5 Types of B2B Content Marketing Blunders That Offer Teachable Moments

Nobody likes to make a mistake or fail at something. Even so, the beauty of an error is the fact that you can learn from the experience. It’s even better if you can learn from someone else’s gaffe – before you make a similar blunder.

The B2B content marketing stories you’re about to read are true.  The mistakes listed here are commonly experienced in digital marketing and weren’t major catastrophes. But each one provides a great teachable moment that could help you think about what to look for in your own marketing programs and how they may be improved for enhanced results.

#1 – Blog Blooper

This company’s blog had been started by the marketing department and things were going fine – until a decision maker felt left in the dark. The executive took a good look at the company blog and it wasn’t as she expected; her idea of what should be published to represent the brand was very different than what she saw. The marketing department hadn’t explained their full strategy to the key decision-maker, and now she was feeling anxiety.

Marketing programs run more smoothly when upper management is bought into them. The marketing department began presenting reports to the executives that displayed their progress. They are now kept in the loop with regular content review sessions and they can see the measurements and results of the company’s content marketing success.

#2 – Invisible Infographics

In this situation the company’s infographics proved to be incredibly popular content on their blog, but it was hard to find some of their older infographics with a simple search. The company had not spent a lot of time carefully optimizing their image-heavy pages and therefore the infographics had fallen in relevance. People can easily see photographs or other images and identify what they mean, but search engines base the topic, rank and value of the content on available text.

Because there isn’t a lot of text for search engines to review, image-heavy pages need extra optimization attention via meta information, image file naming conventions and more. For instance, don’t upload a photo with a name like “100-3257.jpg”; give it a name that describes the image and uses a keyword, such as “content-marketing-mistakes.jpg”. And be sure to write a meta description for the page that’s compelling, contains your keyword, and is more than 120 characters, but less than 160. For example, here is the meta description for this post:

You can learn from blunders – but it’s better if you can learn from others’ mistakes instead. The B2B content marketing stories you’re about to read are true.

#3 – Email Error

Within this organization, email marketing campaigns had been improving, but over a period of a few months, the company’s open, click-through, conversion and unsubscribe rates took a turn for the worse. A careful evaluation of their communications over the period of decline showed that the amount of text in the emails had steadily grown, while the opportunities for readers to click to the website had declined. By shortening their text and adding more chances for viewers to click-through, unsubscribe rates fell, while open and conversion numbers improved.

Though more text and information can be fine for blogs and articles, brevity is best for emails. A short introduction with a bulleted list of points the reader should know and a call to action is pretty basic, easy, and surprisingly effective. How brief or long is optimal for your brand could vary, but here at TopRank, we’ve experienced great success with marketing emails that average about 150 to 200 words. And of course, provide plenty of opportunities for the reader to convert.

#4 – Social Snafu

Subject #4 knew it needed to get into the social game. So it moved forward with a plan before anyone in the marketing department was sure on the best strategy; and it was carried out by someone who wasn’t familiar with how social communities work. As a result, there wasn’t anything social about the brand’s social media channels – updates only included links to their own content and the messages of the few people who had reached out to them went unanswered.

The “social” part of social media marketing is most important. The best social plans include third-party content, questions designed to inspire conversation, and time set aside to answer fans’ and followers’ messages. Be sure to put some research into learning about social media best practices and etiquette.

#5 – Content Crisis

The final example’s content marketing program was prolific. Blog posts, specially designed graphics, slideshows, press releases – the works. Marketing machines like this chug along, even through changes of personnel and authority. It took a new marketing manager looking at their recent work carefully, but firmly, voicing his criticism to realize the work wasn’t standing up to their own brand standards. Between employees changing jobs and cranking out content in quantity, practices for quality control had slipped.

Don’t be afraid to take a critical eye to your work. If you need to, slow down to ensure you’re not diminishing the value of your content with weak posts. Here is a mini-checklist of things to keep in mind when evaluating the content you publish.

  • Is it engaging?
  • Is it search engine optimized?
  • Does it reflect your brands’ messaging?
  • Does it invite the audience to take action?

Perhaps you recognized one of your own experiences above. Maybe the mistakes listed here have stirred some thoughts about how your B2B content marketing efforts have progressed. If something hasn’t been working, there is no time like the present to really examine your program and see if there is something you could be doing better. After all, it’s not necessarily an error that causes failure – it’s whether or not you remedy the situation and strive to do better in the future.

Brave souls: Have you made a content marketing mistake? Were you able to turn that mistake into your own teachable moment? Please share your story in the comments below. You can even post anonymously and make up your own brand pseudonym!

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  1. I think all employees should be trained in social media etiquette before handling any company accounts.

    • Avatar Sara Duane-Gladden says

      Agreed, Brosix. It’s so important to learn and plan before embarking on a new marketing channel, especially one like social media that has such a direct connection with customers and prospects.

  2. The email error is the worst because there is no going back and if you have a larger email list you are going to be pretty mad. The great thing is that we are all human and we make mistakes! Yes marketers make mistakes too. If you didn’t offend anyone just keep moving forward and learn from your error and put out better content next time.

  3. Hi Lynn, we offer a RSS to Email subscription option that posts the full article so you can read it all within email. There’s a long running debate about whether to post an excerpt vs. the entire post and we decided it was a better user experience to not make people click through to the blog. It’s been that way about 5 years or so. Thank you for subscribing!

  4. Avatar Business Advertising NYC says

    I want to check all the good
    information available here but alas! Time is very limited for this as I’m
    very busy in work these days. I hope to check out all the information in
    free time.

  5. Mistakes are bound to happen. It’s just important to take the time and learn from them. Content marketing is difficult. Sometimes it’s easy to go on auto pilot but it’s important to take a step back and actually analyze if the program is successful.

    • Avatar Sara Duane-Gladden says

      Thanks for the comment, Nick, you’re exactly right! If we wait until a problem occurs to re-evaluate, we’re behind the eight ball. It’s always a good
      idea to evaluate even when things are good to see if they can be

  6. This is not possible everytime you are right,some chances here to make mistake.Then nothing to worry need to rectify mistake.If you do mistake on mistake then it is wrong otherwise no problem need to take lesson from mistake which happened.

  7. Avatar Lovable M3 says

    While reading this article, I came to the conclusion that making mistakes can happen whether its B2B or B2C and we can all learn from each other’s mistake. But i am curious to know ” what would be some good tips on B2C mistakes and how we can learn from it”?

  8. It is so important to be
    searchable! Using keywords, having other comments on your blog and using links
    are all good ways to become more searchable. I also read in another article
    that you should link all your social media platforms to each other.

    Thanks for the blog and helpful