Every now and then I get asked to find out why someone’s content marketing campaign hasn’t been the success they were hoping for. Almost always the cause of the problem belongs to one of the following reasons. Here are my top five reasons why content marketing campaigns fail, in reverse order:
#5. You are not content marketing:
Content marketing is a company’s marketing to achieve one or more goals. If achieving your business goals isn’t the reason you’re producing content, you’re writing a blog. This important distinction is not always understood.
Many content creators don’t understand the role content marketing plays in moving prospects through your sales funnel. Different types of content are needed for each stage, i.e. for suspects, potential customers, and for retention and resale to existing customers. If you’re not producing content that supports every step of the sales process, you’re not content marketing.
#4. There is no market for your product or service:
It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses fail because the founders didn’t do the proper research to determine if there was a market for their company and if their product or service filled that need.
You can have a technically excellent product, but it will fail if no one wants to buy it. I once worked for a company that had a product like this. Every prospect the sales people presented said it was a great idea, but they didn’t buy it. It was a solution in search of a problem. Then you have the other side of the coin: The market exists, but your product or service doesn’t fill it. There’s a problem, but you don’t have a solution.
No matter how good your content marketing is, your campaign will fail in its goal of acquiring new customers if:
- There is no market for your product or service or
- If your product does not solve the customer’s problem.
#3. You are posting in the wrong place:
You need to ensure that your content reaches your target audience. You need to know:
- Who is your target audience. This includes demographic information such as their age, gender, socio-economic group, whether they are likely to be married and have a family;
- where do they currently go for information; and
- How they prefer to consume data.
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Example 1: You have a company that provides support for WordPress websites worldwide. Your target audience is likely to be business owners who already have or plan to have a website on the WordPress platform. They are likely to be between the ages of 24 and 54, are likely to be married, and likely to have a family. They are entrepreneurs, not software engineers.
You can find them on Linked In, and they probably also have a personal and business Face Book presence. They are also very likely to use mobile devices, which are their choice for consuming information.
You need to post your content in places where these people go to get answers to their WordPress problems, like You Tube, podcasts (iTunes, Sticher, Podcast Republic and Zune to name a few) – either your own show or guest on other programs, SlideShare, write articles (think long SlideShare documents, not just article directories), blogs and forums for WordPress users.
Example 2: You offer an online math course. Your target audience is probably school-aged children and their parents. They have a personal presence on Face Book and are also likely to use one or more other popular social networking sites such as WhatsApp and Line. They probably have a Gmail account and also use YouTube.
The nature of your service lends itself to visual media, so this group prefers to consume data. Your target audience uses sites like Udemy and You Tube to find content.
The preferences of your target audience will determine where you need to publish your content and determine the medium you will use to deliver your content. If your target audience prefers visual content, they will not be attracted to text-based content and will be much less likely to visit text-based content sites.
If your target audience prefers to consume data at a time and place that suits them, i.e. they want to consume content on demand, consider an audio podcast. However, you should only do so if your content fits the spoken word.
Should you publish your content on your own website?
The answer depends on how long you’ve been in business and what kind of reputation you already have. The Pareto principle or the 80:20 rule applies in any case. If your business is a startup or young business, 80% of your content should be published outside of your website. As your business becomes established and your reputation grows, this relationship can be reversed.
Not only do you need to post your content in the places your audience is looking for information, but you need to make sure it gets their attention. This means systematically promoting your content on social networks such as Face Book, Google+, Linked In and You Tube, as well as on Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon and other similar sites. Consider publishing a press release and linking to the content of blog posts and comments and discussion boards. If you have an email list, tell your list about the content you’ve created and ask them to share it with others.
You should expect to spend at least as much time promoting your content as you do creating it. Not all marketers do this, which is why many content marketing campaigns fail.
#2. Your campaign is too short:
While some people claim great success with a short campaign, these lucky few are the exceptions. For most of us, content marketing is a mid- to long-term exercise that fills different roles at different stages of our sales funnel. In other words, you need to create content that fits and supports each stage of the buying process.
For example, let’s say you have a business that sells video cameras and accessories. You need to create content that explains the different types of cameras available, their prices, the uses they are best suited for, and how much knowledge and/or experience a user needs to use the device. This type of content is aimed at someone who is browsing your online store and wants to see what’s available.
Next, you can segment your content to cover different segments of your potential audience, such as those looking for a camera to shoot family and vacation videos, hobbyists, and high-end amateur and professional users. Content that compares the product features, pros and cons, and optionally the pros and cons of each market segment helps the potential customer make a short list of suitable products. A person browsing your site is now possible.
The next series of content will focus on a specific product and the benefits of buying it from you. This type of content helps convert a prospect into a customer.
The ultimate set of content will help your customers get the most out of their purchase and increase sales of product add-ons and accessories.
If you’re not creating content for every step of the buying process and after-sales support, your content marketing campaign probably won’t be as successful as you’d hoped.
#1. Poor quality content:
Poor quality content is the number one reason why many content marketing campaigns fail. The term “poor quality” covers a number of sins.
Earlier in this article I said that your content needs to be created to achieve a business goal. That’s true, but content marketing shouldn’t just do that, it needs to solve a problem for your target audience. At least it should give them some benefit and value. Unfortunately, much of the content created is thinly veiled sales pitch.
It goes without saying that your content should be grammatically correct and free of typos. It should also be well written and follow a logical sequence. If you’re writing an article, your goal is to keep the reader interested long enough for them to access your resource box. There you should give the reader a good reason to click the link to your website where you sell.
Same with the video. You want to hold the viewer’s attention until they see a call to action, which usually means clicking a link in the description.
Poor quality is a description that can also be applied to content that is too short or too general to be helpful to the consumer. Your content should be long enough to give all the information you need in enough detail, but short enough to keep their interest.
There is another definition of poor quality content that is often overlooked by content marketers, if they are even aware of it. If your content isn’t engaging with your audience, it hasn’t achieved one of your business goals. Most marketers measure the success of their content by how many views it has received, how many likes it has, or a combination of both. The content may have been viewed many times and may have received a lot of likes, but no one has accepted it. They didn’t comment on it or share it with their own audience, tweet it or list it on Reddit or StumbleUpon.
In order for your content marketing to be successful, your audience must be involved in your content.
As marketers, I think we can consider the following points:
#1. There must be a viable market for your product or service;
#2. Your content must help you achieve your business goals.
#3. Your content needs to be published in places where your audience is likely to find it, and you need to promote your content.
#4. Your content marketing campaign should support all stages of the sales process as well as post-sales support and
#5. You need to create quality content that encourages audience engagement.
Your content marketing campaign is likely to be successful if you follow these five lessons.