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.
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.”
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.
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.
“Remember, evergreen content is the most labor-efficient thing to produce.”Tweet Me
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?”
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.
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.
“ Use the power of words to stand out from your competitors and carry your messages to your audience. #content”Tweet Me
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.
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?