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5 Reasons Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Is Underperforming

Whether you’re a small business or a brand, your content marketing strategy – or lack of one – can make or break your success online. But if content marketing is so important, why do so many brands struggle with it?

Let’s break down five common problems when it comes to content marketing.

1. You Don’t Have a Content Marketing Strategy

Having a documented strategy in place will boost your team’s efficiency and productivity, strengthen your brand voice, and maximize results from your efforts. According to a recent CMI/MarketingProfs study, 61% of the most successful B2B marketers claimed to have a documented strategy.

Here’s how you can begin to put your own strategy in place:

Identify the Metrics That Represent Success and Set Measurable Goals

Before you begin creating content, identify the objectives that constitute success for your organization. What are the goals of your content marketing? To drive traffic? Raise brand awareness? Generate subscribers? Increase customer retention?

Use the SMART method to guide you: Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

These are the five metrics most commonly used by organizations to measure results from content marketing:

  • Website traffic (78%)
  • Sales lead quality (57%)
  • Social media sharing (57%)
  • Time spent on website (54%)
  • Higher conversion rates (51%)

Beware of putting too much emphasis on vanity metrics like social shares. While these can be helpful indicators of how well your content is resonating with your target audience, they don’t ultimately contribute to the bottom line.

Identify Your Target Audience

Taking the time to profile your typical customers will help you understand how they make purchase decisions, equipping you to create highly targeted marketing campaigns.

When you’re creating your buyer personas, ask the following questions:

  • What are their problems or pain points?
  • What are their desires?
  • Where do they hang out online?
  • What kind of content resonates with them?
  • What role do they typically fill?
  • What’s their process when it comes to making purchase decisions?

When you’re conducting your research, it’s best to go straight to the source: your current customers. Conduct surveys or review social data to help you piece together your personas.

Determine Your Brand Voice

A consistent brand voice will differentiate you from your competitors and help build rapport with your audience. Create a style guide and review it with your team so your brand voice stays consistent across all marketing channels.

Create a Content Plan

Now that you’ve set your goals and researched your customer avatars, it’s time to begin creating content and implementing your strategy. Your content plan should document the following:

  • Keyword research data
  • Types of content you will create (blog posts, infographics, etc.)
  • Where, when, and how often you plan to distribute content
  • Who on your team is responsible for what

Implement, Track Results, and Adapt

Determine how and when you’ll track each piece of content and assess the data from your marketing channels.

Your marketing tool set – social media and website analytics, marketing automation, and CRM systems – will help you generate valuable reporting on social engagement, website traffic, newsletter signups, and sales, which should be reviewed regularly with your team.

As you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, your content marketing will continue to generate better results.

2. You Don’t Have a Budget for Content Marketing

Great content marketing comes at a price: The average organization spends 29% of its overall marketing budget on content. If you’re not convinced of the effectiveness of content as a vehicle for increased lead generation and sales, here are a few telling statistics:

  • When asked to give the reason for their success, marketers credited two factors: 85% attributed it to doing a better job with content creation, while 72% attributed it to refining or adjusting their content strategy (MarketingProfs)
  • 2% of organizations said that content marketing is increasing the quality and quantity of leads (Curata)
  • 78% of marketers reported increased traffic from marketing on social channels (Social Media Examiner)
  • Companies that published 16 or more blog posts per month got nearly 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than those who published 0-4 posts per month (HubSpot)

3. Your Blogging Strategy Isn’t Working

Your blog has the potential to be the greatest asset in your content marketing arsenal. If it’s not performing as well as it should, look out for the following problems:

Your Blog Isn’t Optimized for Conversions

What does a website visitor do after they read one of your posts? Have you included a call to action or a special offer to encourage them to take the next step? If you have great content that leads nowhere, you’re just wasting your time.

Your Blog Doesn’t Provide Enough Value

If your blog is all about your organization or your products and services, you’re missing out on the opportunity to attract and educate leads with quality top-of-the-funnel content. If you have a company culture blog, keep it separate from the main blog so visitors can easily access your educational content.

Your Content is Poorly Written or Formatted

Low-quality content is worse than none at all. Hire an editor if necessary, break up your content with short paragraphs and bulleted lists, and choose fonts that are easy to read. We also know that Google favors long-form blog posts, which have been shown to generate nine times more leads. And remember, while timely pieces can be useful, evergreen content tends to perform better in the long run.  

4. You Aren’t Spending Enough Time Promoting Your Content

Top marketers like Derek Halpern recommend the 80/20 rule – only 20% of your time should be spent actually creating content, while 80% of your time should be spent promoting it. While the exact ratio can be taken with a grain of salt, the point is that your job as a content marketer is just getting started after you hit publish.

Create a promotional checklist for every piece of content you publish. Your checklist should include the following considerations:

Distribution channels. The same piece of content can be repurposed – i.e., made into an infographic, video, podcast, content upgrade, or social media post – and distributed across many channels, for example:

  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Quora
  • LinkedIn
  • SlideShare
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • YouTube

Influencer outreach. Neil Patel is a great example of a marketer who uses outreach strategically – he includes 100+ links in every post and notifies everyone mentioned in the content.

Publishing on external sites. Syndicating your content to external sites or becoming a guest contributor to relevant publications can further establish your brand as an authority.

5. You Don’t Have a Funnel

No matter how mind-blowing your content is, there’s no point in generating traffic to your website if you’re not ultimately directing your customers to an end goal, such as a newsletter sign-up or a purchase.

With a content marketing funnel, we can meet customers where they are in their buyer journey, as well as guide them along the path to purchase.

For example, your customer’s typical journey might look something like this:

Lead magnet > Webinar > Free trial


Let’s take a closer look at each stage of the funnel:

Awareness. In this early stage, a potential customer begins searching for information about a problem. They discover your brand – through a blog post, for instance – and they become aware that you have a solution. Content at this stage should be educational and unbiased.

Example content types: Blog posts, social updates, free video tutorials.

Evaluation. During the evaluation stage, a lead is evaluating their options. They may be researching your product or service to see if it’s the right fit, or seeing how it stacks up against your competitor’s product or service. The content you create for this stage should be focused on persuading your prospect why they should choose you over the competition.

Example content types: Lead magnets, case studies, webinars.

Conversion. During this final stage of the buyer journey, the lead is ready to make a purchase decision. At this point, they’re ripe for a CTA or offer to convert them from a lead or prospect into a customer.

Example content types: Free trial, consultation, special offer.

Treat each piece of content as a vehicle guiding your lead to the next step in the funnel. For example, a blog post might include a call to action to download a content upgrade, while a webinar might include a call to action for a free consultation.

Your job isn’t done once you close the sale, however. In inbound marketing, the sales funnel is often modified to include four stages:

  • Attract
  • Convert
  • Close
  • Delight

Content for the final stage – delight – includes things like help documentation, rewards programs, or email onboarding campaigns for your existing customers. This type of post-sale content can be useful for increasing customer retention.

A successful content strategy combines its various components – keywords, content, buyer personas, funnels, branding, promotion, and analytics – to become something greater than the sum of its parts. If you’re currently struggling with your content marketing, try connecting the dots of your current strategy rather than starting over completely from scratch.

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Bryan Blackburn

Bryan is the Content Marketing Manager at Simply Measured. He spoils his dog, is a fitness fanatic, and loves research and writing.

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