If you are not happy with the results of your content marketing efforts, you are not alone. There are millions of marketers who share same anger, disappointment, and concern over their content’s performance.

Looking at the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing- 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, we come to know that:

  • Only 30% of B2B marketers believe their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. Marketers with documented strategy, clarity over KPIs, good communication, and experience are far more successful.
  • 44% of B2B marketers say their organization is clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like; 55% are unclear or unsure.
  • 44% of B2B marketers meet daily or weekly—either in person or virtually—to discuss the progress of their content marketing program; however, the more effective the organization is at content marketing, the more often they meet (61% of the most effective meet daily or weekly).
  • Fewer B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy compared with last year (32% vs. 35%).

Given the fact that on average, B2B marketers allocate 28% of their total marketing budget to content marketing, dismal performance of your content assets and campaigns can be very discouraging.

Now, we have identified a problem. The next step is to work over and find some remedial measures and solution. This article is an effort in the same direction and hopefully the given suggestions will explore new ways to do better marketing.

1. Don’t Lose Consistency:

The foremost suggestion is not to lose hope and consistency. There is no specific timeframe for a content asset to start performing. Some companies and marketers are lucky to get good clicks and conversions on the startup campaigns whereas majority has to wait patiently. This is the difference between content marketing and advertisements. In ads, you have limited timeframe and audience has to respond in that. Unlike that, content is a long-term process aimed at creating loyalty by educating prospects. It may take up one year (at least) to create a loyal audience. So, the first suggestion is not to lose your consistency.

2. Audit Your Strategy:

If statistics are to be believed, the number of content marketers with a documented strategy has gone down. Last year, 35% B2B marketers had a documented strategy whereas only 32% have it today and rest 68% do not bother to make a specific and written content marketing plan.

Where do you stand?

“A documented strategy is a plan while the verbal one is a wish-list. We had learnt it very hard way at Holloway.” says John Adams; the Chief Content Officer at Holloway Removals.

“As a marketer, you need to define your KPIs, specific goals, a clearer map, selection of channels, type and frequency of content assets and a comprehensive editorial calendar”- he continues. “You need to define numbers that are your key concern (e.g. views, downloads, clicks, conversions, shares) and define a tracking mechanics. Don’t ask an outsider to give you a strategy; make your own keeping your own market, industry, goals, vision, and resources in mind”.

I would add only one thing to John’s remarks. If you are posting or publishing articles and blogs, it’s not a strategy. Audit your current SOP and document the big picture of your digital marketing – covering revenue, audience, available resources, competition’s approach, and more. Cover each element, document your roadmap, discuss with your team, and start execution.

3. Analyze Your Budget:

If you have a team of bright professionals with brilliant writing and marketing skills, your job doesn’t end here. Most of the content leads tend to believe that if we regularly publish the content, it is marketing. No, it’s not. If you have the finest writers in the market who can write the most dazzling piece of content; it doesn’t guarantee success.

Because content production is just one element in the bigger picture. You need to have a content promotion program.

The CMI study (that we quoted above) suggests that companies with the most effective content marketing allocate 39% of their marketing budget to content whereas least effective marketers allocate only 16%. You get the picture!

Also, you need to extend your content’s outreach by promoting it. Use emails, social media ads, targeting & retargeting, blogs, and directories to promote the content to enhance its reach to motivate more actions.

4. Look at Your Content:

If you have a documented strategy and you are spending a good amount of money in production and promotion and still results are nowhere in sight, you probably need to check your content.

One of the fundamental factors behind content’s failure is its poor quality and design. A content fails for any of the given reasons:

  • Your team doesn’t know what to write or produce
  • You do not have in-house writer and simply get some low-cost freelancer to do this job for you.
  • You don’t know how to ensure consistent content flow
  • Your team largely focuses on quality content and not engaging content
  • The writer/producer is not aware of the content’s objectives

You need to make sure that your content team consists of excellent content writers, a quality designer, and promoter. If you’re crafting some whitepapers or e-books, their outlook and design will motivate clicks/downloads; therefore be sure to work on designing part. Moreover, companies are moving from quality content to engaging content; you need to do the same.

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5. Revisit Your SEO Strategy:

If a website or business does not enjoy good visibility and search presence, its content will seldom perform better. SEO and content go side by side as both are very much integrated into each other. In addition, make sure that your SEO strategist has an umbrella program as well as separate SEO tactical plan for your different content campaigns. It’s just another way to promote content.

If your SEO is questionable don’t wait and just hire some digital marketing professional with SEO expertise or contact an SEO agency. This will boost your confidence in the content marketing and promote it the way you want it.

6. Set the Right Expectations:

If you are too serious about content marketing and its return, you might get out of the right track. This mindset leads you to set higher and unrealistic expectations.

So, the word of advice is to set expectations after looking at your resources, time in the industry, your niche, level of competition and budget. There are possibilities that you might not be failing in reality as compared to your perceived failure (result of higher expectations).

7. Become a Student Again:

Knowledge is the single biggest competitive advantage that an individual or company may have over others. By the way, we don’t mean that you should go back and get enrolled in the school. Instead, as Stephen Covey said “Sharpen the Saw”, you also need to keep working on your talent and skills. If you feel that something is not working at your end, do what a good student should do.

You can start reading on the subject, check out industry reports, discuss the matter with experts and mentors, or take some short course in the particular area. Listen to podcasts and get some educational/training mobile apps in your device. For example, if you niche is culinary arts, here is a list of mobile apps for students and professionals who aspire to learn. In addition to this, subscribe to industry publications and reports; particularly from Content Marketing Institute, Marketing Profs and HubSpot. They will help you understand the difference between what you are doing and what is actually working in the market. Understanding this difference solely does the job provided you pay heed to ‘what to do next’ and ‘how to do it differently’.

Finally, please note that content marketing works, otherwise 77% of businesses weren’t doing it on consistent basis. If you think there is some miscalculation or under-performance, study it thoroughly until you find the answer. When you realized the key problem with your content and marketing, half of the problem is already solved.