When Content Marketing Doesn’t Work … what do you do? And why does it not work for you? Or has it stopped working for most people? As more and more mediocre content saturates the market, it is only inevitable that the bar gets set very high for content to work as powerfully as it did before, in wooing customers and helping convert them. Our Content Marketing Roundups usually pick topics that most people steer clear of discussing, but we think it’s important to see if people have worked their way around the knots and tangles of our online marketing challenges. That’s why we have chosen this topic for you to get a flavor of what the thought leaders think on this issue.
Our picks for this Content Marketing RoundUp include some great quotes from the blog posts of Sergey Grybniak, Nasrullah Patel, Mike Templeman, Phil Darby, Sujan Patel, Dave Polykoff, Ginny Mineo and Vivek Patel. Ccontent marketing is getting difficult – but, take heart. All of these terrific writers believe it can still be made to pay!
Content marketing suits businesses that understand its challenges: Sergey Grybniak
Sergey Grybniak in the article “Why Content Marketing Doesn’t Work for Every Business”:
The “content is dead” movement is so powerful and argue that, although there are reasons for skepticism, content marketing still matters. In fact, content can still produce amazing results in terms of traffic, links, conversions, customers, and revenue.
Yet, this does not mean that every company should do it, or has the potential to succeed at it. In this environment, companies must consider the level of competition and understand that even if they produce high-quality posts, their efforts may not succeed. We currently live in a state of content saturation.
Content production alone is not enough to actually win the content marketing game. In 2017, companies produced so much content that even impressive, high-quality pieces can get lost in the mix. In most cases, effective content marketing is only possible if you comply with the “quality-speed-volume-promotion” rule, meaning that you have to not only produce and share high-quality content, but also produce lots of it, and fast. Otherwise, it boils down to sheer luck (e.g. an industry guru may share your post on Twitter).
There are a number of methods that innovative and creative companies can utilize to worm their way to the top through content marketing. But that path will by no means be easy, as content marketing presents obvious challenges. Digital marketers have become used to treating content marketing as a silver bullet that can catapult a company to the next level. While this may be the case, content marketing presents numerous hurdles for a business.
For one thing, marketers have to fight their way through the current landscape of content saturation. Also, they must understand how resource-intensive content can be and how hard it is to produce high-quality content. If your business does not possess the bandwidth, resources, or knowledge to overcome these obstacles, content marketing may not work for you.”
Plain text is long and boring and doesn’t appeal to millennials and generation Y much: Nasrullah Patel
Nasrullah Patel in the article “Why content marketing doesn’t work for your brand?”:
There was a time when writing a couple of long textual blogs every week was enough of a content marketing strategy. Businesses literally used to thrive on this minimalistic strategy. But the time is long gone.
Plain text is long and boring and doesn’t appeal to millennials and generation Y much. They are used to rich pieces of content like images and videos. Like they say a picture is worth a thousand words and a video a thousand pictures.
Text on a relevant picture is a trend that has been going around a while now and still going strong. Memes gather more hits than most content on the internet. Did you ever check weekly meme dump? Google it.
Infographics is a web trend worth talking about. Even leading online publications accept and publish them. They are informative, textual and rich at the same time. Seriously, make infographics an integral part of your content marketing strategy, specifically, if you are targeting businesses. Hire a dedicated resource if you have to. They are as important as any other type of web content and lead to conversions more often.
Effective web content has the right combination of video, text and pictures. The same goes for social media. For B2B communication, even a couple of relevant images and videos and can make the plain boring emails many times interesting. My present employer is against long blocks of plain text that are longer than 50 words and doesn’t include images or videos.
If you must publish long blocks of text, which isn’t often the case, try to put them in bullet points.”
Commitment and quality are ignored in an attempt to make content marketing more scalable: Mike Templeman
Mike Templeman in the article “Content Marketing Doesn’t Work”:
Simply put, content marketing doesn’t work because it needs two attributes to be successful, a long-term commitment and high-quality content. And both of these requirements have high demands in terms of time and effort. Because of this, they are often ignored in an attempt to make content marketing more scalable and easier to deploy.
But unlike SEO and PPC, you’re not dealing with an algorithm when it comes to content marketing. You’re dealing with the reactions and emotions of your living, breathing customers. And that can’t be gamed, hacked, or exploited. Instead, you need to plan and deploy a content marketing campaign with the same care and attention that you would any other major company initiative.
For the penny pinchers out there, it’s an unfortunate fact that you often get what you pay for when it comes to content creation. This doesn’t mean you can’t outsource your content creation, but you should expect to get what you pay for. That’s why for smaller companies it’s usually a better idea to create their content in-house.
So, whether you’re outsourcing your content creation or taking care of it internally, you need to ensure that you’re producing content on the right topics. To do this, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. At our firm we use in-depth buyer personas and customer journeys to give us an idea of who our target audience is and what we should produce.
Once you know who they are you want to help them. You do this by solving their problems. So, instead of producing content that’s all about you and your company, you should produce content that answers questions and helps them solve the challenges they face. As I’ve stated many times before, no one wants to download your brochure.
And don’t scrimp on the details. There have been many studies that the content that’s shared and engaged with the most is long-form, in-depth pieces that are supported by research and statistics. This means you shouldn’t be killing yourself to produce new content every single day. But rather, you should focus on producing high-quality pieces. As long as you’re doing that consistently, then arbitrary cadences don’t matter as much.”
The Internet is powerful and it will amplify your faults just as it can your strengths: Phil Darby
Phil Darby in the article “Why Content Marketing Doesn’t Work”:
Forget the ridiculous notion that the most important thing with content marketing is getting loads of it out there. There is a threshold of frequency, of course and it is often higher than client companies expect, but frequency at the expense of quality is a road you don’t want to go down. The Internet is a powerful tool and it will amplify your faults just as readily as it can your strengths.
My message to anyone contemplating a content marketing strategy is to find real experts. Dig around, test candidates out – and I mean content marketing agencies as much as individual writers and producers – many are nowhere close to delivering what you really need. Above all relieve yourself of the notion that content marketing is a cheap alternative to advertising. For one thing content only really comes into its own as part of an integrated strategy that also includes advertising and secondly if you do it right it isn’t that cheap.
I’m a great believer in content marketing, which is probably why I get so riled up when I hear idiots who call themselves “experts” making ridiculous claims and giving stupid advice. My advice is don’t waste your budget on a third-rate content strategy cobbled together by inexperienced vendors in some back street unless you have a really knowledgeable and skilled marketing consultant or in-house marketing director to closely manage them. Remember, content like any other tool is only one of many elements in a modern marketing communications strategy and you can’t treat it in isolation. Combine them intelligently and you’ll achieve the synergy every marketing strategy should be aiming for.
Above all set out to deliver something simple, really well. Don’t get sucked into a spiral of complex design and shooting techniques that really require a bigger budget than you have. I used to work with a creative team who used the term “ingenious” as a criterion by which to judge their ideas. People love ingenuity. It’s engaging and clever and that’s exactly the picture you want your content to paint of you. Mostly, ingenuity doesn’t cost you more either, you just have to be smart … just as a real marketer should be.”
Content marketing tends to be more top-of-the-funnel stuff to generate interest, but not sales: Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel in the article “Why Conventional Content Marketing Doesn’t Work for Ecommerce Websites”:
Ecommerce customers want a solution, fast. For a lot of consumer products, particularly in the lower price points, the customer is focused on the solution. That means you’ve got a much shorter sales funnel. Top-of-funnel content is good to get their attention, but if you want to win them over fast to spur the purchase, you need middle-of-the-funnel content that delivers some serious value.
You’ve got to have that 10x content that is good enough to make them want to choose you, in that moment, over a competitor.
Ecommerce customers have shorter attention spans. It’s easy to lose customers to flashes in the pan from various online sources and real-world distractions. Your content strategy should include bite-size content that’s easy to digest. Short Instagram videos, Vines, and even Snapchat videos can help you stay engaged without trying to monopolize the audience’s time.
I frequently use Snapchat to stay engaged with my own audience, and it takes very little time each day to respond to comments on my videos or Snapchat stories.
Ecommerce customers are protective of their network. They want to share content but it needs to have significant value. When you’re producing content, make sure there is real value to it and that it isn’t promotional. Provide actionable takeaways, teach them something, inspire them, and they’ll be far more likely to engage with and share your content.
Every piece of content you produce must have a purpose. It must have a ‘why.'”
Quality and consistency are key … and it takes money to make money: Dave Polykoff
Dave Polykoff in the article “Content Marketing Doesn’t Work”:
You can have the best content strategy in the world and an infinite budget, but if your content isn’t any good, it won’t matter. Larry from accounting may know his stuff and can rock a PowerPoint presentation, but can he craft an entertaining blog post or an in-depth and informative white paper?
If you hire a professional writer, remember that you get what you pay for. A cheap writer will likely create cheap content that won’t impress your customers. Instead, invest in a writer that either understands your business niche or can quickly learn and adapt. It will cost you more, but the odds of it paying off over time is much greater.
According to Forbes.com, you also need to be consistent with your content. Content marketing doesn’t work if you’re sporadically and randomly creating content throughout the year. If you’re creating a newsletter, then release it at the same time every month. If you’re crafting blog posts, post them the same time every week. Your customers will begin to anticipate their arrival and eventually look forward to it.
You’ll never be able to create a relationship with customers if you write three blogs in August, one in September and not another one until Christmas.
Many businesses are willing to spend money on advertising, but ask them to put money towards content marketing and many balk. We talked before about the importance of hiring a good quality writer, but that extends throughout the content marketing process. You need to be willing to pay a graphic designer to create an effective and attractive email marketing template. You need to pay for content distribution whether it’s a for a platform like Outbrain or for a press release service.
Your content is worth your investment, so create a budget for content marketing. If you have a good strategy, then your investment will be worth it. Also, keep in mind that content marketing isn’t an instantaneous ROI. According to Kissmetrics.com, it can take weeks or months to see an impact. Content that is evergreen can bring traffic to your website for years after originally published.”
It amazes me how many of us are still following the same, broken playbook.: Ginny Mineo
Ginny Mineo in the article “The Old Content Marketing Playbook Doesn’t Work Anymore”:
Content marketing looks vastly different than it did even a year ago, but many people think it’s still this holy grail, high-leverage acquisition strategy. With some brute force, they too can write a bunch of blog posts and tweets, amass lots of inbound links, rank for keywords in Google, and gain customers cheaper and faster than competitors and incumbents. (For the record, I’ve been guilty of this mindset, too.)
But this type of content marketing strategy doesn’t work anymore. Technology, media, and human behavior are different than even five years ago. And as a result, the strategies startups use to acquire new customers has to change, too.
In the span of 10 years, content marketing has gone from a relatively under-the-radar acquisition strategy to something ubiquitous and competitive, even for big brands. Study after study shows that brands are publishing more and more content each year, but it’s becoming less and less effective from both a top-of-the-funnel engagement and bottom-of-the funnel sales perspective.
With new shifts in human behavior, technology, and media, founders and marketers need to rethink how they use content marketing in their acquisition strategies. While I wouldn’t recommend completely abandoning content marketing — buyers still want to self-educate prior to purchasing something from you — I do think you should reevaluate the role it should play in your business.
You also should be building in time for experimenting with new content channels and acquisition strategies within existing channels. I know that this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s incredibly easy to forget this practice when you’re trying to get traction on channels.
Content marketing certainly isn’t dead, but it’s matured and changed pretty drastically compared to five years ago. And who knows what it’ll look like even a year from now. Depending on how technology, media, and human behavior change, how we think about marketing as a whole could be vastly different. “
Audiences will reject content that’s stale, repetitive, and inauthentic: Vivek Patel
Vivek Patel in the article “6 Reasons Your Content Marketing Isn’t Working For You”:
If your information isn’t completely factual, authentic, or compelling, audiences will instantly reject content they perceive as stale, repetitive, and inauthentic. And if it’s not at least factual and free of blatant mistakes, you can forget about engaging them.
Fresh and unique content, on the other hand, is welcomed with open arms. Your audience actively looks for content that’s informative, engaging, thoughtful, and valuable. If you want your audience to get hooked on your content, it must meet those criteria.
As you create content, consider your ideal audience members. What are their pain points? Their interests? Where during the buyer’s journey are they most likely to need and come across various pieces of your content? Put yourself in their shoes to generate the kind of content that will resonate with your readers, and back it up with solid research and relevant examples.
Apart from being factually correct, make sure your writing is free of research-related and grammatical errors. Ensure that it has a natural flow and doesn’t seem promotional in any way. You want to add value to your audiences’ lives through your content, not just sell your own products.
Despite dishing out high-quality content but find that you still have no takers for it? Maybe you haven’t taken the right steps to bring it to people’s attention. While I’ve mentioned that your content itself should not be promotional, you can (and should) promote your content. Doing so is necessary if you want to get it to the right audience.
We all want to see our efforts (and our investments) pay off. Content marketing can be a tricky area, but when you’ve got your basics in place, your chances of success only increase. If you have a good strategy, a sound budget, original and optimized content, and a plan for distribution, all you need to do is monitor and give it time. Soon, you’ll see the positive difference.”
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Other articles in our series “Content Marketing RoundUps”: