12 Ways You Screw Up Your Content Marketing

If your primary goal is to drive conversions, you need to create content that moves potential customers through the sales funnel. To understand your audience, you have to get to know them. Your analytics tool is a good place to start that understanding. Among the promotion options: Post and repost content to your social channels (remember, it’s highly unlikely that all your audience is online at the same time). What I am saying is that we marketers could learn something from clickbait writers. So why, oh why, don’t you make it really easy to share? You don’t tell your audience what you want them to do Every piece of content has a purpose. If you’d like your audience to share your content, then ask them to. If you’ve created an infographic because you want other people to use it on their sites and link back to you – say so. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space.

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In the most recent CMI B2B research, 89% of respondents say they use content marketing.

Yet, just 5% of respondents rated their content marketing strategy as “very effective,” and 64% label it as moderately or minimally effective.


Clearly, a lot of marketers could be doing better.

Are you one of them?

Screwing up your content marketing is easier than you might think. Here are 12 ways you could be sabotaging yourself and your content marketing.

1. You don’t set clear goals and objectives

Specific types of content are more effective at fulfilling certain goals. That is why you can get much more from a content marketing initiative if you define your goals before you begin.

If your primary goal is to drive conversions, you need to create content that moves potential customers through the sales funnel. The important criteria for your content is that it addresses customers’ pain points at each stage and moves them a step closer to making that purchase.


If your primary goal is to boost your site’s visibility in organic search results, your secondary goal is to gain links. As such, you need to create content that other sites would want and can easily republish. This is why infographics are such a popular form of content with marketers.

If you simply want to get your brand in front of a wider audience, content for social media may be most helpful.

2. You don’t understand your audience

Different people respond to different stimuli – or in this case – different types of content. Understanding precisely who you want to consume your content is key.

You need to know your audience’s:

  • Demographics
  • Core interests
  • Pain points
  • Ways to consume content
  • Reasons for buying from you

Without that understanding, it is extremely difficult to create content that reaches them effectively. For example, as the next three infographics show, while content format preferences remain relatively steady across generations, the devices used to consume that content differ. Even bigger differences can be seen among the generations when it comes to subject interests.


Of course, an audience is more than the generations that comprise it.

To understand your audience, you have to get to know them. Your analytics tool is a good place to start that understanding. It should provide you with basic demographic information and (potentially inaccurate) interests.

Another excellent tool to help you paint a picture of your audience is YouGov Profiles. Search for a (big) brand in your industry and you’ll find various insights into that brand’s customers (some of which carry more weight than others) that you can apply to your own audience.

Last but not least – talk to your customers. Learn what matters to them most by asking them. Email short surveys to your customers post-purchase or go crazy and have an actual conversation with the people that buy from you.

3. You don’t perform keyword research

You might think a unique, engaging topic, written and presented well, is enough to get results. Well, you may be right, but you could do more to investigate keywords to inform your great content. Long-tail keyword research serves two purposes:

  • It inspires content ideas based on questions consumers are asking the search engines.
  • It uncovers phrases that searchers use that you can incorporate into your content to boost its visibility in the search results.

Using your keyword research can help improve the performance of your content, sometimes significantly. Take Neil Patel, who used long-tail keyword research to bring an extra 20,000 monthly visitors to his site.

Free tools like Ubersuggest, Answer the Public, and Keyword Researcher Pro are designed to uncover the long-tail side of search. Use them to identify relevant phrases that can help maximize the reach of your content.

4. You produce content that just isn’t good enough

This one might seem obvious, but I think it’s important to touch on how good good content really needs to be.

You’ve probably heard the term “10x content” before. Originally coined by Rand Fishkin, the term is designed to set a benchmark for what content creators and marketers should be aiming for. Good, unique content, as Rand says, simply doesn’t cut it.

Do you want to ensure that your content has the best possible chance of success? Then, long story short, you need to create something that is 10 times better than anything similar in the search results today.

5. You’re not spending enough time promoting content

Few publishers can launch a content piece, seed it on their social channels, and sit back while the rewards roll in. Most of us have to work much, much harder to ensure that our content gets in front of the right people at the right time. Social Triggers’ Derek Halpern recommends spending 20% of your time creating content and the…