3 Examples of Really Bad Content Marketing (and How to Avoid Repeating These Mistakes)

In today's world where content is king, how do you make yours stand out so the rest is noise? Here are three instances where content marketing didn't hit the mark, and how to avoid making the same mistakes. 

Content is king.

Unless your content sucks. Then, it’s definitely not king. It’s more like a gross wart with hair sticking out that no one wants anything to do with. Too harsh? 


But, not really.

Here are three really bad examples of content that I’ve been sent, or stumbled across, over the past year. I keep a folder of these things on my Mac to remind me never to be like this.

Take ‘em in.

1. Impersonal “Personalized” Content

What do I mean by impersonal “personalized” content? I mean something like this:

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I get emails like this occasionally. Someone at a company, “just reaching out” to see if I might have any interest in their product or service.

This is the definition of interruptive marketing. I never opted in to get this content, which means that the sender purchased my info from a list. And now, they’re in my inbox pressing me for a call.

What’s more, the specialties he references don’t even fit within my industry category! At the very least, exert the energy to change that value prop line to say “We specialize in small to medium businesses, ranging from marketing agencies, dental offices, law offices, and schools.” He doesn’t even make an attempt to align himself with my everyday world!

It can’t be said enough: Simply sending an email with a first name is not personalization. Take the time to understand what your audience is looking for, and introduce value (not sales) into their lives. Personalization is hard work. 

If you don’t do that, you send emails like this that go straight to my trash. And I go elsewhere for computer repair services.   

2. Blogging for the Sake of Keywords 

Once the content marketing revolution went 100, everyone started blogging. The problem? Most blogs were launched to chase keywords, and most posts were published without any sense of strategy or value-identification involved.

That means, you start getting lots of content like this:


Ever read an article like that? It’s brutal, isn’t it? And what is your typical reaction? Yeah, me too.

Stop blogging for the sake of blogging. Don’t write content that doesn’t need written. Please, I beg you. Enough is enough. Stop making up problems that allow you to recommend your products or services. (tweet this)

I’m a big believer in the power of blogging—when it’s done right. Real blogging requires time and sweat. It involves introducing value, not copy, into the world. Your blog posts should solve real problems, answer real questions, or offer unique points of view.

And, they should be easy to read. Maybe even enjoyable, too.

So, a general rule of thumb: only blog when you have something important to say. And then, say that thing better than anyone else out there. (tweet this)

Infographics That Are Light on Information and Heavy on Graphics 

Infographics can be a great tool for digital marketers. When done right, they serve as a link magnet that introduces the brand to new audiences. 

However, far too often, they end up looking like this hot mess:


Can you look at that and say what the main takeaway is? Even worse, the actual data is hidden in tiny text within the boxes on the right side. Is this something that you would share if you were really passionate about this issue? Can you even tell what the issue is?

I assume that this infographic did very little for the brand that owned it.

Stop producing infographics that don’t inform, don’t tell a story, and don’t have data! The point of an infographic should always be presenting a clear story through the contextualization of relevant, and surprising, data points.

Don’t Shortchange Your Content

In today’s super-connected world, your content matters more than ever.

Potential customers will make snap judgements about your brand based on the content they interact with, meaning that blog post, or that email, or that slideshare could make or break a sale. 

Don’t shortchange your content. Don’t produce copy for the sake of getting something out the door. Instead, understand your customers, identify their questions, and create the best content on the planet that answers those questions head-on.

Content is better when its immersed in the real world.