Content marketing makes up a huge part of most brands’ marketing strategies. It can yield incredible results that impact all areas of your business and its online presence… but only if you do it right.
While many brands all over the world are reaping the benefits of their content marketing efforts, just as many are puzzled as to why it’s not working for them.
If you aren’t getting the results you want, there are 6 common reasons why your content marketing isn’t working. We’re going to look at each cause and solutions for how to fix them.
1. You’re Doing Content Marketing with No Goal
Most brands take on content marketing because they believe it will help their business, but sometimes, that’s as far as their strategy goes; they pump out blog posts and cross their fingers and see what happens. They don’t have more specific goals for their content marketing strategy, which is ultimately why it fails.
You need to ask yourself what you specifically want to achieve with your blog posts. Do you want to increase your sales, or get more leads? Showcase your industry expertise? Boost SEO rankings?
Caption: Trunkclub’s blog provides visitors with fashion advice, like how to pick out a pair of boots. In order to see their collection and full recommended outfit, users need to create an account and login, driving conversions and sign-ups.
You need to know what you want your content marketing strategy as a whole to accomplish, and then optimize each post for the specific goal you want it to accomplish; you can’t just go on autopilot and hope for the best.
To address this problem, you need to take a look at what you want your content marketing to achieve and come up with ways to optimize for those results. Doing thorough keyword research, using alt tags in images, and specifying meta descriptions can help you increase the changes of your content being indexed, for example. Placing clickable CTAs throughout your site to learn more about a product or sign up for your newsletter can drive sales and leads, and providing consistent, high quality content educating your readers can build your credibility.
2. You’re Content is Stagnant
If we find something that works once in our content marketing, it’s easy to want to stick to that, whether that’s a style of post or a certain subject. While this might work for a little while, but long term, users are going to get tired if they don’t feel like each post is offering them something fresh and new. Whether you’re only posting too-similar listicles or going over the same topic with little variation, you might lose viewers in favor of competitors that are more diverse.
While it’s important to figure out what works well for your audience, you still want them to feel like they need to read each post for fear that they’ll miss something if they don’t. Some strategies to prevent stagnation in your content marketing include:
- Featuring high quality guest posts from other industry experts
- Add infographics or videos
- Place interactive features (like polls or quizzes) in your content
- Share a mix of case studies, how-to information, and breaking industry news
- Check what’s trending now; Clearvoice has a great database of trending articles if you’re stuck and can connect you with high quality freelancer
Keep an eye on what’s working for you, and check in to your analytics frequently, as it can change before you know it.\
3. You Aren’t Tracking Results
Some businesses will run entire content marketing strategies without ever thoroughly tracking any of their results. Monitoring analytics of your content can tell you what’s working and what isn’t, and it can often give you a lot of insight into how to product better content over time.
Some important metrics to track include:
- Conversion rates, including leads or sales
- Bounce rate
- Engagement rates
- Page views
Tracking the activity on your website is important, but it’s also just as important to see how your content marketing is affecting your social media and email marketing campaigns. They’re all intricately linked together, so looking at the big picture is important, too.
There are a ton of great tools available to help you track all of this information about your content marketing; Google Analytics is a great go-to tool for all businesses, and will even show you where your best traffic is coming from and how they move through your site. Other tools let you create dashboards that pull analytic information from multiple sources, including Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, and ecommerce tools like Shopify.
4. Your Content is the Same as Everyone Else’s
There are tons of posts being put out every day; in this current climate of content overload, the question becomes how do you stand out? With a million posts about Facebook Ads or how to choose a wedding cake or best interview questions to ask, how is yours going to be different?
Ultimately, you need to decide how you’re going to be different, and what you can uniquely offer readers that no one else can. Even if it’s just your writing style and your voice that’s unique, something has to be special.
There are a few ways you can write unique posts and lead magnets. One way to do this is to comb the internet and message boards for unanswered questions; if one question keeps getting asked over and over again, there’s clearly an audience and a demand for content that addresses it. Another great method of creating new posts is to take a broader idea, like “Ten Classic Wedding Menus” and focusing in on one niche idea that fits within it, like “Six Wedding Menus to Keep Your Gluten Free/Vegan/Paleo Friends Happy.”
Sometimes, creating content that’s different from everything else will rely on a combination of research and understanding (and fully embracing) your specific niche.
5. It’s Not Actionable
This is one of the biggest problems most content has; it’s so heavily theoretical, or there’s so much information overload, that users walk away from content thinking “well I still don’t know how to do any of that.” It’s like the manager that keeps telling salespeople “just sell more! Try harder!” As anyone who has ever worked in sales knows, this doesn’t actually ever help anything.
If you take a close look at a lot of how-to posts (or even content in general), they’ll talk about a problem or an idea but won’t show you to actually execute it. It therefore is rarely actually useful, and still leaves your readers wanting.
Your content should offer specific actionable content that users can make use of. This post, for example, is actionable by offering solutions to the problems that prevent success with content marketing. It’s the difference between the manager saying “you need to sell more” and saying “By showing the complementary product and showing them as a set, you’ll have bigger sales.”
Actionable content is valuable content, and that’s what will drive results.
6. It Feels like a Sales Pitch
While you can feature your products and place information and snippets of content to drive conversions, your content should not read like one long 1,000 word sales pitch. It doesn’t feel genuine, and in the age where “authentic content” is king, you’ll lose readers quickly.
We’ve all seen content that is so clearly created only to promote a product or an affiliate link, and the result is that readers are automatically less likely to trust it (and you).
Trademark Universal Stone’s blog post about whether granite is worth the return on investment is a great example of how to promote your products (theirs is granite) without making it read like a sales pitch.
If you’re going to promote a product or place affiliate links, it should almost never be the center of a blog post or lead magnet. Content marketing is about building a relationship with your customers, and if it reads like an advertisement, it won’t be effective.
Instead, subtle mentions of a product and a link and/or CTA to learn more are all that’s needed. You can also place a call to action at the very end of the post, encouraging users to contact you to learn how you can help them more.
Content marketing can work, and if you’re putting regular, consistent effort into it, it should be working. Even if your content worked for you in the past, maintaining an effort towards adaptability will keep you up to date on best industry, marketing, and SEO practices, keeping you moving in the right direction and giving you better results long term.