11 Common Content Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Do you have a bulletproof content marketing campaign? Content marketing is one of the best ways to grow your small business online, but it can be a complete waste of time and resources if you fall prey to the pitfalls. In this post, we’ll show you 11 common content marketing mistakes, and how to fix them.

1. Skipping the Planning Phase

It’s exciting to get started on a new campaign. Unfortunately, you can’t just start a blog without a plan and expect to see results. If you want your content to be effective, you’ll need a well thought-out strategy to guide all your actions.

For starters, you’ll need to do some research. Learn about your target demographic(s) and what their actual needs are.

Here’s a quick way to learn about what your target audience wants (you’ll need a Facebook account):

Login to your Facebook account and click on “Ads Manager” on the left hand column. Then click on Tools » Audience Insights.

Facebook Tools

Choose “Everyone on Facebook” to start discovering your target audience from scratch. Or, if you already have fans on Facebook, you could choose “People connected to your Page”.

Everyone on Facebook

On the next screen, you can select the demographics that you wish to include from the “Create Audience” column on the left hand side.

Under the “Interests” field, type in the name of a fan page for a blog that you think your target audience loves to read (this will help narrow your search). Or, if you don’t know any blogs that they like to read, select from one or more of the topics listed in the dropdown menu.


Now you will be able to see what other blogs and magazines they like to read, what people they like to follow, etc., by clicking on the “Page Likes” tab.


Then, research each of these competitors, and find out what content is performing best for them. You can use BuzzSumo to find out which of their posts are the most popular.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel… use this knowledge to your advantage, and plan out similar pieces of content.

Once you know what direction your content needs to go, set your goals for the first 6 months to a year of your campaign, and set up an editorial calendar to achieve those goals.

To create your editorial calendar, you can use a WordPress plugin like Edit Flow, a calendar app like CoSchedule, Google Calendar, a simple spreadsheet, or even the good old pen and paper.

2. Stressing Over Quantity

There’s a lot to be said for quantity in a content campaign. After all, you do need a steady stream of content in order to gain a loyal following.

And the more pieces of content you’re able to produce, the more results you can achieve, right?

Not necessarily.

You see, thinking in terms of quantity often sends business owners down the wrong path, leading to an abundance of mediocre-quality content.

The problem with mediocre content is, it may get you the initial traffic you want, but it doesn’t really resonate with people. It doesn’t lead them to know, like and trust you. And as we know, people who don’t know, like and trust you won’t ever buy from you.

So if you want your campaign to succeed, you need to focus on the quality of your articles far more than the quantity. One good piece is worth more than dozens of questionable-quality pieces.

If you find yourself stressing out about coming up with new content, check out our post on 73 types of blog posts that are proven to work. You’ll get lots of great ideas for high-quality pieces there.

3. Sticking to Just One Medium

You may have heard that it’s best to just stick to one type of content, like blog posts, and do that one thing really well. But while it’s good to master one medium before you tackle another, you shouldn’t get stuck in just one forever.

There are literally dozens of mediums–video, audio, infographics, slide decks, and more–each with their own appeal. If your blog feed looks like the same post format repeated ad infinitum, you’re missing out on some huge potential.

Think of it this way: everyone has their own preferred method of learning. Some people learn best by reading, others by listening, while some are more visual learners. Diversifying your content allows you to reach those different types of learners.

Capitalizing on multiple different mediums also allows you to repurpose your content and get more mileage out of each and every post.

Here are some different mediums you can use to repurpose your blog content and appeal to different types of learners:

  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Emails
  • Downloadable PDFs
  • Slide Decks
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Online Courses
  • Live Streaming Presentations
  • eBooks
  • Physical Books

The possibilities are endless.

4. Writing to a General Audience

This is a common error that even experienced brands make. And it’s an understandable mistake… When you think about narrowing your audience by targeting only one specific demographic, you might see this as limiting the potential reach of your material.

However, what narrowing your audience really does is increase your content’s relevance.

So instead of being mildly attractive to a million people who will never buy from you, you’ll be deeply loved by a thousand.

Focus on appealing specifically to your raving fans, and you’ll attract more customers.

To help you speak to a specific audience, we’ve written a post on 6 effective ways to tailor your content to your buyer persona. That post will show you how to learn more about your target customers, and how to plan your content marketing campaign to really resonate with those people.

5. Writing on a Variety of Topics

It’s tempting to try and write about everything related to your industry. However, especially when you’re just starting out, it’s better to choose a specific niche and become known as an expert in that area.

Niching down on your topic gives you a competitive advantage. This competitive advantage will give you momentum early on because it helps you to stick in the minds of your followers. A specialist is so much easier to remember than a generalist.

Plus, you can always expand to more general topics at a later date, after you’ve already gained some traction and made a name for yourself.

For example, the OptinMonster blog focuses on conversion rate optimization for email subscriptions. Our topics are limited to the categories in our sidebar:

Blog Topics

We could have a bunch of other categories, like Sales Funnels or SEO, but we don’t because we want to stay focused on offering the best email marketing advice. If you want to learn more about growing your email list, we hope you’ll think of OptinMonster first.

6. Only Producing “Onsite” Content

The foundation of your content strategy is your own website, but your following will only truly grow once you leverage the power of outside networks: other websites producing content for your target audience.

Get your work featured as guest posts on other authority sites in your industry, and start actively building relationships with other brands.

This will greatly increase your visibility, and doesn’t take much more effort—it’s a shame more small businesses don’t take this step.

Just make sure when you do guest post that you avoid making these 6 guest blogging mistakes.

7. Neglecting SEO

This is another small step that often gets written off, usually because it’s viewed as being too technically complex. But in reality, search engine optimization isn’t as hard as you might think.

With a little research, and the right competitive targeting, a few structural differences are all it takes to optimize a blog post (or any piece of content) for search engines.

A good place to start is with SEMrush. This tool will allow you to research your competitors and your prospects to determine what keywords you want your content to rank for.


Then, use a good SEO plugin, like Yoast SEO, to optimize each of your posts for those keywords.

Yoast SEO

8. Not Promoting Correctly on Social Media

One of the most wasted opportunities for content marketers is social media. This is the perfect place to syndicate your content posts when they’ve been published, but so many businesses skip this step.

Social media is free, it’s public, and it gives you a chance to attract a regular following. Not to mention it only takes a few extra minutes to push your posts out.

In time, your blog will attract new views organically. But until then, you need to give your work a big push on social media.

Make sure you are promoting your posts on a regular basis, not just on the publish day.

Don’t forget to reach out to your followers and any influencers you featured and ask them to share on social media as well. You may be surprised at how willing they are to help you promote.

9. Never Changing With the Times

The marketing world changes too fast for you to get away with standing still. Over time, you should be updating your strategy, trying new techniques, experimenting with new mediums, and taking advantage of new trends.

Stay in one place too long, and you won’t be able to catch up to the competition.

For instance, we now know that exit intent popups work remarkably well for increasing conversion rates on virtually any website in any niche.

Rich Page increased conversions by 316% using exit-intent popups, and Ryan Robinson increased his subscribers by 500% overnight using an exit-intent popup.

Countless marketers, like Neil Patel and Syed Balkhi, are now using exit-intent popups (like the one below) on all of their websites:

Exit Intent Popup

Want a similar exit-intent popup for your website? Start using OptinMonster to convert website visitors into subscribers and customers.

However, so many website owners have failed to implement exit intent popups on their websites. They are still losing 2-4% of their visitors, never to return.

Why? Because they haven’t continued their marketing education.

To make learning more manageable and less time-consuming, try using Feedly: an app that allows you to organize all of the content you want to keep up with.

10. Not Optimizing for Conversions

In addition to attracting traffic and improving your brand reputation, your content is the perfect opportunity to persuade your users to convert. If you aren’t taking advantage of this, you could be missing out on hundreds—if not thousands—of potential new customers.

Here at OptinMonster, we have lots of articles to help you optimize your site for conversions. Here are a few to get you started:

11. Failing to Use Your Data

Any marketing campaign requires data to be effective. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea whether your efforts earned you more than they cost.

Step one is setting up a tracking mechanism to gather data about your campaign, such as Google Analytics.

Then, you have to dig deep and analyze that data, and form insights you can use to make your campaign better. Don’t just make assumptions—rely on the numbers to guide your path.

OptinMonster allows you to easily create A/B tests, eliminating the guess work so you can make data-driven decisions on what works best.

A/B Split Testing

If you’ve been making these mistakes, even if it’s been for years, don’t worry! Content marketing is a long-term strategy, and there is still time to make up for your errors.

Knowing the mistakes you are making is the first step. Then, open yourself up to tweaking or even completely changing your strategy. Soon, you’ll see more progress than ever before.

Mary Fernandez
Mary Fernandez is a professional blogger. When she’s not at her desk, you can usually find Mary exploring sunny San Diego, CA with her laptop, husband, and three kids in tow.


  1. Philip Verghese Ariel May 10, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Hi Mary,

    Good to see you on the pages of Optionmonster
    Great going! Now you are part and parcel of it!! 🙂 Congrats.

    This is really an informative piece!
    Sticking to Just One Medium is one of the greatest mistakes many commit.
    This note is indeed a wonderful reminder to such marketers. Thanks for providing
    those other list of option. Altogether it is a wonderful guide Mary.
    Good wishes to you and your assignments at OM
    Keep it up
    Keep sharing
    Have a great time of sharing and caring
    ~ Phil

    1. Mary Fernandez
      Mary Fernandez May 11, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Thank you so much, Philip!! 🙂

  2. It is really hard enough to create valuable content . The fact is that more and more content is being produced without conscious efforts and therefore the Internet is teeming with low quality promotional articles. Mary, I do absolutely agree that focus on quality is of great value, so it’s better to make a deep research and write one article rather than a plethora of cheesy works. I think a special emphasis needs to be given to plagiarism which is a scourge in content world. Owing to possibilities we have, it won’t be a problem to check the article for similarities with a plagiarism detector software, for instance Unplag, and evade fatal consequences. It is a well-known fact, that there are no easy ways to create valuable content, it is a hard work indeed.

  3. It’s better to learn from other mistakes, than doing and learning the hard way!

    Hey Mary, Thanks for the detailed list. It seems you guys have gone through these errors in real time as you have explained in detail.

    It’s crucial to create valuable content for the readers, which can pass an actual value to them. In my experience, this comes with storytelling, which people are skipping in their content marketing campaigns.

    When I start I was doing many topics (mistake) and which I realized on time and fixed and now focusing on few categories of content.

  4. Very useful post, you have covered some interesting ground and I enjoyed reading it. I have bookmarked it as an essential reference on content marketing.

  5. Great information. I know that this is one of the hardest things for people to grasp, that the market changes and your content and marketing must move with the times!

  6. Anyaogu Ikechukwu April 14, 2017 at 4:57 am

    Thanks for this useful article.

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall April 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

      So glad you liked it, Anyaogu. 🙂 Another important aspect of successful content marketing is writing a great call to action. Be sure to follow us on Facebook to get the latest guides as they’re published.

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