From time to time, we hear from marketing managers or teams who claim that content marketing “just doesn’t work” for their brand. But is it really that clear-cut?

Invariably, upon closer inspection, the same two pitfalls jump out at us during these conversations.

Publishing Content Does Not a Strategy Make

Hard to believe but yes, the most common error marketers make when implementing their content strategy, is that their content strategy is not actually a content strategy.

This is very common among new (and traditional) online publishers – a traditional outbound technique. Churn out the headlines at speed, beat your competitors to the story, put an Irish slant on a wider story. Unfortunately, unlike the traditional media outlets, many online publishers don’t follow journalistic protocol, such as fact-checking or verifying sources.

The headline and constant output – or content churn – is the priority.

The audience is not at the centre of the strategy; there are no content calendars in place with easy wins and hero content mapped out in advance, no testing, follow-up analysis or optimisation. There’s no clear framework within which to plan content strategically, no conscious decision for each piece of content produced to have an objective aligned to the wider marketing strategy.

Ask yourself – does your current focus amount to shouting into the abyss louder and more frequently than your competitors? If so, you haven’t yet begun to build a content strategy.

You’re Having a One-Way Conversation

Content marketing is so effective because it allows us to directly and immediately gather analytics and feedback from your audience.

Simply put, this means not listening to the response from the audience/end user. You’re essentially having a one-way conversation whereby you’re doing all of the talking (interesting, entertaining and educational and all as what you are saying may be), smiling and hanging up before the person on the receiving end has a chance to respond.

The other side of the conversation is the audience response, both by way of spoken and unspoken feedback. The ‘spoken’ feedback is your audience’s active engagement, which could be in the form of commenting on your company blog, sharing videos from your YouTube channel or in the form of social media engagement metrics.

What about the ‘unspoken’ feedback? This is basically your audience doing exactly the opposite of what you’d hoped. You must examine the data for these behaviours, too.

Measuring spoken and unspoken feedback over a fixed period, using consistent metrics, will allow you to evaluate how effective your content is in reaching your audience.