There is a lot out there about when and why content marketing works, but just as important is to consider when and why it doesn’t. Read on for the 5 most common content marketing mistakes.

Content marketing works, but it is not easy. There are some prevailing misconceptions about what content marketing is, and isn’t, and these misconceptions can lead to missteps that compromise the effectiveness of a campaign.

Enlightened initiatives--such as content marketing powerhouse Marriott's “Two Bellmen” campaign or Squatty Potty's infamous (okay, maybe not infamous, but it should be) pooping unicorn video--can make content marketing seem simple. Truth be told, a lot of time, talent, and strategy goes into conceptualizing and executing campaigns of this caliber. Leave out just one step, and you could have yourself a content marketing dud.

At Mediaplanet, we live and breathe content marketing all day, every day. We see what works, but we also see what doesn’t—the most common mistakes brands and agencies, big and small, are making. Let’s take a look at the reasons why content marketing can fail to live up to its potential.

  • You don’t have a strategy.
  • Businesses understand the importance of content, but many still don’t give it the attention it deserves. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Content Management & Strategy Survey, 92 percent of marketers say their brands value content as a business asset, but only 46 percent have a strategy in place for managing it as such.

    Publishing consistent quality content takes hard work. You have to know why you are doing it. To create a content marketing strategy, define your goals, your audience, your publishing processes, and how you will measure success. Create a style guide, and document your brand voice. Then, before you release any bit of new content, ask yourself: Is this aligning with our goals? Is this helping us to achieve our content marketing objectives?

    It is hard to tell if content marketing is working if you haven’t defined what you want it to. Step one is to set a strategy. It is shocking how often companies try to skip this critical step.  

  • You missed the sweet spot.
  • For content marketing to work, it must be high-quality and relevant. Pulitzer-prize worthy journalism is fine and dandy, but if it isn’t resonating with your audience and tying back to your business objectives, it is not good content marketing.

    The “sweet spot” is that place where your audiences’ interests and challenges overlap with your business’s value proposition.


    “Infomercial” content about your company’s offerings is not content marketing. There is a time and a place for that type of sales collateral, and it is important you have content for every part of a customer’s purchasing journey. But true content marketing finds that overlap between your customers’ needs and how you can help them meet those needs.

  • You didn’t invest in distribution.
  • Okay, so you created a strategy, crafted some high-quality, relevant content, and stuck it on your company blog. Now, you kick back and wait for those conversions to come pouring in, right?


    We see this all the time. Content marketing fails because a brand forgot or chose not to invest in distribution. We oh-so-gently explain to our clients that they need to help their customers find their content. They may be able to rely on organic search traffic, but not without publishing regularly and having a keyword strategy.

    Alternatively, companies can help customers and prospects find their content by creating social media strategies, influencer marketing campaigns, email newsletters, and other paid marketing tactics. (If this whole section has you scratching your head, take a break and check out how brands supercharge their content marketing with Mediaplanet.)

  • You are not measuring anything.
  • Want to know what is glorious about digital marketing? Everything is measurable. Even upper-funnel goals like raising brand awareness can be tied back to key performance indicators (KPIs). Before launching a content marketing campaign, make sure you know your benchmarks. If you are publishing content on a company blog, you will want to measure how that content affects your unique visits, time on page, time on site, page views, return visits, and clicks, as well as your social media activity.

    You can’t refine your content marketing unless you understand how you are doing. Create a systematic plan for routinely measuring KPIs. (These should have been identified as part of your strategy.) With time, you’ll see trends in content performance and be able to make better decisions about future topics and distribution tactics.

  • You have unrealistic expectations.
  • If you want to learn the truth about how content marketing works, read this. It explains how content marketing is not magic, how it takes time and consistency, and how it is a relationship-building tool, not an instant lead generator. For content marketing to be successful, marketers must have the right expectations. 

Do use content marketing to demonstrate thought leadership, improve SEO, drive traffic, build relationships with clients and prospects, foster brand loyalty, raise brand awareness, establish your brand voice and position in the market, and as fodder for your social media channels.

Don’t use content marketing haphazardly or half-assedly (that’s almost a word, we swear).

And if you need help with any of these steps, call your friendly Mediaplanet office for a chat today. We will help you avoid these common content marketing mistakes and create content that delivers on your business objectives.