While many companies are jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon (and for good reason), plenty are putting in the work and not seeing results. And although content development isn’t an instant ROI kind of channel, if you’ve been doing it for awhile and really aren’t seeing inbound leads or qualified sales pipeline production, you may be doing something wrong.
Here are 11 specific things we see most often in failing content marketing programs.
1. You write mostly about yourself
Your content marketing program is different from your PR. This isn’t a place to brag about your latest features, awards or hiring achievements. Focus on your customer – what they care about, the problems they need to solve. Even if it doesn’t have to do directly with what you’re doing or solving, customer-centric content is always where you want to start to attract attention, interest and repeat visits.
2. You’re entirely reactive
Creating opportunistic content – based on something that just happened in your industry – is always a good idea. But if that’s all you ever do, you’re missing an opportunity to drive specific themes and depth against topics your customers are particularly attracted to. What events are coming up in the next several months for your customers? What themes might be important to “own” in their minds over time? Build a strong content plan and editorial calendar to start with. You won’t always stick with it, but it’ll make more of your content more valuable and sticky.
3. You leave a bunch of dead ends
If your prospects gets to the end of the blog post or video and has nothing left to do, they’ll leave. You don’t always have to ask the prospect to sign up for a demo or show interest in your product, but there should be something else for them to engage in. The next article in a series? A video going further into a particular problem? A Best Practice Guide offering more content on the same topic? No dead ends.
4. Your copy is written entirely for SEO
The SEO experts will tell you to add a certain “keyword density” for your targeted search phrases in your copy. They’ll tell you to write a certain length, with headers, and lots of other specifics. And they’re right. But if your copy is written entirely with SEO in mind, what you might end up with is choppy, hard to read, and something that fails to create a bond between you and the prospect. It might attract search traffic, but your conversion will suffer as a result.
5. You create it but don’t promote it
Just because you create content doesn’t mean people will find it. Over time, the search engines may like what you’ve created and start pointing traffic to you. But until then, you have to promote what you’ve created on your own. Use your social channels, your email lists, ask your team to add a link to their LinkedIn updates, etc. Feel free to get more aggressive with meatier pieces of content (white papers, for example).
6. You create but do not participate
Please tell me you have comments turned on. And when someone comments, do you respond? Within reason, you should be the most active commenter on your own blog. The more you engage with your readers, the more they’ll want to come back to you again and again. Show that you’re willing to be an active members of the community, not just a one-sided “teller”.
7. Your content is too hard (or too easy) to get to
Offering your prospects a ton of free content is a great way to attract more attention and visits. But you need to have premium, advanced content in parallel that requires a light registration. Conversely, you don’t want to gate all of your content just because you can. Prospects will happily register and give you their contact information if they already trust you. So find the right balance between free content and gated content.
8. Legal has to review & edit everything
Not every legal department neuters content to death. But that’s not even the real point here. If everything you want to publish needs to go through a legal review process, it’s difficult to stay fresh. Want to lend your voice to a hot industry issue that just came up this morning? If you’re waiting for legal review, you might miss the boat.
9. Your content is boring
I’m not even sure brochures and formal sales collateral should be written in a stuffy way. But most of us, when we start writing business content, start talking in a way that’s entirely different than how we’d address someone face to face. To sound familiar, to build trust and rapport, write the way you talk. Create content that makes you feel and sound human, like someone your prospect might enjoy spending time with.
10. You’re too hard to follow
So I like what you’ve written. Your videos are awesome. Your perspective is always well represented. Do you make it easy to follow? Is it crystal clear how prospects can add your RSS feed to their reader, or follow you on one of your social channels? Amazing to me how many blogs make it really difficult to get notifications when new stuff is posted.
11. You don’t have objectives in the first place
Why are you doing this? Is it about brand awareness? Is it purely lead generation? How will you measure success? This is the first question you should ask, and answer it regularly to ensure you’re getting the results you expect.