Why Content Marketing Fails

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Tips for making your content marketing bear some serious ROI fruit.
Tips for making your content marketing bear some serious ROI fruit.

Would it surprise you to learn that content marketing fails more often than not? While it's an essential part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, it's not a magic bullet—nor will it solve all of your marketing woes, especially if it's poorly executed. Even so, most marketers are at the very least starting to experiment with content marketing, and with good reason. It can be an incredibly powerful tool and has been proven to reduce cost per lead by up to 80% in the first five months.

But many still struggle with understanding the fundamentals and therefore haven't implemented a formalized structure with supporting marketing technologies.

According to an informal survey we conducted at Uberflip, many marketers identified their top challenges as finding time to create content and coming up with ideas for good content. A more formal study by Curata echoes these sentiments. Here's a ranking of the top seven content marketing challenges based on Curata's research:

1. Limited staff

2. Limited budget

3. Creating enough content on a regular basis

4. Finding the best sources to create amazing content

5. Organizational culture

6. Measuring the impact of content

7. Promoting content

Do you agree with the above prioritization? Most marketers do. Unfortunately, this is ultimately the reason why content marketing fails. The last two challenges listed are also the two most important, indicating that marketers aren't prioritizing the measurement and promotion of content.

So, what are they focused on? The answer: content creation. To that I would say—stop.

Creating some content is, obviously, important. But continuing to churn out content without understanding what impact it's having on your business isn't smart. In addition to that, very little (if any) thought is put into what happens after content is published. Who are you targeting? Where will it be promoted? How will you measure success?

These are all questions that must be part of the content marketing process, and ignoring them will only lead to failure. But with a little focus and systemization, companies can turn potential failure into major gains.

Focus on purpose

Generally speaking, any piece of content has a purpose that will fall into one of the following four categories:

1. Encourages engagement

2. Generates leads

3. Convinces buyers

4. Retains customers

Engagement is where it starts. This includes likes, shares, and comments and typically refers to top of the funnel content that might be educational, inspirational, or even controversial in nature. Generating leads and convincing buyers to take action demands content that is created for people who are a little further down the funnel. And don't forget about customer marketing. Some of your content should be dedicated to your customers (they are paying you after all) and can help reduce churn in the long run.

Every single piece of content you create should have an explicit purpose, because that will ultimately decide how you promote each piece of content and measure success.

Focus on promotion

While promotion was listed as #7 on the rundown of the biggest marketing challenges, I think it's probably one of the most challenging obstacles marketers have to grapple with. There is no shortage in the number of distribution channels. In fact, we are inundated with noise. There has never been more content created than right now. But finding distribution channels which aren't completely saturated (read: costly) is challenging.

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