Content Marketing’s Biggest Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemRead Time: 8 minutes


When companies want to start doing content marketing, they often make one big mistake:

Companies want one piece of content to do way too much.

This expert advice comes from Amanda Milligan, Branded Content Manager at Fractl. In this episode, she sits down with Tom to dig into the most important emotion, common mistakes and we have real talk about the actual amount of work needed to produce successful content.

The Biggest Mistake

Amanda cautions that each piece of content needs a role. One content piece cannot speak to your current customers and appeal to everyone else and get you links. However, many companies will create content that tries to do everything while actually doing none of it well.

The content idea needs to be communicated in a compelling and easy to understand. Content can get too complicated, killing online performance. If the viewer can’t figure out what’s going on immediately, they’ll click out.

Amanda finds the root cause of this mistake is the starting point:

“When you decide to start doing content marketing, you don’t just start making content.”

She advises that companies have to put in the time investment upfront. Determining content goals and priorities is a crucial first step in producing good content. Once these goals are established, Amanda notes that you need to assign tactics to them.

Emotional Research: The Surprising Result

Everyone knows emotion is a huge component of marketing. Amanda shared the results of a fascinating promotional viability study which Fractl completed. Using the top 50 Imgur images, they surveyed people on their emotional experience when looking at each photo.

Positive images ranked higher than negative ones. This result surprised Amanda as she was expecting negative images to provoke a stronger emotional reaction.

And the most common positive reaction?

“Surprise was the number one emotion that people identified while looking at these photos.”

The result makes a lot of sense to Amanda. Successful content needs to be newsworthy. And surprising content provides something unexpected.

This newsworthiness means that viewers will want to consume and share the content. This emotion is found in any piece of viral content.

“Leaving [surprise] out of your content is a huge mistake.”

Learn from Failures

There will be failures; however, Amanda cautions that you can’t consider pieces that didn’t work as failures. You need to analyze what happened. Sometimes there’s a creative issue, and sometimes you just get scooped.

Reflecting is also a crucial part of the creative process. So much of content marketing is risk-taking and testing. Even with the push to ‘produce, produce, produce’, it’s crucial to take time to understand and improve your work.

Key questions:

  • This idea worked really well. Why?
  • This idea did not work well. Why?

To succeed in content marketing:

“You have to be a student of what has worked.

Does Content Really Pay Off?

Then, we got real about the work. Given how much work goes into content creation (research, design, outreach, etc.), why is it worth it? What’s the value compared to other marketing forms?

Amanda notes that it’s all about the long-term strategy. “We tell our clients: it’s never going to be an amazing campaign over and over and over.” This work is a long-term investment.

Brands who want to be successful in the long run need to have a content marketing strategy. For example, social media will be deficient in the long run if you’re not giving people something. The content sets the brand up as an authority and offers value.

The outcomes are multiplied. Most companies have one goal, but content ties them together. She offers this example of exponential benefits:

  • A company is looking to build backlinks with good content [main goal]
  • Backlinks increase page rank
  • Increased page rank means onsite content is more authoritative
  • Higher authority means increased site traffic
  • Increased site traffic means more backlinks

These compounding factors produce sustaining growth.


  • Ensure your content meets specific goals. One piece of content can’t do everything.
  • Surprise is a key emotion to include in content. It makes it shareable and newsworthy.
  • Take time to reflect and audit. Be a student of what worked.
  • Content marketing is a long-term strategy. It’s a compounding investment.


1. Do an audit of all your current content.

Take the time to look at everything you’ve done offsite and onsite. See how it performed and ask yourself: ‘Why?’.

2. Do an audient of your industry’s content.

Review your competitor’s content and what’s working. You are not working in a vacuum but in an ecosystem of content.

Want to read more?

6 Surefire Ways to Make Newsworthy Content

The Role of Emotions in Viral Content

How Emotional Marketing Strategies Built a Nonprofit’s Brand Community

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