It’s a simple and unavoidable truth of the digital era that every business (or entrepreneur, for that matter) needs to consistently produce online content if they want to make the most of their brand.
Done well, content marketing is incredibly effective in various ways: it can prove your expertise, win the trust of your target audience, boost your search rankings, lure corporate partners, and distribute traffic to your most lucrative pages.
But what if you’re clearly not doing it well? What if you have a content marketing strategy that simply isn’t getting the results you want or need?
You might be baffled about the reason, thinking you’re doing the right things but failing to see a return on your investment — and this can lead you to give up on content marketing altogether, dismissing it as not worth your time.
It’s essential that you don’t give up on content marketing. Instead, you need to take a much closer look at your strategy to figure out which parts are working and which ones aren’t, then make an effort to fix it.
In this post, we’re going to look at five likely reasons why your content isn’t performing. Let’s get started, shall we?
You’re not making it digestible
When a piece of digital content is digestible, it’s easy to take in regardless of the platform or device used to access it. Instead of throwing huge chunks of content at people, it spaces things out, using various elements to achieve this. Here are some notable examples:
- Bullet-point lists.
- Relevant images.
- Easy-to-read tables.
- Embedded videos.
Imagine your favourite book with all the chapter splits removed. Just one enormous paragraph dragging on for hundreds of pages. You’d end up incredibly confused and find it almost impossible to keep track of your progress. If your content is hyper-dense, then, it might not matter how informative it is. Make it accessible and people will stick around for longer.
You’re making it far too broad
The more broad you make a piece of content, the more people might be interested in it, right? That’s the conclusion that far too many companies reach — but it’s entirely mistaken. When you make content extremely broad, it won’t appeal strongly to anyone. People want content that’s specifically relevant to their interests and needs.
Instead of going broad, you should go narrow. Think about the niche markets that are getting attention within your industry: the topics that aren’t of interest to everyone but can prove extremely effective at bringing in significant sub-audiences. A range of 100 pieces of generic content won’t impress anyone, but 100 niche pieces that collectively cover a broad range have the potential to get some serious results.
You’re not optimizing for search
I mentioned in the intro that content marketing can help you rank, and that’s certainly true, but it’s far from easy to create content that can top the SERPs and get noticed. It requires heavy optimization factoring in the demands of search crawlers: if you create high-quality content that’s fantastic for human visitors but doesn’t tick Google’s boxes, that quality will be wasted.
Content honed for SEO has suitable metadata, with a succinct title and description in particular. It features sections that concentrate on specific points likely to be searched for. It loads quickly and provides an excellent user experience (putting strong content on a slow website will hamper it quite significantly in the long run, because Google rewards speed).
You’re getting the timing wrong
There are two main types of content: evergreen, and ephemeral. Evergreen content is relevant throughout the year. Take something like a guide to writing good subject lines, for instance. Ephemeral content is intended to get additional attention through addressing a topic that’s at a peak of popularity for whatever reason — it’s often seasonal, but it can pertain to a notable event (take a piece concerning the post-COVID-19 world, for example).
Both types of content are important, of course, but ephemeral content needs to be timed carefully. Imagine releasing a COVID-19 reaction piece today: it might get some views, but it wouldn’t do anywhere near as well as it would have done had you released it back when the world was first getting to grips with the nature and extent of the outbreak. You also need to think about daily timing. When does your intended audience pay the most attention online? That’s when you should put your content live: fresh content always stands out, but not for very long.
You’re missing vital channels
There are plenty of avenues through which content can (and should) be shared. It really isn’t as simple as setting up a blog and stopping there. What about social media? YouTube? Podcasts? Marketing emails? Other blogs? Each of those routes can prove highly beneficial if used correctly, and each piece of content you produce warrants some consideration.
If you’ve released a long-form guide on a relevant topic but aren’t getting the traffic you want, think about reworking it into the script for a series of video guides. Maybe it would work better in that format — at the very least, it would have a new shot at success in a new environment. Understand the requirements, strengths and weaknesses of every channel, and learn how best to distribute each piece of content you create. This will majorly boost your signals.