Are Your Content Marketing Efforts a Waste of Time?

CM TIME WASTE

Yeah, I went there.

Let’s be honest. You’ve probably asked yourself this question at some point. Or maybe you’ve asked your marketing team. Or maybe you’ve flat out decided the answer is yes, and you are now scaling back your content marketing efforts.

You are not alone.

Some think that content marketing is “the only marketing left” and as a result, adoption and production have skyrocketed. But even advocates like Joe Pulizzi and Neil Patel are commenting on how often businesses tell them their content marketing efforts are failing. And they have the proof to back it up:

  • Only 9% of B2B marketers think their organization’s use of content marketing is “very effective.” (CMI)
  • In 2015, the output of content per brand increased 35% per channel, but content engagement decreased by 17%. (TrackMaven)
  • Even our own research found that 42% of marketers say their biggest problem with content marketing is not having a strategy to begin with. (Fathom)
Image source: TrackMaven’s Content Paradox Revisited

Image source: TrackMaven’s Content Paradox Revisited

“C’mon, Everyone’s Doing It!”

When you look at content marketing through the lens of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing, you can see we’ve passed the peak of inflated expectations (“It’s the only marketing left!”) and we’re barreling towards the trough of disillusionment, full speed ahead. Companies who jumped on the content marketing bandwagon are now realizing it’s not as easy as they thought. They’re saying content marketing doesn’t work. They’re looking for something else.

But you see, just because everyone’s doing something doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. When everyone is doing mediocre content marketing, and no one stands out, it’s bound to fail. It’s not the marketing activity itself that’s failing you, it’s your approach.

The Content Marketing Disconnect

If you search the web for content marketing articles, you’ll find thousands of thought leadership pieces praising the practice, telling people to start publishing content and to publish it often. You see article after article telling businesses to start adding to the noise. As long as you’re producing content, you’re in the game.

We’ve reached a point, however, when simply throwing content into the mix isn’t enough.

Businesses need to have a documented strategy that details a unique point of view, consistent yet high-quality production plans and meaningful KPIs, but even more so, they need to stick to it closely. According to CMI, only one-third follow their documented strategy “very” closely, with 57% following it “somewhat” closely.

Could it be that your content marketing efforts are failing because you aren’t even following your strategy? Maybe. Here are some other reasons your content marketing seems like a waste of time:

  • Your marketing team isn’t promoting it.
  • You’re too concerned about content production (quantity) and not enough about differentiating yourself with a unique tone, point of view and story.
  • Your business is in a tough niche and you’re producing the same content as your competitors.
  • The content sucks (I’m not beating around the bush with this one.)
  • You haven’t set the right goals.
  • You haven’t given it enough time.
  • Your marketing team is forgetting about SEO.
  • Your expectations are ridiculously high.

Switch Course: Get on the Road Less Traveled

If you’ve already made the decision to ditch your content marketing efforts completely, I’m asking you to reconsider. You don’t need to throw in the towel just yet. But you do need to change your course.

Instead of thinking of content marketing as a campaign or tactic that requires little effort, little time, little money and little strategy, change your mindset. Think about your customer. There’s a limit to how much content they can consume. It doesn’t matter how much content you’re producing. It matters how much it stands out against the thousands of other pieces of content your customers are already seeing.

Now’s the time to raise the bar.

First, take a look at your existing content marketing strategy (or if you don’t have one, get one documented ASAP.) Set realistic goals. Find your content tilt (this step is a must! More on that here.) Figure out what it is that will set you apart, take a deep breath and go for it. Take the road less traveled and quit worrying about what other people/competitors will think.

Next, turn up your marketing team’s resources, creativity and budget. Get them away from the “spraying and praying” mindset and more towards intentional, platform-specific content marketing. This is especially important because social networks are upping their efforts to increase in-platform engagement. Take, for example, Facebook’s Instant Articles, autoplay videos on Twitter and Facebook, and SnapChat’s Discover feature which allows media companies to deliver curated content within the app. Marketers should be producing content specific to each platform, not producing one piece of content and “praying” it gets clicks and engagement across all major social networks.

Lastly, don’t neglect your content marketing foundation – your website and blog. TrackMaven’s recent study found that while content production for social networks has increased, the number of blogs published in 2015 actually went down. In-platform content is important, but blogs will always be great source of fuel for your social media channels. In fact, even though blog production was down in 2015, engagement with brand blogs held steady.

Neil Patel, Chief Evangelist at KISSMetrics, believes that “90% of the businesses in the world can use content marketing, and can use it better.” I’m right there with him. While I’m disappointed in the way content marketing has exploded in recent years, I know that the companies who truly believe in the power of content marketing can and will revamp their approach to see success.

And Fathom will be right there to help.

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Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog “Trust Issues in the Marketing Industry: A Road Map to Rebuilding Relationships” to learn more about building a better relationship with your marketing agency.

Haley Hite

About Haley Hite

Haley Hite is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Fathom, where she leads the content marketing initiatives, training and best practices for the company. While at Fathom, she has worked with clients in a variety of industries to create, implement and measure documented content strategies based on sound research and data. Outside of work, Haley loves traveling to tropical locations, reading, cheering on her alma mater Bowling Green State University, going to Cedar Point, and hanging out with her husband. Follow Haley on Twitter: @HaleyHite11.

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