Why content marketing doesn’t work and how to fix it

Have worked in internet marketing for years I’ve understood that content marketing today is the only right strategy of long-term and effective operation of any project on the Internet!

Despite the infinite number of free pdf’s from HubSpot  on the Internet and opinion that content marketing has an indecently high ROM (return on investment in marketing), content marketing is a very labor- and money-intensive activity bringing result only to few. As they write in the research from Content Marketing Institute, the situation is more than deplorable. Globally, about two thirds of companies engaged in content marketing do not get any result from it! 

Problem 1. What is the goal of content marketing?

Thinking over my way of content marketing during the recent couple of years I can say that the first reason is lack of the clear goal of content marketing. At first, content marketing is confused with a simple scribbling. It seems that if people read our scribble, they will buy more from us. Nothing of that kind! Following even that research the main goals and standards by which marketers assess the effectiveness of effort we have the following:

  • False goal #1: Brand recognition. Rubbish! Remember your behavior when you run into an interesting material in the scrapyard named Facebook. Some of your friends scribbled an article or sorts; you see an interesting header, click, read, close. And on the very next day a question keeps floating in your mind: “Somewhere in the Facebook I saw an interesting article about… ”. God help you find it, but it’s likely you’ll never do. And who the hell wrote it? What site did you see it on? That’s what it is, you’ve said: “Somewhere in the Facebook…” This social network owns content and increases its own recognition, but not ours.  We are dwarves-miners, sweating on creating cool content. Taking into account development of reading technologies on the Internet, when different Readability, Evernote Clear, Flipboard appear the reader seldom even visits the site itself. So brand recognition is out of the question.
  • False goal #2: To measure effect of content marketing only by resulting traffic. Content marketing is much more than just SEO-articles that came from the search. Content marketing plays an educative-involving role, and the most important in it is the quality of the material. So I would highlight the main indicator – a number of shares (the number of times it has been shared in social networks). There is no “right” figure here, it just has to grow constantly.  Besides, you should understand what kind of goals and how many of them your content marketing has fulfilled. How many subscribers you have, how many registrations / purchases / downloads / leads – these are good metrics.
  • False goal #3: More content, still more! When the company sees the first results of content marketing, and this is expressed in the form of visits boost to the site (the traffic), the desire arises to write more content and make it more “selling” which will surely transform it into paid journalism. Better less. You can write one good post per week, per fortnight, or you can occupy yourself with “repacking” the existing one: collect the posts in a pdf-book, hold a webinar on various subjects, put presentation on Slideshare etc.   

Problem 2. Content and marketing are separate

Working on our own project content marketing we started to notice that something is always out of the place: either the article is very interesting but does not affect the goal, or it is a downright paid journalism, or the material is interesting but of no practical use.

Then an exercise called “filter” helped us. I got this knowledge from a very good course. The idea of the filter is as simple as ABC, but it is mega effective. When we generate many ideas (and for content we have to) we must be able to discard simply “cool” ideas which we like on an emotional level, and take only those which can help achieving this goal. Usually all this is drawn in the form of diamond having four important elements of our goal plus a central one.

I got this:

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In the centre of all content marketing should be the use. Just telling about inventing a new machine tool or a new version of our product can be interesting to read but it is not entirely useful.

  1. Unlike the classic advertising marketing we must provide benefit, not distract.
  2. We mustn’t start writing content without understanding who we write it for. We have two portraits of the customers for our materials: internet marketing fan who will help us distribute the material and our potential customer looking for the answer to one of his questions on the Internet.
  3. When we introduce to our customer, we have to understand the form of presentation. Of course the post to blog is the most universal. But what to do with webinar or a downloaded presentation? We found that our audience that is ready to buy something from us does not like downloading anything. Those very interested but not willing to pay for something like filling in questionnaires and get pdf’s for this. One of the interesting observations is more probability to get customer from the article in airplane magazine, than in the press writing about business niche.
  4. Customer needs should be expressed in the language of customer requests (just specific quotes). You can take the wording from specific talks with customers and add search requests. Before starting your marketing strategy you should actually have a vast plan-list of your customers’ wordings so that you could write something interesting for them, not what you consider interesting.  Certainly, it must be added with search requests, so that the article could be easily found later. If you blog on WordPress, then I strongly recommend you to put the plugin SEO by Yoast– it will help you with this.
  5. If your content is not bound to promote the product or target a certain action, then you are engaged to charity. You just give away valuable content which  youyou’re your efforts into, but do not get the result (see paragraph #1 about the false goal of brand recognition).  The content that you generate should be relevant to your product, or rather to its positioning. Customer orientation  encourages readers to find and read articles on this subject, subscribe to our newsletter, and later generate the users of the service.

The idea of the filter is that all these five items are important and none of them must be lost. The best way is to print the picture and use it in everyday work. Believe me, you will always forget some part of the filter.

All five elements of the filter should be considered in your content plan.

More problems of content marketing

As the Content Marketing Institute has recently written there are many problems with it, not everyone gets the point. Here is the list of typical problems:

  1. Your content is about you. Most customers do not care about you, they care about their own problems only, and they have come to the Internet searching for answers and solutions. We often want to tell how we got some prize, wrote some piece of a code etc.
  2. Very low level. Content marketing must be better than your competitors’. People want use, not SEO-articles with key words. Earning trust is worth a lot but it goes a long way later.
  3. Underdeveloped process. Content marketing requires clear goal, good planning and, naturally, quality execution. Here either a special person is required or investment in freelancers. We’ve solved this issue having distributed content generation among the staff members so that one person has one article to write per a month and a half.
  4. No single line. Again all depends on the plan that is to move along one general content line. Particularly web-service developers have this sin. They write useful content too as well as the details of developing programs and stuff.
  5. No calls to action. You should refer to the product, not only with links, but with clear calls to action for your product. Don’t forget – if there is no link to the product with a call to action, it is a pure charity.
  6. Focus on one channel. That has been spoken about for a hundred times.. Generating content is a very labor-intensive work, concentrating developments in one channel is a costly pleasure. You have to envolve as many channels as possible and constantly pack and repack.
  7. Making an expert of yourself. They say, “Modesty is the shortest path to oblivion”. So connect content marketing to the people, don’t be afraid to call and show yourself with an expert hand.
  8. You break the rhythm. Content marketing is your responsibility to your audience. If you do everything right , your new materials will be awaited as a morning newspaper. So do not allow failures in publications.


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