How Can a Content Marketing Strategy Fail?

The easiest way to fail at content marketing is to not have a strategy. If you do have a complete content marketing strategy, you’re way ahead of the game and headed toward success. But what happens when you have a strategy and things still go wrong? 

There are a plethora of articles purporting to analyze how and why content marketing strategies fail. Rather than using your time to read all this content, we’ve done that for you and culled the following list of 5 common ways content marketing strategies fail, as delineated in all these articles and blog posts.

why content marketing strategies fail

1. You don’t have a strategy

Okay, so we already touched on this. But it's a big one. It’s difficult to tell if content marketing is working if you haven’t defined what you want it to achieve. Step one is to set a strategy. It’s shocking how often companies try to skip this critical step. If you replace the vague idea of “strategy” with some crystal-clear goals, you’ll see your content marketing advance. Use goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and tied to a timeline. In other words, they are SMART goals.

For a well-rounded content marketing strategy, define your goals, your audience, your publishing processes, and how you will measure success. Create a style guide and document your brand voice.

Creating buyer personas is a crucial part of designing your content strategy and truly understanding who you’re trying to reach. Before you can target your audience, you have to know who they are.

Then, before you release any bit of new content, ask yourself: is this aligning with our goals? Is this helping us to achieve our content marketing objectives? Is it going to reach our targeted audience?

This process doesn’t have to be long and drawn out, but it does need dedicated time and effort upfront to get everyone on the same page. Once your strategy is developed, make sure it is clearly communicated across your team.

2. 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. The best content marketing finds the overlap between your customers’ needs and how you can help them meet those needs.

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 a piece of content that you think is useful to your own internal audience, focus outward. Create content and provide information that addresses specific questions your audience has about the products or services you are offering and/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. 


And always remember that great content isn’t about selling. You should seek to introduce your brand or product while creating useful information for your audience, and writing interesting stories about your industry.

The best (and most useful!) 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. In order to truly help the audience, you have to provide useful 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. It is possible to create interesting, actionable content no matter what topic you’re writing about.

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3. You Didn't Invest in Distribution

Okay, so you created a strategy, crafted some 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 important 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 important. Some say that SEO is dead. But it just isn’t true. SEO plays a major role in content marketing. You just can’t have a successful content marketing strategy without it.

4. 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, make sure 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.

hand drawing graph chart and business strategy as concept
Analytics are 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 be improving as you learn from both victories and failures. There are a lot of free tools to find out how well your pieces resonate with your audience.

5. You have unrealistic expectations

This is how 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 absolutely 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. People get excited, build a strategy, and start to create some awesome content that is optimized and promoted—then a few months later, they just stop.

In order for content marketing to be successful, you have to make it a habit and make it part of your culture. The key to a top-notch content marketing strategy is to create systems, and that may be the single toughest part of the process. It all comes down to commitment.

Inbound content marketing is a long-term game, it is 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.

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Shelley K.
Shelley K.
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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