Not all content is created equal. In fact, the vast majority of content initiatives produce far less value than they should.

Case in point: Sirius Decisions reports that 65% of all B2B content goes unused. Why? Because the content is either impossible for people to find, irrelevant to the audience’s interests, or just sub-par.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When content doesn’t deliver the results you expect, it’s not necessarily due to a lack of skill or creativity. More often, it’s due to missteps in strategy, which can be fixed.

In this post, we’ll examine the five most common reasons why content underperforms, and what you can do to about it.

#1 Not providing any unique value

At this point in the game, content marketing is well and truly established — almost to the point of oversaturation.

Of course, this surplus of content makes it harder to drive traffic to your blog. The key to standing out is making sure your content provides something uniquely valuable to your audience. This could mean you write in a unique tone or that you cover topics your competitors don’t.

Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute describes this as the content tilt, which he describes as “that area of little to no competition on the web that actually gives you a fighter’s chance of breaking through and becoming relevant.”

#2 Not appealing to your audience’s needs

If your audience is ignoring your content, chances are you’re not creating material that matches their needs. As marketers, we consistently overestimate how well we know our audience.

More often than not, we trust our intuition to inform our content strategy. And more often than not, we miss the mark.

Developing an in-depth understanding of your audience’s interests is the only way you’ll be able to consistently produce content that’s truly relevant to your target market.

This is why research is so important to content strategy. The best research will combine both qualitative and quantitative techniques.

For qualitative research, you should conduct interviews with current customers. Ask them what publications they read and why. Then use those responses to evaluate your content and align your strategy with what your audience wants.

For quantitative research, look for data that indicates what your audience prioritizes. This could be competitive audits, keyword volume, or the most visited pages on your site.

Combining these two types of research will paint a better picture of what your audience wants from a content publication, which will help you create more relevant material.

#3 Not prioritizing the user experience

This is the part that content marketers forget most often. For people to interaction with your content, you have to make sure the user experience is good.

Now more than ever, people expect digital experiences to be easy and engaging — whether that’s watching a video, ordering something on Amazon, or transfering money. Even enterprises want to improve the UX of their software.

This trend toward more satisfying user experiences is always why video and interactive content have become more popular.

For example, 81% of respondents to a Content Marketing Institute survey said interactive content is more effective at grabbing their attention.

What’s more, Buzzsumo’s data shows quizzes are shared 1,900 times on average.

Smart marketers are integrating these other content forms into their content strategy to give readers more than one way to engage with information.

#4 Not including other voices

Too many content marketers think you have to go it alone. The truth is, you’re better served looking for marketing partners.

If you can find organizations or individuals who don’t directly compete with your product or service, then you have an opportunity to create a co-marketing partnership and introduce your brand to an entirely new audience.

What’s more, if you work with a partner who’s reputable with your audience, you’ll build an association between your brand and theirs. This makes you seem more trustworthy, which will attract more people to your content.

#5 Not publishing any original research

In many ways, the internet is an echo chamber. The same statistics and opinions get repackaged and reshared every day. Someone may say something in a better way, but that doesn’t mean they’re saying anything different.

And people get tired of reading the same thing again and again. That’s the primary reason it’s so difficult to get anyone’s attention these days.

To create something unique, something that’s worthy of people’s time, there’s no better strategy than publishing original research.

In fact, publishing original research may be one of the few major opportunities left for content marketers. Buzzsumo reports that only about 50% of marketers are producing original research.

And when the same company analyzed over 100 million articles, they found authoritative research and reference content continues to gain links and shares over time.

So if you want to make impact, you need to do some research.


Content marketing isn’t easy anymore. Everyone’s struggling to rise above the noise and persuade their audience to give them some of their attention.

But follow the tips I’ve outlined above, and you’ll have a much better chance of producing content that actually gets people’s attention.