5 Warning Signs Your Content Marketing Sucks

January 7th, 2014 - Posted by
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You’ve probably heard by now that content marketing can help you generate leads, lift sales and increase brand awareness.

Are you currently writing blog posts and creating eBooks for your business – but not seeing the immediate results those Internet marketing gurus said you would?

That’s because your content marketing strategy has a few holes in it.

No, not the good kind.

No, not the good kind.

Here at Fit Marketing we often see five common content marketing mistakes, and today we’re going to share with you how to fix them.

1. You Aren’t Promoting Your Content

Really great content marketing involves two components: content and marketing.

It’s not enough to write a piece of content and then wait for people to find it. There are more than 170 million blogs out there now; what are the odds that your ideal customer will just stumble upon it?

Optimizing your content for search engines is important and a good tactic, but the surest way to get people to see your content is to promote it yourself. In fact, some marketing experts say you should spend at least twice as much time promoting your content as you spend creating it.

There are several simple ways you can drive traffic to your content:

  • Share links to your content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks

  • Share links on directories and forums like inbound.org or reddit

  • Use Facebook ads to promote your content

  • Purchase Google ads to drive traffic to your content

If your content is accessible by anyone at any time, such as with a blog post, you will probably just want to share the link via social networks, forums and directories since these are free ways to promote your content.

Here you can see the website Upworthy promoting links to their own posts on Twitter:

And here is an example of Upworthy sharing their posts on Facebook, where they are receiving thousands of shares and likes from readers.

Don’t be afraid to share links to your content on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other networks. If it’s good content, you can feel confident others will enjoy it too.

If you are putting your content behind a lead generation form, then you will probably want to experiment with a mix of free and paid marketing channels.

Facebook and Google ads are low-cost paid marketing channels through which you can promote your content. With both advertising platforms you can set your own budget and not spend a cent more than you want to.

2. You Have Lots of Readers but Very Few Social Shares

One quick way to know your content marketing sucks is if you have a lot of readers but not a lot of social shares.

For example, if you have a particular blog post that has 1,000 unique views but only 3 social shares, you have a problem.

There are two causes of low social shares:

  • Your content is not high quality.

  • You don’t provide an easy way for people to share your content.

Of course, you could have both problems. Identifying what YOUR problem is should be your first step.

The way to know if your content is low quality is by looking through your analytics. If you have a lot of visitors but your Average Duration is low and/or your Bounce Rate is high, you probably have a content quality problem.

Yikes! This is not what any content marketer wants to see.

You can find out what your Bounce Rate and Average Duration is by logging into Google Analytics and going to the Acquisition section and then All Traffic.

Low Average Duration and a high Bounce Rate indicate that your visitors aren’t captured by your content and they are leaving your site quickly. To fix this you will need to spend more time on improving the quality of your content.

Some ways to increase the quality of your posts, ebooks and guides:

  • Research before you write and reference interesting facts in your content

  • Include high-quality images and screenshots throughout

  • Interview experts and include original quotes in your content

If visitors are sticking around on your site for a while and your bounce rate is low, then the quality of your content is not likely the problem. In this case you probably just haven’t made it easy for people to share your content.

An easy fix for this is to install social sharing buttons on your content.  You can grab code from Facebook and Twitter to add their buttons to each page where you have content.

If you use a content management system like WordPress, you can install a plugin like Digg Digg which automatically adds social sharing buttons to each of your posts and web pages.

We use Digg Digg here on the Fit Marketing blog and personally recommend it.

3. Your Content Isn’t Helping You Generate Leads or Sales

Your content, whether you put it behind a lead gen form or not, should help you generate leads and sales because it will drive new visitors to your site. Hopefully your site is optimized for conversions.

The secret to generating lots of leads and sales with content is three-fold:

1. You must always generate high-quality content

2. You must generate content consistently

3. You must ask for the conversion

We already talked in the section above about generating high-quality content, so let’s dive into the second point.

According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report, companies that blog very frequently see a direct impact on customer acquisition.

Companies that blog multiple times per day see the highest customer acquisition rate. That said, it’s equally important to be able to blog on a consistent basis.

If you are not able to consistently blog multiple times per day, it would be better for you to spread new posts out throughout the week. For instance, if you can only blog once per week, then you should try to blog on the same day each week to provide some consistency for your readers.

In addition to blogging consistently, you must also include a call to action with each piece of content you publish.

The easiest ways to generate leads from your content is by putting it behind a lead generation form. This works perfectly if you put together a piece of premium content such as an ebook or guide.

HubSpot is a great example of a company that publishes a lot of ebooks that help them generate leads.

Here’s an example of how they generate leads with eBooks:

If you don’t want to put your content behind a form – usually the case with blog posts – you can include a call to action at the end of the content.

Blogs like Nimble do this really well by including a small banner at the end of each blog post.

If you do not include a call to action with your content, then you will be losing out on leads and potential sales. If you truly drew in your reader, they will want to do something about your content.

Remember that content is marketing and thus should always include a call to action.

4. You Don’t Know if Your Content is Generating Leads or Sales

One gigantic warning sign that your content marketing sucks is if you don’t know if its generating leads or sales.

Having a “feeling” that it’s working is not the same thing as knowing.

You should have conversion goals set up in Google Analytics that will let you identify the sources of your leads and sales. You should check daily to see how many of your goal conversions have come from your content (such as your blog or landing pages).

Once you have your goals set up, you can then easily log into Google Analytics and see how many people have completed your goals from each of your traffic sources.

If your content is behind a lead generation form, then you probably know how many leads you’re generating – but do you know what your best source of traffic is?

Check your analytics to find out!

If Facebook is sending you a lot of traffic that is converting on your lead gen form, then you should put more time and effort into growing your Facebook channel so you can exponentially increase your leads.

5. You Can’t Tell Me What Your Strategy Is

What is your content marketing strategy?

This is not the content strategy you're looking for.

This is not the content strategy you’re looking for.

Sometimes when I ask this question the answer is a look of confusion, and the response, “Well, we blog three times a week and I’m writing an ebook.”

That’s really great, but that’s not a content marketing strategy, that’s just content.

If you have a content marketing strategy in place you should be able to easily answer the following questions:

  • What are your concrete, quantifiable, realistic goals for content? Brand awareness? Leads? Sales?

  • How will you measure your goals along the way?

  • Who is responsible for producing content?

  • How often will new content be published (including blog posts, ebooks, guides, infographics, guest posts, etc.)?

  • Who will create the landing pages for content that goes behind lead gen forms?

  • What happens once a new lead comes in? How will they be nurtured? How will they be converted into customers?

  • How much is a lead worth? What is an acceptable cost per lead?

  • How will your content be promoted?

  • What is your budget per month for paid traffic?

If you cannot answer ALL of these questions, then your content marketing is doomed to suck.

The good news is you can fix it!

Make time to sit down today and start figuring out the answers to these questions. This can feel like an overwhelming task, but it is a really important one. Without the answers to these questions, you’re wasting time and money.

Making Sure Your Content Marketing Doesn’t Suck

There is no doubt that content marketing can help you generate leads, lift sales and increase brand awareness. Following the tips in this post is a great way to get your content marketing strategy on the right track. So, let’s review:

  • Promote your free content through free channels, particularly your social media networks. Use free and paid promotion for premium content that generates leads.
  • Make it easy for readers to share your content, with social share buttons – it’s free promotion!
  • Check your analytics to make sure your content is high quality. If not, spend more time creating richer, more comprehensive content.
  • Create content consistently.
  • Include calls to action.
  • Set measurable goals, and follow up on them. Know who is responsible for what.

Got it? Good.

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions. Or for more inbound marketing tips, download our free ebook.

 

Image credits: blue.tofu, DoodleDeMoon

 

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    About the author

    Joel Hiller
    Joel Hiller
    Joel Hiller is the content team lead at Fit Marketing. He loves inbound marketing, writing and running. His goal in life is to make things less boring for you to read.

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