[updated: 06.03.19] Reading time: 6–7 minutes
Did you ever ask yourself why your content fails?
Writing content that will attract and keep people coming back for more, can be daunting and exhausting.
Here is a little framework (reminder for some) for you the reader, before we go into details.
In order to develop a solid content strategy you’ll first need to start with a SMART research.
These can be put into four tabs:
- Industry/market research
- Client/customer research
- New disruptors or business innovators research
- Competitor research
From here you’ll need to scrutinise your data not once but at all times! I repeat – you need a person almost full-time to check out your best content, topic, keywords etc.
Analyse your industry: a) Seek for alternative industries? (less competition) b) what is your business/ company strategicly good at? c) what do you stand for?
Client/customer research: Analyse the three types: a) the buyers b) your users and c) the influencers (the ones who read and share).
New disruptors: These are the newly made (innovative) startups who come, hit hard and take a small slice of your market share.
Competitor research: it’s useful to understand the wants, and needs – but you need to do it under a blue ocean angle.
Here you need to figure out which content delivery your competitors are using but also and/ or the content they are not good at.
Hint: Perform a deep research looking into the buying/commercial terms and then seek to find educational/informative.
Then analyse and create epic content that wows people over and over and include a combination of:
a) creative copywriting skills (which you can learn)
b) Based upon your research discovery (no-competing and relevant)
c) Keep analysing data and analytics.
Now let’s dive in and see the top reasons to why content fails.
Top 13 reasons why content strategy fails
1. You are not updating your content marketing plan
It’s hard to row in the dark, unless you have some NVG (night vision goggles).
It’s pretty much the same thing with content – if you don’t have a content plan, you don’t know why and to whom you are writing for. To squeeze the best out of your published content you need a solid plan of action.
Be meticulous, have your personas next to you, be consistent, and test what is working for you. Then test, test and improve upon – restart all over again. You still have to research and analyse your tactics.
When you have a clear picture of what is and isn’t working, you can scale up the strategies that work, and stop wasting time on those that don’t.
Tip: content audit is your starting point.
Example: A successful lead generation campaign will depend on specific content you created. So, you would check your analytics to see which pages are most read – and ask yourself “ Where am I providing value to my readers?”
From here you could use and replicate it over to the other pages in order to attract more viewers. These will share it, which in return can lead to more sales, right.
2. You don’t know your audience
If you’re writing content for the web, apps do not pack it for all the trades – as you’ll never know exactly what your readers need, which will translate in zero comments, links or shares.
Listening to your audience (tip): feedly.com is perfect to listen to multiple blogs, or Websites, but also find out what is going on on your industry.
You also have: SocialBro, tweriod, tweetreach and Twilert can send you daily alerts each time your search keywords are mentioned on Twitter are also useful.
But to find out your audience’s needs/wants you must setup your “ customer journey mapping” worksheet.
Step one: elaborate 5-6 related topic questions.
Step 2: then be active on social networks, listen, engage, ask them and/or participate in relevant online conversations with your audience whenever possible.
Step 3: Then prioritise your phases based on those answers, continue to listen to their conversations, then translate it into a simple solution and send it back to them.
The aim here, is two fold, first you seek to build meaningful relationships with those who might need your help and secondly you’re giving your valuable expertise free, which will later on (likely) be shared with their peers/followers.
Job half done.
Tip 2: Do attend whenever possible conferences/networking events in your industry as this can lead to online connections that will help enlarge your audience but also authority.
Keep this alive and keep asking or figuring out what they like or need, so you can elaborate your content messages accordingly – perfect to improve a failing content strategy.
3. You haven’t set SMART goals
Do you need SMART goals? Oh yes. Put it this way – If you plan clever goals/objectives ahead you are simply structuring what needs to be done but also saving time and of course money.
Hint: If you’re stuck for ideas: draft the all thing backwards from the closing stages to the top of the funnel.
4. You don’t position yourself as an expert
You have to show some sort of business expertise – whether it is through case-studies, content writing, podcast, video. If you’re going to choose the publishing arena you better of getting some help. Find and hire an expert who will write or help you write your content, this will put your expertise out there while writing your blog.
5. You’re not identifying relevant industry topics
Before even trying to attract and/or convert readers try to find out what is it they need. It’s easy to assume that all readers like X or Y topic because others are writing it. Never assume that what is good for others is good for your audience. Big mistake. Go find a different angle so you can alert them, engage and solve what their problems may be ― by offering valuable and digestible content.
The smartest strategy is to ensure you’re offering instant useful content first, so they get to remember you, so you can start and/or add extra steps within the sales funnel.
6. You haven’t done page content optimisation
When was the last time you optimised your website’s content? Believe it or not, Google actually would like you to have quality pages, so in return they can list you higher in their pages. That is why is important to follow their guidelines – so, you know what to do next. Let’s move on. You probably know by now that there are over 230 factors or indicators to rate your website. Search engines base themselves on these factors to help users find relevant content in organic search results.
You can tackle most of these factors yourself.
Example: Start improving your content by adding H2, H3 tags to your sub-headings. Also your website page will not be considered if you do not write a meta tag description.
To improve and fix your on-page SEO content – I recommend that you focus on one single topic per page. Help the reader navigate your content at a glance. Revisit your main headings, keywords, image Alt text, synonyms you use in your content, links and the anchor text of those links.
Get some extra help with these free tools:
SEO Spider by screaming frog download and install it on PC, Mac or Linux in 3-4 clicks. This is a great desktop program to crawl websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps but also to test your onsite SEO.
Second option: Use onpage optimisation tool by internet marketing ninjas to check your SEO content. Also a great tool to help analyse your existing onpage SEO content.
7. You are not promoting your content [enough]
If you don’t have enough fans or online followers to get you out there, it’s going to be even harder.
Start by searching who your influencers are. Take the time to study what they share or like to talk about. Then create epic content, offer them to read it, or share your case-studies, and/or best post. Check and go see them speak at industry events.
8. You are not building momentum
Start by communicating with your primary audience on a regular-basis. Offer your help, share a thought, downloadable e-books, case studies, white papers. At later stage share other great content behind opt-in mechanism.
If they like it they’ll tell you. Believe it or not this is one of the most efficient ways to provide valuable information in return for contact details.
Here is an idea – Nurture them with: tools, processes, or invite them to share their ideas re a rich-topic you are about to write. spot and follow them on social media, make online mentions, retweets, etc.
9. You are not inviting (real) influencers on-board
There are several ways to get influencers on your side.
One of them is: find where they hangout and which topics they like reading. Then start adding comments under their most recent post/comment.
Try buzzsumo and search for your favourite topic. Select your industry influencers and entice them with valuable content.
Example: Send them a (“10 most interesting people in last..”) post or ask if they would be keen to help answer some questions re a topic you’re about to write.
10. You’re not analysing your keyword topics
Lack of keyword analysis is a deadly sin specially when drafting content. See also item #6. that is the most important part of your content strategy for the web.
11. You’re not studying industry figures/stats.
Create primary research about their industry, most relevant topics, searchable terms – such as best headline topics this year – worst performing …etc.
12. You’re not producing educational content about specific business issues
Get your educational content backed by case studies and/or interview an expert to get his opinion. Grab the expert’s attention by delivering a free downloadable white-paper report.
13. You do not have calls-to-action on your page
Why did you not include a call to action in your content? Seriously, that is so wrong.
Why are publishing it? What is your goal in sharing that content? etc. Always ask yourself this: what is the main purpose of my content.
Content strategy formula [Solution]
Regardless your level, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to do it yourself or bring someone in. Either way, you’ll need a content creation strategy plan, ideas and time.
If you opted to engage good freelance people, that’s great, it will be the best option as they can help you quickly gain momentum.
If you’ve decided to tackle it in-house then stick with this formula:
- Grab your 10 % of common sense,
- 30% collecting and/or analysing data
- 60% of creative skills .
Oops, almost forgot – Add (your) SMARTER Goals, scanning your checklist of do’s and dont’s to lay down your foundation .
I keep learning how to write creative and attractive content – and I’m not embarrassed to say that it can be very hard and time consuming. I’ve found some great techniques, not so much where to get the relevant content ideas I need.
From experience, I’ve learnt that writing content that sells is like mastering the art of performing magic tricks.
You need to learn the mechanics first.
We humans are wired for stories – as kids, we would dream of being a pilot, doctor, nurse, actor based on stories I read.
Where am I going with this?
What I am trying to say is that when reading content it will play or changes people’s ideas, emotional states etc.
Would you agree that reading meaningful stories help us forget life’s complex social problems and/or get us emotional about something?
Take the film War horse – by Steven Spielberg for example (based on the great book by Michael Morpurgo)
It narrates the relationship between a young man and a horse living in rural Britain in around 1915. The boy’s idyllic childhood comes to a sudden end when his best friend is sold to the army by his father. From here, we’ll see a dramatic turn in his life.
This film shares several emotional stages with the viewers.
Starting with the relationship between a boy and his taught, cold, stubborn father. Followed by the painful, sensitive and cruel wide shots of his horse’s engagement during the First World War to the moment where he’ll …
well, watch the film or read the book. It has all the ingredients for a great story.
For the film to exist – the team (writers, producers…) go through a long content planning session before it can finally become a film script. For the record, they also needed a script writer, director, editors and scenarist.
The bottom line is – write to engage and get people involved.
Why? Because they’ll remember it and share it – for the right reasons.
The key to great and successful content is – data collection, brainstorm your ideas first, plan and implement it.
Secondly, list the top five topics you think would make a winner. Thirdly, select a draft post’s main sections (like a synopsis) by jotting-down a sentence or two.
Then outline main idea with a beginning, middle and end sentence. Fourth step, would be amending or changing sentence order. And the fifth step is the editing part.
These are important steps, tools and processes you need to have (not optional):
- Review your business model (important)
- Audit Webiste/ Existing Content /worksheet (if Website is up)
- Identify your online objectives (priorities)
- Content gap analysis (Taking over a project – i.e: In-house Agency)
- Project summary worksheet (When starting the project)
- Create a “ Content matrix” (Starts @Design phase)
- Editorial processes (Before writing Web content)
- Identify market & competitor GAP’s (diferentiate yourself)
- Ask/discover your audience “Audience mapping”
- Master keyword/SEO worksheet
- Promotion/Distribution channels plan.
Kristina Halvorson from Brain traffic once explained that Content strategy is the way of:
Planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.
I agree with the well described sentence.
Why should you create high-quality, deliver and update unique and useful content?
I’d say that is because we already have huge amounts of material on the Web. You’ll find bags of poor content for almost any topic – so what’s the point in adding more if your content is not going to wow me?
A recent Google study tell us that 80% of online content is far behind the recommended Google guidelines. To win them over, be yourself and help them. They’ll be your best advocate when you create, share valuable and well-researched content.