5 epic content marketing fails to avoid

We all know about the worst mishaps that can cause a brand to fail in the world of content marketing.

Remember when Apple gave all their users a free U2 album in 2014? The album, called Songs of Innocence, just appeared in the iTunes library of 500 million users. Apple and U2 were giving something away for free – there couldn’t be any downside to that, right?

Boy, was there ever. People felt violated. Social media declared war and the repercussions of that are unforgettable. It was, let’s say, a learning experience.

The reason it didn’t work is Apple didn’t judge its audience properly. They came up with a marketing idea that worked at a corporate level – it made sense to give the album away, in order to launch the ticket sales for the gigs which would make the band and their record label far more money. However, they rolled this out to all of their customers, rather than just to the ones who would want it.

A bit of market segmentation would have saved them a lot of grief.

Content marketing – success isn’t the norm

Failure to understand the power of content marketing is a common problem.

All marketers need to know that creating a good content marketing strategy isn’t easy. They just need to be patient, resourceful and know when to pull the trigger.

The Content Marketing Institute conducts research every year and, in 2019, they found that many content marketers are struggling to make their campaigns effective.

Success isn’t the norm.

Only 4% of their respondents rated their content marketing efforts as ‘extremely successful’. The explanation for this seems clear – only 39% of their respondents reported having a clear content strategy. 

We’re often being told that Content is King but, the truth is, Content Strategy is King.

So, let’s look at a fistful of fails that lead to a lack of strategy and fuel the fires of failure…

Fail 1: Mistaking yourself for a deity

In the world of content marketing, mistaking yourself for a deity occurs when you ignore everyone and everything around you and create content for yourself. You are not your customer. Your client is – they’re the expert on their business and on their customers.

They’re also paying you, so, you could do worse than ask them a few intelligent questions and listen carefully to the answers.

Fail 2: Forgetting that knowledge is power

Information is your best friend, and you should be conducting as many audits and interviews as possible. Check out the opposition, absorb best practice – and recognise worst practice.

You can’t have too much input, when you’re building a bespoke strategy for your client.  It’s not a matter of too many cooks if you do this, if you don’t you’ll have too few ingredients.

Fail 3: Not doing the maths

Content marketing is all about the numbers. Costs per click, open rates, dwell times, impressions, engagements, conversions, returns on investment – you name it, there’s a number for it.

And, you need to have a firm grasp on those numbers if you’re going to successfully convey the success of your campaigns.

But, don’t forget, reporting back success – and measuring performance – is so much more enjoyable when the campaign is working; and success is all about the quality of the content and the relevance of the strategy.

Fail 4: Being a crêpe, instead of a pancake

Spreading yourself too thin and diluting your content is one of the biggest no-nos. It’s understandable for your clients to think that more is always more, you have to make them understand that more can be less. Strive for quality over quantity every time.

 By the same token, you have to understand your own limitations. You need to build a kick-ass team of the best people around you, to help you make sure that every piece of content you produce is perfect, from inception to delivery. And, if you can’t find the right people locally, outsource.

Fail 5: Not wanting to sleep with the enemy

To help your content resonate and really strike a chord, good content marketers learn as much as they can about their consumer. Whether that’s through data and insights, focus groups or A/B testing, getting as close to your consumers as possible will only serve you well.

Consumers are our friends. But, as Michael Corleone told us in Godfather II: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

So, get under the skin of your competitors. The chances are your audience will also dig ’em, so find out why. Critically evaluate what they do and how successful it is and learn from that. You can’t develop a competitive edge if you don’t check out the competition!

Any other fails we’ve failed to include?

So, there you have it, a slack handful of behaviours and assumptions that create content marketing failure.

Do you have any content marketing fails to add to the list? Don’t fail to track us down on Facebook or Twitter and have your say.