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5 Content Marketing No-nos That Piss People Off

By Liane GrimshawComments

5 content marketing no-nos that piss people off

It really gets my back up when people start barging their way onto the train when others are still trying to get off onto the platform.

And what about when one lorry driver attempts a dramatic overtake of another lorry? Everyone knows full well that both vehicles are limited to the same top speed.

Oh, and slow walkers. Just why?

People do annoying things. It’s an unfortunate fact of life we all have to deal with.

That’s not to say it’s always on purpose, but that doesn’t make the action any less vexing—and the same rule applies for marketers.

From the irritating to the downright infuriating, scroll down for five things content marketers do that seriously piss people off…


You’d think we'd be past this in 2018.

Apparently not.

Common stereotypes find their way into marketing when brands fail to anchor their content to the real-world. 

One of the biggest drivers in successful content marketing is audience research—constructing an accurate perception your ideal customer is invaluable. Genuine insight comes only from demographic data, interviews, and hours of detailed research that digs out the facts. It’s what gives us the power to create relevant content and build a brand that resonates with the right people. It’s also what stops us from defaulting to damaging assumptions.

Only lazy marketers assume all women are soccer moms, that all pensioners are technophobes, or that millennials will buy into anything fronted by sausage dogs or avocados.



Ah, that feeling.

When you wind up on a web page, wondering how you could have been so foolish to fall into the trap again—asking yourself where it all went wrong.

Clickbait headlines appeal to basic human curiosity and the fear of missing out (FOMO). They dangle something juicy and wait for the bite. However once bitten, that something juicy usually tastes pretty sour.


There is a defense for clickbait in content marketing. However I prefer to separate this persuasive (sometimes underhanded) practice into two categories:

Clickbait Headlines and Compelling Headlines.

Let’s take a quick look at the Merriam-Webster definition of Clickbait:

“Something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.”

Right there. You see that last part? That’s what makes the difference.

“...especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.”

It’s not the headline that annoys people. It’s when the content on the other side doesn’t deliver on its promise. Because no-one likes to feel duped.

Clickbait headlines are deceptive and misleading.

Compelling headlines tempt the click and send the user to a useful destination. They reflect the value of what lies within.

The lesson here is that content needs to justify the hype from your headline. Otherwise you’ll sever any chance of building trust between brand and user.

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This is your golden ticket to the content marketing scrapheap.

Yes, there will always be a time and a place for salesmanship in the buyer’s journey.

But if you find yourself attempting to stuff ‘subtle’ sales messages into the awareness end of the funnel, you’re going to turn off your readers.

The hard sell will never be subtle, no matter much you want it to be. However, it will give people cause to head for the nearest exit if they’re not yet ready to buy.

Copy of Marketers who use personas and map content to the buyer’s journey enjoy 73 higher conversions from response to marketing qualified lead (MQL). (Source_ Aberdeen Research)

Ever found yourself browsing in a shop and the floor assistant starts pestering you with information about new products and their latest deals? Yeah, that.


Is your content more gibberish than gripping? More confusing that compelling?

Marketers speak a different language to the average person. Especially when it comes to B2B, where complex products and services are centre stage.

It’s only natural, of course. You need to know the ins-and-outs of the thing you’re marketing, and with that comes some seriously heavy education. But simply regurgitating that super-specific industry lingo onto the page isn’t going to make for a good read.

Acronyms and technical terminology often creep in where they’re not wanted. They destroy the flow and the energy of content, and readers just don’t have the time for it.


Say you’re browsing online for a new toaster…

You’ve found one that’s really caught your eye. The David Gandy of toasters.

Now you’re locked deep in research mode. Clicking and dragging to rotate the image 360°. Reading a scathing two-star review from Deborah in Scunthorpe. Wondering whether you can really justify forking out £250 for a toaster.

It’s decision time.

But instead of telling you about it’s fourteen toasting settings, bagel function and two-year guarantee, the product description bangs on about aluminosilicate minerals and nichrome wire.

Erm, what?

If you need a translator to understand the content you’re reading, the whole process quickly becomes a chore—it can also feel like the writer is hiding something or doesn’t have a full grasp of what it is they’re talking about.

Ditch the jargon and focus on clearly explaining benefits and solutions.


Content should be educational. It should also remember who it’s talking to. 

Most people will have, at least, a basic grasp of the subject and/or niche when they land on your blog post, or download your eBook.

In fact, they’ve probably already done plenty of research before finding you.

There’s also a good chance they’ve been around the block a few times—depending on who you’re targeting. They may well be in a senior role, with a couple of decades of industry experience behind them, and probably don’t need, or appreciate, hand-holding.

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Imagine you’re searching for ways to drive engagement rates and better connect with your audience through email marketing…

…that doesn’t mean you need someone to explain to you what a subject line is, or to walk you through what click-rate means.

This isn’t a Spiderman film—no-one needs the origin story every time they go to the cinema.

By acknowledging a person’s pre-existing understanding of the subject, you can get to the juicy bits faster and deliver the information they came knocking for in the first place.


When marketing goes full auto-pilot it slips into dangerous habits.

Content that makes assumptions, misleads the reader or talks down to them can only serve to damage your brand and alienate the people you’re trying to reach.

The breakthrough comes when we begin to judge everything we create and look at it through the eyes of the buyer. When we walk a mile in their shoes.

  • Who are they?
  • What are their problems?
  • What are their expectations?
  • What information do they want from you?
  • What engages them?

It’s questions like this that bring meaning to the content you create, and help eliminate common slip ups that undermine everything you’re trying to achieve.

Be practical, not predictable. Be sincere, not sleazy. Be considered, not crass.

Be likeable.


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