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5 Content Marketing Mistakes (and Why They Hurt Your Business)

Travis Balinas
April 22, 2014

5 Content Marketing Mistakes (and Why They Hurt Your Business)Content marketing mistakes can be detrimental to your business’ overall marketing strategy. Without proper planning and execution, a poor content marketing strategy can take a lot of time for very little return. A solid content marketing strategy utilizes multiple channels, such as a blog combined with a handful of social media platforms and email. The content you create should tie in with your business or industry and provide value to your readers in some way, with the ultimate goal of turning your readers — and their social network — into loyal customers.

While no content marketing strategy is foolproof, several practices have proven to be effective time and again. I’ve written about how to do content marketing for small businesses before and it’s always a good idea to brush up on the best practices. However, on the flip side, there are a handful of common pitfalls that will almost guarantee the failure of your campaign. Here are 5 fairly common content marketing mistakes and how they can negatively impact your business.

Skipping the Editorial Calendar

If you want to tank the best content marketing campaign, simply fail to plan. Not knowing who will create what content, when that content will be shared, where it will be posted or how it will be promoted will guarantee failure at every turn. The editorial calendar is your friend, and it doesn’t need to be fancy to be effective. A basic wall calendar will suffice, but a spreadsheet, Google Doc or online task management platforms like Trello or Droptask will improve collaboration.

Without an editorial calendar, it’s difficult to maintain a consistent message strategy and optimal communication frequency. Also, being able to see your future marketing touch-points will help make sure that your messages are seasonally relevant and not redundant. Nobody wants the same message over and over again.

Posting Infrequently

This is directly related to using an editorial calendar. If you are taking great pains to share valuable content that readers will find useful, why would you frustrate them by being unreliable? There are plenty of businesses ready to fill the vacuum created by your infrequent posts. Don’t give them a chance.

What I’ve seen a lot of businesses fall victim to are their own time constraints. They set out with the best of intentions to send out an email newsletter a few times a month and to keep their social feeds updated a few times a week. But like most things, this all becomes short-lived simply because of the lack of time they have to keep up with it. This infrequent approach to marketing causes consistency issues leaving your customers confused.

Creating Drab Content

Whether the ultimate goal of your content marketing campaign is to increase traffic, grow your readership or drive sales, the immediate goal should always be to provide valuable information that will improve your readers’ lives. The importance of providing quality content can’t be stressed enough. Focus on what will engage your readers and keep them coming back for more. If you must share content that’s been covered, add value with a new method or point of view. A catchy headline with zero payoff upon clicking might fool them once or twice, but readers will soon ditch you in a heartbeat for wasting their time; and since they won’t be sharing your content on social media sites, you’ve also lost everyone in their circles.

It goes without saying that if your content isn’t entertaining, engaging, original, or interesting, the entire exercise is almost for naught. People need to feel some sort of engagement factor these days, especially when it comes to email and social. Snagging a 30-second window for someone to read what you’ve written is huge given the amount of other content options that are out there.


One of the easiest and most detrimental mistakes you can make is to confuse content marketing with advertising. Remember, your strategy is to catch your readers’ attention and make them want more. Giving them that “more” up front is like shoving the carrot into the donkey’s mouth, effectively removing the motivation to seek it out themselves. Okay, your readers are not donkeys, but you get the point. Give them useful information that makes them want more, then give them a brief call to action. Don’t sell, just tell them what you do and where they can find you.

If you’re only creating content that is talking about yourself or your business, then you’re truly missing the mark. People don’t want to be sold to; they want to have a relationship with businesses that gives them something more than just another transaction. We can help with this too. 

Avoiding Images

Your readers are visual folk, which explains why image-based social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram are among the fastest growing, and why Facebook and Twitter posts that include an image are more likely to be shared than posts without one. To avoid having your readers walk away unsatisfied, give them what they want and enhance the information with images.

Not including images in what you send out, whether it’s through email or social, just makes what could have been a great marketing moment a bit flat. Images add value to the content and help draw viewers in.

Your customers have thousands of distractions and people trying to reach them. By effectively communicating value-added content, you’ll significantly increase your chances of getting on their radar. Good content marketing across different channels is extremely beneficial to small business owners.  It’s not anything new, it’s just taking what you’ve already been doing and making it more rewarding for your audience.

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