How Can a Content Marketing Strategy Fail?

The easiest way to fail at achieving content marketing results is not to have a strategy. Once it is well articulated and communicated, you're way ahead of the game and headed toward success. But what happens when you have a strategy and things still go wrong? 


Components of Content Marketing

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A Content Marketing Definition

Content marketing is creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and drive profitable customer action. The goal of content marketing is to create a relationship with your audience and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. 

By providing valuable and informative content, you build trust with your audience and establish yourself as an expert in your field. This can help you to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and drive more profitable actions, such as sales or leads.

So, what can go wrong?

1. Lack of clear goals and objectives

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals is crucial for success. Without clear goals, it is difficult to determine what success looks like and how to allocate resources effectively.

For example, if your goal is simply to "increase brand awareness," it is difficult to measure progress or determine the most effective actions to achieve this goal. On the other hand, a SMART goal such as "increase website traffic from social media by 20% in the next quarter" is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, making it easier to track progress and optimize efforts.

Unclear goals can also lead to disconnected content and a lack of focus. Without a clear direction, creating content for the sake of creating content rather than to achieve specific objectives can be tempting. This can result in a scattered and ineffective content marketing strategy.

Additionally, without clear goals, it is difficult to measure the success of your content marketing efforts. This makes it challenging to demonstrate the ROI of your efforts and optimize for future success.

The lack of clear goals and objectives can lead to wasted resources, disconnected content, and difficulty measuring success. Setting SMART goals and regularly revisiting and adjusting them is crucial for the success of any strategy.

Guide to Blogging

2. Insufficient research and understanding of your target audience

Understanding your target audience and buyer personas is a critical success factor. Without proper research and understanding of your audience, creating messaging and content that resonates with them and meets their needs is challenging.

Audience research can help you gain valuable insights into who your audience is, their interests and goals, and how they prefer to consume content. This information can inform your content's tone, language, and format and the channels and platforms you use to distribute it.

Failing to properly understand your target audience can lead to ineffective messaging and low engagement. For example, if you create too technical or complex content for your audience, they may not understand it and may lose interest. On the other hand, if your content is too simplistic, it may not provide value or address the needs of your audience.

Additionally, failing to understand your audience can lead to missed opportunities for building relationships and establishing trust. By demonstrating that you understand their needs and challenges, you can establish yourself as a valuable resource and build loyalty among your audience.

Conducting proper research and understanding your target audience is crucial for crafting an effective content marketing strategy. Failing to do so can result in ineffective messaging and low engagement.

3. Inadequate resources and budget

Insufficient resources and budget can be significant hurdles for a content marketing strategy. To execute a successful content marketing campaign, it is essential to have sufficient resources such as people, time, and money.

A lack of resources can lead to missed opportunities, as taking advantage of all the potential channels and tactics for reaching your audience may not be possible. It can also lead to subpar content, as it may not be possible to devote the necessary time and effort to creating high-quality, valuable content.

An insufficient budget can also be a challenge, as it may limit your ability to distribute your content widely or invest in tactics such as paid advertising. This can make it difficult to reach and engage with a large audience.

Additionally, scaling your content marketing efforts as your business grows can be difficult without sufficient resources and budget. This can hinder your ability to reach new customers and achieve your goals.

Having sufficient resources and a budget is crucial for success. A lack of resources and funding can lead to missed opportunities, subpar content, and difficulty scaling. Allocating sufficient resources and budget to your content marketing efforts is essential for maximizing effectiveness.

5. You focus on individual content elements, not a topic

Many bloggers or copywriters produce content in a the-more-the-better mode,: let's throw it at our website, and it will increase traffic. Not so. When you create a content marketing strategy, develop your editorial calendar for an entire topic rather than an uncoordinated number of blog posts.

  • What are the different sub-topics of your topic, the history, the evolution, the pros, the cons, the variations, trends, and applications?

  • What content covers which stages of the buyer's journey, Awareness, Consideration, and Decision Making? What are the pain points you address in each stage?

  • What do you suggest the visitor does after consuming your content, what is the next step of their journey, and where do you send them from here? "Contact Us," another page, a subscription, a trial, or a download?

If you write a book, you don't piece it together from a list of unrelated chapters. Why do you think it'll work with your content strategy?

Have you considered  Episodic Content Marketing when defining your content strategy? Episodic content marketing is content broken into bite-size pieces. The content is a story with a plot that reveals more to the viewer with each episode. With the right levels of suspense, your visitors will keep coming back to find out what happens at the end of the ..... Stay tuned until next week's newsletter to find out what happened at .....

6. Your content is not useful

Publishing consistent, quality content takes hard work. For content marketing efforts to work, your content must be high-quality and relevant. While you might (still) be able to fool a search engine, you won't appeal to your readers. The best content marketing finds the overlap between your customers' needs and how you can help to meet them.

Sometimes, marketers are guilty of tunnel vision. They talk about themselves, their company, and their specific services, and in doing so, they often fail to realize that they are likely the only ones who find that content useful. So their efforts fail.

Instead of creating content useful to your internal audience, focus outward. Create content and provide information that addresses your audience's questions about the products or services you are offering or the issues they are addressing.

"they ask, and you answer."

Once you're doing that regularly, you're actively helping them, and that will create trust in your posts. And you, as the trusted source, are the first place they will go whenever there is a question to ask or a need to fill. 

Guide to Blogging

Remember that amazing content isn't about selling. You should seek to introduce your brand or product while creating helpful information for your audience and writing exciting stories about your industry.

The best (and most helpful!) content is:

    • Relevant. The content speaks to what your audience cares about, in the same language and tone they use and in a format they like.

    • Detailed. To truly help the audience, you must provide valuable information with plenty of examples.

    • Easy to understand. Yes, your content should be detailed, but it also should be easy to scan. 2,000 words of block text won't do you any favors. So, include headers, subheaders, images, and bullet points.

    • Not sales-y. Use content to teach, not sell. Serve the needs of the audience, not the company.

    • Interesting! Boring content doesn't get shared or read. Creating engaging, actionable content is possible no matter what topic you're writing about.

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7. You Don't Invest in Distribution

Okay, you created a strategy, crafted high-quality, relevant content, and stuck it on your company blog. Now you wait for conversions to pour in, right?


Do include a Call To Action or more than one. It's an essential aspect of content marketing because it helps keep your reader engaged. It also informs them about similar content they might be interested in. Content marketing fails when there has been no investment in distribution. You need to help your audience find your content. Maybe they can rely on organic search traffic, but not without publishing regularly and having a keyword strategy.

You may have decided SEO isn't necessary. Some say that SEO is dead. But it just isn't true. Understanding and leveraging SEO plays a significant role in content marketing. You can't have a top-notch content marketing strategy without it.

8. You Don't Have Content Marketing Metrics

One of the things that's glorious about digital marketing is everything is measurable. As part of your content marketing campaign, ensure you've identified your key performance indicators (KPIs). Then, create a systematic plan for routinely measuring KPIs. Over time you'll see trends in content performance and make better decisions about future topics and distribution tactics.

Analytics is an essential piece of the puzzle in setting content strategy. If you don't track your content to see what works and what doesn't, how do you know where to adjust or revamp your content strategy? Your entire strategy should constantly improve as you learn from victories and failures. There are a lot of free tools to find out how well your pieces resonate with your audience.

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9. Poor execution and lack of consistency

Poor execution and lack of consistency can be major pitfalls. Planning and organization are key to executing a successful content marketing campaign. Creating and distributing content promptly and effectively can be difficult without proper planning and organization.

Consistency is also essential in content marketing. Maintaining a consistent brand voice, tone, and messaging helps to build trust and recognition among your audience. Inconsistency can confuse and mistrust among customers and prospects.

Poor execution and consistency can lead to a disjointed and disconnected content marketing strategy. This can make it difficult for your audience to understand your message and value proposition, leading to low engagement and missed opportunities for building relationships.

10. You have unrealistic expectations

This is how effective content marketing works. Brands create content, people check it out, and if they like it, they remember it and the brand. It is not immediate or even linear, but it is effective, and these days, it is an essential part of building a relationship with your target audience.

But keep in mind that content marketing is not magic. It takes time and consistency, and it's a relationship-building tool, not an instant lead generator. Many get excited, build a strategy, and start creating awesome optimized and promoted content - then, a few months later, they stop.

For a well-crafted content marketing strategy to be successful, you must make it a habit and part of your culture. The key to a successful strategy is execution, which may be the toughest part of the process. It all comes down to commitment.

Inbound content marketing is a long-term game, Quality vs. Quantity, and it's easy to get frustrated. Many companies will see some initial success or even a viral post followed by a dip in interest. That dip in interest is where many companies give up.

Stick with it and keep marketing. You'll build a community and get the reach that you desire.

Interested in our "Done for You" Blogging and Content Marketing? Let's Talk!


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Shelley's been in Seattle practically since the dawn of time. She enjoys having fun (seriously) with research and writing. In her off hours she reads and walks, although not at the same time -- because tripping over sidewalks is embarrassing.

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