You know the potential value of content marketing; it’s one of the most important and most potentially advantageous marketing strategies of the modern era, in part because of how tightly it connects to other strategies like SEO, conversion optimization, and social media marketing. But the path to success in content marketing is anything but linear.
Instead, you’ll likely run into some obstacles as you figure out the best approach for your audience and competitive niche. In fact, you may find your content campaign struggling to stay afloat, especially in the early stages — which is a critical moment for you to turn things around.
But how do you know when your content strategy is failing?
1. You don’t know what to consider “success.” There are tons of advantages to content marketing (and very few disadvantages), but you can’t seek general “success” and hope to actually achieve it. How would you know when you got there? Instead, you should have very specific, measurable goals in your content strategy. For example, is your main goal to increase your rankings and traffic from search engines? If so, you should know what keywords you’re targeting. If you’re more focused on securing more conversions, you need to be measuring how your content affects user signups and purchases.
2. Your follower counts are stagnant. As a general rule, follower counts aren’t a good measure of your worth in any marketing strategy; the “quality over quantity” rule applies here, as it’s better to have a small following of dedicated users than it is to have a huge following of flakes and uninterested parties. Still, if you’re sufficiently engaging your audience and syndicating your content to them effectively, you should notice your audience increasing in size over time. if you aren’t noticing much of a difference, something could be wrong.
3. You aren’t seeing increases in traffic. Content marketing should affect your traffic from a number of different sources. It should increase your search rankings along with organic search traffic, attract more social media visitors from your social profiles, and even help you get recurring direct traffic from returning loyal readers. If you don’t see your traffic numbers rising, after a few months, your campaign could be failing.
4. Your on-page time is under two minutes. If your content is keeping your visitors’ interest, they’ll be staying on your page for more than a couple of minutes. Head to Google Analytics and check out how long your users are spending on some of your most prominent blog posts. If you notice these times are low, it means you need to do a better job of retaining your readers.
5. You don’t have any standout features. You don’t need to go viral with every piece to consider your content marketing campaign a success, nor do you need to have a piece get hundreds of thousands of shares. However, you should have at least one or two pieces that seem to be standout hits, gaining several shares and likes, or generating a suitable discussion. This can serve as an excellent starting point for finding new topics that your audience enjoys; but if you aren’t able to produce even one powerful piece, it’s a sign you should rethink your strategic direction.
6. Your engagement rates are low. Though share counts can be deceptive, your total number of engagements is a good indication of how successful your content is at reaching your audience. Pay close attention to any ways your audience is engaging with your content, including likes, shares, and comments. The more of these you see, the better; not only is this an indirect measure of successful reach, it’s also a shortcut to getting more visibility on social media channels.
What to Do About It
Assuming you’ve discovered that your content campaign is failing, don’t worry — there’s always time and room for improvement. Here are a few quick ways you can get the job done:
· Dump quantity for quality. Your first goal should be to stop focusing on achieving content quantity minimums and instead focus on producing the best content you can. Even if you’re only producing one or two posts a month, if they’re worthwhile, they’ll be more valuable than dozens of fluff posts you churn out en masse.
· Differentiate yourself. You need to find a way to differentiate yourself, whether that’s targeting a different niche audience or using different technologies to produce and promote your work. Learn what your competitors are doing, and brainstorm about how you can make yourself unique.
· Figure out what your users want. If you aren’t delivering what your users want, take a step back and reevaluate what those wants really are. Do some new market research, or just ask your audience directly what types of topics they’d like to see.
· Promote and nurture your content. It isn’t enough to merely publish your content and hope for the best; even if your content is fantastic, it’s still going to need a little support. Following up with your content by syndicating, distributing, and nurturing it can help you generate more initial interest, and ultimately higher returns.
These are only a handful of quick strategies, as redrawing a new content strategy from scratch would warrant an entirely separate post. Still, this should at least help you in the diagnostic process and give you a good starting point on how to develop your content strategy from here.