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9 Content Marketing Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Brand

SmarterCX Team
January 17, 2020

4 minute read

A few weeks into the new year and decade, it’s time to consider if the content marketing strategies companies have focused on are creating value or distaste among consumers. We asked our team of content marketers their biggest pet peeves (as both marketers and consumers) that really set them off and guide them on their own strategies of “things not to do” when creating content.

Mistake #1: Uninspiring subject lines

“Just because I’ve agreed to receive your periodic dispatches doesn’t mean I have the time or desire to read everything you send. Sorry. As a result, the subject line ‘January 2020 newsletter’ probably won’t draw a click unless I really love your organization. You can help me out, however, with a bone in the subject line: Entice me with a teaser and by all means, use active verbs.”

  • Kerby Meyers, SmarterCX Contributor

Mistake #2: Quantity over quality

“As a content marketing and SEO expert, my biggest pet peeve is the perception among some executives that crafting successful content is more about quantity than quality, and the lack of understanding all the elements that go into creating a blog post that eventually ranks in the top organic search position.

When content mills were a thing, lots of companies starting copying the strategy with their own blogs, thinking that this was ‘content marketing’. With Google and other search engines getting better at understanding the difference between high-quality URLs and thin content, the companies that followed this old approach are now rightfully losing a massive amount of organic traffic.”

  • Erik Mathes, SmarterCX Contributor

Mistake #3: Chasing quick wins vs long-term gains

“My biggest — and only — pet peeve in content marketing is when companies chase quick wins rather than long-term gains. We need to treat audiences — and the people tasked with reaching them — as people rather than machines.

One piece of advice that I have for content teams moving into 2020 is to slow down and to focus on quality above quantity. In the digital ecosystem, there tends to be a lot of pressure to emphasize hypergrowth and hyperspeed — to launch campaigns for the sake of launching campaigns.

We need to remember that we’re writing for people, not search engines, campaigns, or robots.”

  • Ritika Puri, SmarterCX Contributor

Mistake #4: When email is used by other divisions without asking

“As a customer: when I download something and my email is used by other divisions of the company or for what is often many other uses (I actually think this contravenes GDPR but companies still do it). I recently downloaded something from IG and I was absolutely inundated with emails! I unsubscribed but other products from the same group kept sending me emails. I think they should make it clear where the email will be used and by whom.”

  • Timothy Woods, SmarterCX Contributor

Mistake #5: Creating content just to create it

“As a marketer: My biggest content marketing pet peeve is hiring for content, but not strategy. Time and time again, new clients will come to me asking me to audit why their current content isn’t converting. Or, clients will come looking for a writer to tackle topics they’ve come up with themselves (that their audience might not be searching for or interested in!). It’s like throwing spaghetti at a wall to see if it sticks. Pro tip: it sticks because of the starches, not necessarily because it’s finished cooking! Creating content just to create it won’t benefit any business. A well-planned strategy is what attracts an audience and converts them into customers.”

  • Erin Ollila, SmarterCX Contributor

Mistake #6: Multiple email follow-ups to unresponded-to pitches

“As a journalist, I get hundreds of pitches from marketers about topics outside of the subjects I typically cover. Most of them I simply ignore, but on occasion I will receive ‘did you see my message?’ or ‘just checking in…again’ emails associated with pitches I didn’t respond to. One of these is bad enough, but two or three demonstrates you don’t know who you’re pitching to, haven’t put in the time to research your market, and guarantees your address will be added to my spam list.”

  • Benjamin Hunting, SmarterCX Contributor

Mistake #7: Content marketing as advertising

“Clients come to me within a week or month of embarking on a new content marketing strategy, wondering why their numbers are not shooting upwards and towards the right. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had to explain that content marketing is a long game that will reward handsomely in the long run, but only after months of consistently publishing and building trust in your brand. Content marketing is not advertising, period.”

  • Daniel Tay, SmarterCX Contributor

Mistake #8: Trying to trick me with the subject line

“My biggest content marketing pet peeve is when company emails try to trick me into thinking it is personalized or even that it is a reply by using “Re:” as the start of the subject. It doesn’t feel genuine, and it makes me not want to read your email when I have figured out your ‘strategy’.”

  • Jodi Warner, SmarterCX Editor

Mistake #9: Telling the customer what to do

“My biggest content marketing pet peeve is using commands in messaging and phrases, like ‘companies today need to…’ and ‘to get ahead, you must…’ I’ve seen messages like this used by every tech company I’ve worked with, and it drives me crazy!

As content marketers, we’re not telling our audience what to do. We’re giving them information to make an informed decision. When we take lessons from our favorite literature, movies, etc. and show instead of tell, we set ourselves apart and above the content marketing norm.”

  • Mia McPherson, SmarterCX Editor-in-Chief

SmarterCX Team
The SmarterCX team is comprised of subject matter experts, writers, artists, designers, and CX professionals who are dedicated to building a smarter customer experience.
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