We get a lot of companies come to us to help with their marketing, and a lot of those companies naturally approach us because they have a problem in terms of the results they’re getting. Historically, a lot of the time that problem was Google related – their website had been hit by Google Penguin, Panda, or some other update that had affected their online visibility. Now, increasingly people are coming to us with the issue that they feel that their content marketing isn’t working.
This is a really common question we’re getting asked, and it led us to question whether content marketing has lost its edge.
Content marketing really started picking up its popularity in the Spring of 2012 (according to Google trends – graph below), but has generally levelled off in terms of keyword searches in Google since March 2015 to now (August 2016). It’s still commonly talked about at every marketing conference up and down the land, but has it reached a saturation point?
According to the Content Marketing Institute 88% of the organisations they surveyed use content marketing. However, 55% of companies don’t know what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. This seems to tally with what we’re seeing, as the vast majority of companies we talk with do seem to have done some form of content based marketing in the last 12 months, however most of them don’t feel that they’re getting value for money.
But the crux of the problem, in our view, isn’t that content marketing doesn’t work, it’s that companies don’t know if it’s working or not. If you aren’t clear on measurement, you can’t be clear on the attribution of your efforts – therefore it’s quite easy to think your content isn’t working.
The first place to start is in your goal setting. Be realistic, don’t expect that by doing some basic blogging and social media engagement that you’ll suddenly see a massive surge in business. Also, don’t measure your content marketing strategy on a per-article basis at this stage. If an article doesn’t bring in a sale, that doesn’t mean it’s failed.
Think about what you want to achieve from your content marketing efforts overall – is it an increase in brand awareness, increased search engine visibility, or is it conversions? Are you therefore going to measure by traffic, impressions, or by hard sales? Plan what you’re going to measure your content on, and then set yourself achievable targets to start with. This will give you a line in the sand to aim for to help determine whether your performance is acceptable or not.
It’s also critical to ensure you put a strategy behind your content marketing efforts in order to succeed. Not only does this focus the mind, but it also keeps your effort on track. Having a smart strategy that takes users on a content journey towards your end goal gives you a much higher chance of achieving your aims.
If you feel your content isn’t working, chances are it’s not because content marketing in general doesn’t work, but it may be that you either have unrealistic expectations, or that you haven’t measured the full impact of the content.