7 Reasons Your Content Marketing Strategy Isn’t Working

Guest post by {grow} Community Member Sarah Golinger

As marketers, we know that the best way to generate quality leads for our businesses is by creating great content.  A strong content marketing strategy offers informational and educational materials to interested readers, allowing them to learn more about your industry, your company, and your product or service, and hopefully become prospective customers.  Not to mention, it also provides a great opportunity to create more ways to engage your website visitors and social media followers.  But while it is extremely important, having a good content strategy isn’t always easy.  Here are 7 reasons your content strategy might not be generating leads as effectively as it should be.

1. You’re targeting the wrong audience.  Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing, but it’s especially important for content.  Let’s face it – in order for someone to even consider reading what you’ve written, it has to offer some sort of value to them.  It needs to fulfill a need or desire of theirs, in this case, probably to learn or understand something about your industry or alleviate a problem that your product aims to resolve.  Figure out what it is that your readers are looking for.  Use your analytics tools to determine which pieces of your content have performed particularly well.  See which pages of your website attract the most visitors.  Create a poll to send to your readers via social media or email and ask them what kind of content they’d be interested in consuming.  And don’t forget to segment your audience appropriately so you can target your content more closely.

2. Your content is too repetitive or boring.  Again, people are looking for valuable content.  You have to keep it interesting!  No one wants to read the same information every 3 blog posts.  Plus, you probably have more to teach your readers than you might realize.  Think about all the different features of your product or service and what relevant information you can offer to your readers in an educational manner.  Write about industry news, updates, and trends.  Maybe some of the tasks you perform in your role at your company would be helpful for others in similar positions.  Keep coming up with fresh content ideas, and you’ll find that your readers might stick around longer.

3. You don’t vary your content formats.  Speaking of keeping things fresh, one of the easiest ways to do that is to produce content in different formats.  If you usually just write blog posts, crank out an ebook once in a while.  If you tend to spend your time doing webinars, try making a few shorter videos.  If you’ve never made an infographic before, try one of those!  And even though they’re quick to write, don’t forget to include social media updates as another integral part of your content strategy.  There’s lots of room to be creative with your content, so change it up and offer more ways for your readers to consume your information.

4. Your content is too promotional.  Sure, the ultimate goal is to get your readers to become customers, but the whole idea behind content marketing is to provide educational information.  By establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you not only gain more readership, but you gain the trust of your readers.  Their interest in learning more from you will allow you to learn about and target their needs and interests.  Once you’ve figured out what your readers are looking for, you can teach them about how your product or service can fulfill that need, and eventually send them over to your sales team.  But this is a process; you can’t just include a sales pitch in all of your content, or you’ll never gain your readers’ trust or interest from the start.

5. You’re not promoting your content enough.  Okay, so you’re writing well-targeted, interesting, educational content, but no one’s reading it.  Well, are you telling people about it?  Use the different channels you have to spread the word about your content.  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are all great places to post links to your blog posts, ebooks, and webinars.  You can post to your blog about your latest ebook, and even include an excerpt to give a sneak peak.   Create a page on your website where visitors can access all of your offers.  Send out an email to let people know about your upcoming webinar and how to sign up.  Just make sure you’re giving your content enough visibility so it doesn’t stay hidden from potential readers and viewers.

6. You’re not promoting your content through the right channels.  Once you’ve started distributing your content through multiple channels, look at your analytics to figure out which ones are the most effective.  If the majority of your target audience is on Facebook, your status updates will be more useful there.  Maybe your email sends generate more click-throughs than the links in your blog posts.  Use insights from your data to spend your time focusing on the channels that drive the most traffic and leads.

7. You’re not including calls-to-action.  You don’t want to be overly promotional in your content, but you do want to give your readers a clear indication of what to do next by including calls-to-action.  You might suggest a blog post that offers more tips on the subject, or direct your ebook readers to register for a webinar that covers the advanced level of that topic.  More importantly, you should provide your readers with opportunities to learn more about your specific product by including calls-to-action for free trials, demos, or assessments.  Guiding your prospects to the next steps that they should take will make for a much smoother transition from prospect to lead, and eventually from lead to customer.

So, are you ready to generate more leads with a killer content strategy?  Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to driving more traffic and better business in no time.

This is a guest post by Sarah Goliger, an inbound marketer at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.

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  • Jimmy

    Too often I think of content as being a bunch of keywords combined into paragraphs about our company. We then throw this crap up on our site wether interesting, thought provoking or of any value at all. You explain the reality well.

  • Repetitive and boring. I think I have seen this exact same post (in slightly different guises) hundreds of times on content marketing blogs. Total turn-off.

  • Thanks for the dissenting view Ryan. I’m sure this was new information for many  readers but I appreciate how this could not be one of your greatest hits. 

  • Thanks Jimmy.

  •  I have to agree Ryan and can only assume that it is due to being a guest post from Hubspot, which is notorious for churning out amateur level content that rarely adds any real value or insight into the industry. That being said, there are still a lot of amateurs out there in the marketing world, so perhaps there are those few newbies that can glean some knowledge from it.

  •  Yes, I hate to say it, but this piece is a pure link fishing operation. Hubspot hiring college seniors to push out banal stuff studded with deeplinks (and anchor text like “Content Marketing Strategy”, puhleaze) back to the Hubspot site. This article was meant to be read by Google bots; humans were seemingly an afterthought. If I were Mark, I’d ask Hubspot to compensate me for this stuff. This kind of thing does damage to a content brand.

  • Recently, I’ve been laser focused on #1.  Getting in front of the right audience is infinitely important… If you’re not in front of the right people you could #2 – #7 amazing and it wouldn’t matter.

    Excellent list here.  Great reminders.

    Thank you!!!

  • It is interesting to see the degree of disdain Ryan expresses for this article. If anyone can speak with authority about inbound marketing, it is Hubspot and their bloggers.

    Love them or hate them, they practice what they preach as this post demonstrates. The article is certainly not written for established experts and it may follow a formula but there’s a lot to learn (or be reminded about) from this example in my opinion. Each link leads to a landing page that is designed to convert any interest in further content to a lead. The content offered is a valid and fair exchange for completing the conversion form. I suggest that anyone not using logically-placed links, landing pages with well-crafted calls to action is missing some of the most important elements of inbound MARKETING.

    Ryan is correct that the points covered in the article have been addressed countless time before but that’s not a reason to provide helpful insights to people still learning the basics.

    The caliber of ideas, writing and commentary on the {grow} blog sets a very high bar so it’s completely understandable that Ryan’s expectations exceed what this post provided. But I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. Each of those links leads to some very helpful content if you are still learning how to make inbound marketing work for your business.

    And, if you fill out a form, a Hubspot rep might reach out to you. Like I said before, they practice what they preach. Even if you disagree with their approach and process, there is something to be learned.

    Full disclosure: My agency is a Hubspot partner but most importantly we are Hubspot users ourselves.

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  •  To be fair, Billy, the only people who use the term “inbound marketing” are Hubspot employees and their customers.

  • Sarah can you please let me know the source of your sign photo above? Should I presume you photographed it? 

  • Ari,

    I’ll admit to using the term more than most people Ari but I must disagree with you.

    The inbound traffic and conversion those two simple words drive to Hubspot is proof that more people “use” the words than their employees and customers. They don’t convert ALL of the visitors they attract with their content so I’d say there are plenty of people, including professional marketers, their competition (and customers of their competition), that know and use the phrase.

    Our debate about “inbound marketing” is possibly misplaced here though. The words in the article heading are “content marketing”. Although the two phrases are not exactly interchangeable, they are certainly related.
    We can agree on that can’t we?
    Thanks for commenting on my comment Ari.

  • Another way to look at this is that I am trying to help out a young college student and give her a chance to show what she can do. I have no ties to Hubspot in any way, but decided to give her a shot. I do this a lot by the way. Almost everybody who does an unpaid guest post is a beginner or young person.

    After i rejected two article attempts, she persisted and came up with a well-written piece. Links? Yes. In the long term, who cares? Maybe by giving somebody a chance to succeed and contribute to her resume I will have a positive impact on a young person. That’s more important to me than being gamed by SEO tricksters. And besides, this piece got more than twice as many shares as my subsequent two posts which were far more original. You can make your own conclusions about the meaning of that. : )

  • Whether or not this article is fresh and original (as some have argued it’s not), these are still the key points to a content marketing strategy.  I wonder what new information those who complained thought they would find here…maybe go out and write it? The rest of us would love to hear those jewels.

  •  Sure thing, Flux. I recently held a webinar on the topic: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/452/42513

  •  I have no problems with your decision. By all means, help out young college students (even if they seem to be on Hubspot’s payroll).

    Who cares whether the piece was studded with deeplinks to Hubspot? Well, anyone who’s primary focus was a quality reading experience. People like me.

    I’m just saying the content was well below the par I’d come to expect previously when I was a regular visitor to this blog. That’s all.

  • Mark, I agree with Ryan on this one.  It is odd that the author could preach “know they audience”, write this piece for publication here, and then not respond to Ryan.  You audience expects more than the average Hubpost post – which is notorious for promoting without explaining.

  • Content marketing requires that you improve your articles/solutions, and anticipates that you will eventually phone someone to make a sale.  
    Content isn’t king if you aren’t selling – Hubspot is the biggest outbound marketer there is, when it comes to selling inbound tools.

  • Points well taken. Thanks for caring enough to comment fellas.  And I do appreciate the fact that you recognize that I do strive for quality.

  • Billy writes: ”
    And, if you fill out a form, a Hubspot rep might reach out to you. Like I said before, they practice what they preach. Even if you disagree with their approach and process, there is something to be learned.”

    Might reach out!???  They will positively grab you by the throat and send you every article that they can think of.  Pummeling me with articles is just a sophisticated version of spamming.

  • I think the photo you’ve selected for your post is a brilliant illustration of another important point in creating a content strategy. While content variation is important, too much can confuse readers such as seen in the multitude of road signs. Awesome post!

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