Content marketing has become a major part of marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes. But content marketing alone is not a silver bullet to problems and your business might find it a struggle to get the campaign working as intended.

Most Common Reasons Content Marketing Campaigns Don’t Perform

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In this guide, we’ll explain the most common reasons content marketing campaigns don’t perform and provide tips on how to steer your campaign in the right direction.

#1 YOU DIDN’T REFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES

According to an Altimeter survey, 70% of marketers don’t have a consistent content marketing strategy. But content marketing won’t work if you don’t have objectives you want to achieve with it. Starting content marketing without goals is a bit like shopping groceries without a list. Yes, you can do it, but you’ll probably end up buying too much and the products you bought might not make a great meal.

Having objectives defined will help you:

  • Create content that is more valuable. If you are more aware of what you want from your content marketing, you can create the content to fit around this objective. For example, content that aims to sell something looks different from content used purely for more link clicks.
  • Direct your content to the target audience. Different content appeals to different people and like with any marketing, you have to know what is the audience you’re trying to reach.
  • Select the right channels for delivering content. Content marketing can happen through different channels, from YouTube to guest blogging. By understanding your audience, you can also find the channels they are looking at.

When you start thinking about your content marketing objectives, focus on the following questions:

  • What is the ultimate goal? Is it to increase visitor numbers, get more people to join your subscription, or simply to sell a certain amount of products?
  • Who are the people you want to do the above with? Are you targeting professionals, students, adults, families, young people, and so on?
  • What are you going to consider a success? What about failure? You want to have tangible figures you can measure that will help you know how the campaign is going. Perhaps you want to receive 100 new sign-ups or sell 1,000 products within a month. Without knowing what you think is a success or indeed a failure, you can’t really say whether the campaign is performing or not.

#2 YOU DECIDED TO SKIP RESEARCH

Related to the above point is the need to conduct proper research. Content marketing has become such a buzzword that people tend to assume it always provides positive results and returns.

There are two assumptions you must avoid falling for:

  • Thinking that content is always valuable.
  • Surmising you know what the audience finds valuable.

Therefore, market research is a crucial part of content marketing. You need to be able to understand what the customer finds valuable, what kind of content are they looking for, and what are the channels and types of content that get them interested.

You must also analyze and examine your current and past content marketing with the help of analytics tools such as:

  • Google Analytics – demographics about your audience, how they engage and with what type of content.
  • Addvocate – data on who are the people sharing your content on social media. Can help with influencer engagement.
  • Quora – social network for questions and answers. Can help identify trends to use as content or help others by linking to your content.
  • Yoast – boosts your content’s search engine optimization.

In addition, you can also gain valuable data by using customer relations management systems (CRM). For instance, Really Simple Systems and Salesforce are worth checking out.

Overall, the key metrics you want to focus on include:

  • Web traffic or visits
  • Views and downloads
  • Lead quantity
  • Lead quality
  • Social media sharing

When devising your strategy pay attention to what happens to these metrics and compare different approaches.

#3 YOU THOUGHT QUANTITY TRUMPS QUALITY

Perhaps the most common sin amongst organizations is to assume quantity trumps quality in content marketing. The approach is not entirely wrong, as it used to be that getting as many links out there was the way to boost your search engine ranking. But nowadays, you must pay attention to the quality of your content.

Google, which is still the major search engine you want to focus on, emphasizes quality on its approach to page ranking and the search engine is rather open about it. “If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site” is one of the tips Google gives you.

In Hubspot’s Social Media Benchmarks Report in 2015, the marketing company examined social media methods and engagement levels in different industries. According to the report, there’s no positive correlation between the number of posts and interactions per post. In fact, the report stated, “if anything, there’s a very slight negative correlation between the two”.

Instead of being happy that you have tons of blog posts lining up, you need to focus more on the quality. Before hitting that Post-button, ask yourself:

  • Does this content provide real value to my customer? What?
    • Is it entertaining?
    • Does it inform them about something they might not have known?
    • Does it make it easier to use my product or service?
  • Would I read/watch this?
  • Is it something people want to share with others?
  • What is the reason for posting this? (Note: the answer is not to get new content out)

Start writing epic and great content, stop writing crap.

#4 YOUR CONTENT IS NOT APPEALING ENOUGH

Similar to the above point, you might also be making the mistake of creating content that isn’t appealing enough. As companies focused on quantity over quality, the Internet has become filled with all sorts of it. To be precise, around 2 million blog posts are published every single day.

Fighting for your place in the sun is therefore not an easy task and you will make it even harder if your content is dull and boring.

How can you appeal to people with your content?

  • Ensure you are writing content based on the target audience and their preferences.
  • Use the language or imagery that appeals to the target audience.
  • Hook them with an attracting headline. Whilst eight out of ten readers will read a headline, only two out of ten will continue to read the rest.
    • A good headline will create an emotion: shock, joy, laughter or outrage. “The business that stole $2,000
    • A good headline will highlight the usefulness and value of the text. “How to turn your start-up idea into reality
    • A good headline will instill curiosity without revealing the results. “We tried YouTube for a week and the results stunned us
  • Include different elements of content to your content, such as images, videos or charts. But make sure you only do so when they add value to your content.

LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community’s top three content marketing tactics also highlighted the benefits of varying content. According to the community, the best strategies involve blogging, social media and case study reports. Therefore, you can make your content more appealing and mix up your visitor base by changing your content strategies from videos to how-to guides and so on.

#5 YOU’RE NOT PROMOTING YOUR CONTENT

Even the most appealing content might struggle to yield results if you don’t focus on the other aspect of the strategy: marketing. You can’t just publish your content and wait for results, but you have to actively push it out there for the world to see.

Before you even publish your content, you should start creating networks with different blogs and forums related to your business, and the topic you are writing about. You want to let them know about your own blog or video channel, the topics you write or talk about and to suggest partnerships. You want other influencers within the industry to talk about your site and to share your content on their social media platforms.

Furthermore, you should consider sharing some of your ideas with these influencers before you share them with others to get more insight into what might work the best. If you have products to sell or a specific service on offer, you can allow them to experiment with it to get them excited about your brand as a whole.

As soon as you publish your content, you should contact these influencers, blogs and forums personally to mention your new content. You can email stating, “Hey, I thought you and your readers might find my new post/video on [topic] interesting. Do check it out and let me know what you think”.

Finally, you should always share your content on your own social media. Create a publishing schedule for different platforms to guarantee you share the content at least a few times a week. According to LinkedIn’s report, the most effective social media platforms to use are LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and SlideShare. These should therefore be high on your marketing agenda.

#6 YOUR CONTENT DOESN’T HAVE A CALL TO ACTION

Another big mistake is to create quality content, but without it leading to any kind of engagement afterwards. Even the best of sellers will eventually pop out the question, “Would you like to buy this?

Essentially, marketing is about ensuring people act after receiving the information, i.e. content. The call to action can be different things, depending on your objectives.

You might want to:

  • Include detailed information, including links, on where to buy the products. This should also include tips on using offers or other such perks available for buyers.
  • Ask the person to sign up to a membership or a newsletter.
  • Request to ensure the person ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ the content and easy methods for doing so.

When writing your call to action, you need to keep in mind a few essential points.

  • Focus on the context. Is the reader a first time visitor or someone familiar with the brand?
  • Keep the CTA short. You shouldn’t add multiple CTAs to your content. Only focus on one, depending on your goal and keep it short. Remember that your CTA will be at the bottom of the content, so the person won’t want to read or listen to a long story.
  • Place it strategically. Depending on the length and style of your content, you want to ensure the CTA is strategically placed and jumps positively at the viewer’s sight.

Finally, if you are having trouble with your CTAs it’s a good idea to test them. This can help you understand what types of CTAs works the best and where you should place them.

#7 YOU’RE SPENDING THE WRONG AMOUNT OF MONEY

A Curata study found that 75% of content marketers are set to increase their content marketing budgets. The content marketing software market is further expected to grow to over $32.3 billion by 2018.

As the spending grows, problems have also begun to occur around content marketing budgets. Content marketing campaigns can fail because of your budget.

There are two options when it comes to content marketing and budgets:

  • You are spending too little on your content marketing.
  • You are spending too much on your content marketing.

The first option generally happens when people expect content marketing to be a miracle cure for all problems. It can mean you also don’t properly understand the quality argument, but think you can have people churn out content for you almost free of charge and still receive amazing results.

On the other hand, you might be throwing money at a content marketing company, assuming that it’ll automatically drive results and guarantee quality content.

You need to understand that content marketing campaigns can cost money, but how much you are willing to spend or need to spend can depend on your individual situation.

The keys to budgeting for your content marketing are therefore:

  • To understand your objectives and goals.
  • To realize that creating quality content takes time. You might be able to save money if you are able to take this time and create the content; or you can hire a professional content marketing specialist to help you.
  • To know how to measure the quality of the content and the effectiveness of the campaign. Once you have your objectives and an idea of the timeline for achieving them, you can see whether the content you are creating is yielding results. If it isn’t, you want to look at whether you are spending too little, i.e. not creating enough quality, or spending too much on low-quality content.

While content marketing budgets are increasing, you should pay attention to the way you spend your money. If you aren’t receiving the results you want, money may or may not be the solution.

#8 YOU’VE GIVEN UP ON YOUR CONTENT MARKETING

If your content marketing efforts have not been working, you are probably going to find yourself at a crossroad. What can you do now? The options you have are:

  • To give up. (Tip: not the right answer.)
  • To keep doing what you are doing. (Tip: still not the right answer.)
  • To reassess, analyze and change tactic. (Tip: yep, the right answer.)

First, if you launched your content marketing strategy yesterday, but you aren’t seeing huge visitor numbers, you are doing it wrong. Most of the times content marketing is not about the immediate results, but long-term gains. There can be posts that are hardly read for the first six months, but then something happens and you suddenly have everyone sharing this single article/video/image.

If you find your content marketing struggling to gain headwind, go through the above points and see whether one of them applies to your strategy. If so, consider the tips above and do more research into the particular point. In addition, it might be something else, something unique to your content or business that’s holding you back. Identify the issue by examining your posts, analyzing your strategy and simply asking from your target audience about tips and ideas. You can even see what your competitors are doing and what are the posts/videos that provide them with the most shares or views.

Don’t start copying other people’s content, but do take notice of what is the style, the format, the subjects that seem to appeal to your audience. Tweak your content by trying longer or shorter posts, adding more images or videos, and so on. You can even try sharing and posting your content at different times to see if this cures your problems.

Above all, be critical of your campaign, but don’t despair. Readjust and change your strategies, but remember to be in it for the long haul.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There can be a number of reasons your content marketing campaign isn’t performing, but the above are definitely the first you should examine. Content marketing isn’t a magic pill to cure your marketing. But it’s a strategy you, want to try in today’s digital world. But like any marketing campaign, it requires careful planning and research in order for successful execution.

If you do find your campaign struggling, check the above points and analyze each aspect of your marketing strategy. Don’t forget to test and try different things to find the methods that work for your business.

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