In our ‘Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing’ we provide insight on strategy, curation, format, and ROI, but if you’re still unsure about the best approach and need further guidance, why not learn from the mistakes of those before you? One thing is for sure, there’s plenty which can go wrong!
Whether it’s a minor campaign oversight which causes minimal impact or a budget/reputation/career-destroying blunder, no one is immune. From a fresh new start-up to a multi-million dollar organisation, it is all too easy to take one wrong step which with a little care can be avoided. In this post we look at what, from our experience, we consider to be the top 10 things that could cause your next content marketing campaign to go bad.
1. Being self-obsessed
This one was almost too obvious to include, but it has been included in our top ten as we continue to see it happen time and time again. Be sure to avoid talking endlessly about your brand, product or service and the features on offer. This goes against everything we’ve ever said about content marketing – and we’ve said a lot as you’ll know from our recent guide! Assuming you’ve done your homework you’ll understand your customers’ challenges and needs, so align yourself to a conversation which addresses those areas head-on and provide insight that doesn’t directly involve promotion. That is all.
2. Losing sight of the objective
Step one of any content marketing strategy is to establish the objective of the piece and ensure that it remains clear from start to finish. Without sticking to a clear objective you not only risk providing the reader with a confusing experience (not something you want associated with your brand!) but you’re also far less likely to generate much in the way of campaign success.
3. Failing to include a proper call to action 
A seemingly obvious point, yet not an uncommon one. I feel nothing but despair when I see how much effort must have gone into producing an amazing piece of content, only for it not to have a noticeable call to action. Be sure to consider exactly how you want people to respond when reading your content then use a clear call to action that will encourage them to do just that.
4. Not using the best resources
You’re a great marketer, but you’re unlikely to be an expert at every aspect of the industry in which you operate. Rather than own every aspect of the project yourself and compromise the integrity of the content, consider reaching out to a dedicated expert, whether that’s a colleague in a relevant department or someone external. Perhaps even get that individual to provide the rough bones and then have a separate writer or storyteller to work the content into something more digestible.
5. Failing to consider success metrics
In our guide we looked at how to generate ROI from content marketing and one of the early steps was to ensure you accurately measure the right metrics. Failing to consider this until the campaign is already under way, or worse still not measuring things at all, will mean that you have little or no idea whether the campaign has worked and no indication of how you can optimise any future activity.
6. Producing brilliant content that never gets read
This is possibly an even greater sin than not including a call to action. Crafting the perfect piece of content marketing and leaving it on your website for people to stumble across is likely to lead to disappointment. Sure you may have carefully considered your content for SEO, but unless you support this in a cohesive manner which promotes the content via social, email, PR, events, or more it may all be for nothing.
7. Being too generic
Be sure to find a niche topic, address it with relevant insight and leave the reader with practical takeaways that will help resolve a pain point, or support them, in their day-to-day role. If you try to produce content that covers all areas of a given subject matter that applies to all types of reader, who may be at any stage of the buying cycle, there’s a good chance you’ll end up producing something which is so generic that it ends up appealing to no-one.
8. Copying competitors
By all means be prudent and keep an eye on your competitors, but don’t attempt to replicate exactly what they’re doing or you will at best end up being the same. Apart from the fact that what works for one brand may not work for another, if you really want to be heard you’ll need to do something that is possibly bigger and better, but it should certainly be different.
9. Failing to execute
All too often we see brands coming up with a great content idea that is carefully thought through, deliberated over, started and then either they get distracted by the next thing coming along or they take so long over completing it that by the time it’s ready it’s no longer relevant. In some organisations this may be due to a lack of ownership or failing in project management, but this is where a robust content schedule is likely to keep things on track.
10. Not having executive buy-in
While most of the above come from our own experience, we’re borrowing this one from The Content Marketing Institute who suggest that organisations without C-level buy-in are 300% more likely to fail at content marketing. While there are ways of running content marketing on a budget, a little investment both in content creation and promotion can go a very long way.
Want to be sure you don’t commit any of these content marketing faux pas? Get yourself a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing which contains practical insight and tips on all the key points of content marketing success, such as:
  • The 5 elements of a killer content marketing strategic plan

  • 3 quick wins for improving your content marketing right now

  • How to measure ROI

  • Curated versus original content

  • The growth of video content marketing

  • How to keep blogging relevant, driving both brand awareness and leads