You’ve heard it a thousand times – ‘content is king’. Content sits smugly on its golden throne and rules over the marketing kingdom.
Content is at the centre of marketing strategies and comes into play in all aspects of inbound marketing, including SEO, social, websites, and branding. Content is everywhere and we consume it all the time. Seth Godin says that content marketing is the only marketing that’s left, and 94% of small businesses do content marketing. So it must be worth trying.
However, you’ve tried content marketing and done all that you’ve been told, but for some reason, you’re not getting results, and it just does not seem to be working. Your content efforts resemble the jester, not the king.
Here are 7 reasons why your content marketing probably isn’t working, and how to fix each one. Turn your content from the laughing stock to its rightful position at the head of the marketing kingdom.
1. You Have No Strategy
You know that you should be doing content marketing. So you post occasionally to your blog, leave the odd tweet, but have no real plan or goal for what you are doing.
Does this sound like you?
In order to really master content marketing and get results, you need a well-thought-out strategy.
You need a plan, and you need to have an idea of what you are doing with your content. It’s not enough just to create content for the sake of doing content.
Without a strategy, you’ll be wasting time and money.
How To Fix It
Your strategy should include KPIs, and what goal you want each piece of content to achieve, such as views, shares, traffic, leads, conversions, engagement and brand awareness. You must know what you want to achieve and how you will measure the results.
This strategy should also be aligned with your wider marketing strategy, so that you can form an integrated approach, because content impacts so many aspects of marketing, such as SEO and social media.
2. You’re Not Creating Content For Your Audience
You’re creating content that you think will appeal to your target audience or potential customers, whoever they may be.
But do you really know what your audience wants? Are you answering their questions? Are you tending to their deep and dark desires? Do you know your audience more than you know yourself?
Do you even know who your audience is? Are you focusing on too large an audience? Or possibly the wrong audience?
How To Fix It
Decide on your target audience by focusing on a narrow niche and specific demographic. You can’t be everything to everybody. By staying focused, your content will be specialised, relevant and valuable to your audience.
Once you’ve done this, create different personas using Hubspot’s make my persona. Identify what your personas do, where they virtually hang out (social media, blogs, forums), and what weird stuff they’re in to.
You could also carry out market research by creating a survey or interviewing your customers to know exactly what they want.
To understand your audience through social media, use Followerwonk for Twitter or Facebook Audience Insights. Focus your social media attention on the platforms where your audience is most likely to be.
Use sites like Quora and relevant industry forums to discover questions that people are asking about your topics – you provide the answer, build a relationship and trust and they might even use your service. At the very least other people with similar problems will be exposed to your expertise and may just need some help.
Google Trends will help you find out what’s trending, and where to direct your content. Search podcasts, blogs, forums and sites related to your industry, and you can then advertise on these sites, contribute to discussions, and submit content to them.
3. Your Content Is The Same As Everyone Else’s
If your content is not distinguishable, then it will be lost in the overwhelmingly crammed content crowd and won’t stand out as something worth reading.
What’s more, your content might just not be something that anyone would want to read. It might be dull, tedious or just plain boring.
This sort of content could not only avert potential customers away but reflect you as a boring brand that no one wants to engage with.
How To Fix It
Make your content more exciting, interesting, thought-provoking, and make sure it’s communicated effectively. Your customers have problems that your business helps to solve – focus on helping your audience relieve these pains and achieve their goals.
Even if you are considered a boring business, approach your ideas and topics from different angles to provide your target audience with something worth paying attention to.
Say something different to your competitors, be original, provide an opinion, contrast a point of view. Use your unique brand voice, be fun, have flair and make your readers want to use you as a business.
Don’t just blog, use pictures, slides, podcasts, infographics, videos, the list goes on. A successful content piece can be repurposed in all of these different media formats for greater exposure. And don’t forget the CTA.
Communicate your values, address the pains of your audience, be memorable and make people want to come back for more.
4. Your Content Is Not Search Engine Friendly
You could be applying black hat methods such as keyword stuffing and duplicate content, using the wrong keywords, not making the most of your meta description, or your content may just not be worth linking to.
How To Fix It
Use the white hat, organic methods of promoting your content. Write for humans and lightly sprinkle over some SEO smarts.
Install a plugin that will help you optimise your SEO such as Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. Use your meta description and title tag to draw searchers to your content. Keywords are important here but readability is most important, so don’t keyword stuff. Just write naturally and your keywords will find their way into your content.
Search engines value quality content written for humans. If your content is valuable, more will link to it, pushing its rank higher and increasing its chance of gaining other high-quality, trusted links relevant to your business.
Also, make sure your content is UX (user experience) friendly and easy to navigate. If your content is not user-friendly, potential customers won’t stay on the page and won’t pay attention to it. This affects your rank and leads people away from your content.
Ultimately, search engines want to deliver epic content that users love and old-fashioned keyword stuffing and over optimisation techniques don’t work in 2016, so don’t ruin readability at the expense of some perceived SEO benefit.
5. You Don’t Promote Your Content
Content marketing is easy, I’ll publish my post on my blog and wait whilst the traffic pours in and converts customers. Again, does this sound familiar?
If only it were that easy.
Content creation is only part of the battle, the other part is promoting it. Even if you have the best piece of content ever, no one is going to read it if they can’t access it.
It’s content marketing remember, and this includes creation and distribution.
You can’t just let it sit on your blog, where no one can find it hidden away. If no one can read it, no one will engage, and you may as well have not created it at all.
How To Fix It
Doesn’t your great content deserve to be read? Try these outreach methods to increase your reach:
- Tweet it & retweet it – tweets only last for 18 minutes
- Post it to Facebook and schedule repeated shares
- Include a link to it in your email newsletter
- Republish it onto your blog if information needs updating
- Post to Google+
- Ask your team to post it on their personal social media profiles
- Share it on Linkedin
- Tell everyone you mentioned in the post to tap into their audience via share
- Send the post to sites that do weekly/monthly link roundups
- Add internal links to the article in your previous blog posts
- Include click-to-tweet options for notable points within your article
- Share the link to community sites such as Reddit
- Pitch to influencers and bloggers in the industry who can share your content
- Submit it as a guest post to bloggers in your industry
- Mention your content when commenting on blogs and forums
Content promotion is often the missing link in great content marketing – the write it and they will come mentality simply does not work for most smaller business blogs. You must write it and tell everyone you have written it and only then will the views, shares, and links that are critical to SEO success follow.
6. You’re Not Analysing Your Content Marketing
You’ve published your content, but do you know its metrics? How many shares or views has your content had? Has your content impacted leads or engagement?
You need to track whether your content has achieved its goals and marketed your business. You need to see that your content marketing is working.
You also need to analyse your content in order to see what’s working and what isn’t. You don’t want to carry on with the same method if it’s not working and not seeing the required results.
How To Fix It
Analyse your content’s performance. Measure the KPIs using tools such as Google Analytics, and make sure you’re getting an ROI.
Here are some KPIs to use to measure your content:
- Analyse email sign-ups, downloads of an ebook and trial sign-ups to measure leads and conversions.
- Track visitors to your site, bounce rate, page views and blog visits to measure traffic.
- Track social shares, likes, and follows to analyse social engagement and reach.
- Track inbound links to new content to aid overall organic search visibility
- Measure email opens, unsubscribes and forwards to determine the content of your email newsletter.
Decide which types of content work best for your audience and repeat what works, change what doesn’t.
You will have more misses than hits and it takes time to build an audience, so smart analysis of what is working with a continuous iteration of your strategy is critical to get the best possible results.
7. You Give Up With Content Marketing After Not Seeing Any Results
So you have a strategy, create and distribute quality and relevant content that is SEO optimised, and you track your metrics. You’re doing everything you’re supposed to but are still not getting anything back.
How To Fix It
Patience and persistence are key. Content marketing success does not happen overnight, but over a long period of hard work, as with organic SEO.
You have to keep producing and distributing content consistently in order to see results. You can’t just publish a few pieces of content, see nothing is happening, then give up.
If you don’t see any results, analyse your KPIs, alter your strategy and try something different next time around.
If done correctly, you’ll build customers and engagement over time and see long-term results through providing them with the content they desire and building relationships.
One More Thing
Let’s look at the definition of content marketing:
‘Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action’.
At the moment you may be creating and not distributing. Your content may not be valuable to your audience or you may have no objectives in place to drive action.
Therefore, by doing all of the things in this definition, you should be doing your content marketing correctly and should see results.
By identifying where you’re going wrong and fixing those issues, hopefully, your content should start seeing some results, and you’ll realise that content marketing can work for you too.
Create a strategy, create content for your audience, make your content unique, make sure it’s search engine optimised, promote it effectively, analyse your results and most importantly, don’t give up!
If you have any questions regarding your content marketing, please post them in the comments below or get in touch and we’ll answer them to help you get your content to where it should be – king.