Businesses small and large, far and wide, across all sectors, are putting content creation at the heart of their strategy, and for good reason. Let’s not forget that in today’s age of the digital consumer, 70% of the buying decision is made before someone even gets in touch.
That means they’re visiting search engines, browsing your content, perusing social media, before making a decision about whether or not they want your product or service.
But with the grand adoption of content marketing comes a problem. Everybody may be doing content, but that doesn’t mean everybody is winning at content marketing.
The reality is that as more businesses embark on creating content, the harder it gets to stand out from the noise. And when that happens, you’re likely feeling like you’re losing focus, lacking a return-on-investment, and perhaps you’re even ready to throw in the towel.
Before you do that, let’s explore 8 reasons your content marketing isn’t working, and how to fix them.
There is a lack of strategy
Anyone can get started with publishing content, especially as blog posts. But not everyone can produce quality content. “What’s the difference?” I can hear you shout… in a word: Strategy.
Good content marketing is underpinned with a two-fold strategy: Overarching and content-piece-specific. This means you should take the time to understand your target audience, their pain points and drivers, and create a content strategy that uses multiple types of content to address their questions in an honest and transparent way.
If this sounds familiar to you or your marketing team, I strongly recommend reading They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. The clue is in the book title; it’s about using your content marketing strategies to educate your audience, answer key questions for them to make their buying decisions with ease. Check out the blog below for more information:
Your content is overly promotional, not educational
Similarly, another tell-tale sign your content marketing isn’t working is when you’re publishing overly promotional content.
As mentioned in the last section, good content marketing should be educational, helping your buyer solve a pain point or burning question, instead of reading the same old “buy from me!”-type content.
A simple way to fix this is to do the “We” vs. “You” test. Scan your content and count how many times “You / Your” appears vs. “We / Our”. The ideal ratio should be 5:1, meaning you should refer to your audience five times for each time you refer to your own brand.
Your content doesn’t encourage the reader to take (the right) action
We’ve all read blog posts where the call to action is “contact us”, and whilst that does have its place, it can sometimes be a put off for prospective readers.
Remember, they are in control of the buying process, not you, and they don’t want to be force fed an action of getting in touch when they’re not ready.
So, when concluding your blog content, or even planning your next post, think about what action you want your reader to take. Perhaps you could direct them to a gated resource, a webinar or a specific landing page. In any case, make sure your call to action is personalised to the user and something of value to them, giving them the impetus to take that required action.
Your team isn’t bought in to content marketing
This one is a big problem I (sadly) encounter a lot! Company buy-in can make or break your content marketing.
Time and time again I see businesses hiring Content Managers, like myself, instructing them to “publish content” without anyone else getting involved. But here’s the problem: The business owner, sales managers, account managers, etc. (ergo, the majority if not, entirety of your team) are subject matter experts, and therefore the best content ideas will come from the day-to-day conversations you have with your clients.
Your shiny and new Content Manager needs you, and the subject matter expertise in your head. So, rather than abdicating your content marketing responsibility to one person, think about how your entire team can get involved with contributing ideas, content topics and subject matter content. As I said at the start, the difference between doing that and not doing it is, ultimately, the success of your entire content marketing strategy!
- Further reading: How to Get Your Whole Team to Buy in to They Ask, You Answer (by IMPACT)
Your publishing efforts are not consistent
When I speak to businesses telling me they’re content marketing efforts aren’t working, I usually start by asking “How often did you publish?” and it’s at this point the cracks begin to emerge!
It’s often the case that businesses have taken a “stop and start” approach to content marketing, publishing content infrequently, such as every couple of weeks or months. The problem is a lack of consistency.
Content marketing is a long-term process (more on that shortly), and you need to be publishing a minimum of 2-4 pieces of content per month to generate any sort of impact. In fact, the industry standard is 2-3 new content pieces per week for optimum traction. Anything less than that, and you’re not going to make a dent when compared to brands who are hammering away at their content marketing machine!
You’re not promoting your content
There’s a misconception that your content marketing efforts don’t need promotion, and that you can just leave your blog posts in the hands of the organic search gods and that traffic will begin to increase over time.
Whilst yes, organic traffic will naturally grow over time as you publish consistently, you need to actively promote your content. Content promotion is just as important as content creation, because ultimately, content marketing is but one strand of your digital marketing arsenal.
If you’re stuck for ideas on promoting your content, here are a few to get you started:
- Social sharing (be sure to post across multiple social media accounts, and post several times on Twitter).
- Email newsletter.
- Republishing as a LinkedIn article.
You don’t understand the role of SEO.
And then there’s SEO, another important key performance driver of both content creation and promotion.
When planning your content, it’s no longer enough to simply write the blog post without any research. Because of the vast amount of content published every day, the best content is produced with keyword research, making sure you take the time to research what content already exists and what semantically-related keywords you can include in your content.
It’s also important to provide links to and from your content, to related articles and so on. This will help with internal linking on your own site, but also improve your content’s stature in the eyes of search engines, whereby highly regarded content will appear higher in search results. Don’t neglect your title too; the title of an article can warrant links from external sources as other content around a similar topic is being created.
You want immediate results
This is a big one! All too often I see businesses wanting immediate results from their content marketing efforts, to which the answer is always: “Keep dreaming”!
As mentioned in point five, content marketing is a long-term process, and research shows that it can take in excess of 30 months for content marketing results to be fully realised. That’s not to say you can’t get results before that, or that you won’t generate leads before month 30, but when committing to content marketing, you need to be committed to giving it at least 2 years of consistent effort to get the best traction possible.
Where is your content marketing failing?
Content marketing can be transformational to any business, and is a lead generation machine waiting to be utilised. But it takes serious commitment, consistency and determination to get the very best results.
Hopefully this blog post has helped you to understand what you need to do to overcome struggles with your content marketing. If you need further help, think about conducting a Content Audit using an industry professional to provide you with some strategic direction.