Content Marketing Falling Flat? Here’s How You Can Fix It Once and For All


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Businesses have been told by marketers for years now that a steady stream of fresh content is the sure antidote to all marketing woes. But what happens when your content marketing doesn’t achieve the desired results?

Want to build followers on your social channels? Post fresh social content.

Want to grow traffic to your website? Publish fresh blog content.

Want to convert traffic into leads? Capture email addresses with fresh downloadable content.

Want to turn those leads into money-making machines…er…customers? Create fresh (and ideally automated) lead nurturing content.

Content. Content. And more content. 

That’s why many businesses crank out post after post, resource after resource, updating social channels multiple times daily and responding to every comment and like with more content. 

It’s exhausting just reading about it. 

And it’s understandable that many marketers and business owners are feeling exhausted when it comes to creating content. Because it’s a never-ending task.  

And yet, despite all that fresh content, somehow their results remain flat. So they’re:

  • Not getting enough customers, or not getting the right customers to their site or social channels
  • Not getting enough newsletter sign-ups
  • Not getting free trial registrations
  • Not getting consistent quality leads
  • Getting nothing but crickets in the comments and shares

Can you relate? Are you wondering why all your fresh content isn’t leading to hoards of new customers?

Here are some common reasons your content marketing efforts may be falling flat, and fast fixes you can implement now. 

1. You’re publishing fresh content, but do you have a strategy?

Picture of a yellow road sign indicating many turns ahead
Do your content marketing efforts need a roadmap?

If your answer here is: yes, our strategy is to publish fresh content regularly! Well, we hate to break it to you, but winging it is not a viable strategy. Throwing up social doesn’t work and can lead to a situation in which: 

  • You and your team are at a loss as to what to write/post about 
  • You’re not making use of your internal expertise and resources
  • Nobody knows what to prioritize or focus on 
  • Your competition is killing you

A strategy starts with goals and ends with expected results, and breaks down all the necessary points in between from audience to channels, to frequency of publishing to operations requirements along the way.

Putting together a content strategy forces you to think beyond simply cranking out post after post to the why and how and what of your content, such as:

  • Why are you doing content marketing in the first place? What are your goals? And how can you achieve them through content marketing?
  • Who are you targeting with your content and what kinds of content will they need? 
  • How can you best use content to guide your prospects through each stage of the buyer’s journey?
  • Is your content actually working to accomplish your goals? 

Fast fix: Get your stakeholders together to create a roadmap for the next 90 days. With a short-term plan in place, you can then start to consider a longer-term strategy. (Our content strategy workshops can help you to get this done).

2. You lack insight into your audience.

Sample of an audience persona worksheet for Forge and Spark
Visualizing your audience can really help you create the right kind of content

Do you know exactly who you’re talking to?

Every piece of content you produce should speak directly and specifically to your core audience. And even more directly and specifically to their needs — whether they’re in need of education, answers, entertainment or solutions. All of your content should speak to exactly what your audience needs. 

Of course, in order to achieve that, you need to know who you’re speaking to, and your understanding needs to be more detailed than “anyone who might need our product/service”.

So who is your audience exactly? 

Where do they live and work? 

Where do they hang out online?

What are they trying to achieve and what are their biggest challenges in getting there? 

What problems can you help solve? 

The answers to these questions will be the foundation for your audience personas. 

Fast fix: Pull from both your current customer profiles and your ideal prospects in order to paint a picture of your target persona. The more detailed you can be, the better you’ll understand what kind of content you need to create.

3. You keep doing the same thing over and over again.

Pizza pictures on an Instagram grid
Pizza is delicious, but this social feed looks like a lot of the same thing…

Perhaps you’ve mastered the art of the compelling blog post. Or the science of the engaging tweet. And you’ve rinsed and repeated hundreds of times. Sure, these posts may have worked well for awhile, inspiring engagement and click-throughs. But over time, your audience has gotten so used to them that perhaps they’re not responding the way they used to. They might not even really notice them anymore. Maybe it’s time to switch it up and try something new? 

It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. But it should be different. Maybe a video instead of text. Maybe a punchy graphic instead of a long-form post. Maybe people pics over product shots. Recognizing that audiences get bored of the same thing day after day, week after week — even if it is good content — is important. Sometimes you need to grab their attention with a post they really aren’t expecting and can’t gloss over. 

Fast fix: A new format, a new template or even a new channel can be the key to giving your results a boost. And it’ll be a nice boost for your creative juices as well.

4. Your messaging is all about you.

StoryBrand Framework graphic
Donald Miller’s Storybrand Framework makes the customer the hero of your story

Sure, it’s your brand after all, so showcasing your latest product release or humblebragging your efforts to give back are absolutely warranted. 

But if every post is only about you, your brand or what you’re selling, you’re missing an important piece of the content puzzle (hint: see #2). 

Most of your content should be about your audience and their needs! 

As Neil Patel once wrote, don’t confuse content with sales. Of course you want your readers to become customers, but your content needs to be broader than a simple sales pitch or you won’t capture most people’s attention. Your goal should be to create content that will endear you to your prospects and keep them coming back until they’re ready to make a purchase decision. And that might be months down the road. 

Fast fix: Using Donald Miller’s Storybrand framework, explore how you can make your customers the hero of the story and position yourself or your brand as a trusted guide helping customers achieve their goals. By becoming that guide, you can create content that your hero will find entertaining, educational, useful and shareable.

5. You aren’t using paid promotions.

Ads can be part of your content marketing strategy, and in fact, they should be. Especially if you put a lot of time and effort into creating your content, and sharing it on all of your channels isn’t amounting to much traffic. The reality is that many platforms have become pay to play environments, with algorithms that reward content that is already getting engagement. 

Giving important content a budget for boosts and ads means getting it in front of more eyeballs and more of the audience members you’re hoping to attract. Those boosts can be essential to getting the engagement ball rolling, giving your content a runway for launch. You don’t have to boost all of your content, but we usually recommend choosing at least a few posts per month for some paid promotion. 

Fast fix: Set aside a small budget for content promotions and select posts for boosting from among those that are already receiving the most engagement and clicks-throughs. 

6. You’re working without visual guidelines.

Visual style guide example
Templates bring visual consistency to your feed

Visuals have always been important in marketing, but social media has upped the ante on the need for beautiful graphics. And, frankly, social channels are filled with audiences who have developed an expectation for eye-catching visuals. 

Of course, some channels are more visual than others (think: Instagram, Pinterest), and some topics are tougher to illustrate than others. But any feed can be enhanced with a set of strong visual brand guidelines that define a consistent colour palette and fonts, and some simple social templates that elevate even the most text-focused of posts. 

Fast fix: If you haven’t got visual guidelines in place, get a designer who can help you create your social visual identity. 

7. You aren’t tracking and measuring your results.

You can’t measure what you don’t track. And you’ll never know how or why your content marketing efforts are falling flat unless you start digging into your analytics. 

Set up a monthly tracking report for your content so you can get a reliable picture of what content is getting engagement and traffic, and what content isn’t. Then, do more of what’s working, and figure out if you can fix what isn’t. 

For example, let’s say you have a landing page that, when initially launched, converted visitors at a rate of 8%. That’s pretty good! But after the first month, its conversion rate started dropping and by month three, it was sitting at 2%. Looking at who’s coming to your page, where they’re coming from and what they’re clicking on (or not) can help you to sort out what needs tweaking and improvement. Then go ahead and tweak and improve! The beauty of content marketing is that you can always update what you’ve already created to improve its performance. 

Fast fix: Grab those goals you identified as part of your strategy and use them to set content KPIs and measurement tactics. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet that tracks key metrics from month to month. 

8. You’re trying to do it all on your own. 

Woman laughing with her coworker
Content marketing is a team effort!

If you’ve been at this awhile then you already know that content marketing is A LOT of work! It takes strategic planning and research and art and science to produce solid posts that get results. No matter what size your organization is, or how many resources you have at your disposal, you’re likely dealing with content creation for at least a couple of social channels on top of your website content, and that can easily add up to a full-time job. 

Effectively managing content marketing also requires a variety of skill sets, from strategy to writing, editing and design, to video and audio production, social media management and data analytics. And frankly, it’s tough to get all that in one person. 

Fast fix: It might be time to consider getting help, so you can focus on what you do best and outsource the rest. 

Content marketing works when you do it right. And doing it right requires an investment of time and resources to get the right plans and tools in place so you can strategically execute a solid plan, measure what works, tweak what doesn’t and change things up every once in awhile. 

Need help optimizing your content marketing efforts? Get in touch. We’d love to chat about how we can help.

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