7 Critical Content Marketing Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

Cartoon illustration about content marketing mistakes small businesses and startups often make

Is content marketing a part of your marketing strategy?

In a perfect world, it should be. If you’re small and trying to grow, content marketing must be considered.

Whether you’re launching an e-commerce store or a SaaS startup, you should be leveraging content marketing to grow your brand and community around your product or service.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s true.

With that said, content marketing is tough… even when you do everything perfectly. That’s why you can’t afford to make simple mistakes.

In this article, we’re going to show you 7 critical mistakes you need to avoid to create successful content.

First of all, what the heck is successful content?

This isn’t the same for everyone, so I’m not going to give you some magical metric. Content marketing needs to be baked into your overall marketing strategy and your marketing strategy needs to be directly tied to your business objectives.

Another way to look at the relationship between business goals and content marketing is that business goals should inform and direct your content marketing strategy.

illustration about content marketing failure

To be effective at content marketing, you need to do a couple of things well while avoiding a few mistakes that can be counterproductive to your cause.

In this article I’m going to walk you through the 7 critical content marketing mistakes you must avoid at all costs.

1. Failing to produce content at all

Sure, creating content seems simple.

But executing on it is hardly simple.

You need to research, outline, draft, edit, create awesome imagery, then publish, and that’s only half the battle. Then you need to spend almost as much time distributing the content across your channels and then track performance to advise future content choices.

More and more businesses are coming to understand the power of content marketing. But, there are still marketers who tend to ignore this kind of opportunity and still laser focus on traditional mass marketing approach.

The reason?

Many marketers like the idea, but give up because of the effort required to create unique content. (There’s also an argument around delayed gratification, but that’s another conversation for another day.)

Content marketing isn’t something you do on a whim. It’s challenging!

It requires a long-term commitment.

It takes time and effort to build a following, to keep up with the fast-paced trends, and to meet or exceed your target market’s expectations and needs.

It requires substance and value to get high visibility among competitors.

On the other hand, some marketers focus on social media as a distribution channel only to extend the reach of their advertisement but don’t take the responsibility of producing quality content for their audience.

Does this sound like you?

If so, you should change your course of action and look to put in some effort, produce value, and embrace content marketing.

2. Failing to plan and set the right goal for your content marketing

Do you publish just for the sake of publishing new content without a goal and a plan?

I certainly hope not.

We often hear the line: failing to plan is planning to fail.


Many of the biggest marketing mistakes are made when a business has no specific goals in mind. You need a plan for the type of content you want to create and the audience you want to reach.

Are guilty of marketing without a plan or goal?

If your answer is a yes, STOP IT NOW!

It’s clearly a waste of time and resources.

From the start of your marketing strategy to managing its traffic; from creating your own website to promoting your products or services, planning will be your most important tool in content marketing.

It’s pretty simple, if you have a goal for your content, you know what you’re looking to accomplish and will have an idea of how to measure success.

By properly setting goals and tracking the performance of your content, you can better fit your content to your audience’s needs and build a stronger following and thereby a stronger business.

Now let’s talk about one of the more painfully obvious and annoying mistakes businesses make when marketing through content.

3.  Mistaking advertising for content marketing

content marketing illustration of confused marketer

** Note: If you haven’t read it yet, our article on how to create content that doesn’t feel like marketing, you should check it out before you go any further.

You might find your content ineffective simply because you sound too salesy.

Don’t talk like a boring salesperson. Otherwise, you might end up talking alone.

If you are serious about improving your strategy, you must really know how advertising and content marketing differ from each other.

Content marketing draws more visitors in and slowly introduces the brand to the right audience, while native advertising tends to be less effective, less engaging, and less appealing.

Many businesses confuse content marketing with a sales pitch and end up just elaborating a lot more on their product or service than providing value to their audience.

Regardless of how great your writing is, if it’s combined with tons of promotion of your products or services, it can make your audience shutdown and click away.


Being a good marketer relies on you to sell to your audience without them knowing it. It’s a lot like a lion planning to catch prey without announcing its intention before it hunts.

“The focus of content marketing is to educate first and sell second.”

Neil Patel

Now that we’ve beat that topic into the ground, let’s look at a topic near and dear to our team at MKTR.AI, understanding your customers.

4. Failing to know your customers

While you might have the best content on your topic in the world, you still need the right customers to find it, read it, talk about it and share it.

Without proper knowledge of your target customers, you will find yourself producing irrelevant content.

And guess what?

You’re only making unnecessary noise on the online world.

Without a specific goal, you might defeat the real purpose of doing content marketing— to effectively reach your target market!

You should know your target before firing away!

Knowing your target market starts with creating an audience persona, understanding the content they need, developing a keyword list based on their search terms, knowing their interests, and writing in a style that appeals to them.

“All good marketing starts with knowing your customers, what makes them tick, and what they need to accomplish their goals.”

Jim Joseph

None of us is immune to making mistakes, but when you are equipped with the right tools and knowledge, you can be the expert your audience needs to find the solutions they need.

The bottom line is…

Business goals trump perfection, which means that understanding your audience and their expectations far exceed perfection.

Bonus material:

Here are a few tools we use to help our clients understand their audience:

  • Hotjar’s session recording tool allows you to see what visitors do our your website. Here’s a quick video made showing how to setup Hotjar.
  • Google Analytics, and/or Mixpanel, and/or Amplitude for apps
  • UTM codes to track which campaign and content lead people to your site.

5.   Failing to provide value with your content.

After you have set your goals, do your groundwork to produce valuable content. Make sure it is genuine and informative.

You may successfully reach the right audience, but it doesn’t end there.

Sometimes, we focus far more on reaching our audience and gaining more traffic, but we forget to provide real value of our content.

Imagine this…

You have a big interview. You spend a ton of time making sure you look great. You get a new haircut, maybe get your teeth whitened, get a new outfit, and show up looking fresh.

You’ve checked all the boxes in terms of presentation, but you forget to prepare for the actual interview.

Looking good in your interview typically isn’t enough. You must stand out among other applicants to be qualified.

It’s the same with your content. You must not only focus on your clickable headlines (and amazing illustrations ;p)  to catch attention, but you should ensure that the titles of your content are in-sync with what you’re sharing.

Don’t produce content that doesn’t provide some sort of value to your audience, whether the value is in education, information, entertainment, community, support, or otherwise.

“The main focus of your content should be on providing value to your audience. Providing valuable tips, resources, and takeaways is the easiest way to build a relationship with your audience and position your company as industry leading experts.”

Matt Wesson
content marketing checklist cartoon illustration

6.  Failing to distribute your content.

To start off…

What on Earth is content distribution?

Content Distribution is the act of promoting content to online audiences in multiple media formats through various channels. These channels can be categorized into three groups: Owned, Earned, and Paid.

Why should you care?

A common mistake in content marketing is an underestimation of effort. Your work does not end after publishing content.

Though it would be nice if content marketing was as easy as starting a blog and watching the leads roll in. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

When you publish a piece of content, you can’t just expect visitors to stumble across it and start spreading the word for you.

Instead, you need a proactive approach to promote and distribute your content to reach the right customers.

You should never release any piece of content without a plan to promote it to the world.

Let people know about your blog posts, videos, tutorials, and your other forms of content marketing. That will increase your visibility and force you to stay active, while at the same time improving the results you get from all the pieces of content you produce.

You should not miss out on the opportunity to promote content on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and others. Think of social media platforms as distribution channels that can extend the reach of your content.  

** Remember that each channel serves its own purpose for your audience, so respect that when distributing your content and you’ll improve your likelihood of success.

Without distribution as part of your strategy, the whole initiative can end up being a waste of resources.

Bonus material:

Here are some tools you can use to improve your content distribution efforts:

  • Set your content to re-post on social platforms on a schedule with Missinglettr.
  • Grow your social following through social account automation with PhantomBuster – we have a free tool in the works sign-up here to be a beta-tester.

7.  Failing to refine, refresh, and repurpose your content.

cartoon illustration about not refining and repurposing content by MKTR.AI

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your marketing content shouldn’t be either. Don’t treat it like a tweet.

Making quality content requires more time and effort. Don’t just publish right away!

I know what you’re thinking. Efficiency should also be taken into account. It should, you’re right, but that’s why you should be thinking of a process for streamlining your content creation.

People often, we included, make the silliest mistakes like grammatical errors, misspelled words, inaccurate data, mentioning wrong credits, and posting outdated information.

Steps to take

In order to avoid these errors, you should:

  • Always proofread your content.
  • Clean it up and edit as much makes sense within your content calendar. It’s best to have someone else edit your content. Fresh eyes do wonders.
  • Focus on refreshing and improving old articles over time, once you see what people want from it.
    • It’s smart to identify your content that shows the most unfulfilled potential in SEO. Meaning, look for the articles which get the most Search Engine Result Page (SERP) impressions but have low click-through rates (CTR).
    • Look through the queries the content is ranking for, and attempt to figure out the intent of the people searching those topics.
      • If your article answers those questions or solves the problem of the searcher, you should adjust your headline and meta description.
      • Otherwise, look to better address your audience’s needs.
      • We’ll write more about this topic in the future. If you want to dive deeper into it, send us a message and we’ll put together a quick video for you.
  • Reread, repurpose, and rewrite as much as necessary.
  • Be specific by getting right to the point. Be as descriptive as you can.
  • Improve by making complex topics as easy-to-digest as possible through a multisensory approach.
    • Think text, imagery, audio, and video. People consume content and learn in different ways, so don’t limit your audience just to people who like to read articles or listen to podcasts.

I know. Doing these will take you more time, but your content quality will increase dramatically if you take these measures.

cartoon illustration of content marketing questions

Bottom line, you should not take content creation too lightly and assume it is something you can do whenever you have spare time in a coffee shop.

If you want to skyrocket your audience engagement rates and improve your sales potential, you should work hard to take a long, hard look at your content creation process.

Bonus material:

Here are some tools you can use to repurpose and improve your content:

  • To improve refine your headline, consider using CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.
  • Improve your writing with the multitude of features included in the Writeboost platform. We (MKTR.AI) are beta testers of this product, and it’s amazing. It has keyword research, content strategy, planning, grammar checks, headline analysis, and dozens of other helpful features.
  • Improve the clarity of your writing with the free Hemingway App.
  • Create an e-book out our your blog posts with Beacon and make it into gated content that people give their email to access. Growing your email list can incredibly valuable to your business.
  • Create quick screen and video recordings with Loom to add quick walkthroughs or tutorials.
  • Create quick shareable videos out of your articles with apps like Lumen5 or Rocketium.


content marketing illustration

Avoid these mistakes and you should generally be alright. When done properly, content marketing is one of the most effective — as well as cost-effective — ways to market your goods, your services, or yourself.

If you’d like to dig deeper into these problems and walk through the solutions, MKTR.AI is here to help you.

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