Despite your best efforts, your content isn’t performing.
It might even be failing, and the reason(s) for it may remain elusive.
This is frustrating beyond belief, not to mention discouraging. (Head, meet desk.)
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You’ve heard over and over how successful content marketing can be (in CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Trends Report, 73% of respondents said their organization’s content marketing approach was either moderately or very successful) – so it’s even more disheartening when you can’t seem to get there yourself.
Luckily, content problems are common enough that we might be able to boil yours down to one or two (or a few) reasons why your content marketing creations aren’t working.
Read through these scenarios and see if any could apply to your content. Then, keep scrolling for tips to help you turn it all around so you see success the next time you roll up your sleeves to create.Are you having trouble seeing results from your content marketing? Here are 6 methods to help you re-focus for killer results, via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet
Your content failure might have happened because…
1. Your KPIs and Content Expectations Don’t Match Up
If your content expectations versus the reality of your KPIs (key performance indicators) present two wildly different pictures, something is up.
Either your content is flat-out failing or your expectations are too unrealistic to achieve.
Both scenarios require a reassessment of your approach, whether your content needs an overhaul or your expectations need tweaking.
2. You Don’t Have a Strategy
If you’re creating content on an ad-hoc, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants basis, this could be the major reason why it isn’t performing.
Without a content strategy, you won’t have a roadmap that leads to achieving your goals. It’s exactly like driving on a dark road without any directions or headlights.
One of the major ways a strategy helps your content is by laying out how each of your pieces maps to the buyer’s journey.
When a customer is able to find the exact type of content they need at the exact sales stage they’re in, it helps them move steadily down the sales funnel – closer to a sale with your brand, in fact, since it’s your content they’re engaging with.
Without this mapping guiding your content creation, you’ll be taking wild guesses about what types of content will nurture leads and encourage conversions. It just won’t work.
3. You’re Overly Focused on Selling
Yes, your ultimate end goal is to get those conversions (traffic to leads, leads to sales), but you’re self-sabotaging if your focus is on selling your products/services, promoting your brand, or a mixture of the two.
Overly salesy content is a cause of death for any campaign because it moves toward being interruptive and valueless for the consumer rather than helpful, interesting, or educational.
Consumers (especially millennials and Generation Z) don’t like ads for a reason. They’re pushy, annoying, and can feel a bit slimy.
82% of Gen Z-ers say they skip ads whenever they can, according to a Kantar/Millwardbrown study.
Do you want to be seen as an authority in your field and a helpful advisor, or like a shady used car salesman? Promoting yourself too much in your content will lead to the latter, which turns people off.
4. You Aren’t Talking to the Right Audience
If publishing content feels like shouting in an empty room (*taps mic* — Is this thing on?), consider this:
Are you speaking to the right crowd?
Content targeted at the right people is more likely to hit its mark.
The people you need to talk to are the ones who will care about what you have to offer, whether that’s your knowledge, your brand, or your products/services.
If your content isn’t connecting, it might be because you’re throwing bananas at horses or apples at monkeys.
6 Tactical Tips to Turn Your Content Marketing Around
1. Study Up on Your Audience, Then Write FOR Them
If your content isn’t performing, you should take a hard look at your target audience and buyer personas.
Are they still relevant? Or are they off the mark?
Go back and do your research. Do surveys, interviews, and polls with your customers and social media followers. Look at who your competition is targeting. Reassess who your brand ultimately seeks to help with content.
Michelle Linn has a great method to help you refocus on your correct audience: Ask yourself who you can help rather than wondering who you can target.
Once you have an updated handle on your audience, write your content FOR them.
- Put yourself in their shoes.
- Speak their language. Imagine talking to them across a dinner table and what you would say.
- Address their fears, pain points, desires, and questions.
A good exercise to try if you struggle with content that’s too self-promotional: Eliminate all uses of pronouns like “I,” “we,” and “us.” Instead, use “you” and “your.”
2. Research and Capitalize on a Trending Topic
If you understand your audience well, yet regularly hit “publish” and hear nothing but crickets chirping, you need to start getting more eyes on your content.
You can easily do this by jumping on a trending topic. Their impact is fleeting, but it can be big once it hits.
To find one:
- Check industry news.
- Look at top posts on competitor sites and search for patterns.
- Check BuzzSumo for current trending topics in your niche.
You need to be quick to find a hot topic and get related content pushed out in a timely manner, but it can be worth the time crunch for the traffic potential alone. Plus, these types of pieces are great lead-ins or introductions to your brand for that all-important awareness phase of the sales cycle.
3. Return to Start and Put a Content Strategy in Place
If your content creation is willy-nilly, unorganized, or undocumented, stop.
Do not pass “go.”
You needed a strategy yesterday.
Reaching any type of goal requires a plan of action. Especially if your goal is content that performs and leads to profitable results.
For content marketing, the plan of action that helps guide you to ROI is a content strategy.
The most current research in the Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report shows that the majority of the most successful content marketers have a strategy in place (62%). Meanwhile, among the least successful marketers, only 16% have a strategy.
This is no coincidence. A strategy gives you all the tools you need for your content to perform.
4. Stop Using Too Much Industry Jargon
Another reason your content might be falling flat?
Your tone or style might not be gelling well with your audience (see point #2).
If you’re not writing for your audience in a way that connects with them, it doesn’t matter how well you know your targets or how interesting/useful your topic – a wonky tone throws everything off.
A prime example is peppering your sentences and paragraphs with too much jargon.
For instance, if you are writing content aimed at cancer patients for the medical industry, you don’t want to overuse a term like “malignant fibrous histiocytoma” without explaining what it means in layman’s terms. (It’s bone cancer.)
The paragraph below is not aimed at patients. However, if you write content full of industry jargon like this and it’s not intended for your peers, it’s time to get simpler, more general, and less formal.
Screenshot via Medscape
5. Trim the Fat from Your Content (or Get an Editor)
Another way to alienate readers and throw off your content performance is to stuff it full of fluff.
Phrases like the ones below are unnecessarily long, wordy, or redundant. They all have simpler alternatives that are easier to read, as Grammarly has shown:
Filler words and phrases decrease the overall value of your content. They stuff your pieces full of hot air and make them harder to read.
When you create content that’s concise, you don’t hem and haw. You get to the point(s) quicker, which gives the audience the satisfaction they crave.
Uncoincidentally, that leads to our next point.
6. Tell Them Why They Should Care
In high school or college, you probably wrote essays and papers in a specific format. The introduction was where you announced your topic and told your readers where you were taking them.
That’s still a good practice, but one major piece is missing for online writing: the point.
In most college essays, you save the main point for your conclusion, where you hammer it home.
Doing this in your content is a sure method to make any reader lose interest right away. Since their attention span is fleeting, they need the “why” to smack them in the face.
- Why should they keep reading?
- What’s in it for them?
- How does the content apply to their concerns, desires, needs, fears, etc.?
If you can hand your reader the “why” right away, they’ll be more likely to keep reading, which can improve your content performance.
If Your Content Is on Life Support, Don’t Give Up
Even if your content is underperforming (or lying on its back with its legs in the air), there’s still hope.
Take the opportunity to analyze what might have gone wrong, then make an effort to fix it.
Update old content pieces that never realized their potential, keeping the above tips in mind. Brainstorm and work hard to be super creative – that will help you stand out a lot.
Be gentle on yourself. Progress takes time.
And don’t give up.
You can do great content.
Need an extra helping hand? Check out our content pricing here.