Content Marketing: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead?
- Lexi Rodrigo
Is your website traffic going downhill?
Are you desperate to halt the sharp drop in your site’s unique visitors? Stop your subscribers from deleting your emails before they click through? Or maybe just get more visitors to actually read your posts, instead of clicking away after a few seconds?
You’re not alone.
Even the experts are getting fewer comments, views, opt-ins, and shares. Leading so many to conclude that content marketing is fat (over-saturated), sick (barely accomplishing what it should), and nearly dead (many are abandoning it).
If you feel the same way, then this post is for you.
No, this isn’t a giant list of tips and tactics for you to try. Rather, it’s a modest list of blog posts to help you step back, reflect on what you’ve been doing, and get a better sense of how to improve your results moving forward.
Content Marketing Doesn’t Work Anymore
The gurus lied.
Content marketing doesn’t magically build your business. You know, because you tried. You blogged, tweeted, liked, linked to, and linked back… with little to show for it.
You have every reason to question if content marketing still works.
And you aren’t the only one.
Discover 4 Key Differences Between B2C and B2B Marketers [New Research]
Check out the Content Marketing Institute’s results from their sixth annual content marketing survey with Marketing Profs. Less than half of B2C marketers (38%) feel they accomplished their content marketing goals.
And the percentage is even lower in the B2B space (30%).
Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy
Mark Schaefer, social media marketing author, consultant, and expert, raised the alarm on content marketing as early as 2014.
He cautioned that the supply of content has exploded, but humans can only consume so much, leading to what he calls “content shock.” And he claims, some niches have already reached the point of content saturation.
But there’s hope. A year after publishing this post, Schaefer came up with his winning formula for overcoming Content Shock, in his book, “The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing, and your business.”
The New, New Economy: How the World of Online Publishing Is Changing, and Why You Should Care
Chris Guillebeau echoes that “The thought leader space is oversaturated.” The novelty of digital information has faded for audiences, and they’ve grown skeptical of anyone marketing online. Clearly, you can’t blog your way to fame and fortune anymore.
Give Until It Hurts
Despite the deep disillusionment with content marketing, it isn’t going away anytime soon. We all have to work harder—and smarter—to attract, build, and nurture an engaged audience. Mirasee founder and CEO, Danny Iny, calls this the arms race of content marketing.
Is there a way for solopreneurs and small businesses to keep up, or even win? The following strategies might help.
How to Build a Large Audience from Scratch
Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur, author, and expert in accomplishing incredible things in four hours, acknowledges that building an audience is a pain in the you-know-what.
But if you must do it, here’s his advice: focus on finding what Kevin Kelly refers to as your 1,000 true fans—the people who will buy everything and anything you put out. Choose up to five sub-cultures you know really well, find the top platforms they hang out in, and focus on the less saturated ones.
The One Thing Gurus Always Get Wrong About Blogging
If anybody knows how to use content and social media to build a business, it’s Gary Vaynerchuk.
Gary Vee tells us to follow our audience to the platforms they use. Test your headlines “like crazy,” so you know what drives people to your site. And your site better be really good to keep visitors happy and coming back for more.
One Thing Is Killing Content Marketing and Everyone Is Ignoring It
One of the fathers of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi calls for nothing short of greatness: “valuable, useful, compelling, and different” content.
To break through the noise, your content should have “tilt,” or something to differentiate it from everything else. He challenges, “If you removed all your content, would it leave a gap in the marketplace?”
The Sharing More Than Selling Rule
David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” calls businesses out for “shouting into the social world.”
In other words, they’re selling too much, and it’s killing audience interaction. The better approach is to share more than you sell by following this formula: 85% sharing and engaging; 10% original content; 5% selling.
How To Create Content That Connects With Your Customers
Jessica Ann is the author of “Humanize Your Brand: How to Create Content That Connects with Your Customers.”
She advises us to create human content. This contrasts with traditional advertising characterized by mass appeal and little personalization. Human content has empathy, context, relevance, and meaning for the audience.
It’s the best way to break through the noise and create connections.
It can be hard to keep going when you get little validation and acknowledgement for all the good stuff you’ve been churning out.
But Jeff Goins, author and advocate for writers, tells us to create and share our work anyway. Give yourself permission to be the author, coach, expert or whatever it is you want to be.
Goins says, “the less concerned you are with appealing to an audience’s sensitivities, the more appealing an audience will find you.” It seems counter-intuitive, but the bottom line is, you’re not attractive when you beg.
Audience and Oysters—Ann Handley on the Power of Growing Your Audience for Content Marketing
This list wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from Ann Handley, author of “Content Rules” and “Everybody Writes.”
Her advice in a nutshell? If you want to be a thought leader, make sure your content leads. Inform, advise, and help. Use great narratives to make your content worth sharing. And become a better writer.
You Aren’t Getting Off the Tactics Merry-Go-Round Anytime Soon
Four years ago, a friend told me about how she tripled Facebook engagement by simply adding images.
Today the use of images, both static and moving (video), is common practice.
Content marketing changes constantly. You have to keep up or trip up.
Here are just a few ways other marketers and businesses adapt:
The Future of Content: What It Will Look Like
Neil Patel, multi-awarded marketing consultant, shares seven ways content marketing will be different.
These include an exciting and doable ways to please both short-form and long-form readers (with a step-by-step tutorial included), and the advantages of bloggers doing their own, original research.
Why Interactive Content Marketing is the Future
If you want your content to stand out, make it interactive.
Interactive content “allows the user to dive in, interact, enjoy the process, and gain insight without feeling targeted.” This can take many forms, including surveys that unlock content based on the reader’s responses, online calculators, and interactive charts, maps, and infographics.
Why You Must Change Your Content Marketing Approach
John Jantsch, author of “Duct Tape Marketing,” says personalization is the way to go.
He also asks 17 other successful content marketers what’s worked for them and how their strategies and tactics have evolved. Note how the answers diverge, with some posting longer pieces more frequently (Social Media Examiner), shorter pieces more frequently (Chris Guillebeau), longer posts less frequently (Problogger), and everything in between!
There’s No Escaping Content Marketing
Although content marketing can get difficult and confusing, we can’t just chuck it.
People nowadays expect any legitimate business and expert to have an online presence—a website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts—at the very least! And you better come across as professional, authoritative, and engaging, or else you couldn’t possibly be “legit.”
That’s just for starters.
Successful content marketing isn’t as easy as it was for the early adopters. Even they have to adjust their strategies and tactics as the environment and their audiences change. And what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.
It’s an exhilarating world, but it’s also fraught with distractions.
Don’t let the changes and deluge of bright, new, shiny tactics overwhelm you. Focus on what’s already working, and do more of it. Then if you have the time and energy to try something new, pick just one. Give it a fair try (be honest!), before moving on to the next new thing.
We’ll have more specific help for you in the next few days in this blog, so make sure you check back.
In the meantime, do tell: are you disappointed with your content marketing results? What do you think will help you do better?
18 thoughts on Content Marketing: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead?
Happy Monday Lexi,
What a wonderful, insightful post!
I learned a lot from reading this. And it’s great to see your bitmojis!
Glad to hear it, Cynda! I used Bitstrips this time – super fun 🙂
Great content as always Lexi. Content marketing is definitely a constantly-moving target. Love the cartoons!
“Content marketing is definitely a constantly-moving target.” – Excellent way to put it. Thanks, Jim!
Content marketing is always going to be a bear. The target is always moving, so the best solution I think is to share stories and how it relates to what you’re doing and how that can impact others in a positive way. Sharing stories can be difficult at first and I’m still learning. Great content about the various thoughts and ideas about content marketing and the constant shifts.
You’re right, Debra, stories are extremely important. I’m also still learning. Do you have any storytelling resources you’d like to share?
Thanks for stopping by, Pam!
What a great roundup, Lexi! It can definitely be a discouraging topic, especially when you’re just starting out and find the industry to be so advanced — but what I gleaned from your post is that it doesn’t need to be disheartening, rather than you can learn from what’s been done already and the advice of folks who’ve been at this for a while and start from a stronger position.
That’s exactly it, Christy. In some ways, content marketing is easier now, since others have already tested the strategies and learned what works and what doesn’t. Thanks!
Great post! It’s true – when I share my stories, I get more engagement.
You’re right, Zaheen, stories are effective for connecting and engaging an audience.
Internet marketing is always at the forefront of everything else, then it trickles down to every other industry.
My niche in game development marketing is heading in that direction. It’s no where near as saturated as other industries. But it’s super helpful to watch how one industry faces challenges and how it can apply to another industry.
You’re in an excellent position, Rocky, if your niche is far from getting saturated. Dominate it now and create content shock for your competitors 🙂
Still taking comments on the Mirasee blog? How 2008 of you!
It took me a long time to read this because I read each of the supporting articles you linked to. Really insightful.
Yes, Chris, we’re still taking comments! It may be old-fashioned, but what can I say? We like to hear from our readers!
Thank you very much for taking the time to post a comment to let me know you found the post insightful. Which supporting article did you like best?
Kuddos to you and Mirasee for continuing to chat with your readers, Lexi!
Your post is thorough – sharing both great suggestions for advanced content marketers as for newbies.
Appreciate the honesty as success is harder than most people think or let on. Even Tim – the “experiment of one” admits this.
The suggestions to share content that’s personalized, connects with readers and is unique – type of content and how it’s shared and promoted are valuable.
FYI: Tip for new bloggers and marketers: You can tweak your content in a more personalized manner.
If you’re writing for peers -draw upon your similarities. Describe what your similar struggles feel like. Let them know you relate to what they’re going through.
@Keri – Thank you for your kind words and the tip! You’re right, showing how we’re similar to our readers helps them to identify and bond with us better.
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