Why Your Content Isn’t Working

4 minute read

Upland Admin

You just finished writing what you envision to be the cornerstone piece of your content marketing campaign. You’ve spent time crafting it perfectly, editing it religiously, and now you click publish and expect the views and leads to start pouring in.

Then something disappointing happens. No one reads it, shares it, or clicks through to your site. In short, your content isn’t working. And you’ll probably spend days contemplating what you did wrong, so I’ll make it easier for you. Here are the top six reasons your content isn’t producing the engagement you anticipated:

1. You wrote the content for yourself—not your readers.

Yes, the end goal of content marketing is to achieve your business goals, but you accomplish this through adding value to the reader first. If your content is a thinly veiled press release, it won’t work. Readers can sense self-promotion no matter how obvious or stealthy you make it.

Why Your Content Isn’t Working by @Kelsey_M_Meyer

One example of writing for your audience is an article Danny Wajcman, co-founder of Lucky Orange, wrote for Sales & Marketing Management titled, “Add Some Color to Your Black-and-White Analytics.” He didn’t focus on the awesome features that set Lucky Orange’s heat mapping software apart. Instead, he wrote about different ways to improve analytics, using heat mapping as an example.

His useful tips and insights naturally lead readers to the conclusion that he’s an expert in analytics, and they leave with a good, fuzzy feeling about Lucky Orange, too.

2. You’re not reaching the right audience.

I get it. The thought of appearing on Forbes’ landing page is attractive. But if your audience isn’t reading Forbes, then it’s not very valuable to you. When you write content for external publications, you have to research the readership and determine if that intersects with your target audience. A phenomenal article targeted at the wrong group won’t spark engagement.

3. There’s no strategy.

It’s actually not too difficult to write an article that will garner thousands of views. The formula involves some link bait, maybe a few cute cat photos, and a list. But writing an article titled “The 7 Ways Cats Are Like Humans” that gets 100,000 views probably doesn’t make sense for your goals. If your product doesn’t involve cats, this content won’t lead to actual business opportunities for you. Every time you write an article, think through how it fits into your overall content strategy, and start from there.

We’ve been guilty of this at Influence & Co., but we’re learning from it. Although my article on being an irreplaceable employee received more than 19,000 views on LinkedIn, it resulted in very few click-throughs to our site because our company doesn’t help people become irreplaceable employees—it helps them engage their audience through content.

Alternatively, my co-founder’s article, “Build a Strong Company by Creating a Strong Personal Brand,” got around 10,500 views and resulted in more than 100 leads for us because it educated the right audience about how content can strengthen your personal brand, which translates into growth and recognition for the company, too.

4. You’re making readers work too hard.

Obviously blatant misspellings are unacceptable, but so are confusing sentence structures and disjointed ideas. If people have to work to understand your article and put the pieces together, they won’t continue reading. Consider hiring an editor to ensure your content is polished and reader-friendly.

5. You’re writing for SEO instead of education.

The days of link building are over. Not only is Google changing its algorithm to reward you for high-quality content that showcases industry knowledge instead of loaded keywords, but your audience will also appreciate your genuine attempt to educate. If you’re writing for a search engine first and your audience second, readers won’t find it valuable—and neither will Google.

6. You don’t do anything after the article is published.

Believe it or not, clicking publish is not the end game. There are dozens of things you can do to help expand your content’s reach and engagement. Responding to comments is one great way to encourage conversation. If you’re not sure which comments are worth responding to and which ones should be left to die at the bottom of the page, you can read my article on the topic here.

What’s your checklist for making sure your content works? I’d love to hear anything you’ve learned from personal experience in the comments.

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