Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better: Why Content Campaigns Fail

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Why Your Content Marketing Campaigns Fail | SEJ

Do you know why I love content marketing? Because every brand can make a considerable impact—regardless of their size.

It doesn’t take a multi-million dollar budget or even hundreds of posts each month. In fact, sometimes large budgets and high quantity can lead to worse content marketing. I’ve seen many companies use these things as a crutch for publishing sub-par content.

Don’t get fooled. Bigger isn’t necessarily better.

In content marketing, slow and steady wins the race. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large corporation or a small shop. But if it doesn’t have to do with budget or company size, why do content campaigns fail?

I’ve broken down the why into four main reasons:

You Haven’t Developed an Actionable Strategy

65% of B2B marketers don’t have a documented content marketing strategy.

That’s a huge number of companies aimlessly trying to make something stick. If you want to beat them, you’ve got to make a strategy, document it, and stick to it.

Set Reasonable Expectations

As you strive to set your content marketing strategy, don’t aim for a goal so lofty that you’ll never be able to reach it. Set reasonable, realistic expectations. No, you can’t make $1,000,000 from that $5,000 investment in 30 days.

Content marketing just doesn’t work like that.

Come up With a Plan for Reaching Your Goals

Once you’ve set goals that you can achieve, work backwards to decide how you’ll get there. Come up with a detailed plan of exactly what you need to do on a monthly and weekly basis to reach your goals.

Document it and Review the Strategy on a Regular Basis

Now, write it all down!

Don’t forget to review the strategy every now and again. It’s easy to forget your goals and get distracted. Keep your strategy top-of-mind by looking at it from time to time.

You’re Not Investing 100% in Your Campaign

If we’re all honest with each other, sometimes we’re just not 100% invested in the campaign. Other things steal our attention and we just can’t find the time to execute good content marketingIt happens to everyone.

And, unfortunately, that lack of investment is exactly why your content campaign fails. To succeed in this noisy marketplace, you’ve got to put in the work to stand out.

Anything less does a disservice to your brand.

Decide What Type of Investment You Want to Make

Before you can invest 100%, you’ve got to decide what that 100% looks like for you. Generally speaking, there are two main forms of investment when it comes to content marketing:

  • An investment of your time
  • A financial investment

You can take an either/or approach, or blend the two for a well-balanced campaign. Just be sure your commitments are based in reality. If you’ve only got an hour free each day, don’t plan to fit eight hours of work into that timeframe.

Time Investment: A DIY Approach to Content Marketing

Many people think they can’t do good content marketing because they don’t have the money. That’s simply not true. Content marketing can be done extremely cheaply, it’s just going to cost you something different: your time.

Time is the great equalizer. We all only have 24 hours in the day.

If you can’t afford to hire someone else to do content marketing for you, then you need to invest your time and do it yourself.

Financial Investment: Hire a Strong Team of People

If, on the other hand, you do have the funds, you can save your time by making a financial investment. This comes in the form of doing things like:

  • Hiring a team or agency to handle your marketing
  • Investing in advertising opportunities

Whichever path you pick, go all-in with it. If you don’t spend the hours it takes to make your content campaign successful, you can’t complain when it fails. Likewise, if you don’t invest in a competent marketer that brings results, you’ll be just as likely to fail.

It’s all about making a strong investment—regardless of the investment type.

You’ve Given up Before Giving it a Chance

It’s frustrating when you aren’t getting the results you want from your content. As a result, many brands give up on content marketing way too soon. They throw in the towel and make the excuse that content marketing just won’t work for their business.

If you really want to see results, you’ve got to give it a chance.

Choose the Right KPIs and Stick With Them

Measuring the right key performance indicators (KPIs) is the only way to really know what’s working. If you don’t measure success, how will you know when you achieve it?

It all comes down to your KPIs.

There are a number of different KPIs you could use to measure success. A few of the more popular indicators include:

  • Page visits
  • Downloads
  • Time on page
  • Inbound links
  • Social media shares
  • Conversion rates
  • Comments on posts
  • Subscribers to email

The KPIs you choose will ultimately depend on your overall goals. For example, if you want to use your website to build your email list, using subscribers as a KPI is a logical choice. If you’re more concerned about expanding your social presence through content marketing, measure your social shares.

Give it at Least Nine Months of Complete Dedication

Content takes time to gain traction. The web is a huge place, filled with tons of information. You need to give your work time to be noticed and engaged with by your audience.

I like to advise people to make a minimum investment of nine months for content marketing endeavors. At that point, if it’s still not making an impact in your business, you can reevaluate your investment.

But during that time, you have to give it 100%.

Don’t Throw in the Towel—Adjust and Make Changes When Necessary

If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to make adjustments. If your car broke down and all that needed to be replaced was an engine belt, you wouldn’t trash the car. You’d fix the belt and keep on driving.

Think of your content campaign in the same way. If your efforts aren’t working, replace the broken parts and keep using the overall machine.

Giving up too early has been the downfall of many solid content marketing strategies. Even small content campaigns can make an impact—but not if you give up before they have a chance to succeed.

You’re Just Not Publishing Good Content

I’m going to be brutally honest right now: Most marketers don’t produce good content and that’s why their campaigns fail.

It’s not because you aren’t publishing enough. And it’s not because you don’t have enough money. It’s because the quality isn’t there.

That’s a sad reality, but it doesn’t have to be that way…

Stick to Accepted Standards for Writing Online

Writing for the web isn’t like any other type of writing. It takes a special kind of style, tone and format to do correctly.

And if your content doesn’t measure up to these standards, it won’t make the kind of impact you want. What are these standards? I like to use the guidelines Usability.gov put together:

Why Your Content Marketing Campaigns Fail | SEJ

Avoid Generic Content That’s Full of Fluff

Get to the point. There’s no reason to add extra words. Fluffy content just for the sake of a longer article does more harm than good.

Instead, write in-depth posts backed with statistics, images, and research. Ask yourself what kind of content would be genuinely helpful to your audience, and then provide it.

Support Written Content With High-Quality Design

In many ways, design is just as important as the writing itself. And both design and writing fall into the overall “content” category.

The online world is becoming increasingly and increasingly visual. It’s important that when you publish custom graphics or images, they’re high-quality and a good resolution.

No one wants to look at poor design—don’t drag your content creation efforts down by using it.

Will You Do What it Takes to Succeed?

Have you ever failed with a content marketing campaign? I think we all have at one point or another. Luckily, failure doesn’t mean death. You can get back up and try again right now.

It’s that kind of tenacity that will make you a content marketing success story.

If you’re serious about succeeding in content marketing, I’d love if you shared at least one way you’re going to avoid these mistakes in your campaigns… Let the comments begin!

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Ramdlon/Pixabay.com
In-post Photo: Screenshot by Aaron Agius. Taken January 2016.

Aaron Agius

Aaron Agius

Managing Director at Louder Online
Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands, including Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Target and others, to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Aaron Agius
Aaron Agius
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  • Roger Rogerson

    That was a nice and quite thorough piece.

    But the word “audience” and showed twice – and both times were mere mentions.

    One of the common factors for content marketing to fail (and advertising or promotion in general) is due to poor-targeting. This could mean;
    a) you’ve promoted in the wrong place/used the wrong platform
    b) you’ve used the wrong medium/format
    c) you’ve used the wrong language
    d) you’ve used the wrong approach/VPs/CTAs

    Knowing your audience is important. That doesn’t just mean a “persona” called “Janet” who represents the 30-something mid-educated return-to-work moms who earn in the 30K bracket and live in the mid-west.
    It means you know what motivates them, what their incentives are, what they are looking for and why. It means you know what sites/social platforms they use, when they use them and how they use them. You know what words and images capture their attention (fluffy kittens and “free” don’t always work :D).

    Hmmmm … was there anything else missing?
    No … I think you covered everything else quite well 😀

    KPI’s … you may be better creating your own metrics.
    Rather than using base metrics, you should look at combining and/or refining those base metrics.
    You want to measure reach – look at Social Shares. But don’t take just the base figures. Look at the quantity over specific time periods. Look at the total to date. Look at the number of reshares (and how far those reshare chains go). Look at how popular the resharers are. Look at the audience giving the shares. Look at the sentiment/response to the shares.
    I know – it’s a lot of digging and fudging of numbers – but the information you get back can be far more valuable.
    Compare :
    a) 300 Twitter shares in 1 week.
    b) 50 initial Twitter shares, with 100 reshares by day 3, and another 150 by day 7.
    c) 50 initial Twitter shares by existing customers, with 100 reshares by non-customers that posted positive comments by day 3, and another 150 reshares by day 7 by non-consumers that live mostly in your target region and appear to be the right age-group.

    Yup, (c) is far more actionable. You know that you can invest a bit of time/effort in communicating with those resharers. Where as if the responses were negative, or the profiles were in other countries, or the wrong personality types … you could save resources 😀

    The right metrics are worth investing in!

  • http://www.unblock.com Furqan Rizwan

    Good one, loved how you explained few start ups fail initially and back off. thats wrong. Agree with most of your points.

  • http://www.cheese.com/ John Goatbirth

    Blah blah blah profit margins blah business spiel blah.

  • http://skinali.izmoroz.com Izmoroz

    This is all very interesting. But the problem does not disclose

  • http://www.brandexseo.com Michael Monaghan

    He’s right on point regarding content. I believe this is and will become an important element of any campaign going forward.