Two quarters down. Completed: 24 blog posts, 6 email newsletters, 4 checklists, 3 drip email campaigns, 2 eBooks, 1 webinar. Victory is yours.
Except no one is reading your content.
This happens, people. It happens to well-intentioned, smart people, and it happens to dopes. In other words, it can happen to you.
If you made the initial investment in content marketing, are doing a good job creating and publishing (or at least think you are), and yet are not seeing any traction on the readership front, pay attention. The following list may help you save your content marketing life.
Here are a few of the most common reasons no one is reading your content (and some advice on fixes).
You whiffed on content marketing planning
Did you try to execute a content marketing program without a plan? Or did you attempt to build an effective plan, but maybe mailed it in on a few critical areas? If no one is reading your content, you stumbled somewhere in the planning process.
What you can do: Unfortunately, if you chose to ignore the plan all together and the content marketing train has already left the station, you'll find little appetite for stopping the effort to create a plan. While plan-ning is a different exercise than creating a plan, if you can find a way to get some planning done while you're "doing," you have a chance of creating content that addresses your goals and keeping the train on the tracks.
Your content is self-centered, not audience-centered
If your editorial calendar is littered with press releases announcing new products, blog posts about product or service features, and corporate videos bragging about your company's awesomeness, it is going to be a long road to success. You've chosen you over them (your audience), they know it, and they will start ignoring you, if they haven't already.
What you can do: The answer here is simple. Start focusing on them - immediately. If more than 20 percent of your future content is focused on you, you need to jump back into the editorial planning process and start pumping out high quality, audience-focused content.
Your content is flat-out crappy
What's the popular saying? You only get one chance to make a first impression? With content, that absolutely holds true. I cannot keep count of the reputable companies that I have dismissed as chasing mediocrity simply because they allowed crappy content to get published under the corporate name.
If you have no idea that your material is poorly written, my guess is that you made an error in forming your content creation team, or it could be (gasp!) that whoever is in charge doesn't truly buy into the quality over quantity approach.
What you can do: Get an expert to do a quick content assessment - it may take someone from the outside to explain to you just how bad your current content really is. Then, chances are, you're going to need make personnel changes, and do so swiftly.
Your publishing schedule is inconsistent
I just took a quick look at a former client of ours. Last blog post? Late February. Before that? Early December of last year. Last press release? September 2014. A few new case studies, then none for a couple of years. This inconsistency is a recipe for reader disengagement, and eventually, disappearance.
What you can do: If you believe in publishing a single blog post, then you should believe in it enough to publish them regularly. Same holds with other types of content. As a matter of fact, the type of content almost doesn't matter. Pick one or two types that you believe in, and publish consistently.
You are using your sheep voice, not your leader voice
I'm quite certain someone else has published a blog post or two about why no one is reading your content, and that's cool with me. I know my points of emphasis will be different, and more importantly, I KNOW the way I make my points will be different.
There's no point in flooding the Internet with unoriginal viewpoints or trying to mimic someone else's voice. Readers will see right through that. Establish yourself as an original-thinking thought leader with a unique voice, and now you're on to something.
What you can do: The process for getting here is not easy, but I will try to simplify. First, each author should talk about what he or she knows or is good at, because that always lends itself to more authoritative content. Second, each author should provide a unique viewpoint and/or a unique way of presenting that viewpoint. In other words, encourage your authors to let their expertise shine through in the most original way possible.
You're making some basic distribution mistakes
Surprising, I know. We've come this far in this post without a single mention of what would seem like the most obvious reason why people are not reading your content: poor distribution.
There's a reason that a bunch of pre-distribution points came before this one, though. If you screw up the planning and content creation process, it doesn't matter how solid your distribution plan is - your content marketing effort is going to fall flat.
Have you tapped into your audience of "friendlies," meaning your already-enthusiastic fan base? Are you using your social media properties to disseminate your message? Is your content easily shareable via your website or blog?
What you can do: Start with this content distribution checklist. Work through the list and make sure you are addressing all of the options. Focus on the easy ones (like sharing with "friendlies") first, then find time to address the harder ones (like syndication) later.
Now it's time to get moving
Before you embark on this readership challenge, stop for a minute and consider what and why you read certain types of business content. I'm pretty sure you'll be say something like this to yourself, "It's relevant and useful to me. It's entertaining. It's well written. It's presented in a unique way or contains a unique viewpoint." Start there. Get your content pointed in a similar direction, and then go ahead and tackle some of the next-level challenges.
Your audience will thank you for it.