump in, give it a try, and then find themselves wondering why the future of marketing isn’t working for them. To explain content marketing failures, as well as potentially guide your own content marketing by informing you of what you need to avoid, below, we’ve put together a list of the four most common content marketing mistakes…

#1 – Generic Content

If you read any guide to content marketing, you will see constant references to the need for content to be unique and helpful to the reader. These are absolute essentials for good content marketing… yet so frequently, this sound advice is ignored.


Let’s say that your company sells essential oils. You know you want to use content marketing, and you know that the content needs to be relevant to your niche, and hopefully position your company as an authority voice. So you write, or film, content related to the “benefits of essential oils”. This seems to fit all the markers you’re looking to achieve… but it doesn’t.

Here’s why: a topic as generic as “benefits of essential oils” has been written thousands of times before. Your content isn’t unique, and it’s not particularly useful, so it’s always going to struggle to achieve results. It would be better to focus on more niche aspects – such as “benefits of essential oils for OCD” or “benefits of essential oils for knee pain” – to ensure you avoid producing the same generic content everyone else has already published.

#2 – Underestimating the Amount of Background Work Required

Content marketing is, to some people, just content: it’s about producing an article, an infographic, a blog post, or a video, and then that’s it, job done. They’ve created their content; now they just need to share it with their social media channels, sit back, and wait for the conversions to roll in.

Except, they don’t – and the reason for this is simple: content marketing is far, far more complex and in-depth than just producing as much content as possible. You have to factor in considerations of keywords, how topical the discussion is, and how it applies to your target audience; and a thousand other factors. Content marketing isn’t simply about creating some content, it’s about creating the right content and then using that content effectively; with the likes of http://zag.ai and additional research, it’s easier than ever to do background work that is far more likely to produce results – but you have to accept the necessity of this background work first and foremost.

#3 – Focusing Too Heavily On One Type of Content

Content marketing encompasses all forms of content, from blog posts to infographics to videos – but all too often, people focus on just one type of content.

This can be problematic, as best demonstrated by the now-infamous “pivot to video”. For those who missed the scandal, many media companies chose to reduce significantly – or outright cancel – their written content in favor of video. This was largely done because of Facebook’s figures related to the popularity of video, which very much suggested that this was the content that people wanted to see.


Unfortunately, the video figures were untrue; a suspicion that the likes of marketwatch.com raised back in 2017, but which was confirmed as a fact in the fall of 2018. While the worst sins of the pivot to video were felt by media companies, small businesses managing their own content marketing efforts also caught up in the surge of “video first”, and those that neglected other forms of content have been left wondering why they’re not seeing the results they were told to expect.

The problems caused by Facebook’s exaggeration of the power of video are a perfect example of why it’s essential to cast a wide net when engaging in content marketing. If you invest too heavily in one form of content – as so many media companies did when they chose to pivot to video – then there is always a risk that the type of content you choose isn’t as beneficial as it’s supposed to be.

In addition, this controversy is an extreme example, but every so often, there is a new “trend” within content marketing that people quickly rush to follow – only to discover it’s not what it’s been reported to be. A good content marketing strategy performs analysis and goes with what works, yes, but also ensures an even spread across as many forms of content as possible.

#4 – Not Understanding Your Audience

Content marketing can only be effective if you understand the kind of content that your audience wants to see. In this regard, even the biggest brands perform poorly; as digiday.com reported, 78% of customers answered “no” when asked if the average retailer understands them. For content marketing, this is extremely worrying, as you could invest a huge amount of time and resources into creating content that your customers aren’t interested in.

The best way to avoid this mistake is simple: research. Ask your customers what they want. Run focus groups. Analyze buying habits. Essentially, get to know your customer – if you can do this, then you’ll be able to create content that is capable of delivering the results your business needs.

Content marketing can be hugely beneficial to a business, but only if done correctly, and with a commitment to avoiding the common mistakes highlighted above.