Why content fails (and how to save It)
Content should be an investment that produces a positive ROI.
Unfortunately, most doesn’t.
This completely-free, 45-minute, step-by-step walkthrough will break down each reason (along with how to fix them).
How’d we get here?
This ain’t 2005.
“Content marketing” as a concept didn’t even really exist then. Sure, a few old school companies used to do it. (Something I’ve written about for WordStream and others.)
BUT the vast majority of the world hadn’t really caught on by that point.
It wasn’t until a few years later that it started to go mainstream, when HubSpot coined Inbound Marketing (which ‘built on’ — read: copied — the same premise from Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing from a decade earlier).
The problem is that today, E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. is doing content marketing. We quickly went from a world where there wasn’t enough content, to one where we have way too much.
And that’s only going to get worse as companies continue to take money away from underperforming channels like billboards or radio ads and put them into the stuff that works — like online ads you can track and content that grows as an asset.
Nothing sums this fact up better than Andy Crestodina & Orbit Media’s brilliant blogging survey trends from the past few years.
The average marketer spend ~2-3 hours writing a blog just five years ago.
The best of the best routinely spend 6+ hours. That’s double the time in just a few years!
The reasoning is because it takes a lot more time, experience, and expertise today to break through all the noise.
Their study also showed that the people who report the best results also go above and beyond the norm by including 10+ graphics in each post, getting expert quotes or collaborating with influencers in their space, adding video to each piece, and lots more.
That’s why ‘good enough’ unfortunately isn’t good enough anymore today.
Mistake 1. Wrong content, wrong time
Search engines are smart.
They’re like mind readers. People type in a few random words, and search engines can predict what they think each person wants — even if they don’t necessarily use the right words to describe it.
Our job as marketers is to mimic this process. We want to decipher “search intent” so that we can give people exactly what they want, when they want it.
How do we do that?
By following the clues that search engines are already giving us!
The answers are literally hiding in plain site. If 15 out of the top 20 pieces of content ranking for “make money online” are all list posts about different ways to, you guessed it, make money online, then… you should also do a long, detailed list post covering the same topics.
This sounds easy and basic on the surface, but it’s also one of the main reasons why most people have difficulty getting their content to rank effectively.
They create content based on the look or feel or sound or hunches, instead of cold hard data.
Are those things important? Of course! But not more important than actually mirroring search engines and giving people what they want.
Mistake 2. Not built to scale
If content marketing is harder than ever before, then “quality” is also more important than ever before.
But here’s the thing:
Quantity is still critical! Especially for new-ish, small-ish sites in tough spaces.
This means the attitude of approaching content marketing like you’re going to “find a few good keywords” and then obsess over a couple blog posts… isn’t good enough.
A better approach?
Identify potential keyword opportunities where you’re already ranking well, where there’s a ton of related ideas or concepts, and where you can create a few content types or templates to help scale this content ASAP.
The end result is better performing content, created faster, and often cheaper (or more cost effectively) vs. the alternative (obsessing over the phrasing of every single sentence in completely different one-off posts that’s don’t relate to one another).
Mistake 3. Lackluster optimization
Who, on your team, is responsible for how content should look?
Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s an editor. Maybe it’s the people you have writing the content themselves.
But chances are there is no single person on your team responsible for this function.
And that’s why uploading, formatting, and optimizing each and every post is often half-hearted at best.
If you’ve gone through the trouble of identifying content opportunities and producing excellent stuff, then surely the extra 20% is worth making sure your content will have the widest reach possible.
When you do ultimately get people on your content, too, you want them to do something:
- Sign up
Trouble is that nothing happens if you (or your team) doesn’t spend then ~1+ hours uploading, formatting, and optimizing each piece properly.
You can use a tool here (like our very own Wordable). But ultimately, someone will
have to jump in and get their hands dirty, rolling up their sleeves to make sure every heading, image, link, and CTA looks (and works) correctly.
Mistake 4. Haphazard promotion
Big companies have it easy.
Hit publish. Throw out a few random tweets. Send out a newsletter. Call it a day. Sit back, watch the rankings shoot up, and traffic roll in.
Unfortunately, most of us mere mortals don’t have it so easy.
That’s why we like to identify the promotional strategy for each piece of content… while we’re still researching the actual keywords and topics!
Why so early in the process?
Because you can’t guess! There’s simply too much on the line. And it’s simply too difficult. Throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks isn’t a viable strategy in 2020.
And it won’t be in 2025. Or 2030, either.
Thankfully, the age-old advertising framework of still works:
- Earned: Links
- Owned: Social, email, site traffic
- Paid: Advertising
So when it doubt, take it from Master Yoda.
Do or do not. There is no try.