If “dead in the water” describes your content marketing campaign, you are in big trouble.
How do you know when your campaign is headed for the rocks? How do you fix it?
Here are some reasons why content marketing campaigns fail, and how to fix them:
1. You don’t know who you’re talking to.
If your audience is nebulous, then your content marketing campaign will be, too. If you have all the tools but just aren’t getting the results you expect, it might be because you don’t have a clear understanding of who your target customers are.
2. Your strategy is in pieces, or you don’t have a strategy.
You wouldn’t build a house or business without a plan, so why would you try to connect with your audience without one?
If you’re putting out content but not getting the return you expect, it might be because you haven’t defined your goals and determined how the individual pieces fit into the whole.
The fix: Create a strategy. There are some excellent content marketing guides from the Content Marketing Institute, Hubspot and KISSmetrics to get you started. Be sure to check out the one by Neil Patel and Kathryn Aragon, too.
Don’t forget to include measurement (number of shares, downloads or clicks), because if you don’t measure, you won’t know if the strategy is working.
3. Your content doesn’t have context.
If you were surprised by the Google Hummingbird news or any recent online developments, it’s a sign that your content marketing strategy exists in a vacuum. You won’t find content marketing success unless you have a way to hook your content to the hot topics of the day.
Did you notice how many people published posts about twerking and Miley Cyrus? If you can tie your content to something that’s trending, there’s a better chance people will read and share it.
The fix: Use social media monitoring tools, but instead of just tracking the number of fans and followers you have, look at trending topics and use them to hook your readers. Social Mention, Google Trends and Memebase are good places to start.
4. Your content isn’t unique.
However, relying solely on trends can drive away your audience, too; you risk producing content that isn’t unique. It’s fine to examine what works and repeat it, but if you do it too often you’ll end up boring the people you originally attracted.
The fix: For inspiration, try taking two opposing concepts and seeing how you can put them together. You could also do some mind mapping to brainstorm topics. Here’s a good guide to doing so.
5. Your content is self-centered.
Maybe your content marketing is failing because you’re only focusing on the promotional channel you feel most comfortable with, or are only producing the content you like best.
No one cares if you want to write a lot of short posts on topics that interest you. Your audience wants to know what’s in it for them. Audiences want you to entertain them with interactive content, humor, memes, video, infographics and even games. Others want long-form content that satisfies their hunger for a meaty read.
The fix: Learn how to repurpose the information you love to write about into products your audience wants-just avoid overt promotion.
6. Your site has a high bounce rate.
If you have a high bounce rate, it means people aren’t sticking around to view your content. There are many technical reasons for a high bounce rate, but it could also be the way your content is formatted.
Large blocks of text aren’t easy to navigate. You need to make copy attractive and sticky.
The fix: Entice readers with great headlines and subheads. Keep paragraphs short and simple, and link to authoritative resources (some of them should be on your own site). Make the package even better with appealing images, and people will want to stick around.
7. You don’t include calls to action.
What do you want people to do when they read, view or listen to your content? Your content marketing strategy (see No. 2) should lay this out.
If your readers aren’t doing what you want them to, it could be because there’s no clear call to action, or the one you have isn’t appealing.
The fix: Split test everything, and use what works.
8. Your content isn’t socially optimized.
For Web users, there’s nothing more annoying than wanting to share a piece of content and having to do it manually. It’s also frustrating to try to use the buttons on the site only to find that they don’t work. Most people will only give you one chance to get this right before they go elsewhere.
The fix: If you haven’t already, check your analytics and see where people share your content. Then make sure you have the appropriate buttons so they can share at will.
Check out how Backlinko included social buttons to the side of its posts for easy sharing:
And for goodness’ sake, please include your Twitter handle so people don’t have to type it in.
9. Your content isn’t optimized for mobile.
It’s a fact that more and more people are using mobile devices to consume content. How does your content stack up? If you’re still creating content that’s only optimized for desktop viewing, you’re a dinosaur.
The fix: Put a responsive WordPress theme on your site so your content looks good on any device, or create a mobile-adapted site that’s easy to navigate from a touch screen. Smartphone and tablet users will thank you.
10. You don’t track results.
When you put out content, do you know what kind of reaction it gets? There are dozens of tools out there that can help you figure out what works based on comments and social shares.
The fix: No matter which analytics tool you use, you need to keep track of engagement and reach to see how you are connecting with your audience and which pieces of content have and haven’t hit the mark.
Address these 10 issues, and you’ll have a good chance of rescuing a stagnant content marketing campaign. You just may create one your competitors will envy.