Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Never Works Out

Frustrated Marketer
Content marketing can be frustrating when nothing seems to be going right.

Every content marketing strategy is different, and every business faces its own challenges. Addressing every one of these challenges in a blog post is impossible, but there are a few common faults that can be highlighted.

These are some of the most common mistakes I see preventing the content marketing efforts of companies from bringing in leads.

Below are 7 common reasons why content marketing strategies fail and how you can adjust your own strategy to start succeeding.

1) You Don’t Actually Have A Strategy

About 56% of B2B marketers report that they do not have a documented B2B strategy.

This is a problem.

The landscape of the web is constantly changing. The only way to continue to develop valuable, engaging content is to have a long-term strategic focus. It’s easy to stray off path without a plan, and that’s the last thing you want to do.

When your organisation decides to pursue content marketing, it’s hard not to jump right into it. Instead of hurrying, scale things back to take a big picture look. The difference between a successful content campaign and unsuccessful one is often the time that was put into developing a strategy.

The time and energy you put in upfront will set you up to succeed.

Action Steps:

  1. Step back for a moment and ask yourself, where I am going with my content strategy? How am I going to get there? What is my focus?
  2. Know what goes into a good strategy and how you can develop one.

2) You’re Not Tracking Properly

Don’t ignore your site statistics. They’re valuable information you can use to see which posts are popular among your audience and which types of content they like most. You can determine how users are entering their site, why they’re leaving, and if they’re sharing across the social network.

There is plenty of premium software out there to track website stats. Even free software like Google Analytics can be a powerful tool, but only if you understand what the stats mean and how to use them to improve your content.

Not tracking your content is like shooting in the dark. You may hit your target once in a while, but you’re probably not consistently getting better.

Action Steps:

  1. If you haven’t, install web analytics software on your blog or website. They make it really easy these days.
  2. Consider tracking these 9 important metrics.
  3. Invest in a few SEO tools. They’ll make life easier.

3) You Haven’t Defined Your Audience

It’s safe to say that not everyone will respond in the same way to your content. A group of lawyers is going to respond differently to an article than a group of teachers.

Without first understanding who your audience is and what they value, you can’t begin to create engaging content.

You wouldn’t launch a new product without a target market in mind would you?

Define an audience, and get to know their online habits so you can better target their needs. Find out what sites they visit and what conversations they are having.

What types of content do they like? What social media platforms are they using? Are they mobile users or not? What kinds of content are they already engaging with and how are they engaging with it?

Action Steps:

  1. Define your audience and identify their most important characteristics.
  2. Give them content that they would value based on those characteristics.
  3. You can’t be everything to everybody, so find an audience and do your best to give them content they’ll appreciate.

4) You’re Making Comparisons Not Goals

Comparison is the thief of joy . . . and success.

Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to the big guys who are pulling in hundreds of thousands of visits each month. They probably have different goals than you, and they are probably using different means to achieve those goals.

For example, having a goal to retain customer loyalty requires creating different content than having a goal to increase the overall number of leads. For loyalty you might focus on e-newsletters, while for leads you would want to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through blog posts or case studies.

You have to set the right goals for your company without worrying about the goals of your competitors. You never know what’s happening behind the scenes on other sites.

Action Steps:

  1. Reevaluate your goals—make sure you have a path to follow and something to aim for.
  2. Determine which types of goals are best for your overall strategy.
  3. Be wary of comparisons, because every business is trying to achieve something different.

5) Your Headlines Are Boring

Writing catchy headlines is really important. They’re the first impression users get of your brand. There’s no sense putting effort into creating a solid blog post only to slap on a title that doesn’t entice customers to want to read it.

With just a few words, you have to communicate your article’s value. You have to answer the customer’s internal question, what will reading this do for me? It’s up to you to convince them to choose you over all the other surrounding articles.

Take one look at Feedly’s interface and you’ll understand why a title is so important.

Feedly Screenshot

There are all sorts of different ways to phrase a title. Brain Clark at CopyBlogger outlines a few of the best ways to communicate value through a well-constructed title.

Action Steps:

  1. Create a system like Brain Clark to make writing headlines more efficient.
  2. Analyse the top headlines in Google to see what is working for your keywords right now.
  3. Don’t skimp out on the title. Make your article clickable!

6) You’re Not Solving Problems

Customers aren’t typically looking for information just to look for information. More often than not, if they’re poking around the web, they have a problem that needs solving.

That problem could be as small as needing to know how many cups of sugar are in a recipe or as large as needing to find information on a new car.

The value in an article comes from how well you solve a customer’s problem, and if you’re not solving those problems, you probably won’t see a lot of repeat visitors.

Problem solving is the biggest challenge content marketers face. It’s not easy to continuously solve problems, but it’s necessary. It’s what keeps most content strategies from taking off and being successful.

Action Steps:

  1. Create a customer profile to better understand what problems your customers might be having.
  2. Start by answering these questions: Who is your audience? What frustrates them? What worries them? What would make their lives easier? What do they expect from your company?
  3. Figure out what problems your customers might be having and then solve them!

7) You’re Talking, Not Engaging

You’ve got a lot of content. It solves problems, and it’s targeted toward a specific audience, but is it actually engaging?

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in constructing the perfect content that we forget what content marketing is all about—engagement.

Are you having a conversation?

For many organisations, the goal is to get as many followers as possible, but the sheer number of followers doesn’t always lead to engagement.

Instead, the goal should be to engage with as many followers as possible, whether that’s 300 users or 3,000. It’s better to engage more with fewer customers than is to engage less with more customers.

It’s the old adage quality over quantity.

Action Steps:

  1. Re-evaluate your content. Are you asking enough questions? Are you seeking customer input? Are you responding to that input?
  2. Identify the users in your community that engage most with you.
  3. Focus your content efforts on them, and eventually a loyal community of followers will appear.

8) You Forget The “Marketing” In Content Marketing

There is a general rule with content marketing called the 80-20 rule of content marketing.

It means that you should spend 20% of your time researching, writing and publishing your post and 80% of your time marketing the post.

This surprises some people, but it’s the reality of the content marketing world today. There is so much competition online that having great content isn’t good enough anymore. You need to help your great content get discovered.

Sharing your post on your social media channels is the first step, but it’s often not enough.

Build your followings on those social media channels.

Get your blog readers to subscribe to your email newsletter.

Link to other posts written by popular influencers in your niche.

There are a number of things you can do.

Here are actions steps you can take right now to market your latest piece of content.

Action Steps:

  1. Link to influencers in your industry and email them with a link to your post.
  2. Feature a brand that shares the same audience and share your post with them on social media.
  3. Purchase traffic with StumbleUpon or Outbrain.

Final Thoughts

I could add even one more common fault to this list: not being patient.

A content strategy takes time to develop. You’re probably not going to see leads right away. You’re probably not even going to see a great ranking. For a while, it’s hard to know if your strategy is actually working, which is what makes content marketing challenging.

Don’t worry. If you take into consideration these common mistakes, you’re content strategy is already on the right track. Keep learning. Keep improving your strategy. Stay patient, and eventually you’ll see results.

What mistakes have plagued your content strategy in the past and what did you learn from them?

Share with us in the comments.

Image: Flickr