Why Your Startup Content-Marketing Strategy Isn't Working You could fix your company's problems simply by taking a closer look at what you're doing, and figuring out where it's lacking.

By Nathan Chan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Today, almost every big business you've ever heard of has some kind of content-marketing strategy. By "almost every," I refer to estimates of 94 percent of small businesses, around 77 percent of B2Cs and 93 percent of B2Bs.

Related: 5 Reasons You Need a Content Marketing Strategy Right Now

However, just because most marketers recognize the value of content marketing doesn't mean they know how to get it right. This is especially true for startups venturing out into new territory with their content efforts. Only around 9 percent of B2B marketers think their efforts are "very effective," which means that countless companies are trying to figure out what's gone wrong on the path to success.

If you think you're doing everything right with your content-marketing efforts, yet you're still not seeing results for your startup, the following issues could be to blame.

1. You haven't refined your plan.

If you want to be successful, you need to know exactly what you're going to do to get from point A to point B. Yet, despite the logic behind building a content-marketing strategy, many startups fail to have any kind of direction in place when they generate content.

Let's take a look at how you can start developing your strategy:

Start with the KPIs: A good content strategy should begin with goals. Figure out what metrics are important to you in terms of views, traffic, shares, conversions and click-through rates, then track them over the course of several months. Remember, you need to give this effort time if you want informative results.

Adapt and evolve: Once you've gathered some information about your KPIs, you should have the information you need to evolve and adapt, based on the things that are working best for your strategy. Anything that's not having a good impact should get thrown away, while positively performing options should receive greater focus.

Do your part: There are plenty of content-marketing agencies available to hire today, but these companies are about creating the content that you think you need -- not coming up with a strategy on your behalf. Even if you're not writing your own content, you need to create the strategy that your team will implement.

Related: Building a Keyword-Driven Content-Marketing Strategy Is Key

Reason 2: You forgot to promote.

Write blog. Post blog. Done.

A lot of marketers today simply think of content marketing as the process of creating content. They take the "if you build it, they will come" approach, and assume that organic traffic will increase naturally, while conversions skyrocket and profits improve. Unfortunately, creating content is only one aspect of content marketing. The other portion focuses on promoting what you write. Without promotion, you're just doing the "content," and forgetting the "marketing" part.

Of course, there are plenty of different ways that you can promote your content; and you're going to need to do some testing here in order to figure out what works best for you. Some startups find that email newsletters are the perfect way to generate new interest in their blogs, whereas others turn to tweeting, using social media or pitching influencers in their industry.

Don't fall into the trap of paying for wonderful content and then doing nothing with it. If you aren't focusing on promotion, you need to adjust your approach and refine your focus.

Reason 3: Your content is just bad.

Sometimes, the problem with content isn't that it's poorly promoted or has no real strategy. Sometimes, content just, well, sucks.

There are plenty of reasons why content can be just plain bad. For instance:

You hired the cheapest writer you can find: This is not uncommon for some bootstrapped startups. In very rare circumstances (like one in a million), you'll be able to find an incredible writer that also offers cheap rates. However, most of the time paying fifteen bucks for a 2,000-word article isn't going to give you the quality you're looking for. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

You have no idea what to write about: Almost any business founder -- no matter how exciting the industry might be --will struggle with figuring out what to write about if he or she has no experience as a creative producer. Coming up with themes and topics, and putting it all together in a way that reads well is challenging. Fortunately, most content marketers can help with this.

You're just boring: There's so much content on the internet today that is -- for lack of a better term -- shockingly dull. It's not enough just to get information across to your audience; you need to do it in a way that's engaging, focused and valuable.

Reason 4: unrealistic expectations

Because content marketing is a marathon and not a sprint, you shouldn't expect outstanding results within a matter of weeks -- or even a couple of months. You need to give the content that you produce time to gain traction and deliver some organic results. If you're willing to be patient, then you will start to see the benefits.

You need to be realistic. You might not triple your revenue or double your traffic. However, even small changes to your results can have a big impact on your bottom line. Look for gradual improvements rather than overnight success.

Making content marketing work

There are countless reasons why your content marketing may not be working for your startup as you hoped, and the four I mentioned above are some of the most common. However, just because you're not getting great results immediately doesn't mean you should give up.

Related: 6 Steps to Your Best Content-Marketing Strategy

Plenty of businesses benefit significantly from content marketing, and you could fix your own company's problems simply by taking a closer look at what you're doing, and figuring out where you need to rethink your strategy.

Wavy Line
Nathan Chan

Publisher of Foundr Magazine

Nathan Chan is the publisher of Foundr Magazine, a digital magazine for young, aspiring and novice stage entrepreneurs. He has had the pleasure of interviewing rock star business leaders to find out what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

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