Content Marketing: 23 Experts Tell How To Improve It

How To Fix Your Content Marketing Mistakes

Fix it Do you ever feel like you’re the only marketer who has trouble creating and distributing quality content marketing that yields measurable results? If so, you’re not alone.

Given the speed with which we create, distribute and consume content across various platforms and devices, it’s no surprise that there’s room for improvement for the future of content marketing.

23 Experts Tell How To Fix Content Marketing Mistakes

To get a handle on the biggest mistakes marketers make with content marketing and how to fix them, here’s the advice of 23 content marketing experts.

1. The number one thing most people do wrong in content marketing is to create content that is wholly about their products and services. The best content transcends the transactional, and finds a way to help people in a way that is relevant, but not obvious. To fix this, you have to give yourself permission to make your content story bigger and broader. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert, author of Youtility

2. The biggest mistake I see in content marketing is unrealistic expectations. Often, companies expect that every piece of content should produce magical results every time. They don’t view each content asset as an opportunity to build trust, credibility and a relevant connection. They don’t understand that in most cases buyers decide which companies or products they will even consider according to the experience they have with brands online, and that experience is largely influenced by quality/relevant content. They don’t understand that content marketing is not a one night stand, but a long term relationship…Marketers should embrace the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” mindset in content marketing. Study KPIs that matter against business goals and adjust according to what is learned.   Bernie Borges of Find and Convert and author of Marketing 2.0.

3. The biggest mistake marketers make is that we talk too much about what we do and not enough about what we do for our customers. This happens because this is what we think our bosses want. In marketing we often just do what’s asked of us whether that’s what is right for the business. But we need to step up and lead our organizations to the understanding that helping our customers with great content will ultimately help us to grow our business. Michael Brenner of SAP and the B2B Insider blog.

4. They treat content marketing as if it is a completely separate piece of their marketing efforts when it never should be.  Creating engaging content that tells the brand’s story should be an integrated part of all marketing efforts. Doesn’t matter if it is a new print campaign an Instagram contest. Making sure all the marketing efforts work and assist each other is critical. The same issue happened when social media first became all the rage. I watched as people tried to stick social on to the side of a campaign like a magic Lego and it rarely worked. Integrate if you want success. C.C. Chapman author of Amazing Things Will Happen and co-author of Content Rules.

5. Most people get comfortable within one channel for promotion and don’t branch out. I know a lot of people who spend more than 5 hours per week in Facebook, but less than 5 minutes per week researching keyphrases. Your website traffic sources should be diverse, not unlike the stocks within a 401k. If you’re too focussed on just a few channels, you’re adding risk and missing opportunities. We’re moving into an era where content marketing generalists have a big advantage. Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media and author of Content Chemistry.

6. The biggest error with content marketing is limiting it to a minor role in your marketing and/or social media plans. As a result, your content marketing becomes another way to push your promotional message out thereby hindering its ability to yield results that contribute to the bottom line. Further, without an integrated marketing and communications strategy, an organization lacks the ability to leverage content creation and dissemination across their business to eliminate redundant activity and cost effectively create content. Heidi Cohen – Riverside Marketing Strategies

7. It always makes me nuts when people complain about the content they consume and then make the same mistakes when they get to work. If you hate it so much, why do you perpetuate it? I think two things happen: They don’t know how to create interesting and valuable content or their executives or clients require the same old “me, me, me” content. If it’s the latter, it is our job to educate our colleagues on why that no longer works and what does work. Use case studies, provide examples of content that does well, and highlight communities that are active. Until they actually see it, they may not understand it. Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich, SpinSucks and co-author of Marketing in the Round.

8. We see people who’ve heard that “content is king” (would someone please kill that tired metaphor!) and write boring blog posts. I have a feeling if we sat down and looked the author in the eye, and asked, “is this really original, and creating value?”  - we’d probably be met with an embarrassed look. Dig deep. Really think about what it would take to create value for your audience or customers.  Ric Dragon of Dragon Search and author of Social Marketology.

9. They play media games. They focus on presence. Why? Their competition beat them somewhere. They’re absent somewhere. They want to be a part of whatever’s kicking it. The mistake they’re making is the “how” is preceding (or completely superseding) the “why.” No amount of preaching will rectify this problem, but my advice is to not give the media a second’s thought until after you have specific and measurable marketing objectives. The media will be immensely confusing and distracting too. The strategy, which must begin with establishing objectives, shouldn’t be. It should be fairly simple. Barry Feldman author of The Plan to Grow Your Business with Effective Online Marketing, a free e-book

10. There’s too much focus on just getting things out there to sell, sell, sell. Be helpful, be interesting and be entertaining. People aren’t online to be sold to but good content marketing can find a place and be successful.  Peg Fitzpatrick one of the ringleaders at 12Most.

11. A lot of people assume that all you need is great content. But if you don’t promote that content, then no one will know how great it is. If you think about it, even blockbuster movies get a ton of promotion, despite the fact that the producers already know they are going to be huge. Even so-so movies do great at the box office thanks to promotion. Kristi Hines creator of Blog Post Promotion.

12. As content marketers I think we still aren’t producing enough content based on audiences’ needs. Instead of creating content to ride on the coattails of the most current meme or trend, ask yourself if what you are creating addresses a Problem, Interest or Need that your audience has. If you don’t have direct contact with your audience, involve your team members in content creation and ask for their input — or reach out to your audience yourself. If your audience wants to hear about something that is out of your area of expertise, Be brilliant! and don’t let your lack of knowledge in an area stop you from creating the content your audience wants!  Ask your colleagues to help you co- create it. Kelly HungerfordPaper.li

13. Marketing people get bored of their own message. We change stuff because it feeds our ego. We forget our audience see’s 1/10th or less of our output. We also forget people leak. Consistency and repetition far outweigh the value of a new tagline. We forget our role is to be useful and bring utility to our customers and prospects.  Marketing forgets people’s needs are far more basic.  Nick Kellet of Listly

14. Everyone wants to reach a bigger audience online. It is the automatic assumption of so many people in the content marketing world that the quantity of your fan base means more than the quality. This, while understandable, is wrong. While it may look incredibly impressive to have 1 million likes on your Facebook page and to be reaching hundreds of thousands of people with each post, it’s more important to make sure you are reaching the right people. I often say, “You know what’s cooler than reaching a billion people on Facebook? Reaching the right thousand.” If you are targeting the right people who are going to resonate with, and then share, your content, you don’t need the ability to reach everyone. They’ll do it for you. Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media and Author of Likeable Business and Likeable Social Media.

15. One of the most common mistakes that people make in content marketing is to overlook the opportunity to use repurposed content to stretch their content budget. Marketers are by nature creative people, and we also like to create original material. And because we see every bit of the content we put out, we’re naturally afraid of appearing repetitive to our audience.  A great content marketing program, though, is one that takes original ideas and finds many different media to express those ideas, applying a multiplier effect to those original nuggets.  An executive’s conference keynote speech, therefore, becomes a webinar…and an online presentation…and a series of blog posts…maybe an infographic…a chapter in an e-book…and a YouTube video.  Even if a prospect sees several of these derivative content forms, he/she will get something different out of each of them. Michael KolowichKnowledge Vision

16. The first thing that came to mind was not having an editorial calendar. But since I covered that above, I would say the next biggest mistake I see is not optimizing their content. It is just bunk to say create it and the audience will come. You have to take the time to optimize the individual pages, the images that exist on the pages, and if you use video you need to optimize that too.  The vast majority are going to find your content via search engines.  Why not take a few minutes and give yourself every opportunity to succeed? Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures and author of Accelerate.

17. Everyone focuses on writing great content, but no one focuses on promoting it. This happens because people thing great content will naturally be popular. The way you can correct this is to spend 50% of your content marketing efforts on the promotion aspect.  Neil Patel of Kiss Metrics and Crazy Egg and blogger at QuickSprout.

18. No strategy, lack of focus and no accountability. I detailed this in a LinkedIn post, Why Most Branded Content Is Just AwfulJoe Pulizzi  Content Marketing Institute and Author of Epic ContentManaging Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers.

19. The commoditization of content is the biggest problem, and the biggest opportunity, in content marketing. We are all storytellers, flooding the Internet and consumers with our blog posts, podcasts, webinars, articles, ebooks and videos. While this makes it harder to break through the noise, not all content is created equal.

Too many marketers focus on quantity or quality, and bypass what is possible when you combine the art and science of content marketing. We have to go beyond brand storytelling, and take a more technical, scientific approach to differentiate our companies and drive meaningful business results.

Top content marketers develop and activate content assets at all phases of the marketing funnel. They build reach and brand at the top of the funnel, generate leads and convert sales in the middle, and retain customers and increase loyalty at the bottom. Paul Roetzer of PR 20/20 and author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint.

20. I think one of the mistakes that marketers often make when it comes to content marketing is to be afraid of it. I have been approached by so many marketers telling me they don’t know where to start—they don’t have a team in place, they don’t have the time, etc. And as a result, they shy away from it and continue to use promotional content like datasheets in their marketing programs. It’s easy to see how this happens—content marketing is a newer concept in today’s marketing and it seems like a lot of work! Plus, it is tough to fathom being able to budget for content or prove its worth to executive stakeholders.

My advice to marketers who approach me with this question, is not to be afraid of content and to start small. Many people don’t know that we are a small team here at Marketo and we get so much done by employing lean content strategies, like the turkey dinner analogy from Rebecca Leib. I always talk about repurposing. Maybe you don’t have the resources right now to write an ebook from scratch, well how about a blog post? You can easily take that and make it into a high value asset with some maneuvering and clever design. Another starting point is a webinar—transcribe the speakers and use that content to create an ebook or a series of blog posts. There are many things you can do when you are short on budget, time, and resources. Dayna Rothman of Marketo.

21. People talk about their products and services. Nobody cares! David Meerman Scott author of Real Time Marketing and PR.

22. Oh, there are so many as content marketing is still very new to many. Based on my experience, content marketing is presented by many as something very complex, though many haven’t even grasped the basics. Many think they need to follow the lead of big brands and give up on it before they even begin. As I deal mostly with small business, I try to slow them down and work with them step by step. This approach is effective as long as they stay patient rather than wanting to stretch out their content marketing efforts with too many channels too fast without thinking of who’s going to be responsible for it. I think patience and common sense are lacking. Small businesses should really rely on a very good advisor, who wants to grow with them and wants them to succeed. To fins such an advisor, businesses should be very diligent in their recruiting process.  Nenad Senic of Disput.si.

23. They write for people with longer attention spans than we really have. Keep it simple. Peter Shankman of Shankman/Honig  and author of Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World and Nice Companies Finish First.

The biggest take-away from these 23 content marketing experts is that there are a variety of content marketing mistakes. The challenge is being able to admit your mistakes and find ways to correct them.

What other content marketing mistakes would you add to this list and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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Return on Authenticity:
Making Effective Storytelling and Content Performance Align

Return on Authenticity: Making Effective Storytelling and Content Performance AlignJoin the discussion on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM PT/ 1:00 PM ET with Nancy Slavin, SVP of Marketing, Macy's Merchandising Group, and Dan Kimball, CMO, Thismoment.

According to research by Nielsen, 70 percent of global consumers trust online consumer reviews and rate reviews as the second most trusted form of advertising. And according to BazaarVoice, when it comes to trust, marketers may as well eliminate their own brand websites as a fountain of customer trust as only 16 percent of US consumers said they trust the content on a brand's website compared to the 51 percent who trust content generated by other users.

Today's digital currency is arguably authenticity, and what attracts customers - especially the digitally dependent, savvy millennial - is not just content. It is the delivery of authentic, unvarnished content from their peers.

Join the CMO Council on Wednesday, October 29, at 10am PST/ 1pm EST for a one-hour webcast that will invite industry experts in content marketing and user-generated content who are effectively leveraging authentic storytelling as part of their content marketing strategies. We will also feature an interactive Q&A session at the conclusion of the speaker presentations.

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  • ‘TC’ Teresa Clark

    Hey Heidi,
    Great article you posted here! I completely agree with Peg Fitzpatrick

  • Cayennered

    Great Sharing though this post thanks
    Cayenne Red