A failing content marketing strategy is, unfortunately, fairly common in the realm of digital marketing.
This occurs for a few reasons: The first being that most content marketers struggle attempting to quantify a content strategy that actually DOES work.
The other issue is that content marketers often give up producing and promoting content before they give their content a realistic timeline to produce results.
Often, what I call “The Content Marketers Dilemma” goes something like this:
“How do you know if your content is ineffective, or if you just aren’t being patient enough?”
Ultimately, by the end of this article, you’ll have an excellent idea as to why your content is failing, and what you can do to improve it!
With the following 5 common content marketing issues (and their solutions) you can feel confident that the content you employ and promote will produce great results for a long time to come!
What is a “Failing” Strategy?
The truth is, “failing” is a relative term.
A “failing’ strategy is essentially one that doesn’t produce the INTENDED results, whether the actual results are good or not.
Think about it this way, your content needs to exist because it produces a planned and controlled result that affects your organization’s bottom line.
The ways you go about achieving this need to be mapped out and strategized before they can be put into an effective content marketing strategy.
I’ll tell you a little secret…
We’ve all been in that boat before!
When I first started working in content creation, I had no direction, no strategy, and no writing skills.
In fact, I didn’t even know the first step about how to create a strategy around content creation or promotion.
But as I worked harder, learned more, and helped more people achieve great results through content, I’ve been able to find out what works (and what DOESN’T) when creating an effective strategy.
The following 5 tips are by FAR the most common issues I see with failing content marketing strategies.
Avoid them like the PLAGUE (or like Covid).
Whether you are attempting to maintain consistency in your clientele, consumer base, or revenues, these tips will help you in every stage of the process.
As the Pareto Principle goes, the solutions to these 5 simple issues will be the 20% that results in 80% of growth and success for you content!
So, let’s learn the most common problems of a failing content marketing strategy (and what you can do to resolve them!
Problem #1: You Haven’t Clarified Goals
Part of the reason that failure is subjective (like I mentioned earlier) is because you haven’t defined what success looks like for your content strategy.
This, respectively, leaves “failure” to become the default option.
After all, without defining success, how do you know when targets are met? How do you even MEASURE those targets in the first place?!
You can’t, and that’s the problem.
Every successful content marketing strategy needs to have an overarching goal or objective.
Each goal or objective needs to be matched with relevant KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to ensure that you can quantify your results and meet your objectives.
This is the BARE MINIMUM.
Although there are a litany of detailed content marketing objectives, I’ll list off the two largest ones to give you a springboard off of which you can choose your goals.
Generally, a content strategy always attempts to improve one (or both) of these two things.
1: To increase brand authority/awareness.
2: To improve SEO and “Search-ability.”
These two simple considerations make up the bulk of almost every content marketing objective that you can employ.
There is obviously some overlap here (you can use SEO on authority-based content), but your main objective needs to be considered in terms of which performance indicators that you want to employ and track.
Let me define some goals for you and their relevant indicators:
Awareness: Web Traffic, Referral Traffic, Subscription Sign-Ups, Social Shares.
Brand Consideration/Penetration: Leads, CTR (Click Through Rates), Open Rates, Conversion Rates Per Content, Time-On-Site.
Increased Conversions: Conversion Rate, Average Sale Amount, Average Revenue Per Sale, Cost Per Acquisition.
Loyalty: % Repeat Customers, Up-Selling, Retention Rate.
As you can see, many of these content marketing goals have varying unique KPIs with which to track and measure their effectiveness.
This will help you choose and estimate some of the target goals for improving your content strategy and quantifying its value!
Problem #2: You Promote Only Once
I’ve written extensively about this issue regarding what I call “single-use content.”
You can read the full article (and watch my video) on my personal website HERE.
Essentially, single-use content is content that you create and promote only once, then leaving it to focus on creation without squeezing all of the life that you can out of that piece of content.
This is a HUGE waste and is very inefficient.
Falling into this trap likely means that you will continue spending lots of effort and time creating content, yet never see the results that content can bring when it is well-promoted.
In fact, promotion makes up the largest factor of content-success.
Most people that I have consulted for have increased revenues and conversion by as much as 20% merely because they have put into place a dedicated promotion strategy that makes the logistics behind posting and promoting much more organized and easily understood.
It is commonly stated in the content marketing industry that 80% of your time should go into PROMOTING content, and not just creating it.
This is because promotion is simply much more effective in contributing to the bottom line.
Generally, there are two main issues that contribute to “single-use content.”
The first one is the lack of a dedicated promotion strategy.
Having no promotion strategy with which to organize your content-promotion timelines will inevitably cause confusion, missed deadlines, and over (or under) posting to various content channels and platforms like social media.
When you create as much content as I have, it is SO easy to get lost in remembering what you posted and to where, which leaves you to become overwhelmed and avoid posting anywhere!
This isn’t good, obviously.
The second-largest issue with single-use content is creating content that doesn’t TRANSFORM into other content formats.
Here’s what I mean: Transforming content is content that can be converted from a blog into a video, into a podcast, into images, and into white pages, checklists, and more.
The benefit of content that transforms is an increased continuity in your brand message, content, and offer, as well as decreased production times because you have less to create content topics for!
Think about it this way, the HARDEST part of creating content is finding a topic to talk about, right?
This is called writer’s block. In the content marketing industry, this is called “Blinking-Cursor Syndrome.”
Because that’s what happens, you are stuck there staring at a blinking cursor that represents all the endless possibilities of creativity and creation, but ONLY if you had a TOPIC.
This is why sharing content topics between various content formats is so effective.
You can essentially take a single topic and use it to create a week’s worth of content, in a single day!
Ultimately, what you need is a plan that combines the solutions to the two main issues of single-use content.
You need a step-by-step plan with which to detail your content-promotion timeline AND the conversion process.
For example, here’s a common timeline:
Step 1: Immediately upon content creation, post your original piece of content with your original topic to social media that funnels people back to your OWNED media site.
Pro Tip: The length of your content will dictate how often you post. For example, you can post more often on Twitter (short-form content) than you should on YouTube (mid-to-long-form content).
Step 2: Paid promotion to niche social media audiences. Define your target audience by the social media platform you use. (The audience on Facebook is different than Instagram, etc.)
Step 3: Use content to reach out to influencers for sponsorships, features, backlinks, and more to benefit outreach and build industry relationships.
Step 4: Convert content into another format: Blogs to videos, videos to podcasts, etc.
Step 5: Repeat Steps 1-3
It may not be a perfect plan, every plan will be dependant on your specific and unique offer and brand, but you get the general idea!
Problem #3: You’re a Salesperson
Nowadays, consumers have the power.
Due to the wide commercial availability of the internet, consumers now hold the ability to choose when and where they engage with a brand.
This is both a great thing, and a horrible thing for many brands out there, and for a few key reasons.
The main reason is that brand’s can no longer “force” marketing messages onto people the same way they could even just 20 years ago.
Try finding a person who can’t skip right past television commercials, or scroll right past your sponsored messages on social media.
It’s becoming harder and harder to maintain attractive and relevant consumer attention, but those brands who can become HUGE.
Here’s the point, consumers hate salespeople.
Heck, I don’t even like salespeople, despite the fact that I recognize respect for what they do and their amazingly undeterred attitudes towards rejection.
But here’s the thing, consumers have the power to ignore.
And trust me, it’s REALLY easy to ignore on the internet.
Our attention spans have decreased from 15-20 minutes 50 years ago to a mere and embarrassingly low 8 seconds today.
Merely because we are so inundated with content.
Producing content that does nothing but sell is going to put people off your brand for a LONG time, if not forever.
Think about it, how much do you trust the car salesman on that used car lot? Considering you know what their intentions are?
Nothing against used car salesman, but it’s the public PERCEPTION that makes that difference.
If your content consists only of reasons why you would be amazing to work with and how your product or service is the best and why everybody should do business with you, your consumers are’nt going to feel heard or valued.
That’s because you frame YOURSELF as the hero, not the consumer.
Donald Miller, the author of Building a StoryBrand and Marketing Made Simple states that the consumer wants to be the HERO.
But what they really need is a GUIDE who can help them perform some kind of transformation.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Are you not most worried about yourself and your own wants and needs?
This has nothing to do with being “selfish” and has everything to do with perspective.
Consumers are most concerned about THEMSELVES and you need to communicate that your brand is the guide to improving their lives.
Frame yourself as the hero, and the consumer feels like there is no place for them.
By writing “sales-based” content, you are trying to elicit a buying decision before demonstrating authority and building trust among your consumers.
And in the internet marketing sphere of influence, where consumers are shown competitive brands and messages every single day, trust is what will benefit you most.
A consumer wants to choose the brand they trust the most to deliver on the promise.
It’s hard to do that when you feel like you are talking to a salesperson who couldn’t care less about your results, but only your money.
Let me give you a small example in my own line of work that demonstrated to me, personally, that trust works wonders.
As a consultant, the brands that I work with are CONSTANTLY amazed at my willingness to understand and detail their situation.
I find that magic happens when you work as a consultant that ACTUALLY tries to resolve a consumers issues, putting them and their results first.
I often ask my clients about the things that they are most worried about if they were to hire me, then I take those concerns and begin working to alleviate them to ensure they can be comfortable with me as a consultant.
This small and simple preemptive gesture alone has amazed and made my services more valuable to every single one of my clients.
It shows a level of trust and vulnerability on my part, ensuring the client that they come first and that there is no “cookie-cutter” solution to complex organizational issues.
The point is, your consumers want to feel the same way. They want VALUE.
They want to know you listen and perform everything for the sake of their trust and delivering on the promise, and not for anything else.
That’s how you build trust, and acting like a digital salesperson in your content is a great way to LOSE it.
Problem #4: Your Expectations are Unrealistic
One of the best ways to ensure that you are disappointed with any and all things in life is to have unrealistically high expectations.
In terms of content marketing, most people expect far too much and far too quickly.
The best thing to keep in mind is that the benefits of content marketing follow a compounded curve (exponential growth).
That is to say, content marketing requires a lot of time, commitment, and energy before you start to see results that make all the effort worth it.
But you’ll only see results by remaining consistent and keeping the quality on par.
Let’s move back to what I said earlier about the two main goals of content marketing strategies.
SEO, on average, takes a MINIMUM of 4-6 MONTHS of consistent and quality content creation and SEO optimization before you begin to see results towards your bottom line.
That may seem like a long time, but get this, that content and SEO continue to COMPOUND itself for as long as you create content.
Which, in turn, provides inexpensive organic outreach and the authority that you want.
And this will continue for ever, just as long as you are continuing to produce.
This is the power of a compounding timeline, and the truth is, most people expect far too much at the beginning of their content creation journey.
They assume that their hard work will be immediately rewarded, but it WON’T, not unless you spend some heavy money on promotion.
This is why most content creators quit, they don’t feel the immediate gratification of their efforts.
This lack of immediate gratification, uncovered through unrealistic expectations, is what causes the inconsistency, frustration, and poor content quality that plagues the future of the content marketing strategy.
I’m sorry to announce that, if your organization is in desperate need of quick revenue, an organic content creation strategy likely won’t get it for you.
A paid SEM/PPC sales funnel might, however!
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the hardest parts about being a content creator is not knowing whether a strategy works until farther in the distant future when you can begin to measure results at the 4-6 month line.
However, deciding to give up on a content marketing strategy due to this hardship, despite the benefits that come along with one, will ensure that you NEVER see results.
Problem #5: Your Content Isn’t Valuable
YOU are likely the creator of the content and the seller of the product or service.
You create content that you believe is worthy of awards, but there is one problem:
Your intended consumer base doesn’t agree.
The truth is, there is a huge difference between providing “real” value and what I call “fake value.”
Put simply, real value is information that is created with the SOLE FUNCTION of aiding your consumer base in resolving their problem.
Either by giving them actionable steps or greater amounts of understanding.
“Fake” value is “value” that is made by the content creator that only wishes to engage in a transactinoal relationship.
Much like the issue of becoming a salesperson in your content, providing “fake” value is the same as providing confusing or inaction-able pieces of information with the goal of getting the consumer to engage with you or your brand.
Here’s why this never works, and why you should be VERY careful when creating content, lest you subconsciously implement this “fake” value unwittingly.
Providing value that is limited to somebody with the scope of knowledge or experience that you do (considering you are the “brand ambassador” when you create content) will ensure that the jargon you use and the topics you write about are not going to relate to the consumers issue.
Unfortunately, most brands create content that can be chalked up to nothing more than a ploy for getting increased conversions.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we want conversions, but the problem is that consumers see this content as irrelevant to their issues or understanding.
In other words, it confuses them because they lack the depth of knowledge and clarity as to how your brand can actually help them.
They GAIN that knowledge and clarity when you make content that provides actual value, that value solidifies the authority of your brand as it relates to the consumer.
Put simply, if your content can’t resolve a consumer concern, provide useful information, or actionable steps to resolving the problem, then consumer interest will fall off the charts.
Obviously, we DON’T want that to happen.
There’s never been any damage done by giving away relevant information to the consumer, if anything, all it does is further enforce that you are the authority that understands the consumers issues, and you become the “go-to” to resolve that problem.
For example, as a content marketer and consultant, what if instead of titling this post to target the people I help, I titled it something completely different?
Effective Title: Why is My Content Marketing Failing to Get Results?
Ineffective Title: My Content Marketing Services
Which of these do you think provides the most valuable information that actually helps my consumer without the expectation of reciprocation?
The first one, obviously.
This is hoe you begin to build trust and loyalty before even entering a formally transactional relationship.
All in all, here are the five most common issues in failing content marketing strategies.
Take a good long look at your own content marketing strategy, do any of these points hit home?
How could you take the suggestions therein to further define, clarify, or augment your current strategy with measurable objectives and useful content?
How can you efficiently promote and transform that content in a way that matches brand recognition and create consistency in your message?
That’s the key to it all!
1: You Haven’t Clarified Goals
2: You Promote Only Once
3: You’re a Salesperson
4: Your Expectations Are Unrealistic
5: Your Content Isn’t Valuable
I hope I’ve been able to help you and your content marketing strategy today, as always if you need any personal help or want to schedule a call with me, I’d love to talk with you!
Many thanks and happy creating!
- Austin Denison.