Is it time to get more aggressive with your content marketing?

If search results are disappointing, feedback is meager (or nonexistent) and sales are lagging, it’s time for a tune-up—or maybe an overhaul. Here’s what to look for and how to fix it.

Content marketing is essential in business today.

Now that both audiences and commerce are online, it’s crucial that you produce engaging, high-quality digital content to attract those audiences to your site.

That content should include diverse content types—consistent blogging, social media marketing, guest-contributed content, video—but simply creating this content and putting it online aren’t enough. You must tie metrics to content goals and use those data to find out what’s working and what’s not.

Here are seven key signs to help you determine whether your efforts require a more aggressive approach:

1. The analytics aren’t adding up.

One obvious gauge to determine whether your content is attracting attention is page views. Most content management systems offer built-in analytics, but it’s good practice to track your content’s performance and offer your own analysis to get a full picture and draw your own conclusions.

For example, WordPress enables you to access basic records in view count and visitors, yet it’s difficult to track referrals or the time spent on each article. As post clicks alone aren’t a good representation of engagement, it’s impossible to get a realistic overview without additional stats. Using a third-party tool, such as Google Analytics, can give you a more comprehensive view of what’s working.

2. Search engines aren’t yielding the results you want.

Search engines rely on content, which makes your organization’s content especially important for SEO and ranking purposes. If you aren’t showing up on at least the first few pages of search results, that should be a red flag regarding your strategy.

Review SEO best practices for better content to get your strategy back on track, and consider a few tools to give you a richer understanding of your ranking:

  • Moz created the Domain Authority metric, used by plenty of marketers to predict rankings, and its range of SEO tools can help you figure out how your content compares against content on other websites and pages.
  • Using a virtual private network or incognito browser will give you an objective view of your ranking. Without this, your results can be affected by your location, regularly visited sites and tailored advertising.
  • SEMrush gives you a detailed breakdown of your ranked keywords, plus a backlink checker and a full site audit.

3. You’re not getting feedback.

The adage “any publicity is good publicity” is still true. Obviously, marketers welcome positive, encouraging feedback and comments on content, but don’t shy away from less-than-positive feedback. Many brands delete negative (yet constructive) feedback, even though disagreement can spark conversation and engagement.

What if your posts aren’t getting positive or negative feedback? If your posts generate nothing in the comments section, it’s time to be more direct with your tactics. A simple approach is to invite readers to share their opinions.

Ensure your posts are relevant, touch on trends or global events, and showcase that you’re taking a stance on a topic—not just saying what everyone else is. Most important, commit to addressing comments and answering questions; no one will invest in your ideas if they feel you won’t offer them the same courtesy.

4. You’ve got only fair-weather fans.

If your site is getting lots of views but few subscriptions or conversions, you could be experiencing a surge of one-time visitors. Encouraging return visits and developing a stable readership are the keys to success in content marketing.

Keeping visitors around means giving them incentive to come back. Aside from consistently good content (which you should be publishing), incentives might include a content series, giveaways, competitions or compelling e-newsletters. To encourage email subscriptions and limit churn, you can even consider producing exclusive content for your email subscribers.

5. Your sales are low.

A successful website with loads of traffic is useless if you aren’t turning those visitors into leads and sales. If that’s the case, it’s time to get more aggressive.

The conversion from reader to customer is a crucial metric—one that deserves significant focus. If you’re slipping up here, it could be that you need a clearer audience for your content, a better user interface or obvious contact details to inspire trust. Don’t forget to collaborate with the sales team to create content that cultivates sales.

6. Your social media is silent.

Any good marketer knows how to set up a basic social media campaign, but generating results takes more than that basic effort. You must actively manage your online community.

If you’re not seeing the engagement you want, try these tactics:

  • Focus on the platform that generates the best results. Countless platforms are available, and it’s nearly impossible to master them all. Direct your attention to what works best, and master that first.
  • Join online groups. Niche social media groups will share your content if you return the favor.
  • Hire a team. Social media marketing is labor-intensive. Once you have a social media strategy, bringing on enough team members to do the work is essential.

7. Your guest content isn’t taking off.

By producing guest posts for other sites, you can create a web of backlinks leading to your domain while building influence, which makes guest content a vital piece of your strategy.

If you are guest-posting but not seeing good results, one of these problems might be to blame:

  • You published one article on a site and haven’t been asked to contribute again.
  • You’re publishing on sites that don’t reach your target audience.
  • The comments and social media shares on your articles are low.
  • You’re not getting referrals to your site.

Content marketing is a formidable tool for your brand—if it’s used properly. Merely hoping for the best is not going to cut it.

How can you know whether your strategies are working if you’re not regularly monitoring success and amping up your efforts when you should be?

Use these points to assess your content and determine whether your efforts are paying off. What are the signs telling you? What changes will you be making soon? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section.

A version of this post first appeared on Influence & Co.

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