Nowadays you can’t have a successful business without content marketing. It’s wildly effective for building trust with your customer base, unparalleled when it comes to building your brand and it grants you massive exposure across a variety of mediums. But what happens when your current strategy stops working or if it never really brought any results in the first place?
You might think you’ve got a killer brand or that you’re in good hands with your marketing team. Maybe you’re even using a self-made content plan. But when you look at the data, it doesn’t add up. You’re not getting the results you want, and you don’t know why. The good news is, you’re not alone! The bad news is, well, you’re not alone – although 93% of all B2Bs, 77% of all B2Cs and a whopping 94% of small companies do content marketing, 8 out of 10 businesses still fail within the first two years. So what’s the catch?
Not seeing results? Ask yourself this question
Here is the single-handedly most important advice you’ll ever get on your content marketing – keep your strategy documented. I’ve been astonished at how many entrepreneurs don’t have a properly recorded or well-thought-out plan. Out of all marketers, 12% have no content strategy at all, and a staggering 50% have a strategy that is not written down. Ask yourself – are you part of this majority? You need figures, statistics, and accurate, raw data to track your progress and make viable adjustments. I’m talking traffic, shares, email open rates, KPIs (key performance indicators) and the big picture, but well-defined goals regarding your brand, profit, and revenue. It doesn’t matter how good you think your content strategy is – if it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. You can’t fix the problem if you don’t even know where to look for it. So make sure you have a clear-cut plan and concrete benchmarks to work with. Once you’ve got this covered, we can move on to the second-most-common issue.
You can have the most inspiring, shareable content in the world – if no one sees it, it’s going to fade away in the vast web of the Internet. And when it comes to your brand, the best investment you can make is building up a solid content strategy. Even though it’s expensive, those extra figures can make all of the difference in whether or not your business will succeed. (Especially) If you don’t have the time or the expertise necessary, hire a team that will handle it for you. And don’t be skimpy because what you put in is what you get when it comes to content planning. If you’ve hit a wall with your current strategy, either find a marketing team instead of doing everything solo or hire a new, more experienced team instead of your current one.
You’re in the wrong niche
There are two scenarios that happen when you’ve jumped the gun on a tough niche: you can be invested in an unappealing, unpopular industry or your niche is so trendy that you’ve got insane competition. If it’s the former, there’s not much you can do other than developing and refining the content that does drive traffic to your website. A bright planner might be able to salvage it. Otherwise, you need to switch to a more valued niche. If you’re dealing with the second scenario, then there’s more hope for you. You need to start creating content in a different format, one that’s unique and brings something new to the table (that your competitors don’t). Another workaround would be to get more specific and find a niche within your niche.
Here’s an interesting case study with an old brand from 1903. Hyland’s is a company that offers homeopathic medicine, including remedies for leg cramps. As the sales and marketing of the business were plummeting, Thao Le, Hyland’s vice-president, found an unusual, but astounding opportunity – Pickleball, a racket sport rapidly growing in popularity among 65-year-olds. Thao then created Pickleball Channel, a website that provided content mainly focused on the sport for an increasing audience which later turned into a full-blown community. Its members now associate their entertaining sport with Hyland’s brand. This is one of the countless examples that show the power of a well-prepared content strategy. And none of it would have been possible without thinking outside the box and planning ahead to fulfill a newly-emergent need for potential clients.
You’re expecting immediate results
If you think you’ll start seeing results in a few weeks or months after making your investment, think again. Content marketing is a complex endeavor, and a sound strategy needs time to produce results. Make sure you remember that promotion is essential and follow these steps:
- Find the right social media platform for your business or niche (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.) and upload regularly; consistency is key,
- Always interact with your audience to build trust and engagement; this is the most important part of a strong content strategy – if they love your content, they’ll love your brand, and they’ll start believing in your vision.
- Use UTM tracking codes for all of your URLs and check your stats using Google Analytics; never let your strategy become stale or outdated, make adjustments as you go.
- You’re relying too little on the content itself. On the other side of the coin, content is king after all – and you need golden content to keep a successful business going.
A mistake I often see with entrepreneurs is them outsourcing their content creation to inexperienced or inexpensive writers. The result? Poor content that renders all the promotion futile. You need talented content creators, web designers, graphic designers, and so on to carry out your marketing plan. What you should be looking for is content that either inspires or informs – preferably both. You need the writing to be persuasive, helpful and uplifting if you want your clients to keep coming back for more, but also to build a strong, authentic relationship with them – that is the key to a successful content strategy.