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Are you thinking about leveraging content marketing for yourself or your organization? If so, make sure to avoid these 10 deadly sins of content marketing. In the following, you’ll learn what makes content marketing successful by taking a look at the "worst practices”. We will also cover multiple solutions to those common problems in order to turn your efforts into successful outcomes.

1. You are a copycat

When you just copy or re-write content from your competition, you’ll keep trying to catch up with your competition and never get ahead. If you want to beat your competition, prioritize quality over quantity. Escape the copycat crisis before it’s too late!


  • Create original and authentic content that is tailored to the needs of your audience.
  • Don’t focus too much on keywords. Your content should be produced for your audience and not for search engines (search engines actually like that too!).
  • Be creative and think about your audience‘s habits.
  • Use your own expert knowledge as a source of inspiration.
  • Join online discussions on social media to find out what your audience is looking for and/or what your audience is struggling with.
  • Ask your existing customers, they know their pain points and challenges best.
  • Spark new ideas by applying design thinking methods.

2. You focus on vanity metrics

The amount of followers and likes should not be performance indicators for your work. Actually, a small following on social media in a niche can be more successful than a huge, generic account without a clear audience or offer. In the end, followers don‘t necessarily buy your products or services. To get a clear picture on the performance of your channels, you need to understand the fundamentals of attribution.


  • Choose a single north star metric for your organization (revenue, app downloads, donations, etc.)
  • Implement the OKR method to set goals in your organization.
  • Focus on the 20% of your prospects/clients which deliver 80% of the results.
  • Foster authentic relationships with your prospects.
  • Focus on ROI & your business goals instead of reach or the amount of followers and likes.
  • Learn how to interpret attribution reports and how to use different attribution models in your analytics tool.

3. You focus too much on BOFU

If you mainly produce content for the bottom of the funnel (or the end of the buyer’s journey) you end up selling to a cold audience. "Salesy" content won’t convince your audience to buy your products or services. In contrast, you should warm up your audience by offering valuable content for each phase of their journey.


  • Produce content for every stage of the buyer‘s journey.
  • Offer high-quality educational content in different formats.
  • Warm up your prospects, support them on their individual journey.
  • Don’t see customers as an output, but rather in the center of all your activities.

4. You are inconsistent

As long as you are publishing content ad hoc, you won’t get results from your efforts in content marketing. A clear plan on how to produce and publish content will help you to stay realistic and consistent. It will help you to move the “content needle” towards your goals.


  • Set up editorial guidelines (tone & voice, message architecture).
  • Create a controlled vocabulary and share it with your team.
  • Have a clear process for content production, quality checks & publishing.
  • Work with an editorial plan (spreadsheet or kanban board) and make it achievable.
  • Stick to the plan, even if you don’t get results within the first weeks or months.

5. You focus on one channel

By chasing shiny objects, you will lose a lot of time and money. If you believe in one channel and invest all your resources in it you become heavily dependent on this single channel. Whether it’s TickTock, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram – there will always be a next trend.


  • Channels like social media should be the vehicle for your content.
  • Focus on owned channels, don‘t become dependent on paid channels.
  • Diversify your channels, follow your audience and not the latest trends.
  • Understand channels, but don’t become too blindfolded.

6. You create content without distributing it

There is so much great content out there that was never promoted or distributed. If you invest your time and/or money into content production, you should also pay attention to distribute it accordingly. Otherwise, the great content you produce will never reach your target audience.


  • Always share your content in groups, comments, social media, etc.
  • Use a tiny bit of your media budget to promote your content (paid ads).
  • Think holistically, don’t see performance marketing separated from content marketing.
  • Don‘t forget about content recycling!

7. You write for yourself

When you write for your own needs, you are producing content for yourself and not for your audience. Decisions based on gut feeling and assumptions are never a good thing. Instead, you should invest into proper audience research.


  • Start with personas (even a 5-minute persona can help).
  • Spend more time on audience research.
  • Emphasize with your audience more (talk to your prospects & clients).
  • Help your audience to solve their challenges and problems.
  • Follow a data-driven approach (use Google Search Console).

8. You spam your audience

You are sending one sales message after another? Then you probably try too hard. Instead of trying to sell, you should focus on building relationships with your audience. Before starting to sell anything, offer great, valuable content that helps your audience. In the end, your products or services should become the obvious solution for them.


9. You don’t have a clear strategy

If you do content marketing for the sake of content marketing you won’t be able to harvest the fruits of this long-term effort. Set up a solid content marketing strategy and get the buy-in from your team.


  • Tie content marketing to your business goals (OKRs are a great tool again).
  • Each content piece should be linked to a goal and have a purpose.
  • Analyse the data you collect regularly, at least every week.
  • Make your goals SMART
  • Create a dashboard for content marketing (you can use Google Data Studio for free).

10. You are blogging all day long

The only content format you can think of are blog posts? If you massively write blog posts but don’t get any results, it’s time to diversify. In the past, many organizations have seen content marketing as corporate blogging. But there are endless possibilities to spread your messages. A blog can be a great content hub and starting point for content marketing. But in order to stay competitive, you have to think of other content formats as well.


  • Provide different content formats for the needs for your audience.
  • Recycle your content in various ways. For example, use a podcast to simultaneously produce a video and write a blog post about it which is shared on social media.

Want to learn more about Digital Marketing and Content Marketing?

If you are keen to learn more about content marketing and many other topics of growth & digital marketing, our intense and immersive Growth & Digital Marketing Online Program by Talent Garden Innovation School is the perfect opportunity to grow your professional skills and skyrocket your career.
Article updated on: 09 August 2023
Talent Garden
Written by
Talent Garden, Digital Skills Academy

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