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Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)

In order for your business to see real, substantial growth, you have to be willing to play the long-game.

What that means is not cutting corners, no black hat techniques that will get your site banned, and no short-sighted marketing plans that will become obsolete with the next Google algorithm update.

That’s why content marketing is king. Google (and other search engines like it) have one primary focus that drives their entire infrastructure: connecting readers with relevant information.

A website that can deliver valuable resources over a long period of time will inevitably rank higher in search results.

People develop trust with a brand after reading the information they produce, that’s why businesses with blogs get 126% more leads than those without a blog.

For the impatient business owner, loading up your website with blog articles, e-books, and images can seem like a chore; even if they do give content marketing a shot, they’ll usually complain after a few months that it’s “just not working”.

In 99% of cases, not only are they wrong, but they’re approaching their content marketing strategy in entirely the wrong fashion.

If that’s you, then keep reading.

A good content marketing strategy is not about firing up a bunch of random articles and hoping that they connect with your reader.

It takes planning, research, and most importantly, a clear end goal in mind in order to deliver the best results. Otherwise, you’re just shooting in the dark.

Here are a few reasons your strategy isn’t really working like it should.

1. You Aren’t Measuring What Works and What Doesn’t

The old saying rings true here, what gets measured, gets managed. How are you supposed to know what articles and topics are being read the most if you’re not keeping track of the stats?

The low-hanging fruit in measuring statistics are simple: open rate, click-through rate, page visits, etc.

At the very least, you should be monitoring those just to get an idea of what types of article titles get the best response, what topics your audience is most interested in, etc.

Go in to the back end of your website service as well and see where your traffic is coming from and where it’s going. Understanding your top referrals can help unlock a huge source of future traffic.

For business owners, the main area of concern is Return On Investment (ROI):

What am I getting in exchange for my marketing dollars?

This can come in many shapes, such as brand awareness, social shares, or just good old-fashioned page traffic.

All of these metrics can be used to gauge the popularity of a specific post and pumping resources into developing content will give you a bevy of assets that will pay dividends well into the future.

That’s why it behooves the business owner to examine not just how much of their content is being consumed, but how much is being shared, how much is developing qualified leads, and how many ultimately lead to conversions.

There is tracking software available that you can plug into your sales funnels to track this progression, but keep an eye on commonalities and tweak your conversion process accordingly.

2. Your Goals are Irrelevant to the Company Mission

While content marketing is a fantastic tool to gain readership and drive targeted traffic, it’s not an end unto itself.

At some level, every marketing strategy is geared towards driving the customer down the sales channel to a point of conversion, otherwise, it’s just content for content’s sake.

With that in mind:
  • What is the message that you are sending to your potential readers?
  • Are you trying to get them to sign up to your email list?
  • Contact you for more info?
  • Purchase one of your products?
  • Purchase a specific type of product?

Even worse, some companies have zero call-to-action on the back end of their articles, which means that the content just kind of sits there stagnant.

Some companies are so segregated between the marketing and sales departments that many of them aren’t even communicating on what the core message should be.

Those two parties (alongside others) should be in lock-step with one another: the marketing department funneling leads to the product or service that the sales department is pushing.

Content marketing can not just be an information-only proposition, it has to be with a specific goal in mind and preferably one that is in agreement with company goals.

3. You Have No Idea When You’ve Met Your Goals

What are your company’s goals for this year? Increase in revenue? Improve customer relationships? Build partnerships with complementary industries? All of those are noble goals, but how do you know you’ve attained it?

Every goal needs to have an ironclad, measurable number to test it with. Profit increase is fine, but will that be 5% or 15%? Moreover, what are your long-term goals and how do you define those?

Content marketing is usually seen as a “black hole” marketing strategy, in that no one is ever sure how long to continue pumping out content, at what rate, what types of content (text, info-graphics, etc), or when to pull the plug.

When implemented properly, content marketing should give you a substantial boost to your business as a whole, but if those goals are not well-defined, you could go for years without even knowing if it’s a success.

Set hard and fast goals for your business that are measurable and constantly track the impact your content marketing strategy is making towards that goal. Otherwise, how do you know it isn’t working in the first place?

4. You Haven’t Decided Which Strategies You’ll Use

Content marketing is a nebulous term that encompasses a lot of ideas, everything from e-books to info-graphics can be coined “content marketing” in some way or another.

Don’t make the mistake of simply saying, “we need content”, and then throwing everything against the metaphorical wall to see what sticks. Take some time to analyze the different tools at your disposal and choose accordingly.

For instance, you may decide that a webinar is a great way to introduce a large group of people to your business and then grab their email address at the end by offering a free e-book.

That’s a fantastic use of two very different content marketing strategies and also gives you a clear path of what to spend your resources developing.

Instead of taking all your available tactics and splitting your time among them, focus on 2-3 different mediums (blogs, white papers, etc) and get those right first. After you’ve got the team settled and are starting to see returns from a mostly passive marketing strategy, then you can branch off and implement a few more.

Be careful not to have too many going at any one time, however, or you’ll dilute your brand message into an inconsistent stream of garble.

5. Your Goals Are Not Realistic

While your goals need to be specific (see point #3 above), they also need to be within reason for your company. The end goal for every company is to attain more customers, but the intermediary goal can be different from there.

For instance, you may strive to make your content marketing strategy be primarily a lead-generation vehicle, so your content will mainly cater to people unfamiliar with your industry.

Or, you may see content as a means to drive up customer satisfaction.

In this case, you’ll be creating content that is for a more experienced market. Or it may be somewhere in the middle: for people that are possibly looking to buy from you.

In this case, the content will be more how-to, reviews, opinion-based than others.

No one goal is better than the other, but a clear idea in your head of what you’re shooting for will help craft the content the way you want it.

Moreover, these goals can change over a long period of time.

Initially, your content marketing may simply revolve around brand awareness, letting the entire world know who you are and what you offer.

After that content is in your online stable, then you can start to focus on other goals, such as long-form articles that explain how to use your product or opinions on industry news.

Whatever your goal is, make it specific as well as something that your team can focus on one-at-a-time, instead of trying to be all things to all people all the time.

Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!


Updated: Originally published March 4th 2018

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Cameron

    I think I fall into the rut not having a defined mission or objective for my content as suggested in number 3. My content seems like it exists to read but that’s it.

    Your insight has lead me to the conclusion that I need to focus my content on driving traffic to my number 1 goal, which is getting a larger email list.

    It seems that I had in mind that I just create more content and attract more visitors through organic searches, hoping they will sign up for the “newsletter” posted on my sidebar, which rarely happens.

    I’m going to include a bit more of a funnel strategy in all my posts to help attract more email subscribers.

    Thank you for great insight!

    1. Steven Mann

      Glad the article helped! Goals always help you see if your efforts are moving in the right direction or you are just spinning your wheels.

      Thanks for the comment Cameron!

  2. Marques Pizarro

    Thank God I came across this article! I can tell you put a lot of time and thought into this article because there are so much content and detail. My biggest take away is that I am not focusing on what works and what doesn’t. I need to find what people love reading and enjoy learning from the value I add. I always got to work on what my goals are for my company! Thank you so much, and I will come back for more knowledge, tips, and advice!

    1. Steven Mann

      Thanks Marques, I am happy you got so much out of the post. Keep your goals in sight and give the people what they want and you are sure to be a success!

      Thanks again for the comment!

  3. Michel

    Some great ideas here which I have made some notes on.

    I especially like the one about seeing what articles your audience is reading the most. I have only recently discovered how to do this, and have started writing more on the same topic as the most visited pages on my website.

    My traffic is gradually increasing, so it must hopefully be working.

    1. Steven

      Awesome, as you learn what works, keep doing it! Always think about what your audience wants and give it to them. With that approach, you just can’t fail!

      Thanks for the input Michel.

  4. Sukumar Thingom

    I like it when you say content marketing is a nebulous term. Most bloggers are too busy writing the next content (blog post) that they hardly do the introspection or analysis of the statistics like open rate, bounce rate, click-through rates, page visits, etc. The usual routine most follow is picking a keyword-rich title, building the content around it and just let it go live after a few on-page SEO things. If it ranks, it’s a pat on the back. And if it doesn’t rank at all, no worries. We’ll try our luck with the next post. You have listed some very important points of how and where most of us are doing wrong. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Steven

      Thanks Sukumar! There is a lot to this and there are important aspects that aren’t obvious on the surface. In some ways, it’s a numbers game but we can all improve our chances with a little attention to detail.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  5. Jordan

    Wow, this article intrigued me!

    Very helpful content. And I will admit that I’ve made at least some of these mistakes in my own marketing strategies. Number 4, in particular, hit me. I really haven’t decided very thoroughly what my marketing direction IS, and as a result I’ve been spread much too thin.

    Focus is important, right?

    I will need to return to this in the future to measure my methods to. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Steven

      Thanks for the kind words Jordan! I’m glad it helped you out.

  6. Jacqueline

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
    I’m fairly new to the world of online marketing and I tend to look at my analytics often.
    However, my website is fairly new so there isn’t much data for me to measure what is working and what isn’t.

    At what point will tools become useful for measuring data and effecting change?


    1. Steven

      Basically, once you are seeing some traffic but no results, that would be the time to evaluate your site and its content. Until then, concentrate on building things out and don’t worry too much about the numbers.

      Thanks for the comment Jacqueline!

  7. Jacqueline Smith

    Great. Thanks for your reply Steven.

    I will take your advice and continue to write content.


    1. Steven

      Best of luck and thanks Jacqueline!

  8. Stephen

    Great post and very informative! I think that these points are spot on and for me, the most important one is that your goals aren’t realistic.

    This was what caused me to give up 2 months into affiliate marketing. Since then I have seen sense and realised that it takes a lot of plugging away and patience. Success will come, but it takes hard work!

    1. Steven

      I’m glad to hear you are back at it! It does take a lot of perseverance. You will be successful if you keep trying!

      Thanks for the comment Stephen!

  9. Netta

    Hey Steven:

    Hmmm. It’s truly amazing how your post just hits the mark over and over about why my content marketing is not working. I think I’m making all five of the mistakes you’ve highlighted. (Sigh!)

    I’ve bookmarked your post and am going to sit down and work on these things.

    Thanks so much for pointing out these possible flaws.

    1. Steven

      It’s good to hear the article helped.

      Thanks for the input Netta!

  10. Sean

    Hi Steven.

    I’m a Newbie to the whole concept of content and whilst on the learning curve and reading through loads of how to and what to do’s it’s great to have a very concise breakdown of the importance of monitoring your content. I am just about to write mine on 2 of my projects and this has helped confirm areas of importance when starting the what can be quite overwhelming journey of becoming an online entrepreneur.

    Kind Regards


    1. Steven

      Good to hear the article helped you out.

      Thanks for the input Sean!

  11. Jo

    Your article made me think about getting more focused on 1-2 marketing strategies at the beginning. So my problem is the 3rd point. But I wonder this: where do I go in the back end of my website service to see where the traffic is coming from and where it goes?

    1. Steven

      Analytics is the best place to see traffic patterns for your site. There may be a plugin to accomplish this for WordPress but I have never looked into it. I use analytics to see where visitor’s enter and exit my site.

      Thanks for the comment Jo!

  12. Wilkin

    Hi Steven,
    I am new to business world and be honest I am stuck on the growth especially the revenue sector (contents are growing but not revenue).
    I am actually enlightened but also kinda confused at the second sector that you had written, about “content just for the sake of content” (please bear with me if I ask some stupid question). Since my focus is to increase revenue, does a content that similar to sales letter works better ? Eg, ask my reader buy something (call for action) at the end of article
    Thanks reading my comment, any info will be appreciated

    1. Steven

      You do need a call to action but avoid making your content read like a sales letter. No one wants to be sold. Your readers will come to your site to be informed and to learn new things. While learning they may realize they need what you are promoting. It should be subtle, never come across like you are selling them anything.

      So, produce good, helpful content and offer more through a call to action. That is the basic technique to content marketing.

      Thanks for the input Wilkin!

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