Could Your "Loser Content" Hold a Key to Success?

This month we’re focused on analytics, and one question I hear often from my content marketing brethren is “so, once we collect all this data, what do we do with it?”

Good question, grasshopper. Yes, to avoid the “data for its own sake” trap, we need to make sure that we use the analytics we collect to make more informed decisions about our content.

Now, your average savvy content marketer will take this lesson to heart, look at last month’s top-performing content (in terms of traffic, shares, likes, or whatever KPI you prefer) and begins pondering ways to replicate its success in the future. Makes sense, right?

Only the really savvy content marketer doesn’t stop there. She also scans to the bottom of the list to see which content … well, let’s just say it didn’t live up to expectations. Let’s look at how this often overlooked second step can help us crush it even harder on the content marketing scene.

Why Content Fails

Hey, nobody likes failure. We avoid it at all costs, and when it happens, we aim to get past it as quickly as possible. When we put our hearts and souls into what we considered to be an ace-in-the-hole blog post, only to see it sit there like day-old bread, it hurts. But, painful as it may be, we need to look at why it failed and how we can incorporate those lessons into our future endeavors.

Even the most well-crafted content can fail for a number of reasons, including

  • Bad timing
  • Keyword disconnect (targeting the wrong keywords)
  • Irrelevance to your specific target audience
  • Poor headline
  • Bad graphics (or no graphics)
  • Lack of amplification
  • Inconsistency with your brand

The missteps listed above aren’t rookie mistakes — even seasoned marketing vets can stray from the best-practices path now and then. The important thing is what we do with this knowledge. Which brings me to …

Learning from the Losers

The next time you look at your analytics, take a hard look at the stragglers at the bottom of the list and see if they have anything in common.

  • Did the topics have anything in common?
  • Did the headlines follow a similar structure?
  • Were the days and times of publication different from those of your top performers, and if so, what was the difference?
  • Which keywords were these posts targeting? Were you hitting the long-tail words and phrases that resonate best with your audience?
  • How did your team promote these posts? Were they shared more than once on social media? Posted to bookmarking sites? Shared in your e-newsletter? Was your sales team sending the link to clients who have an interest in the topic?
  • Were the voice and tone consistent with the way you usually sound?

Identifying disconnects between low-performing and high-performing posts can offer an additional layer of insight that can help you make better decisions about your content going forward.

(Note: For the sake of simplicity, I focused on blog posts for the purpose of this discussion, but the same principle applies in looking at analytics for your social media posts, your emails, your webinars, your downloadable resources — just about anything you put out there.)

Now for the Good News

Once the post-mortem is complete, we can make note of our lessons learned and call it a day. Or … or

We can give these posts new life by using them as foundations for new-and-improved content marketing assets. Harvest the basic content and write brand-new posts based on the best practices you learned from your analysis. Rework the headline. Use fresh new images. Take that text-based explanation and turn it into an engaging infographic or slideshow. And voilà— you have a new piece of content that’s ready to engage your audience, and you only had to do half the work. Winner, winner, chicken dinner, right?

So as you look to your strategy for next year, make sure your analytics process includes a look at the content that didn’t do so hot, and use what you learn to spin those posts into exciting new assets.